Day by day, we’re shaping our post-pandemic realities by tentatively returning to pre-lockdown habits or sticking with new behaviours we’ve discovered we prefer during lockdown. Still, for many South Africans, the main topic of conversation over the past few months has been our desire ‘to go back to normal’. But when our pre-COVID-19 reality was characterised by equally devastating issues like gender-based violence, environmental concerns like poaching and global warming and the generally poor state of physical health of many South Africans, the longed for return to this so-called ‘normal’ feels misplaced. Despite the devastating impact of COVID-19 on our country, it has also given us an opportunity to think differently, and talk about re-imagining and rebuilding our country in better ways.
Arguably, the most important of these relate to our health, and the resilience of our immune systems. October features National Nutrition and Obesity Week with its focus on the country’s nutrition habits and our continuing battle with obesity. The 2020 theme ‘Good nutrition for good immunity’ is a reminder that diet-related non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes, as well as obesity, have, across the world, seriously undermined many people’s defences to COVID-19.
Picking up on this idea of rebuilding a new, healthier normal is Africa’s leading health food restaurant chain, KAUAI, which has just launched its ‘Don’t go back to abnormal’ conversation-starter campaign. In it, KAUAI asks South Africans to take an honest look at what was perceived as normal prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and whether they would like to go back to this abnormal “normal”, or make a positive change going forward.
Setting up its billboards in the midst of the country’s fast-food valleys, KAUAI is provoking thought around the ways that we have normalised things that we know deep down aren’t serving us. Says Dean Kowarski, KAUAI CEO, “If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that we’re living in a world where our health cannot be taken for granted. Unfortunately, junk food laden with sugar and trans-fats, preservatives and additives has become a lifestyle standard for many, and tragically, an aspiration for millions more. KAUAI is calling this out as abnormal. For us, healthy eating is normal – enjoying fresh, natural, delicious whole foods with fruit and veggies that support your immune system and improve your overall health. We feel so strongly about this, that KAUAI will be making the choice to eat healthy easier, by offering a once-off 50% discount to any South African during October via our app.”
#DontGoBackToAbnormal is a platform for South Africans to start conversations that matter. What is really good for us, and worth taking forward? What is not serving us and should be left behind? Says Kowarski, “KAUAI is calling out bad eating habits as abnormal, but we want this campaign to spark different broader conversations about other abnormal situations that South Africans have accepted as normal in their everyday lives. We want to challenge South Africans to reflect on what they think is abnormal and what they would like to change going forward.” It’s true that we are creatures of habit; but we can also pivot quickly when it comes to making new, better habits. What do you think is abnormal, and what do you want to change going forward?
Dean Kowarski, KAUAI CEO, chats about ‘Don’t go back to abnormal’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjVkJsgyT2k