Nurturing Nutrition | Venice Healthy Eating Group, Venice, FL

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July 27, 2017

After switching to a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) lifestyle in 2012, Amy Tase and her husband Rick saw improvements to their health almost immediately. Both lost the extra pounds they’d been hanging onto, and Rick was able to stop taking his prescription medications. These changes made them eager to find a community of like-minded people in their area of Venice, Florida. Over a year ago, the duo decided to create a Meetup group and membership quickly took off. The group has since expanded to join the Pod Network and accomplished much along the way.

Over the past five years, Amy has immersed herself in WFPB resources and recently created a website called Be Green with Amy to share her knowledge, recipes and tips with others; meanwhile, Rick has become a “fantastic WFPB, SOS free, unprocessed chef,” says Amy. Together, they take what they’ve learned and lead interactive, educational events for their Pod.

“I enjoy events where Rick and I are in teacher mode, presenting recipe demos or giving presentations,” Amy explains.

The pair hosts twice monthly potluck dinners but also a variety of other events, most recently including a make-your-own frushi night, sushi recipe demonstration, yoga luncheon, gardening class, and kitchen gadget show-and-tell. They have had special guests like plant-based cardiologist Dr. Jami Dulaney, and even a movie night featuring What The Health.

“I try to bring in a little education and hopefully fun at each event,” Amy says.

In conjunction with their monthly potlucks, Amy and Rick offer members the ease of continuing their health journey when they leave–attendees can pre-order organic produce bags and microgreens to pick up during meetings.

The events are usually very successful, with anywhere from 15 to 30 members attending on average and a great mix of both regulars and new members, which Amy is excited to see.

“We recently did a radio show and three slideshow presentations for the public,” Amy explains. “These events, along with registering our Pod, have brought many new members who, within weeks of changing their eating habits, have experienced weight loss and other health benefits. Some people bring generations of family members to our events, many of whom are making the transition to a WFPB diet.”

Amy and Rick strive to cultivate a group that is friendly and non-judgmental. They accept everyone to their group, including vegetarians and vegans, those who are SOS free and those who are not.

“Regardless of if you are just curious about this lifestyle or have been eating this way for awhile, our members will make you feel welcome,” Amy says. “We all want to eat healthy food that tastes delicious, and we also want a safe place to share that food.” She keeps this in mind when choosing themes for the events.

“One of my recent favorites was the frushi event,” Amy says. “We had about 25 people attend and not one had ever made frushi before. They all brought a dish of cut up fruit or vegetables. Everyone had fun and was so appreciative. We even had a mom bring her school-aged children! It was so gratifying to see the children learn how to make healthy food taste delicious. It was also nice to see the child in all of us as we made, ate and shared our creations.”

Amy and Rick would like to see membership continue to grow, and are determined to bring well-known WFPB leaders to their group, whether in person or through Skype presentations. Most of all though, Amy hopes that members can learn something new at each meeting.

“I want everyone to be able to positively impact their health, and share their knowledge and enthusiasm with others,” Amy says.

The Pod also wishes to thank the volunteer nonprofit organization, Venice Holistic Community Center, for providing their meeting space.

To get in touch with the Venice Healthy Eating Group, visit their Meetup page, FB page, or Pod page.

To contact Amy, visit her website:

We love seeing the ways you are creating PlantPure communities in your area! Send an email to if you would like to share news, updates and events or use our online submission form.

Harnessing Digital Activism | 10 Minute Armchair Activists, Everywhere, USA

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July 10, 2017

Thirty-six years ago, Shanasy Bratt gave up animal products and has never looked back. She has been plant-based for more than half her life and continues to advocate for animals–but now, in a very unique way.

Shanasy is the Pod leader for 10 Minute Armchair Activists, a virtual Pod where members can find and share effective activism tips they can implement from the ease of their own home. She started the Pod over a year ago because although she has always believed in activism, due to some eye issues, Shanasy is not always able to drive or leave her home to gather with others.

“I was an inactive activist, with a cause I was quite passionate about,” she explains. “Then it occurred to me that there were probably lots of other people in the same boat.”

Whether people are confined to their homes due to health issues, disabilities, familial caretaking, or just have busy work schedules and limited time, Shanasy is determined to help everyone find an easy way to make a difference and share their compassion for factory farmed animals by taking action on a cause close to their hearts. She feels that if people know an action will only take 10 minutes, they are much more likely to do it.

Shanasy is adamant about what she calls, “positive activism.”

“We need to show others that our stance is all about compassion for all sentient beings,” she says. “We can be much more effective if we are not stirring up the defenses of those we are trying to share our message with.”

Back in the 1980’s when Shanasy was first getting started, the plant-based world was “isolating and quite challenging.” Back then, there was no internet to help people join forces or share images and messages globally. Now, it is much easier and Shanasy believes social media has been the powerful driving force behind this.

Social media is great because, as Shanasy says, “many are willing to do things online like sign petitions, post messages, share videos and more.”

In fact, in recent years, social media has nearly reinvented activism, acting as a catalyst for larger change by giving people a voice and platform they wouldn’t have had in the past.

“There is a big opportunity for activism on social media for people who don’t want to–or can’t–leave their armchair,” Shanasy continues.

Every day, Shanasy interacts with her members (nearly 90 on her Pod site and over 300 on her Facebook page) by sharing information, resources and ideas to encourage others in their activism. Her daily tips are designed to be completed in under 10 minutes, which Shanasy hopes will inspire more people to get involved.

“I work hard keeping abreast of current studies showing which animal activist campaigns are the most effective,” Shanasy says. “It’s not enough to just post anything–we must always be thinking, ‘what’s going to stimulate the most attention; create the highest emotion; and stir the most action?’”

Although growth and engagement have been slower online than Shanasy expected, she is hopeful that with continued strategy and commitment, membership will expand. Her activism tips rotate between the three main benefits of a plant-based lifestyle: human health, animal well-being, and environmental conservation.

“Whether you believe in being a reducetarian or you’re an abolitionist–the ultimate goal is the same–to end animal agriculture,” Shanasy explains. “We need to all come together using our different approaches harmoniously. We have to always remember that what grabs one person’s attention may not grab another’s.”

Shanasy wants her Pod to stimulate the plant-based community to ultimately step up their activism game, and she encourages people to go beyond ten minutes of activism every day as they find their particular niche or skills in the movement.

In between posting tips on her Pod and Facebook pages, Shanasy also runs another Facebook page called Super Quick Plant-Based Recipes, where she shares tons of delicious, WFPB meal ideas that only take 20 minutes or less to prepare and use as few and as simple ingredients as possible.

“Besides helping busy plant-based cooks, my main intention is to show meat/fish/dairy consumers how eating plant-based doesn’t have to take a lot of time and can be quite easy without complicated or expensive ingredients,” Shanasy says. “Whether they go fully plant-based or not, hopefully this will spur them to at least include more plant-based options.”

If you would like to join Shanasy’s group, you can do so by visiting the 10 Minute Armchair Activists Pod Page or Facebook Page.

Contact Shanasy by email:

Shanasy’s other Facebook page, Super Quick Plant-Based Recipes:

We love seeing the ways you are creating PlantPure communities in your area! Send an email to if you would like to share news, updates and events or use our online submission form.

Leading the Way | Palmetto Plant Eaters, Hilton Head Island, SC

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June 30, 2016

Carla Golden practices massage therapy, and works as a nutrition consultant out of a private wellness practice in Hilton Head Island, SC.  She leads the PlantPure Pod group, Palmetto Plant Eaters, which meets in the neighboring town of Bluffton.

Her personal journey started in 2007 when she read The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  This book introduced her to the problems of factory farming, which inspired her to become vegetarian. After cutting meat out of her diet, she slowly started reading more books about a plant-based diet and enrolled in the University of Natural Health, where she earned her Bachelor’s of Science in 2012.  Although she had moved closer to a WFPB diet, she didn’t become fully plant-based until January 2015.  She says, “finally I just discovered that I had run out of excuses and had to commit 100%.  You’d think that last little bit wouldn’t make much of a difference, but when you fully commit it’s like everything falls into place, so like most WFPB eaters, I wish I had done it sooner – I just didn’t know what was waiting for me.”  Shortly after, she was surprised to see her husband and daughter jump on board.  The movie Unity, done by Earthlings, had an impact on both her husband and daughter, and it was around this time that her husband woke up one morning and decided he was going to commit to this lifestyle.  She was excited, and also surprised, since she had thought her family might take a little longer to make this commitment..  They’ve now been plant-based as a family for almost a year.  Although there are challenges here and there, whether it’s eating out or traveling, she says they figure it out most of the time, and where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Carla employs this same philosophy in her pod group – she says if you just stay consistent for meeting dates and places, and persistent in your communications, even when you think nobody’s listening, the message will get out.  She emphasizes the importance of reaching out to people in different ways, whether through social media, or posters and flyers around town at different locations.

At first, Carla has led most of her group meetings, but lately has been having guest speakers, whether they’re members of the group or people from outside, which creates diversity and helps to grow interest.  In addition to regular monthly meetings, they also do accessory meetings – a book club every month, and an “Eco Vegan Lunch Bunch”, which allows people who didn’t make it to meetings to participate – she says this attracts people from different angles, since people come at this for all different reasons.


Carla leading a PPE meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Lowcountry in Bluffton.

She also says their meetings stay within the one hour time frame, and an alarm is set for the end of every meeting.  This allows those that need to leave to do so without feeling awkward, while allowing those that want to stay, to stay and talk.  A Q&A session is saved for this time, which Carla says is helpful for both newcomers and those already on the diet – new people can ask questions, and the veterans can feel helpful in providing answers.  It’s this sort of participation by group members that makes Carla’s role more about organizing and facilitating, rather than leading meetings.

When asked about advice for others wanting to start a plant-based community, Carla says, “At some meetings, there may not be a lot of people, but you have to just roll with it, because the next month there may be more.  It’s nothing personal, it’s just the timing, or the topic, or anything happening that day.  Just like with any business, whether a small business or entrepreneurial venture, you just have to keep showing up and plugging away, and stick with it.  Eventually it becomes a permanent fixture in the community and people know about it, whether they’re using it or not, and then eventually they show up or start asking questions.”  As far as reaching new people, Carla emphasizes content.  She says “Rather than telling them to listen to me, I tell them to listen to the doctors, the experts, the chefs, and all the resources they provide.”

Carla’s goal as a plant-based activist, as a massage therapist, and a nutritionist is simply to spread awareness.  She says, “I encourage people to just show up to the pod group, just come and learn, I’m not trying to sell you anything, even my time – I’m giving you my time.  Just come to the group, we’re doing it together.  I feel like this is my work for the rest of my life because so many people are unaware of the potential and the possibility of healing themselves and the planet.”


PPE book club meeting

The Palmetto Plant Eaters are hosting the first ever VegFest in South Carolina, so if you’re in Hilton Head on October 22nd, be sure to put VegFest on your calendar!  Carla’s goal is for everyone to leave the festival with a cookbook, walk to the grocery store, and just start making food – plain and simple.  Explaining her philosophy about the transition process, she says, “You don’t have to understand everything before you make your next meal.  Just follow the recipes and then learn along the way why these are the chosen ingredients.  To me, if I can just get a cookbook in everybody’s hands, then I feel successful – I think that’s the best place to start – just start cooking it, and eating it.  You don’t have to know completely why initially, but you can learn along the way.”

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.

Be The Change | Plant-Based Health and Healing, Orlando, FL

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June 20, 2016

Kim Kirschner is a wellness coach and Food for Life instructor, with a passion for the integrative approach of combining diet, exercise, and lifestyle, to achieve optimal health.  When describing this approach she says, its not any one thing thats going to be important to health, its the contribution of a lot of different things.”  Kim currently runs wellness workshops at Willow Star Haven, a health and wellness charitable foundation in Celebration, FL.  She integrates these workshops with her pod group, Plant-Based Health and Healingwhich gives people in her workshop access to PlantPure Nation, and vice versa.  If there is one way to describe Kims approach to health and wellness, its synergy.  

Kims expertise in fitness and her experience as a Food for Life instructor has been instrumental to her workshops, which include cooking classes, and wellness coaching.  When describing her classes, she says, it really bridges the gap between people understanding that a plant-based lifestyle can be helpful and actually going out and chopping food and preparing it.”  Kim makes the point that plant-based cooking is like learning a new language for many people, and starting with the foundations of plant-based cooking is key.  

Not only does Kim offer cooking, and wellness coaching through her workshops, but she also uses these workshops as opportunities to engage participants with animal therapy.  She works with rescue animals, trains, and restores them for therapy work.  Kim says that simply having non-verbal, close communication with an animal can be extremely therapeutic, which she witnesses when bringing her dogs to workshops, saying they know who needs the most therapy, and gravitate to that person.Kim explains the mechanisms behind animal therapy, saying anytime you remove or reduce stress in your life it has a positive effect.  Transitioning to a new lifestyle can be stressful, and theres a lot of stress when people have to try something new – were creatures of habit, we like to do things the way weve always done them.  So anything that reduces stress, which can be exercise, having a companion animal, meditationits all positive.

In addition to animal therapy, cooking classes, and wellness coaching, these monthly workshops also feature different speakers, and wellness discussions on different topics every month.  So we asked Kim how she came to such a holistic approach to wellness.

Kims passion for animal rescue begin as a child, growing up in Puerto Rico, where she started rescuing animals on the island.  She recalls these experiences, saying there were a lot of stray animals on the island, so I was constantly bringing animals home, and my parents were really good about letting me do it.”  

Around age 12, Kim came to the conclusion that she simply couldnt justify eating animals as much as she liked having them and helping them. So she says, I announced to my family that I was going to be vegetarian, and this was in the 70s, when vegetarianism wasnt commonly accepted, especially in Puerto Rico.  Also, nobody in my family was vegetarian.  I think they thought it was a phase that would pass, and it never did.  I always felt very strongly that this was an important lifestyle for me, but I wasnt a good vegetarian, especially being a single mom and having my own business.  I was working all the time and was more of a fast food and convenience vegetarian.Losing her mother to cancer in 2007 was the catalyst that launched her pursuit of additional education in looking at the ways in which a plant-based diet is beneficial to improving chronic conditions. At that point she became fully plant-based, and has been for the past 8 years. In 2010 she completed a medical fellowship in integrative oncology and is currently pursuing a master’s of science in integrative health and nutrition.

Kims dream is to integrate all aspects of wellness taught in her workshops, through the [Willow Haven Foundation she and her family started ]several years ago.  The idea behind the foundation is to develop a holistic wellness retreat center for food and lifestyle changes, which will include a housing center focused on integrating the synergies between seniors, children, and animals, in a holistic wellness setting.  This center will allow her to reach more people, through bigger groups, and establish a model for this lifestyle.  

Kims advice for those transitioning to a healthier lifestyle, or trying to bring this message to others, is to remember that people come to this through all sorts of channels.  She says, one of the things that motivates the people I work with is seeing how much better they feel while changing their diet and lifestyle, and it seems that the worse your lifestyle is, as far as diet and lack of exercise, the faster you can see results when you hit the transition to a plant-based whole foods lifestyle.

Continuing to see success stories through her workshop participants and pod group members motivates Kim to continue teaching this lifestyle to others, and to continue developing a model for Willow Star Havens wellness center.  

Find out more about her pod group and workshop by visiting their Facebook page:

You can learn about Willow Star Haven, the foundation, and their mission by visiting:



Fun with Food | Scranton Beets, Scranton, PA

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June 13, 2016

Move over, Weight Watchers: The Pennsylvania Plant-based Nurse teaches a better way to lose weight and gain health!

The Scranton Beets Group:

When she was in high school, Jean Hayes, a Scranton Registered Nurse and leader of the PlantPure Coomunities grassroots Pod group Scranton Beets (#NoMeats!), wanted to lose weight to improve her health, but she could never reach her goal. Now many years later (we wont reveal her age but we can tell you she has two grown kids!), she has maintained a healthy weight without even trying (and actually burned her Weight Watchers card!). Whats her secret?

Working with adults with chronic illnesses in her job as a nurse, Jean had long been frustrated with the way the medical system focuses on health care and treatment instead of prevention – but felt powerless to do anything about it. Several years ago a friend who was involved in animal rescue told her about the movie Forks Over Knives that examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.

She was intrigued and rented the movie, and, as they say, the rest is history.

I was flabbergasted, Jean said. I always had the mindset that chronic (illness) meant irreversible. That was exciting to me to learn the opposite. It blew away the myth for me. We all believe were doomed by our genes, but research says were not. We can control the switch for that gene. I was totally convinced after I watched it, because it talked about the science behind it.

She immediately embraced a 100% plant-based diet, saw results right away (she eventually lost 30 pounds and got off her heart medication), and became passionate about sharing the wonderful benefits of this lifestyle. Her mantra now? Eat MORE. Lose Weight. Feel Free!  She adds, I still find it absolutely hilarious that I can often eat more than my husband and yet I dont gain weight!

We love Jeans attitude about her new lifestyle: while many plant-based eaters are unhappy that they have to eat differently from their friends and families (and may even use that as an excuse to go back to their old dietary ways), not Jean!  I find it fun and exciting that we stick out from the crowd and are different! That is one of the things that actually attracted my husband to this lifestyle. When did anyone ever say that going along with the crowd was the right or wise thing to do? 

In the summer of 2015, she saw the documentary PlantPure Nation. I was very moved that night and decided I would try to start a group. The mission of Jean and the Scranton Beets is to educate people in their area about the huge benefits of whole food plant-based nutrition. They meet monthly to connect, share ideas, and have fun. They have no shortage of ideas for getting out in the community and creating awareness through workshops, cooking classes, guest lectures, and more.  The group is also discussing future screenings, farm to table dinners, and lobbying for healthy school lunches

And they plan to get media attention through TV, newspaper, local health-oriented publications, and a local TV stations bulletin board. Jean has already been featured in a local paper, and also had a full-page article she wrote on plant-based nutrition published in her areas March 2016 Natural Awakenings publication. We felt it was also important to use part of the space to mention local plant-based events, so I included the Scranton Beets but also other happenings and groups in our area. (This is a great tip for groups – promoting other groups and events in your area generates goodwill and helps to spread the movement faster.)

What is this PlantPure groups ultimate goal? Jean says I believe we all feel strongly that we want to spread the word about plant-based nutrition the best we can to as many people as we can! I also feel strongly we need to help connect with other plant-based groups in the area and help and support one another and not compete with one another. We don’t want to duplicate what someone else is already doing.

They are looking forward to PlantPure Communities to help make that connection, create that support, and allow that mutual sharing of ideas with other groups. They are also looking forward to using some of the PlantPure Communities resources, such as the educational handouts for events, instead of having to create their own, so that they have more time to focus on all those great events they have planned!

Final thoughts? Jean says Plant based eating saved my marriage, strengthened my family, improved our health, and is a blast!

To learn more visit Jean’s blog, the Scranton Beets website or their Facebook page.

Silent Dinners | Port Townsend Vegan Group, Port Townsend, WA

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June 13, 2016

The Port Townsend Vegan Group:

Midge Steuber is one of the organizers of the Port Townsend (& Beyond) Vegan Meetup Groupin Port Townsend, Washington.  In a seaport community where salmon is king, followed by elk, Midge has started a successful, and thriving pod group.  They currently have 142 members, and the group has only been active since November.  

Midge has been plant based for 10 years, and began her plant based journey in order to improve her health.  After suffering a stroke to her eye 23 years ago, leaving her blind in the right eye, she began on a quest to find what caused her stroke.  She says that reading The China Study by T. Colin Campbell was her rosetta stone, finally giving her an answer (the “keys to the kingdom”), and its been history since then. At 63, her life has changed radically within the past 10 years.  Shes climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro twice, ridden her bicycle across route 66, at age 60 she climbed to Mt Everest Base Camp, walked across Kenya, and last summer walked across Spain.  She says shes traveled around the world and done it plant based – I dont compromise my health.”  

Her enthusiasm and passion have been key in creating a successful and supportive pod group, which began as a meet up group, and has been incorporated into our pod network.  One of their recent events is one which carries a unique and inspiring message for other group members and leaders.  

While theyve been having a number of potlucks, during a recent dinner, one of the members approached Midge, expressing her concern over an apparent lack of mindfulness during these events, in contrast to the amount of time put into cooking, and preparation.  So several members suggested that a silent dinner would be a delightful way to bring the focus back to a greater appreciation for the food being served, and those that worked to put it on the table : an opportunity for mindful eating and connection.

The groups first silent dinner began with a little social time, followed by members gathering for a brief orientation about the evening ahead.  The silent dinner then began with serving of the food, and throughout the meal.  Following this, they allowed time for people to write their thoughts on the experience, and then welcomed people that wanted to share.  Midge says, everybody wrote, and shared, and it was profound.  It was a great way to connect and reflect.  Everyone felt like we took our relationships deeper.”  This silent dinner was smaller than their usual potlucks, with 10 people rather than 27. This shared intimate experience created stronger bonds between the members attending. Midge says that it “took all the relationships deeper and richer.” In addition to strengthening bonds amongst members, this experience generates a reverence for cruelty-free food, where it was grown, where it came from, and the hands that prepared it.  

When asked about advice she would give to other group leaders and members, she attributes the fast growth of group to having a speaker series, which has included Howard Lyman, Colleen Patrick Goudreau, Dr Richard Oppenlander and plans to bring Dr. Michael Klaper in June. Midge says that the meet up group is where it began, and that she was inspired to start the speaker series after having the support of the meetup group members.”

The most common thing Midge hears when people join, is that theyre looking for support and want to be around like minded people. Providing this support in multiple outlets has been especially important.  Due to the fact that potlucks do sometimes fill up, due to limited space, the group also offers dine outs.  This ensures that members wont slip through the cracks if they havent had a chance to participate in potlucks.  Dine outs are also great for local plant based restaurants, and provide business promotion for them – especially when there are 142 people involved!

Along with providing multiple outlets for participation, creating an outlet in the form of a leadership meeting, in which members are invited to express their thoughts and ideas, has been a great way to encourage input.  Midge says that the intention of the leadership meeting was to give members a voice, and an opportunity to share their ideas and to know that their ideas are encouraged and welcome. Overall, the Port Townsend Vegan Group, and Midges work as a group leader model the sort of welcoming atmosphere which is essential for spreading the plant based message.  

If youre interested in hosting your own silent dinner, check out Midge’s letter to group members as a template:

Hello wonderful silent dinner guests-

I wanted to send you all a brief letter about our upcoming silent dinner, for an approximate timeline and ideas of what we have planned.

Time: 5:45pm arrival


What to bring:

-Your potluck item plus the ingredients list with a note if it is SOS free (if there is no added salt, oil or sugar) and your name on the card. I will supply plates and glasses.

-A cut flower that you may like to add to our community table center arrangement

Please be mindful of your time and plan on arriving close to 5:45 for a 6:15pm start to our silent dinner.

6:15pm I will sound the gong to indicate time to gather in the kitchen for a few brief comments by our co-host, sweet Pamela, on mindfulness.

6:25pm (approx)I will sound the bell to signal the start of our silent time. (Please be sure that your cell phones and beepers are also off or in silent mode) The intention here is that we will now begin to serve ourselves in a mindful manner and then proceed to the table in silence.

6:25-7:15pm Silent Dinner. You are welcome to return to the kitchen for seconds, thirds, etc…water, drinks and use of the bathroom as needed.

Eye contact with others is absolutely fine…

7:15pm I will ring the bell to indicate the end of the silent dinner period (though still maintain silence). At this point you are welcome to take a pen and paper and write any notes as you feel moved to do so. Feel free to enjoy the living room, parlor or garden…wherever you feel comfortable. Please wait to clear the table and pack up.

7:25pm I will sound the gong to indicate the end of silence (for those who want). At this point some may care to share some things they have written or to process the experience a bit. Please limit sharing to 3 minutes or so…and some folks may choose to stay in silence and leave in that head space…You are welcome to leave or stay and share as you feel moved to.

8:15pm (approx) Close of Silent Dinner Party.

Our actual silent time is just one hour…6:25-7:25 (approx.)

Thank you so much for choosing to participate in this event.

I am looking forward to sharing this special space with each of you.

In health and gratitude,


A Couple’s Community Impact | Heartland Rooted, Davenport, IA

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June 13, 2016

Heartland Rooted Group

Dr. Cheryl True is the group leader of Heartland Rooted in Davenport, Iowa. Although vegetarian for many years, after hearing T. Colin Campbell speak at a lifestyle medicine conference a few years ago, she shifted her diet to WFPB. She took the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate course, which cemented her decision even further. She also became a CHIP facilitator. She sees plant-based nutrition as a vehicle for people to improve their health. As a physician, seeing the changes it can make in chronic disease has fueled her passion for spreading this message. The participants in CHIP agreed that they saw benefits in themselves that they never expected!

Cheryl’s husband Andy was an omnivore who never paid much attention to nutrition until watching Forks Over Knives a couple of years ago. He decided that a plant-based diet just “made a lot of sense,” and after trying it out has lost about 15 pounds “without trying!” and dropped his cholesterol over 40 points. He really believes in the benefits of a WFPB diet, and shares that message with others now.

Cheryl is a long-time cyclist, but always struggled with running distances, as it seemed to cause her mild asthma symptoms to flare enough that it was just never really appealing. She feels that after eliminating dairy, her symptoms that would creep up while running mostly disappeared, and she surprised herself by running a half- marathon! Neither has felt that the switch to WFPB has been hard.

She says “it’s just a change in thinking, and making more conscientious choices.”

Cheryl is also a Walk with a Doc group leader in a unique collaboration with her veterinarian clinic! They just held their first Walk in May with over 100 participants. It is a great program for connecting individuals with health care providers in their community.

So what is her advice to others wanting to advocate for plant-based health in their community? Cheryl recalled coming back from a PlantPure Nation screening, and deciding to start a group in her community, with no idea about how many would join, but says she was “amazed to see the support, which spread just through word of mouth.”

She says,  “It’s been interesting to see the bonds forming within the group in such a short period of time. Members have even developed smaller groups within the group, as sort of “support groups” or “buddy systems.”

A favorite amongst group members has been doing introductions at the beginning of every meeting – people introduce themselves, say why they’re there, and get to stay updated on what other members are doing. She says “It’s surprised me how just that sharing timeframe has become such an integral part of our group.”

So far, they’ve had great success orchestrating a program with the local grocery store Hy-Vee’s “DISH” (dinner is served at Hy-Vee) program.” A group of 10-13 individuals gather together to prepare their meals. The group submits 5-8 recipes, and the dish program preps ingredients at stations for people to assemble. As a result, everyone gets 4-6 servings of each meal, which comes out to $11/meal! Cheryl says this has been extremely popular amongst her group, and provides much needed help with the basics of plant based cooking, while also strengthening ties amongst group members.

This group has truly become a welcoming support network for plant based eaters, whether they began this journey a few years ago, or a few days ago. The welcoming atmosphere, support, and unique activities taking place at Heartland Rooted provide inspiration, as well as a wonderful model for others in our Pod Network.

The Power of Film | Greater Cincinnati Group, Cincinnati, OH

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June 13, 2016

Greater Cincinnati Group:

After a PlantPure Nation showing at the UC Medical Center, the Greater Cincinnati Pod group was one of the first Pod groups formed. Shortly after the showing, group leader Chris Christenson signed up immediately to become a group leader, along with her co-leader Preeti Bansal Kshirsagar. Together, Preeti and Chris went on to organize the first group meeting to discuss goals and plans for the group. Going forward, they organized a table at the University of Cincinnati “Resolve to Get Healthy” event, a talk and interview by 94-year-old plant-based marathon runner Mike Fremont, and three free PlantPure Nation screenings. Their most recent event, a talk given by Dr. Rekha Chaudhary on nutrition and cancer, was a grand success with a turnout of over 100.  

Mike Fremont’s interview:

Rekha Chaudhary’s talk:

Richard Brown helped to record the interview and presentation.

Through her work in health care, and a longtime interest in health, Chris was drawn to the PlantPure message from the beginning. When her father was diagnosed with prostate cancer 10 years ago, and chose to forego chemotherapy and radiation, he researched all of the foods that feed cancer, and all of the foods that fight cancer. This inevitably led her parents to go on a plant-based diet, leading her father to recovery. Combined with her interest in health, her dad’s success gave Chris the motivation to jump into a plant-based diet.

Dr. Pam Popper’s book, Food Over Medicine, was one of her earliest inspirations to become plant-based. From there, she learned about The China Study, going on to read all of Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s books. This made her a true believer in a WFPB lifestyle, and opened her eyes to a wealth of plant-based information. Before the Pod group, she was inspired to start a Meetup group for plant-based eaters. We asked her for advice for other individuals looking to create change in their communities.  

Chris emphasized the importance of free film showings, adding that anything free will always attract people. She also offered some valuable, often overlooked advice when it comes to being a group leader, saying, “It’s been really helpful for Preeti and I to have each other as co-leaders, because we have complementary skills, and it’s nice to have someone else to bounce ideas off of, and get these things organized, which can be a lot of work sometimes.”

Chris and Preeti have also gotten some of the vegan restaurants in town to donate food for some of the potlucks, which she says works both ways, as it’s a marketing tool for restaurants.  Chris also mentioned that many people coming to their meetings are just getting started, so it’s important to remember that any sort of interest is valuable, and transitioning to a plant-based diet is a process—being welcoming and supportive is especially important. 

A Midwestern Solution | Field of Greens, Dubuque, IA

By | Advocacy, Children, Cooking, Group Leader Articles, Leadership, Nutrition, Pod News, Sharing the Message, Speakers | No Comments

June 13, 2016

The Putnam Family and their PlantPure Group Field of Greens

Field Of Greens Group:

Scott Putnam is leader of the Field of Greens PlantPure Pod in Dubuque, Iowa –  a takeoff on the Field of Dreams baseball field which is less than 20 miles down the road. After talking to Scott, its apparent he really does have big dreams. His story began over 20 years ago when his father passed away from cancer at the young age of 53, 10 days after Scott graduated from college. Twenty years later, Scott went through a similar experience with his wifes father.  After his father-in-laws death, he and his wife and family moved from China, where they were teaching, to his in-laws house to become full time caretakers for his mother-in-law.

After receiving another wake up call  – this time from his own doctor, Scott went on a personal quest to discover how other people prevent serious illness and achieve optimal health. In the process, he learned as much as he could about health, wellness, and weight loss, but soon found himself overwhelmed and confused by all the conflicting information.

One day his wifes aunt and uncle brought a DVD to their house: Forks Over Knives. It was Scotts Aha moment, and he knew that this film had the answer he was seeking.

I asked myself one simple question:  how healthy do I want to be?, Scott said.

Never having felt like a 10 out of 10 on the healthy-scale in his entire life, he set out to see if he could achieve that goal through whole food, plant-based eating. Luckily for Scott, his wife, Beth, agreed to join him on his journey. Together, they made a deep dive into the research of the films doctors, and learned about the undeniable connection between diet and health.  Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Neal Barnard, and Dr. McDougall became our Fantastic 4 – superheroes changing the world!

Scott and Beth experienced all the beneficial effects mentioned in the film. They felt full after eating – they had a new level of energy – and Scott was finally able to sleep well through the night. By the end of the first five months of full immersion into whole food, plant-based eating (coupled with a light exercise program), Scott lost 50 pounds. By the end of the next several months, he lost another 15 pounds and his cholesterol and blood pressure normalized.

In Scotts words, I now have a new way of eating without dieting that I can depend on for the rest of my life. No more wondering about what the next new wonder diet or amazing weight loss pill is going to be.

As a family, they made the shift to a whole food, plant-based lifestyle and have never looked back. Next, he and Beth studied WFPB nutrition and received certificates through the Center of Nutrition Studies and eCornell University so that they could help others along a similar journey. Their 11-year-old daughter completed the coursework and received a certificate as well, making her the youngest to date! Dr. T. Colin Campbell predicts she will set the world on fire by helping other kids learn about nutrition and eating plant-based foods.

The Putnams are committed to spreading the word far and wide about all the amazing benefits of a plant-based lifestyle. They tirelessly educate others in their local community through wellness coaching, speaking in schools and at events. They extend their support further through electronic media, and are working on an online program. Scott says, Its exhilarating to be a support beacon for others on their journey. My vision is to do my part to heal a sick world where most are eating the way everyone else does, and slowly begin to change the norms and culture surrounding food.

After seeing the movie PlantPure Nation, Scott felt compelled to create a local Pod group in his small city of Dubuque, Iowa (which is in the heart of meat and dairy country). Although theyve only theyve only had four meetings so far, the turnouts have been spectacular! It turns out that even in a community steeped in Midwestern traditions and cooking, many people are looking for answers. Although they still get the alien look, once in awhile, word about their group is spreading fast. They are connecting with local activists, community farm organizations, medical professionals, and many others doing great work to spread the word about eating more plants and less animals.

What does their group have planned? So far theyve done small cooking demos and had a local chef come and talk about how to create amazing flavors with plant foods. In addition, theyve been able to Skype in well-known pioneers in the field at their meetings. At the next meeting on April 22nd (Earth Day), their daughter Paige is planning to do a Kids Pod and shell be doing a cooking demo and talking about the importance of eating plant-based for ourselves, the animals, and the planet. Go Paige!

Scotts parting thoughts are Theres a real movement happening here, and once people learn about this and gain just a hint of awareness, their natural curiosity takes over. If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere. As Nelson Campbell said, its a law of nature.’”

Visit Scott’s Website  and the Field of Greens pod site  to learn more about what this committed team is doing in Dubuque, Iowa.

Oasis in the Desert | Plant-Based Whole Foodist Initiative, AZ, NV, CA

By | Advocacy, Farms/Gardening, Group Leader Articles, Leadership, Nutrition, Pod News, Sharing the Message | No Comments

June 13, 2016

After viewing the PlantPure Nation film, many people have asked, “How do I get my group involved in my community?” Well, Betty Rae, group leader for the Mojave Desert Plant-Based Whole Foodist Initiative and assistant group leader with the Colorado River Plant-Based Vegan Society, has the answer!

Betty and her husband, Dan Miller, have been quietly creating change within their community for years. After reading The China Study and watching Forks Over Knives, they both changed their eating styles and experienced dramatic improvements in their health. This motivated them to continue their education and enhance their career path with certificates in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University and pursue accreditation as wholistic nutrition and lifestyle medicine educators, consultants, and plant-based lifestyle transition counselors. Betty also received training in plant-based cooking from, and Dan is a certified Health Rhythms Empowerment facilitator. This training has allowed them to confidently educate and facilitate the plant-based message within their community.

Betty began by starting a lifestyle program and found that they were getting national and international interest. Her multiple Facebook groups now have over 8,000 followers. But she felt the need to impact people locally, so she started offering free educational classes at the library, conducting free grocery shopping tours, and showing plant-based documentaries, with all proceeds going to local food banks and food and nutrition community outreach programs. The classes have outgrown the library, and Betty has just recently opened the Mojave Desert Nutrition & Lifestyle Initiative—a 501(c)3 Community Outreach Nutrition Education and Lifestyle Science Wellness Studio. Everything will be under one roof, utilizing an old elementary school turned community center, with future plans for a community garden.

Additionally, her group also offers free and nominally priced cooking classes for those interested in a plant-based lifestyle transition and for the low-income/food-insecure community and seniors on fixed incomes. They focus on how people can eat nutritiously on affordable, plant-based foods.

Betty and Dan are currently partnering with several nonprofits and the Borderlands Food Bank, out of Nogales, Arizona, to bring the Produce On Wheels-Without Waste (P.O.W.W.O.W.) pop-up farmers’ market program to their remote northwest Arizona location. This effort is focused on rescuing produce coming across the Mexican border that would normally be dumped into landfills due to not meeting certain criteria (e.g., size, blemishes, bruising, etc.). Borderlands “rescues” the produce and then redistributes it through host nonprofits that receive benefits with a nominal participant contribution (up to 60 lbs. for $15). And the produce market accepts food stamps.

Betty is a licensed Complete Health Improvement Project (CHIP) facilitator, offering eight-week nutrition and lifestyle interventions geared toward creating an optimum plant-based lifestyle. She and Dan also appear regularly as monthly resident experts on plant-based transition with the radio show (also available as a podcast), which focuses on bridging the gap between conventional medicine and plant-based lifestyle approaches.

An exciting opportunity Betty has been discussing with Dr. Hans Diehl, founder of the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP), is the concept of utilizing the PlantPure Jumpstart program with the CHIP classes. CHIP was developed by Dr. Diehl and focuses on reducing disease risk factors through lifestyle modifications. The Lifestyle Medicine Institute, which owns CHIP, has been calling its first week of the CHIP intervention program a Jumpstart Challenge to help transition folks to new food choices and achieve some immediate results. Recipes and cooking demos are included during these first few class sessions, but PlantPure Jumpstart frozen meals are also being considered as an option for those who prefer to have foods prepared for them.

Betty is planning on offering this new CHIP/Jumpstart opportunity, which could become a model for future consideration by other CHIP communities, to her students in 2016. Betty will also encourage her CHIP graduates to join the PlantPure Pod group she leads, providing these graduates with long-term support and community.

Betty is always happy to share her ideas or answer questions, and she can be contacted through the Mojave Desert AZ-NV-CA Pod, at For more information about Produce On Wheels—Without Waste, go to To read more about CHIP, go to

Call to Action:

See what your local Pod’s groups are up to! Go to and join today. Explore your local independent groups and see what they have to offer.
Writer bio: Laura Dietrich is the PlantPure Nation Jumpstart director, based in Louisville, Kentucky. She has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s in exercise physiology, and she also has her Certification in Plant-Based Nutrition through eCornell. In addition, she has worked through the YMCA coaching youths who have been targeted by their pediatricians for being at a high risk for chronic disease. This coaching aimed to educate both the parent and child on nutritional interventions to decrease risk of disease. Dietrich also coaches individuals and holds group classes on transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle (PlantPower Coaching). All of her work experience revolves around ultimately keeping people healthy.

By Laura Dietrich