Pod Knife Skills Demonstration

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Group Leader, Kaiti Schwartz, hosted a knife skills demonstration as part of her Pod meeting on January 26, 2019. Since July 2018, Kaiti’s Pod has grown from 4 members to 17. One member volunteered to lead this meeting and to share what they learned at the Culinary Program at Diablo Valley College. Each member brought knives, a cutting board, and an onion. After the onion, they practiced cutting up other vegetables like peppers, red cabbage, carrots, cilantro and scallions, and then made Thai veggie rolls. Everyone enjoyed making new friends, practicing their knife skills, and learning how to roll a rice paper filled with yummy vegetables.

Original Submission received from Kaiti Schwartz, Group Leader of Planted in Walnut Creek, California on February 2, 2019.


Show Me Plants Pod First Get-Together – A Success!

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Show Me Plants had 18 plant-curious folks attend their first Pod meeting, with leaders Kara, Elaine, and Kurt. Kara and Elaine shared their personal stories of how they came to a whole food, plant-based, no oil lifestyle and what the power of a plant-based diet had done for each of them. After reviewing the PlantPure Communities Culinary Philosophy and talking about what it means to eat a WFPBNO diet, Kara demonstrated how easy it is to prepare this food by making a vegetable lentil stew in front of everyone while describing some of the tips and tricks for easy food prep. Next Elaine and Kara shared a dozen strategies for successfully implementing a WFPBNO diet, and Kara shared some advice aimed at those who had significant weight to lose or who were battling type 2 diabetes. Finally, Pod members had a question and answer session and sampled several recipes including Chickpea “No Tuna” Salad, Mexican Quinoa Salad, and Chocolate Mousse.

One man who heard Kara speak about her health transformation at a local bookstore began to implement the changes into his diet right away under the supervision of his doctor. He had such great success that he has been able to discontinue insulin in just a few short weeks of eating a WFPB diet. When he shared his success with the Pod, Kara couldn’t hold back the tears because this is just what she had hoped for. “To think that Elaine reaching out to me on an Engine 2 Facebook group a couple of years ago when I was at my lowest point ever and then me eventually following through and beginning this lifestyle could lead to me completely transforming my health through a complete lifestyle change is amazing,” Kara said. “But what is even more amazing is that because all of those pieces fell the way they did and I am now able to share my story, others are getting the message and transforming their health as well. I hope the ripple effect continues because food is powerful medicine.”

Original Submission received from Kara Bell, Group Leader of  The Show Me Plants Pod in Washington, Missouri on 4/519.


Plant Based Living Winnipeg Potluck

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The Plant Based Living Winnipeg (PBLW) Pod hosted their 9th potluck on March 16, 2019. Less than one year after hosting their first event, they already have need for a larger venue! Only 4 hours after announcing the potluck, it was full (max capacity of the room) with more than a dozen people on the waitlist. At this event, they gave members a sneak peek at the new website for PBLW ( and talked about their plans for the year ahead. Several people from the animal rights community joined the meeting to begin learning about WFPB for health. They talked about how they are all in this together “whether you have come because of the animals, your health, or the environment, it’s important that we form a unified position to influence government policies on food and normalize this way of eating for the public.” Everyone left the meeting very inspired to do more for the cause and also feeling proud to be part of such a forward-thinking organization as PlantPure Communities.

Original Submission received from Michelle Tree, Group Leader of  The Plant Based Winnipeg Pod in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada on 3/28/19.


Plant-Based Pittsburgh Cookbook

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Members of the Plant-Based Pittsburgh Pod submitted original or adapted recipes to Group Leader Sally Lipsky. Thirty recipes were compiled into a cookbook, which is available to anyone on their webpage. Sally reports that Pod Members enjoyed the project so much that they will make a volume II of their original cookbook.

PlantPure Communities invites other Pods to experiment with making their own cookbooks!

Original Submission received from Sally Lipsky, Group Leader of the Plant-Based Pittsburgh Pod in Pittsburgh, PA, on December 3, 2018.

Surviving the Holidays

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November 21, 2018

Just for the Health of It Pod in California held their October meeting about “surviving the holidays.” They talked about the challenges of being with those who don’t understand WFPB choices. Thanksgiving is tricky for most due to the tradition of turkey. Strategies they discussed included: Some Members allow others to bring the turkey, or are guests where turkey is present. Some host and allow no products that not are whole food, plant based. Some use it as a treat day and use vegan meat substitutes like Tofurky roasts or Field Roasts. Some go to vegan restaurants so that while their meal will include treats, there is no temptation the next day from leftovers. The Pod indulged in yummy food after their discussion, and a recipe for a Tu-no Casserole is attached in the photo. Happy holidays everyone!

Original Submission received from Mary Marotto, Member of the Just for the Health of It Pod in Pleasanton, CA.

Dinner with the Doctor | Long Island PlantPure™, Long Island, NY

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February 16, 2017

The Long Island PlantPure™ Pod hosted a fun and interactive Dinner with the Doctor event at the home of Caroline Hartridge, Doctor of Osteopathy (DO), on December 15, 2016.
The event, organized with the help of Pod leaders Mitchell Castell and Bobby Nagelberg, was a huge success, with 26 people in attendance.

Dr. Hartridge and her wife Elaine Danoff created a delicious taco bar for the Pod to indulge in, which featured everything from rice, beans and guacamole to homemade salsa, hot sauce, and nut cheeses. There were also roasted potatoes, cumin roasted cauliflower, purple cabbage with lime, corn and flour tortillas, and dates with dried black olives and almonds for members to munch on.

After the dinner, Dr. Hartridge spoke about her personal journey to wellness from osteopathic medicine to whole foods, plant-based medicine, explaining that, “these modalities combined helped me heal myself from two chronic health conditions.”

With an undergraduate degree in Environmental Education, Dr. Hartridge has created a practice that acknowledges the connection between the environment and our health. She calls this practice ‘sustainable medicine.’

Dr. Hartridge also held a question and answer session, which gave those attending a chance to hear directly from a professional. In fact, thanks to the connections made at the December event, Dr. Hartridge has since been able to help several people on their plant-based journey.

The Long Island PlantPure™ Pod is active and growing. Mitch says members are quickly spreading the word about the Pod to the local community. Many are from local vegan meetup groups, which provides an opportunity for the Pod to connect the issues of animal and environmental welfare with the health benefits of eating plant-based.

“Providing a support group is just one of the many services our Pod offers,” Mitch remarks. “Many of the people who attend love the comfortable atmosphere to talk all things plant-based with likeminded others—something they really don’t have an opportunity to do at home, work or with friends.”

“It was a wonderful evening, everyone was actively engaged, including those well into their journey, and those new to plant-based eating,” says PPC’s Executive Director, Jody Kass, who is a member of this Pod and attended the event with her husband, Arthur Finkel. “What was especially wonderful was to see all the young people who enthusiastically participated,” she added.

So, what’s next for Long Island PlantPure™?

We are in the preliminary stages of putting together a VegFest on Long Island,” Mitch explains.

Mitch says they are working on a resource paper to hand out, which would provide basic information and help beginners on their plant-based journey; there is also the potential for another event at the Cinema Arts Center where local WFPB doctors can host presentations.

If you live in or near Long Island, NY, and would like to join this group or find out about an upcoming event, you can do so by visiting either the Long Island PlantPure™ Pod group page or Facebook page, or contact Mitch Castell:

To find out more about her practice, visit Dr. Hartridge’s 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.

By Kristyn Pankiw Helm, Social Media Manager, PlantPure Communities

Cruelty-Free Feast | South Shore Herbivores, Duxbury, MA

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February 1, 2017

South Shore Herbivores, a PlantPure Pod group in Duxbury, MA, held a delicious Cruelty-Free Feast on November 5, 2016, as a plant-based alternative to turkey-centered Thanksgivings.

After hearing many people express their difficulties going plant-based, group leader and holistic health counselor Andrea Liddell came up with the idea for the Cruelty-Free Feast. Her goal was to show that those following a WFPB lifestyle can easily indulge in their favorite comfort foods.

“I wanted to show they could still enjoy a holiday without missing out on anything,” she explains. “Being plant-based is about progress, not perfection.”

For the feast, the group switched out a traditional turkey for Gardein’s Holiday Roast. They also had vegan mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, veggie sides, gelatin-free cranberry sauce, salad, oil-free cheeses, crackers, and fruits, plus a few decadent desserts—including pumpkin pie, cupcakes, and Kim Campbell’s brownies from the PPN cookbook.

“We had about fifteen people for the feast—even a plant-based vegan baby, who couldn’t get enough of everything!” Liddell exclaims.

Her group serves as a learning tool for many people in the local area. Liddell and other members work to clear up major health and diet misconceptions by holding interactive monthly events. Many people have made the switch to plant-based vegan or vegetarian since the group’s creation, and many who were already plant-based have decided to give up oil, as well.

“They see that plant-based doesn’t have to be boring,” Liddell says.

She believes the best thing about the Pods is the ability for others to see firsthand the immense benefits and abundance that come with being plant-based, without sacrificing their favorite foods or compromising taste. Liddell always makes sure the events are centered around not just food, but education.

“Delicious food grabs your attention,” she explains, “but at the same time being able to teach about the impact on your health, the environment and animal welfare—you walk away with a better connection to your choices.”

Liddell is currently brainstorming the theme for their next meet up in February. We can’t wait to see what creative event she and her group host next!

If you live in or near the Duxbury/Plymouth area and would like to join this group, you can do so by visiting the South Shore Herbivore Pod group page.

Have exciting news to share about your PlantPure Communities Pod group? Send an email to for a chance to be featured on our social media and profiled in our newsletter each month.

By Kristyn Pankiw Helm, Social Media Manager, PlantPure Communities

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:



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

By | Advocacy, Cooking, Group Leader Articles, Leadership, Nutrition, Pod News, Restaurants/Eating Out, Sharing the Message | No Comments

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.