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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.

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