by Sarah Hunter, VLCE
posted Nov 17, 2020
I believe the whole food plant-based diet is an answer to prayer. One day in 2015, I was sitting in a church pavilion with a community nurse who asked, “Have you ever heard of Dr. Esselstyn? He was a former president’s doctor after his heart attack.” So, I googled Dr. Esselstyn’s website and ordered the book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.
Little did I know it then, but the whole food plant-based diet already had a number of proponents in the USA. Usually known as vegan, describing a way of eating that eliminates all animal foods, often for ethical reasons, Dr. Esselstyn’s version goes a step further than just plant-based. “Whole food” means unprocessed. In addition, this diet includes no oil or nuts.
There are many doctors and dietitians in agreement that the whole food plant-based lifestyle, in this iteration or a similar one, is the healthiest way of eating long-term. This means incorporating into the diet an abundance of delicious food in its natural state, such as comforting whole grains and legumes, and lots of vegetables and fruits to boost the immune system. It’s as simple as opting out of con carne and having a satisfying bean chili in its place; or a scrumptious, dairy-free, whole grain muffin, instead of one made with eggs and refined sugar. Simple choices make powerful transformations in health; they’re good for the planet; and they save animal lives.
Starting out was challenging for me at first, being the only person in my family eating this way, but it got easier. When I came home from work, I’d prepare my plant-based meal, while simultaneously cooking the standard meat dinner for my husband and heating up a teenage dinner for my daughter. I’d have three separate meals going on the stove at once. Regarding my food, I told my daughter, “You don’t have to eat this way. I just want you to know how, just in case someday you might have to, like me.” (I must have said something right because now, as a young wife and mother, she appreciates the yummy taste of plant-based food and cooks vegan for her husband and child.)
This healthy diet makes me feel so good, I wish to share this joy with others. In 2018, I took an online plant-based cooking course from Forks over Knives to learn to make delicious sauces and healthy desserts, without oil or animal products. A few months later, the food won my husband over, as he transitioned to oil-free plant-based eating, too. Since eating this way, we’ve both transformed our health, while eating as much food as we want. An added bonus is enjoying guilt-free holiday meals. Getting healthier together is fun with every simple or fancy plate of nourishing food.
The vegan diet is the healthiest for people and for the planet. When I googled “vegan + garden” I learned about veganic gardening. This means using no animal manures or other products, such as bone meal or blood meal to fertilize. Also, veganic is organic, with no pesticides or herbicides. We’re learning to grow our food using use green manures (such as red clover or buckwheat) and vegetable compost to enrich the soil, plus other strategies, with successful and delicious results. We are also using low-till to be respectful of all the good microbes in the soil. We do this because it is the best agricultural practice, but also because we do not want to support the animal factory industry in any way.
Stuck at home during the pandemic, I decided to learn more about the plant-based diet, in order to teach others about the possibility of improving health with food. So, I completed the Plant-based Nutrition course from the T. Colin Campbell Nutrition Foundation/eCornell, and then Victoria Moran graciously accepted me into the first Zoom class of Main Street Vegan Academy, so I achieved certification as a Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator. My mission in life is to share this good news to save animals and teach people how to save themselves with whole food, plant-based nutrition, and perhaps encouraging a few how to grow their own food veganically.