Happy Herbivore Blog

Educating Your Community on a Plant-Based Diet (Guest Post by Aurora!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Guest

A big question I get via email is how one can spread the Herbie love. Specifically, how can they talk to others about living the plant-based lifestyle and without being preachy or overbearing.

I talk a lot about outreach (and how to tailor your message so your hearer hears it) in my new book, The Happy Herbivore Guide to Plant-Based Living, but today Aurora is sharing HER experience with outreach in her community.

Remember: You can lead a horse to water, but you can't force him to drink. However, leading by example is dynamite. If you lower your head to drink the water, then start moaning over how refreshingly delicious it is, the horse may very well get curious and give it a try!

My husband and I began our plant-based journey about 3 years ago. It was bumpy in the beginning and like most people venturing down this path, we learn as go. At first we had the basics down, no meat and no dairy. Then we read more and we removed oil, coffee and juicing.

Once we were officially plant-based, we saw improvements everywhere. Not just weight loss, which for me happened at a rate of about 7-9lbs a month; but post workout recovery is almost completely painless as well as menstruation. Old aches and pains are gone. Seborrheic Dermatitis is virtually non existent with zero oil. Our energy levels far surpass a kid who eats SAD (Standard American Diet), and the list goes on and on.

After seeing results, reading books/blogs by Dr. Esselstyn, Neal Barnard, Dr. Campbell, Dr. McDougall, Rip Esselstyn, Jeff Novick, and Lindsay Nixon, taking the Cornell Plant-based certification course and attending plant-based conferences, it was hard to keep quiet and watch others around me suffer from aches and pains that were completely avoidable.

It’s not a losing battle to reach out to an individual or family member who is struggling with problems due to a SAD diet, it’s just frustrating. I see many people (whom I have spent countless hours talking to and coaching) give up because they fail to educate themselves or they fall into the temptation of fast food’s quick and easy marketing strategies. Sometimes I have found that it was the doctors themselves who were the ones to turn people off from eating only plants. Of all the reasons to turn away, those in the medical field can be the hardest to influence because of their training. I can only imagine the turmoil going on in their heads as they try to wrap their minds around this idea of eating only plants and eliminating meat, dairy and oil.

I did not have the time to help each individual who was interested in trying a plant-based diet, but I certainly wanted to figure out how to reach more in one sitting. So I thought, “I’m going to start with my small town, Roanoke, TX.” To do this, I began hosting cooking classes. I invited a handful of folks to gather around my kitchen as I demonstrated 5-7 recipes while educating them on why I am using certain products and sharing my plant-based knowledge. Between dishes, I have everyone point their attention to the TV while I show snippets of Forks Over Knives. This is great because it gives me time to clean up a little and prepare for the next round of cooking. These demos are done as often as I can do them. I have had nurses, doctor’s wives and nutritionists attend them.

In addition to reaching out to individuals, I also like to invite those in the medical field over for plant-based dinners. For these events, I usually make a small feast of about 4-7 dishes; just enough for everyone to have a sampling. And like the cooking classes, I’m educating as I am introducing each dish. Talking to professionals in the field really keeps me on my toes because they tend to understand more about how the body operates than the average person; so I have studied beforehand. I review my Cornell course notes from my plant-based certification course as well as reread parts of Dr. Esselstyn’s and Dr. Campbell’s books.

It’s not hard to reach out to your community and community professionals. Most folks will not turn down a good meal and almost everyone loves to watch cooking shows, so demos and dinners are perfect. The most important message for anyone to hear is to be consistent. By this, I mean you must always believe in what you preach. If you want others to feel your passion, you have to be a good role model and example.

Over the summer, I was returning a borrowed pool toy to a neighbor. Her husband Mark answered the door, took the toy and said, “Oh and by the way, I’m thinking of doing 30 days of a plant-based diet to see if it will help me feel better. I might be coming by to get some good recipes.” Of course this is a great surprise; but what’s more exciting is that I have never spoken directly to him about changing his diet. I live a plant-based life. When we have potlucks, I bring a plant-based dish. When someone asks me how I get my skin to look so clear and smooth, I tell them it’s my diet. When asked what’s my weight loss secret, I blame the diet. When parents watch me play hard all day with their children and ask me why I still have so much energy all while seeing their kids passed out on the couch, I answer, “I eat plants.”

My lifestyle is my plant-based testimony. It affords me the opportunity to tell others about this way of living without putting them into the offensive by offering unwanted advice. With so many diets out there, folks tend to hear the word “diet” and think “temporary.” They say, “I’m doing the Paleo Diet this month,” or “I’m on the Whole 30 to figure out my allergies.” Often people assume a Plant-Based Diet is like those, it’s just temporary, but that’s not true. It’s a way to live life without self-inflicted pain like heart disease, menstrual pain, arthritis, etc. caused by eating SAD.

I have been asked if it costs a lot to host the demos and dinners. For the demos, I actually charge $5-$8 a person depending on the menu. I only make 1-2 servings per dish and everyone samples. All the leftovers go into the fridge for our family to eat later. So in a sense, I am being paid to make a few meals ahead of time. A great example would be when I made Happy Herbivore Light & Lean Drop Biscuits and Olive Gravy. I made 5 biscuits but tore apart 1-2 biscuits and put a dollop of gravy on top. This was a sampling. If you’re making lots of dishes, you don't want everyone to eat too much because they will be sampling so much during the demo. The remaining biscuits and gravy went into the fridge for us to munch on later.

As for the medical professional dinner, that does cost you, but so does any dinner party you are hosting. The good news is, it’s going to cost less because it’s all plants. Plants in general cost much less than meat and dairy. At a recent dinner the guests brought me a hostess gift. Where a traditional bottle of wine would have been the perfect gift, I was greeted with a basket full of colorful veggies (pictured above). The cost of those veggies alone was probably half the cost of the meal they were eating. It was probably the best hostess gift I have ever received.

If you are interested in learning how to host your own demos and medical professional dinners, please leave a comment below and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Fajita Salad, Italian Noodle Soup, Fresh Vegetable Quinoa Salad & More!

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: MealPlan

If you're looking to add some excitement back into your cooking, this week's meal plan will do the trick!

Fajita Salad (NEW!), Italian Noodle Soup (NEW!), Maple Orange Chickpeas (NEW!), and Fresh Vegetable Quinoa Salad (NEW!) are all brand new and ready to cause a party in your mouth!

On top of our new recipes, you'll also get to enjoy the Sweet Potato & Pea Curry, 5 Spice Harmony Bowl (indi) and Soft Shell Chickpea Tacos (fam.).

Fajita Salad

Individual Highlights

  • Fajita Salad (NEW!)
  • Italian Noodle Soup (NEW!)
  • 5 Spice Harmony Bowl
  • Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal (NEW!)
  • Fresh Vegetable Quinoa Salad (NEW!)
  • Sweet Potato & Pea Curry
  • Maple Orange Chickpeas (NEW!)

Get this meal plan now.

Italian Noodle Soup

Family Highlights

  • Maple Orange Chickpeas (NEW!)
  • Chipotle Cakes
  • Fresh Vegetable Quinoa Salad (NEW!)
  • Fajita Salad (NEW!)
  • Sweet Potato & Pea Curry
  • Italian Noodle Soup (NEW!)
  • Soft Shell Chickpea Tacos

Get this meal plan now.

Fresh Vegetable Quinoa Salad


"The meal plans helped me cut my grocery bill by at least half (maybe even 2/3)! Additionally, I didn't eat out at all this week, saving me an additional $50 this week. Thank you for the inspiration! It really helps with my binge eating too." - Su H

"I just bought the annual membership and I'm super excited. I've been using the meal plans since 2012, and they really are the best thing no matter where you are in your journey. There is so little thought involved when you have the plans that it just makes your life so much easier and is a stress reliever!"- Amy R

Get the current meal plan now.

Herbies of the Week: Lesli & Rich (They've Lost 70lbs Together!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

Meet our Herbies of the Week: Lesli & Rich!

After struggling with weight for much of her life, Lesli turned to a plant-based diet after her doctor wanted her to consider taking a statin for high cholesterol. Much to Lesli's surprise, her husband Rich decided to join her on her plant-based journey and they haven't looked back!

Since making the switch, Rich has lost 40lbs (and at the lowest weight he's ever been in his adult life!) and Lesli is down 30lbs!

Read on for Lesli & Rich's journey to becoming plant-based!

Happy Herbivores. That's what my husband Rich and I are now, and our lives are so much better we can hardly believe it.

We have both had struggles with weight for much of our lives, for my husband because of family genetics and for me because of constantly dieting and searching to find something that would work to keep weight from coming back. We had tried different programs together, only to find the pounds came back, or that we were just hungry all the time because of calorie restrictions. We even felt we were eating healthy as we had long ago removed all red meat from our diets, and ate little junk food. Still, we saw the pounds continuing to creep upward.

My husband had issues with stomach irritation to the point of taking a pill quite often to help, and I had suffered intractable hives for almost an entire summer in a previous year. Neither an allergist, endocrinologist nor dermatologist could diagnose the cause, and only by going through an elimination diet did I find relief. Even so, as I added foods back, I would still get hives requiring antihistamines and allergy meds. We thought these were just things we both had to live with.

The catalyst for change came from a bit of a different direction. At the beginning of 2014, I needed a physical for our healthcare coverage. I knew I had elevated lipids from previous screenings - it was my genetic issue. This time the results showed that ignoring this was no longer an option. My cholesterol and lipid profile were to the point that my physician suggested I think about starting a statin. I did not want to go in that direction, so I researched how to improve without drugs. I considered several diets, but many were not that different from how we were already eating.

Then I came across Dr. Colin Campbell and Dr. Dean Ornish and their work with low fat vegan diets. I read their research and books, and from there, found more support of improving health via a vegan diet. My local library was a great resource for books like "Forks Over Knives", "The Starch Solution" and countless others that showed me firm data that a plant based whole food way of eating was the way to go. Plus, I had long felt uncomfortable about factory farming and the treatment of animals and the people who work in those conditions, and by going vegan I could lessen my impact and dependence on that.

In February, I started the change to plant-based. And even though I did not ask nor expect my husband Rich to change his eating, he decided to come along on the journey. He decided we should be a team and took up the challenge. After almost 30 years together, we have always supported each other and he felt this was important to do together. That's one reason I love him so much!

In March, my father became very ill and subsequently died in early April. It was a challenge to stay on the vegan path because of the stress, having to travel from Washington to Illinois several times to help with arrangements and family matters. I slipped into my old way of eating as I dealt with his loss. Once I was able to return home, I recommitted to plant-based eating in full force.

One of the wonderful discoveries along this journey was finding the Happy Herbivore group of cookbooks and blog! After checking out one of Lindsay's books and recipes, I quickly found these to be my "go-to" guides for great and delicious meals - especially the Light and Lean cookbook! I own nearly all and find the recipes easy, quick and fabulous! We love all the international flavors and spices as well as learning about new cuisines and trying new recipes.

As of the beginning of August, my husband has lost 40 pounds, and I have dropped 30. He is now at the lowest weight he has ever been in his adult life, and I am lower than I have been in 15 years. We have more energy - so much that we started both walking and bicycling together almost daily! Rich has not had to take any stomach medication and my recheck of my lipids after only one month of plant-based eating showed a 10% decrease overall. Plus I have had zero instances of hives, or even the slightest tingle. We feel tremendous, our skin looks better, and we are eating wonderful nutritional and delicious fresh food. We joined a local organic CSA and love the beautiful fresh produce we get, and I am planning a garden of our own next year.

Was this easy? Well, yes and no. Food cravings happen, especially early on as you change, and if you have stresses that challenge you. Yet once you understand the huge positive benefits of a plant-based diet, all those foods you once ate start to look (and taste!) less appealing and you get hooked on fresh and healthy foods! So we plan to keep on, reaping the rewards that a vegan way of eating have brought us. And thanks Lindsay, you have truly helped on this exciting journey of life!

Thank you so much Lesli & Rich for sharing your plant-based journey with us!