About Page: The Why

Years ago my personal and professional lives collided in a way that caused me to re‑evaluate my approach to health.  I was working at an oncology biotech company that was running clinical trials with investigational drugs for cancer.  In each study there were usually a few patients who fared extremely well, though unfortunately most did not.

In the same period of time, three of my friends in their 30s and early 40s were diagnosed with late stage cancer.  In the prime of their lives, Ted, Marge, Catherine were confronted with a diagnosis that came to affect every facet of their lives and those of their families and friends.  In spite of long and courageous battles, all three passed away, leaving me with a feeling of helplessness.  I began to search for something that I could do to assist others in similar situations.

Because we couldn’t predict which patients would be responders to what investigational drugs, I began to wonder if there were scientifically credible options that could help lower the risk of cancer, to circumvent the treatment stage altogether.  I began to think it would be fascinating if the difference in the successful oncology patients in clinical studies was more related to lifestyle changes they may have made, specifically in their diet.

I became vegetarian and shortly thereafter vegan while devouring books by Michael Pollan, Joel Fuhrman, Neal Barnard, and T. Colin Campbell.  I found Susan Voisin’s FatFreeVegan blog and Michael Greger’s site NutritionFacts.org.  I was elated when Rip Esselstyn began touring with The Engine 2 Diet and a whole foods, plant based diet started reaching the mainstream.

While the impact of these changes on my family was significant, I felt like it wasn’t enough.  My husband’s IBS had resolved after going vegetarian, and then vegan after further identifying trigger foods.  My daughter’s allergies became more manageable and didn’t require meds year round.  Our total cholesterol levels dropped to the low 100s.  I wanted to share this message with others who were ready to feel better and put their lives on track to a lower risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.  I trained as a Food for Life Instructor with The Cancer Project (www.cancerproject.org), a nonprofit arm of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (www.pcrm.org) and began teaching classes for adults and children and offering one-on-one coaching.  My goal in these interactions is to demonstrate that a plant-based diet is attainable for anyone and to provide simple recipes that can both taste good and dramatically improve one’s health.

My educational background includes a PhD from Wake Forest University / Bowman Gray School of Medicine in Pharmacology.  As a scientist, I was attracted to PCRM’s program because the dietary recommendations are founded on data widely published in peer‑reviewed journals.  This type of information rarely gets to the average consumer, however, diluted as it is by the studies sponsored by the dairy and meat industries and by a culture of convenience and instant gratification.   It is extremely challenging for anyone in this era of informational overload to know what constitutes the healthiest choice.

That’s where I come in- with my scientific background, personal experience, and desire to help others, I can distill the data into practical recommendations and simple recipes.  I have seen the differences that a whole foods, plant based diet has made in my family and want to share this message with others.

One of the hardest things for me with this blog is writing down ingredients and measurements as I go along, because my cooking style is to make it up as I go along with as few ingredients and little time as possible.  My hope is that you take liberty to adjust the recipes based on what ingredients you have and experiment with them to find out what works for you or your family.