I started teaching plant-based cooking classes in the spring of 2016, and I have been amazed at the power they have to inspire people to eat more healthfully, and to understand that eating more healthfully doesn’t mean “boring” or “bland.”
Take two steps back: I have been teaching most of my adult life – computers, photography, ESL – and I have loved all of these experiences, mostly because of the common “Aha!” moments that occur when people “get” something they didn’t get before.
But with health and cooking, it’s different. I guess it’s because to me it seems more important. When a person starts to truly realize the potential food has to impact their long-term health, that’s a powerful thing.
Many people don’t think much about their health until they, or someone they love, gets sick. We often take good health and fitness for granted until we don’t have it anymore. And then when we do get sick, we feel helpless. It’s an awful feeling that we can all relate to – not being able to do the things we have always been able to do, and when it’s more serious, wondering if we’re going to get better, and how that is going to happen.
So when people start to TRULY make the connection, to understand that the food and drink we take into our body is what our body then recreates itself out of, it is incredibly empowering. This is something we can control, something we can do for ourselves.
As the evidence base for the potential of a whole-foods plant-based diet to prevent (and even reverse) many of the most common chronic diseases that plague western societies (and increasingly other parts of the world as the western diet spreads), people all over Canada, the US and Europe are sitting up and paying attention. There is a movement afoot, which is leading us to take a look at what we are eating, what we are feeding our families, and how we are doing it. The conversations in my classes, and in my consultations, constantly inspire me because people are taking this information and running with it.
The challenge may be staying inspired in a world where being unhealthy and indulging in foods that contribute to disease are the norm. Here are a few suggestions for keeping that fire alive, until healthy, delicious cooking has become a habit and that AHA moment turns into a lifelong journey:
- Keep learning. Once you have opened the door to discovering the reasons to follow a compassionate, plant-based lifestyle, it quickly becomes apparent that there are many great reasons, and there is a lot to learn. Try not to let this overwhelm you – learn and discover at your own pace. Today there are movies, books and websites galore to help you along your journey. Some of my favourites can be found on the resources page on this site.
- Cultivate a community. When making the change to a plant-based lifestyle, it can feel like you’re all alone if no one in your family, or among your friends, has also stepped onto that path. A critical part of a successful change is finding friends and community that you can lean on for support, and share ideas, recipes and information with. It’s also very important that you have someone knowledgeable that you can discuss questions with. Most communities (including Powell River) have groups who get together for vegan potlucks or meetups, and these are great places to find out more information about where you might find like-minded individuals. Check out the Powell River Vegan Potluck page on Facebook. Online forums are another great place to find community and people to chat with – there are lots of them around, so check them out on social media platforms like facebook, twitter and google+ and find one that’s right for you!
- Find the fun. Adopting a more plant-based lifestyle is a journey – an AWESOME journey! Along the way you will likely discover some delicious foods you have never tasted before, you will meet new friends, and be exposed to new ideas. This is an exciting time! Embrace the change, and have fun with it!
Taking a plant-based cooking class can be a great way to learn to cook some new dishes, get exposed to new foods, and meet people who are also interested in learning more. I have 2 6-week series coming up this fall. Check out the details here.