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Archive for February, 2017

Experts Share Their Challenges to Becoming Vegan

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Holistic Holiday at Sea soupAs vegan lifestyles become more mainstream, it’s easier now than ever before to adopt a plant-based diet. At the grocery store, you’ll find many vegan alternatives to popular dairy and meat products, such as mac and cheese, pizza, and chicken. Big companies like Ben & Jerry’s are investing money and energy into making sure everyone has options.

With a growing trend toward vegan and vegetarian diets, many people are more motivated to make gradual changes that can improve their health. Medical research and studies support claims that diets based on whole plant foods and macrobiotics can even reverse disease, such as diabetes and heart disease.

As we get closer to our 2017 Holistic Holiday at Sea Cruise, March 11–18, we asked some of our presenters: What was your biggest challenge in becoming vegan? Here’s how they responded!

Gene Baur

Gene Baur

Gene Baur (Photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary)

Gene is the co-founder and president of Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading nonprofit farm animal protection organization. He shares:

For me, the biggest challenge to becoming vegan was social and societal. When I went vegan in 1985, there was very little awareness or understanding about what this meant, which sometimes led to hostility. But that has changed markedly over the years. Vegans still represent a small minority of citizens, but we are earning the respect of non-vegans, many who have come to respect and see merit in this way of living.

Read more on Gene and his activism here.

Dr. Neal Barnard

Dr. Neal Barnard

Dr. Neal Barnard

A leader in investigating the effects of diet on diabetes, body weight, and chronic pain, Dr. Barnard is an adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and founder of Barnard Medical Center. He led the groundbreaking study of dietary interventions in type 2 diabetes. He replied:

No challenges. It was easy. Much easier than quitting smoking, for example.

Robert Cheeke

Robert Cheeke

Robert Cheeke

A vegan bodybuilder and author, Robert grew up on a farm in western Oregon and developed a close connection and appreciation for farm animals. It just made sense to him that he shouldn’t be eating his animal friends. He learned how to fuel his high school athletic career by eating plants, largely on his own. He says:

I became vegan in 1995 at the age of 15, so it was a totally different landscape back then. I like to joke that I became vegan before the public internet was available. If I take a look back in time, I recall the biggest challenge for me was living in a small agricultural community and not being understood by my family, friends, and peers. There weren’t a lot of books and resources, and obviously no websites, blogs, or podcasts back then, so I just navigated out on my own, with support from my sister and some classmates. Luckily, plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds, have always been there, and even back in the mid-90s there were meat and dairy alternatives, so I was all set and poised for a bright future ahead. I just embarked on my 22nd year as a vegan athlete.

Jessica Porter

Jessica Porter

Jessica Porter

Author of The MILF Diet and The Hip Chick’s Guide to Macrobiotics, Jessica has been practicing macrobiotics since 1991. She teaches cooking classes in Santa Monica, California. She says:

Honestly, transitioning to a plant-based diet wasn’t hard. I was never a big meat eater, or dairy drinker. Although I did love my ice cream. I remember the moment I discovered Rice Dream faux ice cream in 1990, like it was yesterday–what a revelation! Of course, these days there are so many more choices, it’s downright easy to create delicious, satisfying vegan meals with tons of variety. I’ve been eating this way for more than half my life now, so it’s just what I do.

Christina Pirello

Christina Pirello

Christina Pirello

Having nearly died twice in her lifetime, Christina is acutely aware that life is precious. She was diagnosed with terminal leukemia at age 26. When she adopted a strict macrobiotic diet, it made all the difference.

I did not experience a lot of challenges becoming vegan. I was facing a health crisis that made my choices easy.

Read more about Christina’s recovery story here.

Kathy Patalsky

Kathy Patalsky

Kathy Patalsky

Author of two best-selling cookbooks, 365 Vegan Smoothies and Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen, Kathy chose her vegan lifestyle for many reasons, including her love for animals and the horror she feels for how poorly they are treated across the world.

My biggest challenge was realizing for myself that veganism isn’t a strict diet. It is a happy way to eat that benefits your body and soul. It’s not about perfectionism or restriction. It’s about joy and self care.

Nancy Montuori

Nancy Montuori

Nancy Montuori

Nancy is a vegan chef who writes the recipe and nutrition blog Ordinary Vegan. When she was very young, she contracted a disease that landed her in the hospital for six months inside an iron lung. She relied on aunts, cousins, and godparents to help her with physical therapy so she could regain movement of her limbs. She strived to eat healthy and take care of her body. In 2011, the documentary Fork Over Knives profoundly affected her outlook. She adopted a plant-based lifestyle shortly after and was able to discontinue her high cholesterol medication. She shares:

That was close to six years ago, but the thing I remember most was that I was confused about nutrition. I now believe education about nutrition is the most powerful tool you can have to maintain and live a healthy plant-based lifestyle.

Sandy Pukel

Sandy Pukel

Sandy Pukel

Sandy Pukel is the president and founder of Holistic Holiday at Sea. He adopted a plant-based, macrobiotic diet beginning in 1970 and has never looked back. He offers this advice to those daunted by the idea of a vegan lifestyle:

The challenge of becoming vegan lies in the limitations we put on ourselves. Excuses, excuses, excuses. Once vegan, going out with friends is sometimes a challenge, but you can always find something to eat if you are not shy about speaking up for yourself. The ultimate game plan is to have everyone become vegan! Then, dining out, attending concerts, ballgames, etc. would be easy. You could just walk up to any counter and order without having to ask the ingredients. Keep the faith, the concept of health and happiness will soon be embraced by one and all.

Your Journey

Holistic Holiday at Sea hopes to support you wherever you are on your journey to optimal health. Check out our blog for more insight from the experts and ways to get the most out of our upcoming cruise, from poolside socials to essential things to pack.

Remember to Pack These 5 Things for the Cruise!

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Holistic Holiday at SeaSailing March 11–18, the Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise is less than a month away! Are you ready for warm breezes, vegan cuisine, and the chance to move, expand your mind, and get inspired? It’s time to start thinking about what to bring! While 200 pounds of personal luggage may seem like a lot (it’s the max for guests to bring aboard the ship), it’s important to plan wisely so you’ll have everything you need.

1. Comfortable Shoes

Whether you’re a serious athlete or a professional beach bum, bringing a couple different options for footwear is important. Certified personal trainer and masters triathlete Larry Krug advises folks to bring a good pair of walking shoes and running shoes. Flip flops are fine for lounging, but they’re discouraged for off-boat excursions where sturdier shoes are more appropriate. Of course, when it comes to yoga and Pilates, barefoot is always in fashion.

2. Fitness Gear

As you read in our recent blog post, fitness classes are one of the favorite, most anticipated aspects of the cruise. Derek Tresize, a vegan WNBF Pro Bodybuilder, will teach several courses, including “Total Body Conditioning” and “Prehab and Rehab: Exercises to Support Pain-Free, Long-Term Fitness,” where participation is encouraged (although guests are also welcome to watch).Holistic Holiday at Sea Yoga

He says, “The trip includes a very large and diverse group of people from all over the world. That means there will be people from all different fitness levels and age groups on board, and everyone should have the opportunity to improve their health and maximize the benefit of their trip by participating in the fitness offerings.”

If you choose to take Pilates or yoga classes, instructor Bianka Steinfeldt recommends bringing your own mat. “We provide towels, but not a mat. The floor is hard, so to get a better experience, a mat is helpful.”

Robert Cheeke, a bodybuilding champion, suggests that guests stay hydrated by bringing their own water bottle or cup of water from the café (in case it’s not provided for that particular class). He says, “The weather and the nature of the cardiovascular type of workout typically leads to thirst and sweating, so be prepared.” He suggests athletic clothing for the Caribbean weather, such as tank tops, shorts, and athletic socks. “Whatever your fitness interest, you will find something fun to do on board,” he adds.

Shop in the Holistic Holiday Sea lifestyle store, accessible through the online shop, and find shirts, hats, and even aprons with special designs just for HHAS fans.  

3. Layers & Sun Protection

While you may be traveling from a cold climate, keep in mind that the Caribbean will be warm and sunny. As the ship is air conditioned, a sweater or light jacket is recommended. Yoga teacher Angelica Kushi says, “Bring layers, it can start off chilly on the deck in the morning, or we may have to go inside due to rain.”Holistic Holiday at Sea

The sun will be strong, so be sure to take measures to protect your skin. Angelica says, “Pack sunscreen for sure! But make sure it’s a good brand! I’m currently using Thinksport, I’m not affiliated with them at all! I just think the ingredients are great! Check out ewg.org to find one that is best for you and for the environment.”

4. The Essentials

While it’s good to remember items that will make your voyage more enjoyable, it’s super important to be able to get on the ship. Remember essential items such as your passport! Other important info and FAQs can be found on our website.

5. Your Talent for the Talent Show!

The annual Holistic Holiday at Sea talent show is a chance for attendees to strut their stuff. Bring along your props or instruments and sign up with Blair Karsch during the cruise, or leave your contact information at the registration desk. Due to the high demand, acts will be limited, so sign up early.

Plan Your Schedule

Larry recommends that guests plan their schedule ahead of time, so they can get the most out of the experience. “Go over the lectures a week or ten days before the cruise,” he says. “Check off lectures and activities that you’d like to do, so you don’t have to make this decision the night before you come on the ship. Understanding programming for first-timers is the real key for making this experience as beneficial as possible.” There are many private consultations available as well. You can view the full program here. See you on board!

Goodbye 2016: Hello 2017!

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Kathy Patalsky

Kathy Patalsky

As 2017 is well underway, we’re about one month out from the 14th annual Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise, which sails March 11–18! As we near our departure from Miami, our guests are getting excited about this year’s lineup of presenters. In addition to delicious food, poolside socials and camaraderie, health and wellness activities, and fitness classes, returning attendees have reported that they always look forward to hearing from leading authorities in holistic and alternative health in the form of lectures and workshops.

Since the very first cruise, Holistic Holiday at Sea president and founder Sandy Pukel has made it his goal to invite influential and popular presenters with a range of expertise, from distinguished physicians to fitness experts. “The whole mission of the cruise since day one has been to introduce people to a lifestyle that will make them happier and healthier,” says Sandy. “We think accomplishing this through diet, knowledge, classes, and exercise is the way to go. Our job is to make this information available to everybody. We try and pick the best people who can communicate that message.”

We recently got the chance to catch up with a few presenters for our upcoming cruise. As 2016 has recently come to a close, we wanted to take a moment and ask them their thoughts on this past year, and let us know what they’re excited about for the months to come.

Plant-Based Diets in the Mainstream

When we asked author of The MILF Diet and The Hip Chick’s Guide to Macrobiotics, Jessica Porter, what she hopes to see with regard to science, awareness, or popularity of veganism and plant-based nutrition for 2017, she replied, “I don’t have any specific hopes in this department only because I think that plant-based eating and veganism are moving quickly and powerfully into the mainstream with or without my hoping!”

When Jessica recently visited her hometown of Toronto, Canada, she noticed that three new plant-based restaurants sprouted up, in addition to the two already there. “It was fantastic! And the two I ate at (one of them twice) were very crowded and energetic. So the plant-based revolution is moving along quite nicely, thank goodness.”

A vegan chef and advocate for healthy living, Nancy Montuori says, “Awareness about plant-based diets is flourishing, and I predict plant-based nutrition will become more mainstream than ever in the next few years. According to a study published by US National Library of Medicine, motives of consumers interested in a plant-based diet are health and wellness, animal-related, or for the environment. But the vast majority of respondents mentioned more than one reason. That is a great sign.”

Holistic Holiday at Sea Robert Cheeke

Robert Cheeke

The plant-based lifestyle is gaining momentum. Vegan bodybuilder and fitness instructor Robert Cheeke shares, “I am confident that the growth of the plant-based movement and the rise in awareness of the vegan lifestyle will reach an all-time high in 2017. The signs are all around us. What was once a fringe lifestyle is now more mainstream than it has ever been. For example, when I look on Amazon.com, some of the top-selling books Amazon carries are vegan books. I mean, top 100 sellers out of millions and millions of titles available (such as Thug Kitchen, Forks Over Knives, and How Not To Die to name a few). Even my fellow plant-strong friend and colleague, Rip Esselstyn, had his new book, The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet, peak at #82 of all books the first week of January 2017.”

Leading by Example

In addition to authors who share their work with the world on an easy-to-access platform like Amazon, many individuals and organizations also contribute to these efforts. Gene Baur co-founded Farm Sanctuary in 1985, which saves animals from the cruelty of factory farming and encourages consumers to make mindful choices about the way we live.

Gene Baur (Photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary)

Gene Baur (Photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary)

Gene shares, “Among the biggest news and advancements over the past year is the growing engagement of business leaders and entrepreneurs who are interested in challenging our animal based food system and supplanting it with plant foods. It is exciting to see vegan businesses selling their products in mainstream markets, and major investors leveraging their influence to promote a more responsible, sustainable plant-based food system. It’s also significant that traditional meat companies are starting to invest in vegan companies.”

The press and media also affect how people view this lifestyle. Emmy Award-winning host of Christina Cooks, Christina Pirello, says “I wish that people living healthy lives enjoying a plant-based diet got more press as opposed to the extreme stories of imbalance that seem to create a poor image of plant-based eating.” She adds, “I like that we have placed a good focus on ancient foods, fermented foods, and other natural processes to create healthy approaches to eating for people. I also like that the health benefits of plant-based eating are taking center stage.”

Blogger and best-selling author Kathy Patalsky says, “I think more people are realizing the positive climate change effects of veganism. For the earth and animals!”

A researcher funded by the National Institutes of Health and adjunct associate professor of medicine at The George Washington University, Dr. Neal Barnard notes that vegetarian diets were officially listed among the three healthiest food patterns Americans should know about in the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015–2020. The report was published in December 2015: “The three were vegetarian, Mediterranean, and Healthy-US. Veg diets are now mainstream!”

2016: A Big Year in Veganism

Robert has a slew of important new stories from 2016 that involve the vegan lifestyle. Among them are the fact that major companies, like Ben & Jerry’s, are also offering vegan products, and that famous folks, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, are encouraging their fans to ditch meat and help save the planet.

Robert says that according to the Plant Based Foods Association, plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy accounted for $4.9 billion in sales last year. “This, of course, doesn’t factor in produce which most of us consume daily,” adds Robert. “We’ll likely see the plant-based alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs surpass $10 billion in sales in the very near future, and this is good news for the animals and the planet—and for people’s health, although a diet focused primarily on whole plant foods would do even better for one’s health.”

Nancy Montuori believes the biggest health and wellness news story was in March when five major food companies announced GMO labeling: “GMO awareness and food safety is now trickling down to the mainstream which will help advance veganism.”

Resolutions for 2017

Holistic Holiday at Sea meditationWhether you’re a new year’s resolution maker or not, taking stock of where you are in your health is always an important thing to do every so often. While many presenters said they had no new goals this year, quite a few expressed an interest in mindfulness.

Gene Baur says, “I intend to maintain my cardio exercises and to complete my first ultra-marathon, and also plan to add more strength exercise to support bone health as I enter my mid-50s. I also hope to take steps toward yoga and/or meditation. For years, I’ve been in what I call my ‘pre-yoga’ phase, and I think it’s time to move into doing yoga and meditation.” Along similar lines, Jessica Porter made a commitment to meditate every day for half an hour in 2017.

Kathy Patalsky answers simply, “Balance and peace. Trying to keep things energized yet also finding plenty of quiet time in this very noisy world we live in.”

Education Continues to Change the World

Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. is a pioneer in preventative and restorative cardiovascular medicine. “We are at the cusp of a seismic revolution in health for this country and the world. This whole food plant-based nutrition revolution will eliminate chronic illness. It is safe, prompt, powerful, and enduring without added expense and no side effects. This whole food plant-based approach has been shown to halt and reverse cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, vascular dementia, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, allergies, asthma, renal disease, GERD, obesity, and hypertension to mention a few.”

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr.

Dr. Caldwell B Esselstyn, Jr.

Thus, opportunities to hear from experts in health and wellness, animal advocacy, and fitness are going to be key in helping change mindsets and heal the planet.

Dr. Esselstyn adds, “This revolution will not come from a pill, a procedure, or an operation, but will come about when we as a profession have the will, grit, and tenacity of purpose to share with the public the lifestyle, and most specifically the nutritional literacy, that will empower them to vanquish chronic illness.”

Looking Ahead

Whether you’ve attended the cruise in years past or this is your first time, all the presenters are looking forward to having you on board! View the full 2017 Cruise Program here, and begin planning your itinerary today!

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