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Our 2018 Program Promotes an Active Lifestyle

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Angelica Kushi leads a morning yoga class.

Remember to pack a yoga mat and water bottle—it’s almost time for the 2018 Holistic Holiday at Sea Voyage to Well-being, which runs February 15–25, 2018! Our mission is that every guest on Holistic Holiday at Sea leaves feeling even healthier and happier than when they arrived. To ensure that this happens, we plan a comprehensive health and wellness program with leading experts in the plant-based movement. The schedule includes lectures, fitness and mindfulness classes, cooking demonstrations, and gourmet food prepared by award-winning chefs. We balance sit-down presentations with plenty of opportunities for attendees to get up and participate in movement sessions.

Each year, we bring back favorite classes and introduce new ones into the mix. Let’s take a closer look at some of the more active classes on our upcoming cruise.

Building Muscle

Robert Cheeke leads his Functional Fitness class.

There are many simple exercises and nutrition tips that help vegan athletes achieve their fitness goals. HHAS presenter Robert Cheeke has more than 20 years of experience as a plant-based athlete. He specializes in areas of burning fat and building muscle, while increasing energy and staying fit and active year round.

In his lecture, “Exercise and Nutrition for Energy: Simple Exercises and Nutrition Tips to Keep Your Body Toned and Give You More Energy Year Round,” Robert examines the lack of energy that keeps many people from having the active lifestyle they want and provides solutions in the form of food and exercise. In “Functional Fitness,” Robert teaches attendees how to complete total body exercises for a full body workout without any special equipment. “Functional fitness classes are led in a follow-the-leader style,” says Robert. “I will perform the exercises with you, and you follow my movements. When I jog in place, you jog in place, and when I move to jumping jacks, you move to jumping jacks. You can go at your own pace, as each movement is typically performed for time (30 seconds of this, or one minute of that).”

On the panel Q&A titled “Powered by Plants,” Robert will be joined by fellow vegan athletes Matt Frazier, Angelica Kushi, Dani Taylor, Giacomo Marchese, and “Fitness over Fifty” trainer Larry Krug. Have burning questions about how athletes fuel their bodies on a plant-based diet? Learn from this selection of amazing plant-based athletes who have achieved success in their respective pursuits. Each participant is leading at least one other lecture or class. Click on their presenter pages for more information.

Pilates, Self Massage & Yoga—Oh My!

A yoga teacher, health and wellness coach, aerial performer, and stunt woman, Angelica Kushi takes a relaxed and integrative approach to health. In addition to multiple vinyasa flow yoga and heart-opening meditation classes, Angelica will also lead a Yoga Dance Party with music by DJ Josh Vincent. Once bodies are stretched, yoga poses will transition into dance moves.

Another return Holistic Holiday at Sea presenter, Alese Jones’ teaching is grounded in more than 25 years of experience in asana practice and ten years in meditation. She will lead an intermediate vinyasa flow yoga and yin/restorative yoga class (all levels), and meditation class (all levels). When asked why it’s important to have offerings for people of all levels, Alese replied, “It is important to include everyone with whatever fitness level they are currently at. What is also important is for the participant to learn to modify poses if needed, no matter what level yoga class they are attending. Yoga requires a deep quality of listening, so learning to modify to one’s needs allows that person to have a level of comfort no matter what class they are attending.”

Attending an all levels class, Alese adds, also cultivates body awareness. “Yoga is not looked at as a ‘fitness’ class. It is a practice encompassing far more than the physical body, and what I love about it is that it’s just you and your mat! If you approach it with honesty and openness, and with consistency, coupled with meditation, then the transformation and true gifts of yoga will happen on their own timing. When it happens is not our business. That’s grace.”

Chandrakant Hiester has sailed with Holistic Holiday at Sea for 14 years, coming aboard with Yogi Desai to lead morning yoga classes and Integrative Relaxation sessions. In 2018, he will lead lectures and classes on yoga and Integration Relaxation (a series of simple techniques that can be done lying on the floor or sitting in a chair).

Chandrakant says his aspirations for this cruise are to offer guests experiences that underscore the importance of what they eat. He adds, “(That is,) how to live in an attunement with the wisdom of the vital life force that not only digests food, but transforms it into a harmonious appropriateness in the experience we call life.”

Movement of all varieties helps reduce stress. Laughter is no exception. Nutritionist and macrobiotic counselor Lino Stanchich, who has been a presenter since year one of the cruise, will lead, “Laugh for the Health of It,” a lecture on the benefits of laughter. During this time, he will teach others how to consciously practice healing laughter throughout the day. He says, “Laughter is not only one of the most fun experiences in life, but also one of the most healthful for heart, circulation, and immunity… Laughter Therapy shows that it is important to laugh daily, whether we find anything “humorous” or not!” In another lecture, Lino will illustrate the benefits of self massage based on powerful healing techniques.

There’s Nothing Like a Good Stretch!

Bianka Steinfeldt (in yellow) leads class.

No matter what you choose to do, starting each day with a solid stretch is key. Bianka Steinfeldt will lead Pilates, Stretch, Natural Movement, Breath, and Reiki Meditation classes. When asked why stretching is important, Bianka replies that it’s in our nature as humans to stretch. After sitting or standing for some time, our bodies crave a good stretch. Additionally, it’s important to stretch to avoid pain in our muscles. When it comes to fitness, most people think of strength and cardiovascular exercises. “But,” says Bianka, “if you want to stay fit, don’t forget to stretch!… Some of us shorten our biceps by just sitting all day in front of a computer. So the function of your arms will be shortened and other muscles have to take over. You may start getting pain in your elbows, shoulders, and so on. Imagine your bicep is a sponge and if it doesn’t get any water, the sponge will dry out and it is easy to break.”

As a preview to her class, “Stretch One by One,” here are some of Bianka’s tips to proper stretching. In order to get the benefits of stretching, it’s important to stretch properly:

  • Warm up. Never stretch a cold muscle; it can result in injury. Instead, warm up with some cardiovascular activity prior to stretching. This will help make your muscles more pliable and conducive to stretching.
  • Breathe. Sometimes we’re inclined to hold our breath when stretching, but this is counterproductive because it results in tightness and resistance. Instead, breathe into a stretch. Breathe slowly and deeply. As you exhale, you may feel yourself naturally sink a little deeper into the stretch.
  • Be gentle. Never force a stretch. Instead, gently ease your way into a stretch and let your body dictate how far you can go. Flexibility will naturally increase over time—forcing a stretch will only result in injury, not increased flexibility.
  • Be consistent. The best way to build flexibility is with a consistent stretching routine. Aim for 3 to 5 days per week. If you commit to a stretching program, you will see results.

Don’t underestimate the value of stretching. It can keep you fit and healthy for years!

Participants in Marcus Gary’s Qi Gong class.

Marcus Gary and his partners/co-instructors Maria Johnson and Jamila Makini will lead the class, “Looking and Feeling Great at Any Age with 5 Organ Qi Gong.” The Taoists developed a system for cultivating and promoting the free flow of energy in the body through the exercise called Qi Gong. In this class, you’ll learn postures and sounds that purge toxic energies out of the major organ energy stems. Want to go deeper? Check out their private consultations.

“For those that really want to get into this practice, we introduce a Qi Gong lifestyle. It’s more than just an exercise program, but a way of life that incorporates diet, movement, acupressure massage, and meditation to balance our Qi (energy). Why would one want to have balanced Qi? To have a good life.

This will be our third year offering consultations. The process is called Digital Meridian Imaging, which is a short (but accurate) diagnosis of one’s Qi body, pinpointing where imbalances may be causing emotional and physical issues. The client walks away with a customized Qi Gong routine to address the results of their exam.”

A Healthy Body, A Healthy World

Personal trainer and compassionate animal advocate James Aspey went vegetarian a few years ago. He began to understand more about the cruelty of the dairy industries and soon committed to veganism. In addition to protecting animals, James has found it so much easier to maintain a healthy physical appearance than when he ate meat, dairy, and eggs. James will be making his Holistic Holiday at Sea debut, presenting on vegan activism and why he took a 365-day vow of silence for the animals in 2014.

James told us, “Once I learned that we are likely to be healthier and live a longer life without eating animals, I could no longer justify participating in the violence.”

Whether you’re attending the cruise because of your passion for animal advocacy, culinary talents, background in medicine, or interest in the mind-body connection, Holistic Holiday at Sea has something special in store for you. Plant-based living is the way to a healthier, more peaceful world. We look forward to sailing with you!

Celebrate Good Times—Come on Aboard!

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Whether our 2018 cruise is your first Holistic Holiday at Sea experience or your 15th, our annual Voyage to Well-being offers many exciting opportunities to discover something new about yourself and dig deeper into the plant-based movement. Attend lectures and workshops by dozens of leading experts in the areas of medicine, fitness, holistic modalities, and nutrition. Dine on 100% vegan cuisine prepared with care and attention to detail under the strict supervision of Mark Hanna, an internationally known natural food chef and author.

And don’t forget to pack your dancing shoes! There are many opportunities to enjoy world-class entertainment, from stand-up to musical concerts.

Music that Awakens the Soul

Bridgette Kosser with presenters Robert Cheeke and Marcus Gary

“There’s a lot to do on this cruise. There’s a lot of information,” says singer and entertainer Bridgette Kosser. “I think it’s very important for people to have time to connect with each other in a different way and have fun and feel relaxed.” Bridgette is one of the amazing performers set to appear on our upcoming cruise. This will be Bridgette’s eighth year singing on the cruise (and ninth time attending).

“I’m looking forward to new ports,” says Bridgette. “One thing I’m really looking forward to is that I’m doing a private concert experience.’ A professional singer for more than 30 years, Bridgette is offering a 90-minute private group concert titled “I Am Enough,” which is based on her original music and book that will transform listeners’ inner connection with themselves.

Guests will be serenaded by Bridgette at the welcome party on the first night of the cruise. She will perform favorite tunes from many decades. At the pool deck party themed “C’mon, Get Happy!” Bridgette has chosen “feel good” music—classic hits from the ’70s onward.

The ship has become dubbed by Holistic Holiday at Sea fans as The Love Boat. Music plays a big part in bringing people together. “For me, music is like a highway that vibration—that energy—travels on.” While listening to music, people often feel themselves drawn to others experiencing the same flow of energy on the inside. Poolside socials offer a great opportunity for guests to mingle!

Have a Seat for Stand-up

Steve Mittleman

Steve Mittleman

As Hippocrates famously said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” We’d like to add that laughter is also an important ingredient for a balanced life!

While he is no stranger to performing on cruises, comedian Steve Mittleman is making his Holistic Holiday at Sea debut. His career was launched years ago when he won The Big Laff Off on Showtime. He’s one of the rare comedians who appeared on The Tonight Show with both Johnny Carson and Jay Leno. He’s also appeared on popular networks, including HBO and Comedy Central. Steve has worked with such talents as Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano, and Steve Martin.

You may recognize his name from a special thanks in the credits for the film Forks Over Knives. “Brian Wendel, who created Forks Over Knives, is a friend of mine,” says Steve. “About ten years ago, I had The China Study on my coffee table and he asked to borrow it. He gave it back a couple weeks later and said, ‘I’m making a movie out of that!’”

In his stand-up set for Holistic Holiday at Sea, titled “Leave Your Fat Behind,” Steve discusses the emotional side of eating for health, an approach that frees up our mind around our food choices. While he’s been invested in vegetarianism and macrobiotics since the early ’80s (and plant-based for the last decade), Steve has a mindset that wavers from extremes and promotes doing the best you can. “You do the most loving thing you can toward yourself and toward others and toward the planet… From my own experience, from my life, I’ve been too perfectionistic—and food is something you must have. So you have to develop a great relationship with it and around it and about it. People can go crazy micromanaging.”

In his comedy show titled “Fun Time!” Steve’s charm and clever wordplay will ensure a night of laughter and smiles.

Steve tells us, “I’m looking forward to seeing all the great speakers, being surrounded by fellow plant-based people, and going with my girlfriend (Lynda Lander)… I can’t wait for this cruise. I think about it maybe every day!”

See You Soon!

New friends and experiences await you on the 2018 Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise! Bridgette says, “I think the cruise is amazing because the people I met nine years ago—many I communicate with outside of the cruise—when we come back on the ship again, they’re like family. And then you have the opportunity to meet all these new people. I find it to be really, really connecting in that way. And that’s why I keep doing it.” Make new memories on the Voyage to Well-being. First-time cruise goers and returning guests, alike, will love our schedule of entertainment. We’ll see you soon!

Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes Everyone Will Love

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If you’re following a vegan or vegetarian diet, Thanksgiving can be an especially difficult holiday to spend around the table with omnivorous friends and family who cook with dairy, eggs, and meat. Besides hosting your own plant-based Thanksgiving dinner, another option is to offer to bring appetizers, sides, main courses, or desserts wherever you’ve been invited to dine.

We asked a few Holistic Holiday at Sea presenters for some of their favorite recipes to help you prepare foods that are not only tasty, but healthy and kind to animals. Now, isn’t that the perfect way to truly give thanks?

Tasty Plant-Based Side Dishes

Many traditional Thanksgiving ingredients are naturally vegan: green beans, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, carrots, cranberries, squash, and root vegetables. Matt Frazier, founder of No Meat Athlete, tells us, “For a plant-based Thanksgiving, my favorite approach is to make a lot of side dishes, which I’ve always considered the most interesting part of Thanksgiving dinner anyway. With enough good side dishes, you don’t even need to worry about replacing the turkey. This also works well if you’ll be a guest at a non-vegan table: bring along a few sides, and you’ll know that even if there’s nothing else for you to eat, at least you can load up your plate with the dishes you brought, while also being able to contribute something to the meal.”

The No Meat Athlete Cookbook: Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes to Fuel Your Workouts and the Rest of Your Life (2017), written by Matt and longtime health coach, yoga teacher, and nutrition writer Stepfanie Romine, contains 150 whole food, vegan recipes. Here is one of them!

Tahini Green Beens by No Meat Athlete Matt Frazier

Tahini Green Beans by No Meat Athlete

Tahini Green Beans* from Matt Frazier

Serves: 2 to 4

Time: 15 minutes

This recipe quickly entered regular rotation for everyone who tested it; the tahini and sesame seeds make green beans incredibly enticing with very little effort. If you are a dipper, serve the sauce on the side and eat the green beans like fries. This technique also works with steamed or roasted broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, or beets.

Ingredients

1 pound (454 g) green beans, washed and trimmed

2 tablespoons gluten-free tahini

1 garlic clove, minced

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Salt and black pepper

1 teaspoon toasted black or white sesame seeds, optional

Instructions

  1. Steam the beans in a medium saucepan fitted with a steamer insert (or by adding 1⁄4 cup/60 ml water to a covered saucepan) over medium-high heat. Drain, reserving the cooking water.
  2. Mix the tahini, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Use the reserved cooking water to thin the sauce as desired.
  3. Toss the green beans with the sauce and serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with the sesame seeds, if using.

From frozen: Use a pound of frozen French-style haricots verts. Run them under hot water until thawed, and drain well.

 

*Recipe from The No Meat Athlete Cookbook: Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes to Fuel Your Workouts and the Rest of Your Life © Matt Frazier and Stepfanie Romine, 2017. Photographs copyright © Ken Carlson, Waterbury Publications Inc. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. theexperimentpublishing.com

Creamy Mushroom Bisque

Warm up on with a bowl of this delicious soup. This recipe by Bryanna Clark Grogan can be found in the book Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes Without Drugs by Neal Barnard, M.D.

A food processor turns this soup into a rich, creamy treat with a delightful mushroom flavor. Take comfort in knowing that this is lower in fat than your conventional dairy-laden bisque.

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 small onion, finely chopped

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons dry sherry

2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

salt, to taste

12 ounces mushrooms, sliced

2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

5 cups low-sodium mushroom broth

dairy-free (vegan) parmesan cheese substitute (optional)

Instructions

  1. Steam-fry onion in a heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat until soft but not browned, adding very small amounts of water as needed to prevent sticking and burning. (Or place in a microwavable dish, cover, and microwave on high for 3 minutes.)
  2. Place broth, bay leaf, thyme, and oats in a medium saucepan. Add onion and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until oats are soft.
  3. Meanwhile, steam-fry mushrooms in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over high heat, adding a sprinkle of salt and very small amounts of water as needed to prevent sticking and burning. Cook until mushrooms release and reabsorb their liquid. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. When oats are soft, remove bay leaf and puree the soup until creamy with a hand-held blender or in batches in a blender or food processor. (Remove the middle part of the blender or food processor’s lid so hot air can escape. Cover the hole loosely with a folded clean cloth while blending.)
  5. Return the soup to the pan and add mushrooms, soy sauce, sherry, if using, salt, black pepper, and vegan parmesan substitute, if using. Serve hot.

Game Day Twice Baked Potato Skins from Rip Esselstyn

Game Day Potato Skins (photo courtesy of Rip Esselstyn)

Rip Esselstyn, founder of Engine 2 and author of The Engine 2 Diet (2009) and Plant-Strong: Discover the World’s Healthiest Diet (2015), shared with us this recipe from The Engine 2 Diet.

Serves: 8

Ingredients

¼ cup red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

½ cup yellow onion, chopped

½ cup spinach, chopped

½ cup yellow corn

½ cup nutritional yeast

½ cup low sodium BBQ sauce

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

½ teaspoon black pepper

8 medium to large Russet potatoes

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash the potatoes and place in the oven on a baking sheet for 60 minutes, or until fork tender.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the bell pepper, onion, spinach and corn.
  4. When the potatoes are done baking, remove from the oven and allow to cool for several minutes for easier slicing.
  5. Slice the potatoes in half length-wise and scoop out the potato flesh, leaving the skin and some potato as your empty skin to load with filling.
  6. Place the scooped-out potato in a large bowl. Add the nutritional yeast, BBQ sauce, black pepper and one teaspoon of the smoked paprika.
  7. Use a potato masher or a large spoon to combine the spices and BBQ sauce with the potatoes to make a mash.
  8. Combine the vegetables in the small bowl with the potato mixture in the large bowl.
  9. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  10. Fill the empty potato skins with the vegetable and potato mixture.
  11. Sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of smoked paprika on the potatoes.
  12. Bake the filled potato skins for 30 minutes. Serve with BBQ sauce for dipping.

 

Gene Baur with Bubbles, the turkey (photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary)

Save a Turkey

Commemorating a holiday with friends and family over a dead bird doesn’t really make much sense, does it? Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt a Turkey program, which began in 1986, has led to the rescue of more than 1,000 turkeys from brutal deaths. This program gives us the chance to sponsor a rescued turkey at one or more of the Farm Sanctuary shelters. We are so excited Farm Sanctuary co-founder Gene Baur will join us once again on the upcoming cruise.

In lieu of meat, amaze guests with the tofu turkey from Jessica Porter, author of The MILF Diet and The Hip Chick’s Guide to Macrobiotics, or Lynn’s Meatloaf brought to us by athlete, firefighter, and author Rip Esselstyn (both below).

Tofu Turkey with Mushroom Gravy from Jessica Porter

Serves: 8-12

This recipe is an adaptation of one I got from Jane Quincannon Stanchich, one of my closest friends and a fantastic chef. She is a gem.

Equipment

Handheld blender or food processor

A medium-sized colander

Cheesecloth

A baking sheet

A pastry brush

Aluminum foil

A skillet

A large measuring cup

Knife, wooden spoons, and the other usual stuff

 

Ingredients

5 lbs extra firm tofu

Shoyu

Toasted sesame oil

Onions (lots)

Mushrooms (lots)

Celery (a few stalks)

Seitan (if you like it)

Unyeasted, whole wheat sourdough bread, in cubes

Poultry seasoning (as much as you want)

 

Ingredients for Gravy

Onions

Mushrooms (optional)

Water

Shoyu

Mirin (optional)

Brown rice vinegar (optional)

Kuzu

 

Instructions for the “Turkey”

The night before: Whiz the 5 lbs. of tofu in a really big bowl with a handheld blender. If you don’t have one, it’s a great time to go get one. They are cheap ($30?) and soooooooo useful. Or, If you don’t have one and aren’t going to get one, you can puree the tofu in a food processor, in batches, until it’s all smooth and creamy. There may be a few lumps, but nothing big. As you are blending, add about 2 tablespoons of shoyu to the tofu to give it a little extra taste. The more daring may add some herbs…

You now have a 5 lb blob of tofu. Congratulations! Take a colander (medium-sized or smallish are best—the bigger the colander, the flatter the “turkey” will be) and line it with a double layer of cheesecloth, with about six inches extra on each side. Place the colander on a big plate or baking sheet. Spoon your tofu blob into the cheesecloth-lined colander until it molds completely to the colander. A little tofu “milk” will start coming through the colander. That’s good. That’s why you’re doing this, to press all excess liquid out of the tofu, making it a sturdier turkey. Fold the extra cheese cloth over the top of the tofu and place a plate and a weight on top of that. Let sit overnight in the fridge.

The next day: Take the turkey out of the fridge. Pour off any extra tofu liquid that seeped out overnight from the baking sheet or whatever you had the colander sitting on. Remove the weight, the plate, and pull back the extra cheese cloth to reveal the bottom of the “dome” that will be your turkey. Now here’s the tricky part: You must now dig into the upside-down dome, with your hand, creating a space in the middle that you will put the stuffing into. Try to dig so that you leave about 1/2 to 1 inch of tofu between you and the colander—in other words, so the dome maintains a decent thickness all round. If you find that you dig too far, you can repair it with tofu, but do your best to dig a nice ditch in the tofu, leaving the walls of the dome thick enough to protect the stuffing. Does that make sense?

Now you have a pile of tofu and an upside-down dome of tofu. Your parents must be very proud!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and start working on the stuffing:

 

Instructions for Stuffing:

In a skillet, heat the oil, and saute the onions and a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and another pinch of salt. Add celery, seitan, poultry seasoning and bread. Sprinkle with shoyu to taste. You know what you like in a stuffing. Do whatever you want to achieve that. Make way more than you need because extra stuffing is one of life’s great benefits. When the stuffing makes you all happy and say “ooooo,” then place it in the dome of tofu, packing it down well. Take the rest of your dug-out tofu (leaving aside about 1/2 cup) and place it on top of the stuffing (and on top of the dome edges), making a bottom for the dome. Pack it down well.

Tricky part number two: Now, take a baking sheet and place it over the colander. Make sure it covers it completely. Hold them together tightly. In a graceful and quick maneuver, flip the whole colander upside-down, so that your dome now sits on the baking sheet. Remove the colander. Remove the cheesecloth, and voila! That’s your un-cooked “turkey.” If there are any cracks in the turkey, do your best to repair them with your leftover tofu. If they are really bad, just chalk it up to experience–you’ll do much better next year (or try again at Christmas!) and this will still taste great.

Make a mixture of 2 parts sesame oil to 1 part shoyu and, using a pastry brush, baste the turkey with it. Be generous with the basting. Cover the turkey with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover, baste again and cook for 15 more minutes, uncovered. Baste one more time and cook for 15 minutes more. Let sit for 1 hour before cutting, while you make your gravy!!

 

Instructions for Gravy

Dice a bunch of onions and mushrooms. Saute onions first, with a pinch of salt, until translucent and yummy, then add mushrooms, another pinch of salt, and saute until softened and wilty.

Apparently, I just made up that word: Wilty. I know that because my computer has put a red line beneath it. Oh well.

Anyway, pour some water in a large measuring cup and add water to this saute, equalling the amount of gravy you want. You have the measuring cup so that you know how much liquid you’re using—you will need to know this for when you add the kuzu later. So make a mental note of it.

Then add shoyu, carefully, to taste (you might want to start with 1 teaspoon per cup of liquid, and add from there if desired). I haven’t given strict measurements here because a) I’m lazy and b) you are the arbiter of your gravy’s strength and saltiness. You can also add mirin (about 1/3 the amount of shoyu you put in) and a dash of brown rice vinegar, if you like. I find that the combo of the shoyu, mirin and just a touch of brown rice vinegar makes for a nice meaty flavor in the gravy.

Let it all come to a boil and then simmer for at least 10 minutes.

Now, measure out the equivalent of 1 level tablespoon of kuzu per cup of gravy liquid. If it’s not perfect, don’t worry–if the gravy ends up being not thick enough, you can add more kuzu, and if it’s too thick, you can add more water and shoyu. I think gravy should be a pleasurable, sort of intuitive dish, so don’t get too hung up on it.

What you need to get hung up on, though, is that kuzu needs to be diluted in cold water and be lump-free before being added to the gravy. If you add chunks of undiluted kuzu, they will become unbreakable lumps in the gravy. So when your kuzu is nice and diluted (you can break it up with your fingers in the cold water—I recommend that), add it slowly to the gravy as you stir it vigorously. The gravy will become glossy and thicken. Let it come to a boil, then reduce flame to a simmer. If the gravy is not thick enough for you, add more kuzu. If it’s too thick, add more liquid. Once you’ve gotten the thickness right, let it simmer for about 10 minutes before serving on slices of tofu turkey.

 

Cranberry Sauce from Jessica Porter

Serves 12

1 bag cranberries – usually 12 ounces

grated zest and juice of 2 oranges

3/4 cup maple syrup or more if you want it sweeter

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or one cinnamon stick)

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

3/4 cup of water

If cooking in a saucepan: heat your cranberries, orange zest and juice, maple syrup and spices over medium to high heat.  After 7 to 10 minutes add the water and stir for another five. Serve chilled.

 

Lynn’s Meatloaf from Rip Esselstyn

This is a great “meat” loaf recipe from one of the Engine 2 Pilot Study participants, Lynn Jocelyn. Lynn brought this to the Engine 2 pot-luck awards banquet and it disappeared before everyone could get a bite. She graciously brought two loaves over for Jill and me one week after Kole was born.

Lynn's Meatloaf with Kale Salad (photo courtesy of Rip Esselstyn)

Lynn’s Meatloaf with Kale Salad (photo courtesy of Rip Esselstyn)

Ingredients

2 stalks celery, chopped

½ onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

10 ounces firm tofu, drained

¼ cup walnuts, finely ground

1 ½ cups cooked brown lentils

1 ¼ cups quick-cooking oats

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons dried parsley

½ teaspoon each thyme, sage and rosemary

Ketchup, to taste (for topping)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sauté celery, onion and garlic on high heat in skillet with a little water or low sodium vegetable broth for 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and cool.
  3. Mash tofu in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in cooked mixture and remaining ingredients, combining well.
  5. Spoon mixture into a loaf pan. Top with a layer of ketchup. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Apple Roses (photo by Melissa Karpel)

Remember Dessert!

Melissa Karpel, Philanthropic Specialist with the PETA Foundation, is loving these Vegan Rose desserts by Elephantastic Vegan: “Making delicious meals is easy anytime of the year, including Thanksgiving! Impress any guests, vegan or not, with these easy vegan rose desserts. I just made these the other day and they are really beautiful. I added a mixture of chopped walnuts, Earth Balance margarine, and cinnamon.” So good and so vegan!”

Here’s Melissa’s version of the recipe by Elephantastic Vegan.

Ingredients

1 package vegan puff pastry dough

1 Red Delicious apple

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon Earth Balance (optional)

1 lemon slice

Walnuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Take the vegan puff pastry dough out of the fridge to thaw for 30 minutes.
  3. Slice the apple into very thin slices. Boil in a mixture of water with lemon juice (to prevent browning) for a few minutes until soft.
  4. When the puff pastry dough is thawed, roll it out into a thin sheet and cut into horizontal strips no wider than 2 inches.
  5. Lay the apples along the edge of the dough strips from one end to the other, with the rounded side of the apple at the top. Place the apple slices on the pastry dough strips.
  6. Roll each strip from left to right onto itself. It turns into little roses!
  7. Place each one in a greased muffin tin.
  8. (Optional) Combined a mixture of small walnut pieces, melted vegan margarine, and cinnamon into a bowl and sprinkle on top or place inside.
  9. Bake for about 35 minutes. If the apples burn, move to a lower shelf in the oven.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

From our Holistic Holiday at Sea family to yours, we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving. There is so much we are grateful for—including you! Enjoy trying out these recipes and spending time with those you love. See you onboard in February!

Craving the Facts: Q&A with 5 Animal Rights Advocates Who’ll be Joining Us in 2018!

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Holistic Holiday at Sea is an opportunity to learn more about the benefits of a plant-based diet and lifestyle—for yourself and for every living creature on earth. For this reason (and many others), we are so excited to announce one of our panels for the 2018 Holistic Holiday at Sea Cruise, which runs February 15–25, 2018.

Join five knowledgeable presenters for Q&A Panel: Animal Rights Leadership to learn about the plight of animals used in the entertainment, experimentation, clothing, meat and dairy industries and how society is responding to the increasingly large and powerful message of the animal rights movement. Participants include Ingrid Newkirk (president and founder of PETA); Dr. Neal Barnard (founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine); Dr. Jonathan Balcombe (Director of Animal Sentience at the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy); and Gene Baur (co-founder and president of Farm Sanctuary). The panel is moderated by Melissa Karpel, Philanthropic Specialist with the PETA Foundation.

We got the chance to speak to each of these amazing and compassionate presenters and ask them some important questions about their life-changing work.

How old were you when you adopted a plant-based diet?

Ingrid Newkirk

Ingrid Newkirk

Ingrid Newkirk: I think I was 20 (I’m 68 now) when I first became vegetarian, eating the McDonald’s McMuffin without the bacon!  But I’m ashamed to say I waffled later, not having any support system probably was my undoing, and then became vegetarian when I was in my late 20s, and vegan shortly afterwards after someone made fun of me for putting milk in my tea and explained that’s why we have a veal calf system—to take the milk!

Dr. Neal Barnard

Dr. Neal Barnard: The year before I went to medical school, I worked as an autopsy assistant in a Minneapolis hospital. One day, a patient in the hospital died of a massive heart attack, and the pathologist conducted an autopsy, with my help. He cut away a section of ribs to expose the heart, and he showed me how the coronary arteries were narrowed with atherosclerotic plaque, as were the arteries to the brain, the kidneys, and the other parts of the body. And he explained how this was linked to bacon, eggs, and all the foods I had grown up on.

After he finished the examination, I cleaned up, putting the ribs back into the chest and cleaning away the blood. When I was done, I went up to the hospital cafeteria. As it turned out, they were serving ribs for lunch. They looked and smelled just like a dead body. And of course, they are a dead body. I didn’t become a vegetarian on the spot, but I just couldn’t eat them.

After that, I became more aware of the health risks of meat and also about the mistreatment of animals in the meat industry. And eventually, I realized that the dairy and egg industries are as bad as the meat industry when it comes to health, the environment, and animals, and I stopped eating animal products altogether.

Jonathan Balcombe

Dr. Jonathan Balcombe: I went vegetarian at age 25, and vegan at 30. I took a year off my university studies in 1984 (at age 25) to work and then to travel. I chose three months in India, which was a life-changing experience.

I was a vegan waiting to happen and going to a nation of half a billion Hindu vegetarians was a tipping point for me.

Gene Baur (Photo by Lee Iovino)

Gene Baur: I went vegan in 1985, when I was 23 years old. This decision was the culmination of incremental steps and awareness about the issues. I first learned of the cruelty of animal agriculture in high school when my grandmother told me about how veal calves are raised. Then, I learned about the environmental harm and inefficiency of raising animals for food, and that we could feed more people with fewer resources by producing plant foods. Finally, when I realized it was possible to live well without eating animal products, I decided to go vegan.

Melissa Karpel

Melissa Karpel: I adopted a vegan lifestyle 11 years ago, when I was in my 20s. Prior to that, I had always loved animals and had them as part of my family, but I hadn’t made the connection that what I was eating, wearing, and purchasing in my daily life was actually harming them. Eleven years ago, I was volunteering with chimpanzees who were rescued from laboratories, and they knew sign language. I was amazed by their emotional intelligence as I got to know these smart, playful, sensitive, and funny beings. My connection with them forced me to look head-on at my relationship with animals. At the same time, I found PETA’s “Meet Your Meat” video online, and it took one viewing to get me and my entire family (parents and two sisters) to go vegan overnight. None of us have turned back since.

This panel is committed to helping people understand the facts. What is one fact that most people are very often surprised by?

Ingrid Newkirk: That we wouldn’t have a veal calf industry—with the babies taken from their mothers shortly after birth—if we avoided dairy, which is a weird thing to eat anyway given that we are adults and it’s baby food, and that it’s baby food for a different species.

Dr. Neal Barnard: What happens to dairy cattle is particularly troubling. They are artificially inseminated every year, and their calves are invariably taken away. Then, by about age four when they are somewhat less productive, the cows are slaughtered for meat and leather, and are replaced in the dairy barns by their daughters who are artificially inseminated annually, and their calves are taken away.

Dr. Jonathan Balcombe: It continues to be a widespread misconception (especially among omnivores) that it takes more plants to feed vegans than to feed meat-eaters. In fact, not only are plant-based diets the most animal-friendly way to eat, they are also the most plant-friendly way to eat. It is a basic principle of ecology that energy is lost as one moves up a food chain. Lots of energy! Eating animals directly doesn’t take pressure off of plants. On the contrary, when we eat cows and pigs and chickens we are consuming all the plants that these animals were fed to grow their bodies. And that’s many times more plants than if we eat plants directly. This vitally important principle explains the link between animal agriculture and habitat loss, biodiversity loss, food inequities, and climate change.

Gene Baur: Many people are surprised to learn that humans can thrive on a plant-based diet, and that elite athletes have found that eating plants instead of animals improves their performance.

Melissa Karpel: I think people are surprised to hear how cruel the egg and dairy industries are. There’s a misconception that because animals aren’t killed for milk or eggs that they aren’t harmed. When I learned that cows are repeatedly impregnated and that their calves are taken away from them and put into crates so that their milk can be sold to humans instead of given to their babies, I was shocked. I was also unaware that most egg-laying hens spend their lives in cramped, dirty cages that are about the size of a piece of paper. I wish more people knew about how cows and chickens suffer for dairy and egg production.

Welcome aboard Holistic Holiday at Sea for the first time! What are you most excited about and/or what do you hope to get out of the experience?

Ingrid Newkirk: I have not been on the cruise before so I’m looking madly forward to meeting kind people I’ve never met before, and running into old friends, too. I hope to pick brains and learn new ideas for activism, and hear what people are up to out there, changing the world for animals.

As a seasoned Holistic Holiday at Sea guest, can you describe how meeting other likeminded animal activists on Holistic Holiday at Sea has affected you?

Dr. Neal Barnard: It is great to see so much enthusiasm and so many lives being changed.

Dr. Jonathan Balcombe: I’m always lifted when I am among like-minded people. One of my favorite aspects of the cruise is the seating arrangement at mealtimes, which ensures that people meet and eat with different guests each time. It is a great way to spread knowledge and good cheer.

Gene Baur: Human beings are social animals, and it’s important to be among others who share similar beliefs and values, while also being exposed to new perspectives and ideas. Being on the cruise helped validate my core feelings and principles, while also encouraging my thinking to evolve.

Melissa Karpel: I’ve been on the cruise before and found it to be such a wonderful meeting of like-minded individuals. I learned so much from others, too, who brought their own perspectives. I’ve been calling it the “Vegan Love Boat,” because my sister met her husband on the cruise nine years ago, and then two years later, I met my fiancé during one of the vegan ice cream socials on the main deck! I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the cruise has grown in the years since I attended, to seeing old friends in the activist community, and to meeting new people as well.

Bon Voyage!

Have more questions? We hope you will join us at the Q&A Panel: Animal Rights Leadership to hear inspiring stories, get more curious, and ask those burning questions you’ve always wanted to know!

Get Plant-Strong: Join Author, Athlete & Firefighter Rip Esselstyn on our 2018 Voyage to Well-being!

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Rip EsselstynFor Rip Esselstyn, founder of Engine 2 and author of The Engine 2 Diet (2009) and Plant-Strong: Discover the World’s Healthiest Diet (2015), the connection between a plant-based diet and good health is irrefutable. On our upcoming Caribbean cruise—February 15–25, 2018—Rip will make his Holistic Holiday at Sea debut. In fact, this will be Rip’s first cruise ever! “I can’t wait to meet all of these excited and passionate, plant-based eaters,” he told us.

A three-time All-American swimmer in college, one of the world’s premier triathletes for a decade, and a former firefighter for the Austin Fire Department, Rip has always been a man on the go. His active lifestyle and athleticism are testaments to the benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet.

When asked what encouraged him to adopt this diet in 1987, he says, “My father’s research, and learning that Dave Scott, the #1 triathlete on the planet at the time, was vegetarian.” His father Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who has been a featured presenter for several years on our cruise, is a ground-breaking pioneer in preventative and restorative cardiovascular medicine and a world-class athlete.

Rip Shares how to Transform Your Health

While working at Firehouse 2 in Austin, Texas, Rip was concerned about the dangerously high cholesterol of one of his fellow firemen, which was like his second family. He started a wellness revolution when he challenged them to eat “plant-strong” for 28 days. Together, they made health a habit at the station and saw lifesaving results. Since leaving the station in October 2009, Rip has developed and implemented plant-based programs to help people across the world.

Rip will give two lectures onboard. His keynote presentation, “The Genesis of the Engine 2 Diet,” will discuss the tenets of his New York Times bestseller The Engine 2 Diet and the story of how he convinced a group of Austin firefighters to embrace a “plant-strong” lifestyle. It covers Rip’s evolution of the Engine 2 diet: how it emerged, the impact it has made, and how you can thrive through plant-strong living.

Since The Engine 2 Diet was released in 2009, new research has emerged. Rip has found that rather than the initial 28 days thought necessary to see results from a plant-strong diet, people could transform their health in just one week. In his second presentation, “The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet,” Rip will walk through the seven pillars of this diet and how to get real results.

Since The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet was released, the feedback has been tremendous. Rip says, “We have a private Facebook group set up for people following our Seven-Day Rescue Challenge, and we’ve found thousands of people who have lost weight, gone off their medications and gotten amazing lifestyle changes following this plan.

“We’ve also had many people join the Seven-Day Rescue Challenge who think they’re already eating a healthy vegan diet or even a whole foods, plant-based diet. Then they realize after doing this for seven days that their eating style could use a lot of help and a lot of refinement.”

Questions from You!

We asked our Facebook followers which questions they’d like to ask Rip. Here are his responses:

Q: Why do most men think that not eating meat is considered unmanly? And what can we say to males that will get them thinking about leaving animal products off their plates?

A: First, 75 years and billions of dollars of marketing has perpetuated the myth that meat is manly. As for convincing men? Start with bedroom performance. The Standard American Diet is closely tied to erectile dysfunction, and many men find after going plant-strong that they are strong in every way!

Q: Which recipe that you created is your favorite?

A: Definitely our Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna!

Q: What is a good source of iron for vegans?

Start with your beans and greens for sure.

Q: Being plant based for a year, how do I encourage my husband to take care of himself physically? His job is rough sometimes, but he doesn’t work out, ride a bike, go walking, or even stretch most of the time. He doesn’t do sports either. Trust me, I’ve tried.

A: It has to be something he enjoys – even something as simple as walking. Start somewhere, then from there, maybe he’ll be inspired to do more!

Book Your Spot Today!

Got questions of your own? Bring them with you to the Caribbean! Rip Esselstyn will be joined by dozens of other leading authorities in plant-based living. As we travel in the southeastern Caribbean, our schedule combines education, socials, fitness activities, and ports of call excursions. Book today for the best rates and availability. We hope to see you soon!

From Lecturing to Snorkeling, New York Times Bestselling Author Jonathan Balcombe Shares Voyage Highlights

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Jonathan Balcombe at Holistic Holiday at SeaLast March, Dr. Jonathan Balcombe made his Holistic Holiday at Sea debut on our 14th annual Caribbean cruise. As a featured presenter, Jonathan gave insightful lectures about the amazing abilities, personalities, and feelings of animals, from fish to baboons. Often humorous and always compassionate, Jonathan pulled from scientific facts and his own observations as an expert in the field of ethology, the study of animal behavior.

Jonathan is the director of animal sentience at the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy and a favorite among animal advocates around the world. He’s authored several books, including Pleasurable Kingdom (2006), Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals (2011), and his latest What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins (2016), a New York Times bestseller that was released in paperback this month.

We’re so excited Jonathan will be returning for our special ten-day 15th anniversary cruise to the southeastern Caribbean, February 15–25, 2018! We recently got the opportunity to catch up with him about his trip highlights, how the ethical and nutritional aspects of veganism work so well together, and why he’s so often curious about animals who don’t typically get the spotlight.

Fish Sightings on and Under the Deep Blue Sea

Jonathan Balcombe SnorkelingIn the early morning on the first full day at sea, Jonathan, with binoculars in hand, looked hopefully out over the sea. “I was delighted to see flying fishes taking off and moving away from the boat,” he says. “I saw them on like three or four occasions that day on different sides of the boat. We were definitely in waters that had a lot of them… I never saw any cetaceans. I talked to another group at my table one night who saw a pod of about 90 or so dolphins passing, coming toward the boat, and then kind of going past. I was green with envy at that time. Unfortunately I wasn’t party to that.” Timing is everything!

Our first port of call was Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Jonathan took part in the snorkeling excursion and saw many kinds of fish, including tarpon. “Tarpon are quite big, they’re like silvery white fish. They grow to over six feet long. The ones we saw were probably in the four foot range, the bigger ones. They just glided around so gracefully… I watched a boxfish blowing sand on the bottom, I guess trying to uncover food, that was pretty cool.”

On our last stop in Nassau, Bahamas, Jonathan snorkeled once again: “I enjoyed that, beautiful colors, lovely fishes of various species, and beautiful reef habitat as well.” Since the waters were very cold that day, Jonathan made a reminder to himself to pack a thick wetsuit for next year. Other fish Jonathan recalls seeing on his adventure are squirrelfish, yellowtail snapper, and porkfish, among others. He spotted yellowfin and mojarra, which are two kinds of fish he can also find at Boynton Beach in southeast Florida, where he lives.

A Compassionate Way to Live

Many people who choose plant-based lifestyles do so from a concern for the welfare and protection of animals. During his keynote lecture “What a Fish Knows,” Jonathan told the story of when he decided as a child on a summer camp outing that he did not want to fish like the rest of the kids. “From my earliest memory I was always smitten with animals, fascinated with them, wanted to know what it was like to be them. Of course I’ll never fully know. I was also deeply empathetic toward them. If there’s an empathy gene, I was born with it. I always went out of my way not to step on the ants. So it was that element. I was an animal person from my earliest memory.”

Jonathan Balcombe at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary

Jonathan Balcombe with Clover at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary

Jonathan earned three biology degrees, including a PhD in ethology from the University of Tennessee, where he studied communication in bats. When asked how he went from bats to fish, Jonathan replied, “I think I tend to consciously or maybe subconsciously gravitate towards less popular animals. Nowhere is that more evident than in my currently planned next book which is on one of the most reviled, least liked group of animals on the planet, that is flies.

“I almost did a graduate study on snakes which would have taken me in other directions, another very unpopular group of animals. I think that’s a big element for me, because I identify very much with animals ethically, I want to improve their lot, and the ones who are least liked by us probably need the most help.”

Humans are a Varied Lot

When he wasn’t underwater, Jonathan was exploring all of the onboard activities. “I went to quite a few lectures,” he says. “Most of the ones that I went to, the people who were speaking I had already heard before, which is not to say I didn’t learn new stuff or that they didn’t cover new stuff. I thought Caldwell Esselstyn’s presentation was really very interesting. Gene Baur, I always enjoy hearing him speak.” A pianist himself, Jonathan attended Luiz Simas’ jazz concert on Wednesday evening titled “A Musical Voyage to Brazil.” He says, “I really enjoyed it. I bought the CD. I love it and listen to it all the time.”

On the discussion of meat substitutes in the mainstream food industry, Jonathan said he was excited to see these products keep rolling out even if he wasn’t personally hankering for them. “Humans are a varied lot. We need a lot of doors for people to go through to get to a more compassionate way of eating. It may not be compassionate for them, it may be saving money, it may be whatever. It may be feeling like this food is safer, whatever works. But I think that’s an important sector that will draw in some more converts away from the conventional meat eating that we currently have now which we need to switch. So I’m very excited about those.”

One of the most magical aspects of the cruise is the way that people from all walks of life can come together over mindful eating. “One of the things I most liked about the cruise was that the meal seating was random, and you almost invariably got sat at a table with other people, and they were people you didn’t know. They were people you didn’t plan to sit with. That was great because it really helped with integration to meet different people, different angles, different geographies, where they’re coming from, how many times they’ve been on the cruise… It was really fun, I really liked that. I think that played a big role in the integration of different ways of thinking about it and different priorities for why people were there. We always found common ground.”

Join Jonathan on the 2018 Cruise!

Book a spot on our 15th anniversary sailing, February 15–25, 2018. In 2018, the MSC Divina will depart from Miami, Florida, and head to the following ports of call in the southeastern Caribbean: St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda; Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis; Fort-de-France, Martinique; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Freeport, Bahamas. View the itinerary here and start planning!

Vegan Cruise Turns 15: A Look Back Through the Years!

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Holistic Holiday at Sea 15th Anniversary-1February 15–25, 2018, Holistic Holiday at Sea will embark on its 15th vegan cruise! Over the years, more than 15,000 cruise goers have come aboard to learn more about plant-based lifestyles in presentations and classes by world-renowned doctors, holistic practitioners, chefs, athletes, and other influential leaders. The cruise organizers are so excited to celebrate this milestone with you as they have many new and fun things planned for this upcoming voyage.

Since 2004, Holistic Holiday at Sea has grown exponentially, with so many wonderful memories made. The plant-based movement has come so very far in recent years. Such an event wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the support of a vibrant and compassionate community.

 

The Growth of a Movement

Although it was back in 2004, it feels like just yesterday the ship first set sail from Port Everglades with 410 people, traveling across the beautiful Caribbean Sea. The small, but mighty, group visited Key West, Mexico, Jamaica, and the Grand Cayman Islands.Holistic Holiday at Sea cuisine

Participants learned from amazing presenters, such as the late Michio Kushi, who was a pioneer in the natural foods movement and an earlier proponent of the idea that one’s diet, environment, and health are connected. After the cruise, Michio said it was a great success: “People who worked to care for the participants were very entertaining. Throughout the period at sea, weather was continuously fine celebrating our dream. People could study, enjoy macrobiotic meals, sing together with Italian music and develop friendships. I hope everyone will join in the future.”

Guests on the cruise started off as strangers and quickly developed friendships and connections (many of the romantic variety!) that continued even after everyone returned home. 2004 was certainly an amazing beginning.

During this last cruise, 1,650 people shared the week with one another! This tremendous growth is due to a variety of factors, including the strength of the vegan movement itself. Sandy Pukel, HHAS president and founder, say it’s always been the cruise’s mission to help people choose lifestyles that will make them happier and healthier. Back then, however, he says it was almost like a secret society of people who followed vegan or macrobiotic lifestyles. But times have changed. “Now it’s okay to shout it from the rooftops,” he adds.

Michio Kushi

Michio Kushi

More doctors are also becoming more outspoken about their scientific findings. “In the beginning, we had maybe a hundred doctors (MDs) on the cruise, but only 10 or 20 would say they were doctors because they were going against the accepted culture at the time of being vegan and being an MD and espousing this kind of philosophy and lifestyle. Now we have 150 doctors on there who are proud to say they’re part of it. It has become kind of like a magnet for people to see those doctors who are into alternative health.” Many of these doctors are presenters and participants in the CME program, earning continuing education credits. The CME program itself is a testament to the demand for education around the science of nutrition and wellness.

There are also more families and multi-generational groups on the cruise now than before. Sandy says that many people came in the beginning and “put their toes in the water,” so to speak, to see what it was all about. Those who raised their children with vegan or vegetarian diets are bringing them on the cruise for an educational and cultural experience. Guests of all ages can enjoy delicious food, engaging workshops, and exotic ports of call.

Is it Nutritional or Ethical?

Many people ask if this conference at sea gives a nutritional or an ethical emphasis on veganism. Well, it provides both—and more! Due to an increasing demand, Holistic Holiday at Sea is continuously expanding the focus to include more animal advocacy and environmental presentations and discussion. The mission has always been centered on education and there’s so much under this umbrella.

Neal Barnard at Holistic Holiday at Sea

Dr. Neal Barnard

Last year, new presenters included animal rights activists Jonathan Balcombe, author of What a Fish Knows and Gene Baur, co-founder and president of Farm Sanctuary. Returning again in 2018, they will continue to share their compassion and knowledge, giving voices to so many animals who suffer from factory farming and horrific food industry practices.

Many presenters return again and again. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study and Whole, and Dr. Neal Barnard, founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, have participated nearly every year.

2018 brings many new presenters, including health activist and food writer Rip Esselstyn, registered dietitian and nutritionist Julieanna Hever, and Dr. Ron Weiss, founder of Ethos Health. HHAS is also welcoming Ingrid Newkirk onboard. As president and founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Ingrid has spoken around the world on animals rights issues.

When Learning is Fun

Sandy stands by the idea that “no one minds learning when they’re having a good time.” For the 15th cruise, instead of the usual seven days, the cruise will be extended to ten days, including President’s Day weekend. In addition to participating in onboard adventure (including poolside socials and entertainment), guests will certainly have a good time exploring the ports of call.Holistic Holiday at Sea

While the ship’s route alternates between the Eastern and Western Caribbean every year (guests have been to more than a dozen coastal cities and towns), there are always new spots to see. The 2018 ports of call are primarily brand new to the cruise. The MSC Divina will depart from Miami, Florida, and head to the following ports of call in the southeastern Caribbean: St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda; Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis; Fort-de-France, Martinique; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Freeport, Bahamas.

But Who’s Counting?

HHAS Infographic 15th anniversary

Click to check out our Retrospective Infographic!

Nearly 50% of the 2017 guests signed up to attend the cruise in 2018. This means HHAS is doing something right. They crunched the numbers and figured out that they’ve offered 1,738 classes over the last 14 years. They’ve been wide ranging, from yoga, Pilates, meditation, and fitness classes to cooking demonstrations and lectures on topics including plant-based nutrition, cardiovascular health, and integrative medicine. Each year, cruise goers look forward to the always inspiring Recovery Panel.

One year, the kitchen staff (led by the talented Mark Hanna) dished out nearly 38,000 meals in seven days. Kudos to the talented kitchen team! The gourmet meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner are such an essential part of the experience.

Organizers also learned a lot from our experience running the cruise. During one of the first cruises, the ship left from Ft. Lauderdale only to realize that the majority of the produce order for the week didn’t make it onboard! Fortunately, they were able to contact the supplier who would bring them the greens at Key West (our first stop). There was a dock strike in Key West, so they had to be carried on case by case. Fortunately, it all worked out and the rest of the trip was smooth sailing. A good lesson in remembering the importance of going with the flow.

 

A Bright Future

Holistic Holiday at Sea sunsetSo many of you have adopted a plant-based diet because you want better health and a more peaceful world. While many guests have returned year after year, HHAS always welcomes aboard new faces! Make memories that will last forever and book today for the best rates and availability.

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.

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!

Four Amazing Stories of Health Recovery as Shared by Holistic Holiday at Sea Attendees

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Recovery Panel at Holistic Holiday at Sea

From cancer recovery to animal rights activism, the reasons why people choose a plant-based and/or macrobiotic diet and lifestyle vary widely and, in many cases, overlap. Each year on the Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise, president Sandy Pukel arranges for a Recovery Panel on which a dozen courageous and grateful people share with the audience how their lives have changed thanks to a plant-based (and oftentimes macrobiotic) diet and lifestyle. “The heart and soul of the cruise is this Recovery Panel,” says Sandy. “People go there and listen to these stories. They come out crying, they come out inspired. It’s truly remarkable.”

Sandy, who discovered his life’s purpose after being introduced to macrobiotics in 1970, adds, “Over the years, I’ve seen remarkable recoveries. My answer always is: Macrobiotics works if you embrace it wholeheartedly. You’re going to see improvement. The whole philosophy and food thing is stronger than you are, if you’re willing to embrace it.”

One Family’s Story

Thomas Kahn

Thomas Kahn

Thomas Kahn attended the cruise in 2015 with his sister Susan Bondi. “I heard the cruise helps people who had the same problems I had,” says Thomas, who has type two diabetes. Three years prior to attending, Thomas had a heart scan that revealed the beginnings of blockage. At the time, at 5’7”, he weighed 240 pounds. Susan, a gourmet cook, followed a vegan, low-fat, oil-free diet, and influenced Thomas in making a shift. He lost most of his weight within a year. “I lost 80 lbs from diet alone,” he shares.

The cruise helped Thomas solidify his oil-free, plant-based diet and, over the years, he has been greatly influenced by cruise presenters Dr. Michael Gregor and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. Thomas’ father was a type one diabetic who had a heart attack at age 49 while on the low carb diet. Doctors encouraged him to use olive oil. Nine years later, he was in need of a quadruple bypass. “The olive oil messed him up,” says Thomas. “Then he went on a true low-fat diet and lived to be 80.”

Thomas’ is just one of the inspirational stories we hear from our guests each year. We got the chance to catch up with past panelists Christina Pirello and Janet Vitt Sommer, and 2017 panelist Judy MacKenney to hear where they are in their journeys.

A Life of Gratitude

Christina Pirello, Holistic Holiday at Sea Recovery PanelAuthor of six bestselling cookbooks, Christina Pirello is also the Emmy Award-winning host of the national public television series Christina Cooks. She will lead four cooking classes on the 2017 Holistic Holiday at Sea and is on the faculty of The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College.

At age 26, Christina was diagnosed with terminal leukemia and her cancer had already advanced to the acute stage. She saw a hematologist/oncologist who gave her three months to live with no treatment, and six months to a year with treatment. Having seen her mother pass away at the young age of 49 from cancer, Christina saw that conventional treatments seemed to have worsened her mother’s condition. Christina’s coworker suggested that she meet Robert “Bob” Pirello, a whole foods advocate. The two went grocery shopping together and Bob replaced all of the food Christina had at home with healthy options. He also gave her a copy of Michio Kushi’s The Cancer Prevention Diet, Revised and Updated Edition: The Macrobiotic Approach to Preventing and Relieving Cancer.

Christina’s strict macrobiotic diet consisted primarily of brown rice and millet, cooked vegetables (particularly green leafies and beans), tofu, tempeh, and miso soup. She went through a toxic discharge period, and knew that, despite the discomfort, her health was improving. Within 14 months after beginning her new diet, Christina’s white cell count was within the normal range. Hers is also a love story, as she and Bob later married!

Christina’s philosophy is that living a whole and healthy life should make us passionate and full of gratitude. Her recovery has helped her put things in perspective and she doesn’t waste time on petty things or people she does not resonate with. She shares, “It makes me humble and grateful for each moment of each day. My life is blessed, but since I don’t know how much time I have, I waste nothing. Each minute is precious although I admit I don’t fear death. I just feel like I am not done yet. I have work to do and would like to do more.” For more on Christina, visit her presenter page.

The Power of Food

janet-vitt-sommer-holistic-holiday-at-seaAlthough she will not be attending the 2017 cruise, Janet Vitt Sommer was on the Recovery Panel for more than ten years. In 1995, she was diagnosed with stage IV small cell lung cancer, with three tumors in her left lung, seven tumors in her right lung, three tumors in her liver, one on her pancreas, and another in her abdomen. A registered nurse since 1971, Janet saw her mother die from lung cancer at age 42 and knew the seriousness of this illness. “As a nurse, it’s difficult to believe I didn’t understand the power of food,” says Janet. “I thought of food as just nourishment, not a healing modality.”

Her oncologist said she had three to six months left to live. A dose of chemotherapy left Janet severely nauseous and underweight. Her internist Dr. Grossman, of Cleveland, Ohio, suggested that she try a macrobiotic diet. Janet enlisted the help of a macrobiotic counselor who told her she could be healed. After ten months on this healing regimen, her tumors disappeared.

Janet is now a nutritional counselor who leads cooking classes and prepares macrobiotic “meals to go.” The cruise has become an important part of her life—and romance! She and now husband Gary were married in Fort Lauderdale before the ship left the dock. “After all, where else could I go for my honeymoon and not have to prepare my own meals? Gary and I always get an efficiency suite when we travel. The cruise was perfect. Plus we were surrounded by many caring friends.”

Healing from the Inside Out

Judy MacKenney, Holistic Holiday at Sea Recovery PanelJudy MacKenney was introduced to macrobiotics in 1992 after receiving a diagnosis of stage IV non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She completed seven months of chemotherapy and suffered from a multitude of side effects. Like Christina, she pored over Kushi’s The Cancer Prevention Diet after she was given a short time to live. “My new health regimen was to change my diet and lifestyle by eating organic whole foods, miso soup, grains, proteins, root, round & leafy vegetables, and pickles for enzymes, plus natural remedy drinks to cleanse and strengthen my body,” says Judy. “I also chewed my food seriously until it became liquid, walked, did breath work, body-scrubbed, developed a positive mindset to heal, and showed gratitude for everything in my life on a daily basis!”

This year, Judy celebrates 25 years of being cancer free. She shares, “I still rely on a plant-based, macrobiotic diet and lifestyle to keep me healthy. With so many delicious, nutritious recipes to choose from nowadays, I find it just keeps getting easier!” A Kushi-certified macrobiotic counselor, educator, and cooking instructor, Judy will share her story on this year’s Recovery Panel and facilitate a follow-up discussion group. Read more about Judy on her presenter page.

On Your Own Path to Wellness?

We’d love to help you wherever you are on your journey to feeling your best. Our 14th Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise is set for March 11–18, 2017. Book your spot today!

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