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Athletes Onboard with the Vegan Lifestyle

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Highlighting the 2019 Holistic Holiday at Sea Presenters Who Excel as Plant-based Athletes

The science is compelling for a growing number of competitive and professional athletes: plant-based diets add vitality, energy, and that much needed edge in achieving performance goals. From football to soccer to weight lifting and marathon running, amateur fitness lovers and international pros alike from all over the sports world are choosing to leave animal foods off their plates in favor of nutrient dense plant-based proteins, and high-fiber, hydrating fruits and veggies.

Our 2019 cruise will feature some of the greatest plant-based thinkers, movers, and shakers. And here’s a deeper look at some of the “movers,” specifically, who will be aboard:

1. Rip Esselstyn

Rip Esselstyn is a former firefighter and triathlete. Rip was a three-time All-American swimmer at the University of Texas at Austin. His life’s work centers on helping people to understand the connection between nutrition and optimal health for everyone: athletes and non-athletes alike. His father, Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., is also going to present during the 2019 cruise, and has greatly influenced Rip’s nutritional philosophy, as one of the country’s first medical doctors to promote a plant-based diet. Dr. Esselstyn is a former Olympic rower, so athleticism is as much a part of the Esselstyn family culture as is their love of the whole foods, plant-based diet.

Catch Rip on the 2019 voyage during his keynote address, “The Genesis of the Engine 2 Diet,” and lecture, “The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet!”

2. James Aspey

James Aspey is a former personal trainer and a full time vegan activist. He credits his fitness regime (which includes sprints, resistance, and surfing) in part to his vegan diet, and notes that his fitness levels are easier to maintain since his switch to veganism. He loves fueling his workouts with vegan protein staples like lentils, tempeh, and tofu, and packs his diet full of calcium and iron rich foods like tahini and kale.

You can hear James speak throughout the upcoming cruise. He’ll give compelling lectures  titled “A Vow of Silence for the Animals,” and “Compassionate, Effective Vegan Advocacy” as well as appear on the panel discussion, “Animal Rights Leadership,” with animal rights advocates Dan Mathews, Dr. Will Tuttle and Dr. Jonathan Balcombe

Robert Cheeke is popular outside his classes as well

3. Robert Cheeke

Robert Cheeke is the best-selling author of the books Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness – The Complete Guide to Building Your Body on a Plant-Based Diet and Shred It! – Your Step-by-Step Guide to Burning Fat and Building Muscle on a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet. He is a two-time natural bodybuilding champion, former cross-country runner for the University of Oregon, and multi-sport athlete. He credits his athletic success to his whole-foods, plant-based diet, consistency in training, and goal-oriented approach.

Robert can be seen aboard the Holistic Holiday at Sea lecturing on the topic of  “Exercise and Nutrition for Energy,” participating in the panel, ”Powered by Plants,” with fellow vegan athletes Giacomo Marchese, Dani Taylor, Angelica Kushi and “Fitness over Fifty” trainer Larry Krug. You also have the opportunity to take an inspiring fitness class led by Robert!

The panel is a great opportunity to get answers from the pros

4. Matt Frazier

Matt Frazier is a vegan ultramarathoner. He is the author of No Meat Athlete and The No Meat Athlete Cookbook. Fitness is a huge part of Matt’s life in Asheville, North Carolina, where he and his vegan family live, run, and stay active. He believes that a plant-based diet makes people fitter, faster, and happier. He has helped others to lose weight, manage disease, and enjoy easier digestion and improved energy levels by utilizing a diet that excludes animal products and consists of fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains.

Don’t miss Matt present onboard during his talk, “Plant-Based Meal Planning for Health and Fitness: The 10 Foods Worth Eating Every Day,” and in the panel discussion, “Powered by Plants” with fellow vegan athletes.

5. Giacomo Marchese

Giacomo Marchese is a competitive powerlifter and bodybuilder, and a vegan of over ten years! He works as a professional coach. Giacomo travels to festivals across the globe to raise awareness for animal rights and welfare. He and his wife, Dani, co-founded VeganProteins, an online supplement store and coaching business. They also co-founded the largest and most diverse team of strength-based athletes in the world, Plantbuilt.

You’ll have the opportunity to workout with Giacomo during his fitness workshops, “Vegan Muscle Team, Boot Camp” and “Full Body Mobility and Flexibility.” He will also participate in the panel discussion entitled, “Powered by Plants” with fellow vegan athletes.

6. Dani Taylor

Dani Taylor credits her life transformation from a 208 lb teenager to a thriving, fit, and active adult to veganism. She understands and teaches the power of a nutrient dense, active lifestyle. Her businesses and fitness classes reflect her values and inspire everyday people facing their own challenges to transform in magnificent ways.

Want to train with Dani? She’ll be teaching 2 fitness classes onboard, “Women’s Boot Camp,” and “Better Posture 101.” She’s also available for one on one consultations and will be participating in the panel discussion, “Powered by Plants” with fellow vegan athletes.

Deepen your knowledge and athletic prowess by attending one or all our athlete presenters’ vegan fitness lectures, panels, and classes. And, why not transform your life with an inspiring one-on-one coaching session? In addition to these exciting programs, our voyage will offer Pilates, Zumba, and yoga taught by plant-based fitness professionals throughout each day of the voyage. You have everything you need to prioritize your health and fitness goals with this year’s Holistic Holiday at Sea experience!

With over 45 teachers and 175 classes, including fitness, lectures, mindfulness, and cooking demos, our next cruise is shaping up to be the best yet! Take a look at the newly released program and see for yourself. With so many amazing options, it’s no wonder that National Geographic Traveler calls Holistic Holiday at Sea “one of the 100 best worldwide vacations to enrich your life.” We can’t wait to welcome you aboard!

Provoking Debate & Protecting Animals: Q&As with Dan Mathews of PETA

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Dan Mathews (Photo by Kamil Szkopik)

Dan Mathews (Photo by Kamil Szkopik)

Senior Vice President of Campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Dan Mathews, is known around the world for launching PETA’s most provocative and attention-getting campaigns in the fight against animal cruelty. Many of his campaigns have been targeted at designers in the fashion industry who use fur. From occupying the lobby of Calvin Klein in New York in 1994 to heading a “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign, Dan has proven that edgy displays of activism can help propel change.

We are so excited that Dan will be joining us on the 2019 Holistic Holiday at Sea vegan cruise! In addition to a book signing for Committed: A Rabble-Rouser’s Memoir, Dan will present a lecture titled “Committed to Activism for Animals.” In it, he’ll discuss how he spent the last 30 years crashing fashion runways in Milan, strategizing with Paul McCartney in London, lobbying Russian diplomats with Pamela Anderson, and being arrested during so many protests that he wrote a “Connoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Jails.”

Dan joined the PETA team as a receptionist in 1985 and was quickly promoted within the company. He shares, “As the resident punk rocker from the MTV generation, I always had ideas on how to reach young people, so I moved from the reception desk into campaigns within a year.” Dan’s ability to sway opinion has made him a hugely influential figure in the plant-based movement. Read more below about his recent achievements and advice for catalyzing change.


Q: Any advice for HHAS guests who have already made the switch to plant-based about how to make a difference when they return home (besides choosing what’s on their plates)?

A: I always urge people to reach beyond their circle to influence those who are not like-minded. My husband Jack and I host vegan dinner parties a lot at home for our non-veggie friends in order to show them how tasty and easy it is.”


Q: Any recent landmark victories for PETA that you’d like to highlight?

A: Last year saw the last show ever of Ringling Bros, a circus that has been abusing elephants, tigers, and other animals since it started in 1871. They went out of business after three decades of being targeted by PETA and other groups, when a generation that came of age with animal rights as a hot topic would have no part of it. I think all animal rights issues are generational, which is reflected in how young people spend their money. That’s why we were finally able to pressure Michael Kors, Gucci, Armani, and Donna Karan to drop fur in the past year. They realized they risk losing up-and-coming customers. Animal rights is a consumer issue more than a political one.

Also, I love bringing the veg issue into unlikely places. I have recently helped cook and serve a vegan lunch to thousands of inmates at an Arizona jail and worked with the City of New Orleans to have a vegan gumbo cook-off at their annual Gumbo Fest in Louis Armstrong Park, and it drew twice the crowd it usually does.


Q. What do you hope folks who are only vegan for health reasons can take away from your presentation?

A. It’s great to think about your health, but it’s also important to consider the health and welfare of the animals churned up by these industries. It’s just a basic respect for animals, whether or not you consider yourself an animal lover. Though I never quibble with anyone who is veg for health reasons. I’m just glad they do it!


Q. I’ve heard you say that all press is good press. In your decades of activism, what are some of the ways you’ve managed to stay in the forefront of the animal cruelty issue?

A. When you are an activist and rely on buzz in the press to keep issues on the public’s mind, it’s important to keep an eye on the sorts of things people pay attention to. I don’t like reality TV, but the public follows these people, so we involve them in our campaigns. Same with sports figures, and with social media. Part of getting the message to the masses is being aware of trends to be in front of.


Q. You became involved with animals as a child when you saved cats in your neighborhood. Did you become vegan right away or was that later in college when you joined forces with PETA in 1985?

A. I became vegetarian on a fishing trip with my dad when I was 14 in 1979. I became vegan when I started at PETA in 1985 as the receptionist when I was 20.

Q. Who are some vegan celebrities that the majority of folks may not realize are vegan?

A. Miley Cyrus, Carrie Underwood, Rev. Al Sharpton, and Tom Brady, for starters.


Q. Any specific example of when your patience with people who have differences of opinion led to great results?

A. I wrote Martha Stewart when she was in jail about fur, which she wore a lot. We had met before and it was frosty. I wrote, ‘Now that you have some time to reflect, please read these materials. You are such a civilized person and fur is so barbaric.’ She wrote back that she’d not only shun fur in the future, but that she would host a PETA testimonial video exposé of fur farms when she got sprung from the joint. [Watch that video here!]


Q. What does your ideal world look like?

A. One in which people and animals only die of old age rather than by guns or disease, many of which we bring on ourselves through eating meat.

Q. Any huge achievements in 2018 you’re excited to share?

A. Designer John Galliano, who was PETA’s #1 enemy for his use of fur and every other kind of animal skin, finally gave it up! It happened after we randomly met swimming in the ocean and became friendly. It’s easy to be infuriated with people who have cruel habits, but a little patience can pay off. [Read more about it here.]


Q. Have you been to any of our 2019 ports of call before? What are you most looking forward to about this cruise?

A. Aside from Miami, no, I haven’t, so I am very excited about this trip. I have never been on a cruise of any kind, so I’m very much looking forward to this first-time experience.

8 Q&As from the 2018 “Ask the Doctor: Q&A Session with Michael Greger”

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On our 15th-anniversary cruise last February, guests spent an afternoon with plant-based guru Dr. Michael Greger, a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. Attendees had the opportunity to ask their burning nutritional questions to Dr. Greger, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the details of vegan nutrition.

Topics covered hot flashes, bipolar disorder, Crohn’s disease, chronic spine and hip pain, and low white blood counts, among others. One guest asked about treating advanced prostate cancer with diet (Dr. Greger encouraged her to view the video online here: part one and part two). The author of How Not to Die (2015), Dr. Greger had in-depth answers and pointed people in the right direction on the path to wellness.

Insight from the HHAS Session

Dr. Greger began the session by explaining, “I’m here to share the good news that we have tremendous power over our health destiny, longevity, and the vast majority of premature death and disability is preventable with a plant-based diet and other healthy lifestyle behaviors.”

Below, we highlight eight questions from the session and summarize Dr. Greger’s responses.

Q. My partner has really bad psoriasis. We are vegan in the house and use very little oil. Tried juicing and fasting. Anything they can do?

A. Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease that affects about 5 in 40 people, making it one of the most frequent chronic skin diseases worldwide. There are lots of drugs for it, some of which cost $100,000 a year to get a response. There are cheaper drugs like cyclosporine, but it carries the long-term risk of kidney damage, hypertension, and malignancies. The drug can cause cancer. Kidney toxicity in more than 50% of the patients treated long term, and in terms of risk of malignancies, up to 42 times the rate of cancer. And it doesn’t even work that well, keeping the disease at bay in a little more than half of patients over a four-month period. There’s got to be a better way.

What about plants? Well aloe vera gel is said to possess anti-inflammatory, anti-itching, and wound-healing properties. Yeah, but as stated in this video, “Is Aloe Effective for Blood Pressure, Inflammatory Bowel, Wound Healing, & Burns?”, when it was put to the test for wound-healing, it actually made things worse. The exploitation of aloe preparations has been accompanied too often by misinformation and exaggerated claims, but there is impressive evidence. For example, to test its anti-inflammatory properties, it was tested head-to-head against steroids, against mustard gas exposures. Mustard gas is probably our most popular chemical warfare agent, starting in World War I. Its last widespread military use was in the ’80s during the Iraq-Iran war, with more than 100,000 exposed and many still suffering from the long-term complications, predominately itching. Even decades after surviving a gas attack, 70% to 90% are still suffering.

Because other agents failed miserably at helping, the study took 67 chemical warfare-injured vets and randomized them to apply an aloe vera olive oil cream or the steroids and the aloe vera mixture appeared to work as well as the drug. Ok, well let’s try it for the management of psoriasis.

By the end of the month-long study, the aloe vera cream had cured 83% of the patients, compared to the placebo cure rate of less than 10%, resulting in significant clearing of the psoriatic plaque skin lesions. All right, but that’s compared to an inactive placebo. How about compared to steroids? It was found to be more effective in reducing the clinical symptoms.

In a double-blind placebo controlled study of a commercial aloe vera gel in the treatment of slight to moderate psoriasis, things got better in 70% of the aloe treated sites, but 80% placebo-treated sites improved. The placebo beat out the aloe. The high response rate of the placebo gel indicated a possible effect in its own right. The placebo was just basically xanthum gum in water and they were like, ‘Hey, instead of aloe failing, maybe xanthum gum works, too!’

All in all, the results on the effectiveness of aloe vera for psoriasis are contradictory but applying on the skin appears safe, so I figure why not give it a try?


Q. I had a coronary bypass six and a half years ago and changed to a plant-based diet six years ago. I have been 100% compliant with the diet for those six years and what has happened is once I got off the medications, now a few years later, my blood pressure has gone up and my cholesterol—they wanted it down under 150. I think I produce so much that even on the ‘perfect diet’ it’s still [not there]… The lowest I ever had it was 176 and that’s where I am now. I am trying … the daily dozen. Do you have any other suggestions?

A. The average whole-food plants-based (WFPB) cholesterol bell curve comes out at 145— half are better, half are worse— so you may fall on one side of the bell curve. Just like the average blood pressure for people eat WFPB diets is this perfect 110/65. That’s your median. Half on one side, half on the other. That’s why in the book How Not to Die, every chapter doesn’t just say ‘Go plant-based, duh.’ It says, ‘Wait a second if that doesn’t work, here’s what you can do next.’

Once you’re WFPB, you’re removing the three things that increase cholesterol. One is the sedentary fats, two is trans fats (hydrogenated oils, junk food), and three is dietary cholesterol. You take those out of your diet. For most people, their cholesterol drops down perfectly. If it doesn’t, you may have to start adding things to your diet to actively pull cholesterol from you body. This is where Dr. David J.A. Jenkins’ Portfolio Diet comes in. Different foods bring down cholesterol via different mechanisms. He made this portfolio of different foods to add to one’s daily diet. For example, slimy foods every day – okra, oatmeal, eggplant – all that soluble fiber brings it down. Nuts every day. Soy every day, he goes through the list. I encourage you to check out the Portfolio Diet. We know the stuff that is increasing it, but your liver is not getting the message and is not getting lipids fast enough. But we can help that by adding additional foods, we should be able to get you down. I love your doctor’s recommendation for a total under 150 or even more importantly get that LDL, which you’re really concerned about, down 50, 60 70.


Q. What is the best B12 supplement?

A. Cyanocobalamin is preferable because it’s shelf stable… It happens to be the cheapest… Because it’s so critically important—not something you mess around with—you all need a regular, reliable source of vitamin B12. I recommend 2500 mcg of cyanocobalamin a week (more here)… And now there’s vitamin B12 toothpaste!


Q. I am asking questions about a broken neck from 1996, resulting in nerve damage. The person is not paralyzed, but lives with chronic pain and many other issues. They cannot take a bath because it hurts. Bowel issues, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. Those, I know are not necessarily related to nerve damage. Can the nerve damage be reversed or helped with WFPB nutrition?

A. There is one way to find out! The most likely reason that this person will die is probably heart disease, like everybody else. Particularly if she already has some risk factors. So just because she wants to continue to exist on this planet, she should be healthy. And then can see if indeed— like in the case of diabetic neuropathy, there is evidence for remarkable regression and reversal of putting people on whole-foods plant-based diets—whether or not she will experience that same benefit, we won’t know. But, if only there was something that not only didn’t have bad side effects, but had good side effects, also would probably save her life in the meanwhile, then she should probably do it. But you bring up a good point. You can still get hit by a bus, everyone, so still eat healthy, but also seatbelt, bike helmets, and all that stuff!

Q. Can a healthy diet help reverse cataracts?

A. We have some beautiful evidence. In fact, last year, I gave a talk that included some of the cataract data (informative video here). Showed this remarkable drop in risk of getting cataracts in the first place. There was a stepwise drop. Compared the meat eaters to the so-called “flexitarians,” to pesco-vegetarians (no meat except fish), to lacto-ovos to vegans. The stepwise drop in cataracts risk as one goes more and more plant-based. But the question is, if you already do have them, what can you do? You call a surgeon. Cataract surgery—of all surgeries—is very low risk and can show remarkable improvement. The reason we get cataracts is that it’s our body’s protection against these blue rays from the sun. This yellowing. It protects our retina. Instead of getting cataracts, what we can do is eat lots of lutein and zeaxanthin. These are wonderful yellow compounds found in dark leafy vegetables, like spinach. Our body sucks it up and directs it straight to the retina and protects. It is like an internal sunscreen. Our body doesn’t need to make cataracts. It’s already protected.

Q. Are there any organizations that you are aware of who would be interested in doing research on my whole-foods, plant-based body after death?

A. That’s a great question. It’s going to be a while! *Laughter in the room*

Not that I know of. If you do know, let me know and I can let people know about it.

Q. If we bring meat to the home, it can change our microbiome. Should we be concerned about bringing in raw meat for our pet dogs and what can we do about it?

A. Yes, particularly chicken. If you have a roommate whose chicken is dripping on your broccoli in the fridge, you’re in fact at more risk. Why? Because they’re at least going to cook their chicken. Whereas your broccoli may get a light stir fry or just get eaten raw in a salad. This presentation I gave a year or two ago talked about bringing in fresh and frozen chicken in the household, it gets everywhere throughout the kitchen, on the countertop. Even if you have people spritzing bleach. The best way to guarantee that you’re not going to affect yourself or your family is to not bring it home in the first place. If you’re going to have meat products, in terms of safety, pre-cooked meat products only in the household. I would be very careful about handling raw meat from your pets. Sanitize stuff. Make sure to wash your hands. Use gloves. There are different risks associated with different meat… Handle it like toxic waste. We should all have those BioSuits.

Q. Should we cook the greens or eat them raw?

A. You should eat greens in whichever way gets you to eat more of them. Like them raw? Eat them raw. Like them cooked? Eat them cooked. The only exception is deep fried… Any other way. It makes little difference. If you came to me and said you liked them identically, now tell me. Then, there’s all sorts of really cool data we can go through…You can blend the greens. There are all sorts of things you can do to maximize (their nutritional value). But basically, we’re talking about 10-20%… But that’s completely overwhelmed by quantity. If I said do twice as much of one form of greens than another. If you say you love your collard greens boiled, you could say, ‘Boiling greens? Think of all the nutrition you’re losing.’ Yeah, but if you love boiled collard greens…then boil those collard greens. But then take all that green juice at the bottom and make some soup out of it!


Hungry for More?

More than a thousand of Dr. Greger’s nutrition videos are freely available at NutritionFacts.org, with new videos and articles uploaded every day. You can also download Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen app for free. All the servings and all the foods that he encourages to incorporate in our daily diet. If you haven’t read it yet, pick up a copy of How Not to Die. Dr. Greger’s next book covers weight loss. Titled How Not to Diet, the book will be on stands by December 2019.

Photo Roundup: 15 Amazing Photos from 15th Anniversary Cruise

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Since our 2018 Holistic Holiday at Sea set sail last February, we’ve loved scrolling through all of your posted photos on social media with the hashtag #vegancruise (congrats to Jax Vegan Couple who won our photo contest!). We wanted to share a few of our own pics!

Check out these 15 fantastic shots from our special 15th anniversary cruise as we countdown to our next vegan cruise March 3–14, 2019.

15. Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, makes plant-based cooking look so easy (and delicious)! Julieanna led three cooking classes on dressings and sauces, hummus, and soups. Yum!

14. All your questions on what athletes need to fuel their bodies on a plant-based diet were answered at Panel Q&A: Powered by Plants with Vegan Athletes Matt Frazier, Robert Cheeke, Angelica Kushi, Dani Taylor, Giacomo Marchese, and Larry Krug.

13. In addition to educational lectures and instructional workshops on what it means to live a plant-based lifestyle, attendees also have ample opportunities to meet one another! From a gala night to an “ice cream sundae” party and pizza night, our program leaves plenty of room for socializing.

12. This year was athlete and author Rip Esselstyn’s first time on the cruise. His New York Times bestselling book, The Engine 2 Diet, documents his success and shows the connection between a plant-based diet and good health.

11. In addition to a full-service vegan menu, there is also a lunch buffet option for guests looking for a more casual atmosphere than a multi-course meal. And check out this view!

10. HHAS President Sandy Pukel hosted the Doctors Q&A Panel, “Cruisin’ for Knowledge – Using a Plant-Based Diet to Support Health and Avoid Risks,” with Drs. Michael Greger, T. Colin Campbell, Michael Klaper, Joel Kahn, Lawrence Kushi, and Deanna Minich. Audience members got the real scoop on living well, eating well, and taking control of your health.

9. A regular presenter on the cruise year after year, Robert Cheeke is a two-time natural bodybuilding champion and a bestselling author. His functional fitness class is full of exercises you can do anywhere, anytime to maintain high levels of health and fitness. And you’ll never catch Robert taking the elevator. He’s a tried-and-true stair climber on this ship!

8. How are organizations and thought leaders spreading the word about plant-based diet and lifestyle? How can we influence our family, friends, and local community to embrace veganism? On this panel discussion, Robert Cheeke, Gene Baur, Melissa Karpel, and James Aspey discuss ways to grow the vegan and plant-based community. This was James’ first time on HHAS!

7. Our lectures are far from boring. Everything from the animated presenters to the topics are interesting and engaging. The ambiance is no exception. Look at how blue that water is!

6. With more than 18 years of experience in holistic living and wellness, Marcus Gary leads “Looking and Feeling Great at Any Age with 5 Organ Qi Gong” with his amazing team. Joining him were Maria Johnson and Jamila Makini. We feel at peace just looking at this photo.

5. In her latest book, Making Kind Choices, president and founder of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk, explains how simple choices we make every day at the dinner table and the grocery store checkout line can have a lifesaving impact on animals. We were excited to welcome Ingrid on her first-ever HHAS cruise!

4. When Bridgette Kossor is entertaining, you know you’re going to have a great time. We were so excited to welcome Bridgette back for her ninth year on the HHAS cruise. She performed at the cocktail party and at the pool deck party, “C’mon, Get Happy!”

3. A room full of women set aside their inhibitions around strength training and joined athlete Dani Taylor in Women’s Boot Camp. Participants learned how to use resistance bands for a portable, full-body workout! This was Dani’s first time sailing with us!

2. In addition to Pilates, movement, and breathing classes, Bianka Steinfeldt led a group in Reiki meditation, combining the healing powers of both modalities. Look how relaxed everyone is!

1. They don’t call Holistic Holiday at Sea the “Love Boat” for nothing! When you get a group of likeminded, compassionate, and thoughtful people together, sparks are bound to fly! Whether you’re on the ship’s deck or digging your feet in the sand at a port of call, every moment is an opportunity to fall more in love with yourself—and possibly someone else, too!

See you in 2019!

Set Your Intentions This Spring Part I

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Angelica KushiSpring is the season of rebirth and rejuvenation. It’s also a time when we may feel more ready to bring changes to our health and wellness regimen.

While some people practice moderation and a balanced diet year round, many opt for detoxification through a spring cleanse to jumpstart a new pledge to health. In a two-part blog series, we are exploring these options with advice from three Holistic Holiday at Sea presenters about spring cleanses—what they are and what they aren’t. We’ll start here with thoughts from Angelica Kushi.

To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse

There are a lot of different types of cleanses; some more extreme than others. Some people do really well with cleanses, and some do a cleanse and then immediately afterwards add all the stuff they cut out back in, almost creating the reverse effect of the cleanse. These are the opinions of Angelica Kushi, a yoga teacher, health and wellness coach, aerial performer, and stunt woman. Her belief is that gradual change is more beneficial than a cleanse. “That being said, the type of cleanse you do is key, make sure it aligns with you, your goals, and your lifestyle,” she adds.

Here are a few tips from Angelica to follow when choosing a cleanse or making gradual changes.

Check in with your intentions

Why do you want to do a cleanse? Doing a spring cleanse can be a buzz phrase. Are you being tempted to do something because other people say it’s a good thing to do? Are you feeling an urge to energetically lighten up after the heaviness of winter?

Create a supportive environment

This goes for cleansing and general lifestyle and dietary changes. You want to set yourself up for success, which means clearing the junk food out of your home and hanging out with friends/family who are supportive of your choices.

Eat seasonally

This is a big one. Each season has different qualities, weather, energies, and foods. Spring is related to the liver/gallbladder. This organ system likes lighter cooking, fermented foods, sour flavor, and especially greens. Choose foods like lemons, green apples, sprouts, dandelion greens, arugula, spring onions, and lots of green leafy veggies.

Crowd out the old by bringing the new

Oftentimes, cleanses are about eliminating foods. This is tricky because then the focus is on what we can’t eat, and that can feel negative. Instead, I’m in favor of adding foods in. What you do is, eat the new food first. Then eventually you won’t have room for the foods you are trying to limit. For instance, if you have a sweet tooth, try eating sweet potatoes, onions, and carrots before you go for the cookies. It may not happen right away, but eventually you won’t be eating as many cookies. In fact, your body will have time to adjust and catch up with your mind knowing that the cookies aren’t as good for you. Eventually you may not even want the cookies anymore because your body has had the time to realize it feels better without the cookies. But if you just tell yourself that you can’t have the cookies, your body is going to protest and one day you’re going to find yourself eating the cookies and not even knowing how the cookies got into your hand. The body can play tricks on our mind!

Taking the Miso Soup challenge

In January, Angelica ran a miso soup challenge with weekly recipes and macrobiotic info. If you would like to do this challenge now, you can get it here, and a series of videos will be sent directly to your inbox.

Stepping up to the daily greens challenge

Starting May 26, Angelica will guide people on eating greens daily. Instead of doing a greens juice cleanse, you’ll look at:

  • different ways to prepare greens
  • different types of greens and what they are good for
  • the theory behind when is best to consume them as a juice, raw, steamed, boiled, or sauteed in water or oil.

This challenge gives you info to be a wise eater of greens.

Movement/Yoga practices

Twists and twisting motions are great for the springtime. Even just standing with your feet planted on the ground and swinging your arms side to side. This moves the liver/gallbladder area and helps support those organs.

Remember, no matter what you choose to do this season, take it one step at a time. As Angelica says, “Gradual changes last a lifetime.” Happy Spring!

7 Inspirational People in the Plant-Based Movement—And Who Inspires Them!

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It’s always amazing (but not surprising!) what a week or ten days can do to transform someone’s life for the better. Since we launched Holistic Holiday at Sea in 2004, guests have expanded their knowledge about holistic nutrition, fitness, animal advocacy, and culinary arts by learning from the world’s leading experts. Onboard, there’s a special combination of education, vacation, and relationship building. It’s a recipe for growing minds, putting a smiles on faces, and guiding everyone on the path to wellness.

Year after year, our engaging presenters feed curiosity and open hearts. From physicians and nutritionists to animal welfare activists and movement coaches, these experts are making huge strides in the plant-based movement. They’re definitely our heroes! We wanted to know—who are theirs?!

Who is your biggest hero (living or deceased) in the vegan/plant-based movement?

Robert Cheeke says:

Robert Cheeke & Rip Esselstyn

Robert Cheeke & Rip Esselstyn (Photo courtesy of @robert.cheeke)

Determining my biggest hero is tough because so many people have played important roles in my life. In the vegan movement, I would have to say that Howard Lyman (Mad Cowboy) is up there near the top, along with my older sister, Tanya, who first encouraged me to adopt a vegan lifestyle. In the athletic world, Brendan Brazier has long been a role model for me. He helped me in myriad ways in sports and in business, being one of the people I look up to greatly. In the areas of health and wellness, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., Dr. Michael Greger, and Rip Esselstyn are heroes of mine. I am so grateful and so fortunate to have such wonderful role models.

Dr. Michael Greger says:

Dr. Greger and his grandmother (Photo courtesy of NutritionFacts.org)

Dr. Greger and his grandmother (Photo courtesy of NutritionFacts.org)

Nathan Pritikin, as per my grandmother’s story that I talk about in the preface to How Not to Die. [Watch this 3-minute video on Dr. Greger’s grandmother and the work of Pritikin, one of our early lifestyle medicine pioneers.] Pictured here is Dr. Greger and his grandmother.

Angelica Kushi says:

Michio and Aveline Kushi

Michio and Aveline Kushi

My biggest heroes are my grandparents (as cheesy as that sounds) Michio and Aveline Kushi. They were ambitious, loving and caring. They came from Japan in the late ’40s and early ’50s to teach about macrobiotics. They were whole foods and plant-based long before it was even the slightest bit accepted. They coined the term “natural foods” and helped thousands if not millions of people create health in their lives. They taught about the link between food and our kindness to the entire planet.

These two quotes by Michio Kushi, sum it up:

“Peace begins in the kitchens and pantries, gardens and backyards, where our food is grown and prepared. The energies of nature and the infinite universe are absorbed through the foods we eat and are transmuted into our thoughts and actions.” -Michio Kushi

“We all have come from infinity, We all live within infinity. We all shall return to infinity. We are all manifestation of one infinity. We are all brothers and sisters of one infinite universe. Let us love each other. Let us help each other. Let us encourage each other. Let us all together continue to realize the endless dream of one peaceful world. We are always ONE forever.” -Michio Kushi

Jessica Porter says:

Christina Pirello

Christina Pirello

I’m a big fan of Christina Pirello… We have been friends for over 20 years, but I also have a fangirl admiration for her knowledge and skills. As a fellow funny redhead, she feels like a sister to me, but I don’t think I’ll ever reach her capacity in the cooking department. Go, Christina!

Dr. Michael Klaper says:

Dr. Albert Schweitzer (Source: Dutch National Archives)

Dr. Albert Schweitzer (Source: Dutch National Archives)

My greatest hero is Dr. Albert Schweitzer – a name all but unknown to today’s young people. Dr. Schweitzer was a physician who unselfishly cared for the people of Gabon at his clinic at Lambarene, and who embodied the principle of “ahimsa,” or reverence for all of life in everything that he did. Even insects and snakes were held in sacred regard by the Good Doctor, as he knew each was a fellow inhabitant of this amazing world, to be treated with reverence, wonder, and respect. His diet, as were all of his actions, was based upon the non-causation of suffering – so, of course, it was plant-based. To me, Dr. Schweitzer personified the best in humanity and in medicine – and his example sets the standard toward which I strive each day.

Christina Pirello says:

Dr. Neal Barnard

My biggest heros are Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, but in our living world, I would have to go with Dr. Neal Barnard for his tireless work.

Dr. Neal Barnard says:

Dr. Dean Ornish (Photo by Christopher Michel)

Dr. Dean Ornish (Photo by Christopher Michel)

Dean Ornish, Ben Spock, Denis Burkitt, and David Jenkins.

Meet Your Heroes!

HHAS Guest Michael & Dr. Michael Greger (Photo by @vegannboss)

HHAS Guest Michael & Dr. Michael Greger (Photo by @vegannboss)

We love it when attendees return home inspired, excited, and enriched! Year after year, it feels like we’re one big family sailing to beautiful ports around the Caribbean. Join the fun in 2019! Now is the best time to book. The super early bird rate ends on April 27!

Learn Culinary Techniques & Recipes in Our 2018 Cooking Classes

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Guests of Holistic Holiday at Sea aren’t just vacationing on an elegant cruise ship in the Caribbean. They’re learning more about holistic approaches to nutrition, mindfulness, and fitness. They’re becoming more compassionate stewards of the earth and advocates for animals. They’re getting more in touch with their own bodies and journeys to wellness. And they’re falling in love with plant-based food—for the first or hundredth time!

In addition to lectures, movement classes, and gourmet meals throughout the day, our onboard programming also includes cooking classes. We want our guests to leave with the confidence to cook plant-based recipes at home and share them with friends and family. This year’s schedule of cooking class presenters includes Julieanna Hever, Kim Campbell, Jessica Porter, Sandy Club, and Dunja Gulin.

Back to Basics

While it’s fun to get fancy with recipes, sometimes a new twist or update on the basics is exactly what you’re looking for. Registered dietitian and co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking, Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, will lead three cooking classes: “Dressings and Sauces to Help You Fall (More) in Love with Vegetables;” “Soup Solution – How to Use Soups as the Key to Successful Healthy Meal Planning;” and “Hummus Should be a Food Group;” plus a boot camp called “Healthy Eating Made Easy”.

Did you know that the minimum recommended number of vegetable servings per day is ten? That may seem like a lot, but it’s easier to get than you may think. Not craving more vegetables? Julieanna says the secret to wanting more vegetables in your diet is all in the sauce. This class will deep-dive into how to make easy, delicious dressings and sauces to use across the culinary spectrum and help inspire you to amp up your love of veggies.

Now in her second year of teaching on the cruise, Kim Campbell is the author of The PlantPure Nation Cookbook and The PlantPure Kitchen. She has developed more than 250 delicious, whole food, plant-based recipes using no processed oils. During our next cruise, Kim will lead two cooking classes. In “Bringing Back Our Favorite Comfort Foods,” Kim demonstrates how to build familiar recipes in a healthy form. She will cook Fishless Fillets and Indian Malai Kofta.

Kim tells us, “Taste preferences are often rooted in our traditions and memories so in order to appeal to these preferences, we should strive to build foods with similar flavors and textures. At the same time, it’s important to use ingredients that are accessible, affordable, and most of all healthy. During this class, I will cover a variety of techniques, ingredients, substitutions, and how they can be used to build very traditional style meals that are family and kid friendly. Included, I will cover gluten-free options and low-fat substitutions. Most importantly, we will share ideas and sample everything we make during the class! The cruise never let’s anyone go hungry.”

Change the Way You Cook

For the 13th consecutive year, the inspiring and funny Jessica Porter will once again combine humor with education as a presenter on Holistic Holiday at Sea. In her cooking class, “Don’t Let Tofu Make You Lose Your Tempeh,” Jessica will go into the benefits of both powerful foods and delicious ways of preparing them.

If you’re a bit confused on soy foods and how to cook with it, this class is for you! “There are two categories of complaints these days,” explains Jessica. “First of all, soy is getting a bad rap, and that topic needs to be thoroughly understood. Not all soy is a problem, and in fact, much of it is incredibly healthy and smart to eat, but we need to understand how quality and quantity affects our health. Is it GMO? Organic? In what form? Fermented? All these things matter.

“The second category of complaint is about cooking; people say that tofu is boring or has no taste. This is simply a matter of understanding the nature of tofu and its versatility and tastelessness need never be a problem. Ditto tempeh and other forms of soy.”

Sandy Clubb, of Cookware Health Clubb Inc., helps people understand the healthy benefits of whole plant nutrition and proper food preparation techniques. In her demonstration, “What’s the Cookware Got to Do with It?” Sandy will use the waterless cooking method (no water, no oil, no oven) to prepare 30-minute lasagna, veggies, and cake. She will review the best tips for cooking methods and cookware we use to prepare our meals.

When recommending cookware to people, Sandy offers this advice:

  • Ask questions and do research. Look behind the label because, after all, your food will touch it, cook in it, and sometimes be stored in it. Should your cookware be the highest quality or the lowest? There is very little regulation on cookware. Find out where it’s made and from what materials and why? After all, it is YOUR dinner.
  • WHAT do you want your cookware to do for you? Save Time? Save Nutrition? Make your food taste better? Save food volume? Be easy to clean and last for decades? To cook without water, without oil? Why, Why, Why? After all, you can cook in a tin can or a hubcap!

Variety is the Spice of Life

Croatian-based cooking teacher and author, Dunja Gulin has been part of the Holistic Holiday at Sea team, working in the kitchen, for the past five years. She describes the experience as “great fun and very rewarding.” Dunja will lead a cooking boot camp called “Falafel Forever,” in which she will go over a number of falafel recipes, including fried, baked, dehydrated, and raw varieties.

When asked about her favorite method of eating falafel, Dunja replied, “I often use a variety of plant-based ingredients to create falafel-like dishes, since we all love falafel, but don’t want to eat the same recipe all the time. In warmer months, I often prepare seed-based raw falafel for my family and my clients. The taste is so rich, there is no frying involved, and they can be prepared days in advance. Fuss-free, nutritionally dense and very practical. All you could ever ask from a recipe!”

Bring your appetite as samples will be available following the boot camp. Dunja says, “I think that’s the main purpose of any cooking event—to enjoy what we created and share a meal in a relaxed and inspiring atmosphere. Participants will be more than welcome to join me in every step of the way. Cooking is very much about practice and getting your hands dirty, and that’s exactly what we will do! I’m really looking forward to the 2018 cruise!”

Plant-Based Cooking Today

Often the best culinary techniques and methods are those that are based in tried-and-true traditions, and helped along by modern advancements.

“Plant-based cooking has become so much easier in the last ten years,” says Kim Campbell. “Mainstream grocery stores are beginning to carry a wider variety of ingredients and there are many great vegan chefs out there sharing their gifts and knowledge around food. Digital photography, videos, and social media make it easy and fun to allure, support, and sustain this lifestyle. When our family began this journey 30 years ago, there wasn’t the internet, beautiful vegan cookbooks, and restaurants offering vegan options. It seemed like everywhere we went there were roadblocks. We made it work and learned a lot along the way, but it’s a different world today and I think it’s much easier to transition to a whole food, plant-based lifestyle. My own parents have made this transition at the age of 83 and they did it overnight! They had a little PlantPure help but I can honestly say they didn’t struggle doing it.”

Whether you love rolling your sleeves up in the kitchen, or you’d rather just eat more healthily, these cooking classes will help expand your knowledge of plant-based nutrition and just how healthy and delicious it can be!

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.

Husband-and-wife duo (or ‘swolemates’ as they call themselves) Giacomo Marchese and Dani Taylor will lead boot camps using resistance bands (buy one on the ship or bring your own), which offer a great portable way to get your muscles pumping. Dani is looking forward to leading a Women’s Boot Camp on her first-ever cruise: “I have taught many fitness classes in my life, but never on a vegan cruise! So I am very excited for this brand new opportunity to connect with other vegan women about becoming strong and fit all while on a beautiful vacation.” Because there are classes for every level, participants need not feel intimidated. Giacomo says, “I like that there are challenges for everyone, no matter how new or practiced they are to each style of training offered on the cruise.”

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!

Marcus Gary & Maria Johnson leading 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.


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


  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


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)


  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


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



  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.


Handheld blender or food processor

A medium-sized colander


A baking sheet

A pastry brush

Aluminum foil

A skillet

A large measuring cup

Knife, wooden spoons, and the other usual stuff



5 lbs extra firm tofu


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


Mushrooms (optional)



Mirin (optional)

Brown rice vinegar (optional)



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)


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)


  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.


1 package vegan puff pastry dough

1 Red Delicious apple

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon Earth Balance (optional)

1 lemon slice

Walnuts (optional)


  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!

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