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Recovery Panelists Tell Their Stories: You Won’t Believe Their Results, Part II

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This post is the final installment of a two-part series in which we spotlight several participants from the Recovery Panel on the 2017 Holistic Holiday at Sea vegan cruise, which sailed March 11–18, 2017.

Holistic Holiday at SeaAs you read in our July post, one of the most well attended sessions on the Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise is the Recovery Panel. Members of the audience watch in amazement and relief as a dozen people share how they overcame a serious illness using holistic and alternative therapies. By the end, there are tears, smiles, and follow-up questions.

We want to share with you three amazing stories from participants Jane Quincannon Stanchich, Tricia Slimbarski, and Kim Hoffman.

 

We look forward to the next Recovery Panel on our special 15th anniversary 10-day voyage, February 15–25, 2018 in the southeastern Caribbean.

Plant-Based and Pain-Free

Jane StanchichThis year’s panel was facilitated by Jane Quincannon Stanchich, a macrobiotic teacher, counselor, and chef for more than 35 years. This was her 14th time attending the cruise. She opened with, “Welcome to what I think is one of the most important and inspiring sessions on the whole cruise and any event. Truly. I love this. Very courageous people who are sharing their stories with you—stories of healing. They’ll be telling you about their condition, what they decided to do, and their triumphant results.”

Jane’s personal healing story dates back 35 years ago. At the time, she was in tremendous pain and suffering with osteoarthritis. “I was determined to find out what was causing the pain. And I was determined to do whatever it took to reverse it,” she says. At the time, she was following a vegetarian diet, but was still eating eggs and dairy. A holistic doctor assured her that she could restore her bones without operations.

“It was only when I began a vegan diet (that) … my monthly cycle became easy and pain free; my hip pain, knee pain, and foot pain went away because I was giving myself the nutrients I needed and I was eliminating the foods that were trigger foods, that were causing the inflammation and degeneration.”

In closing, Jane said “I feel better and actually younger every day. And I’m tremendously grateful because I get to meet people like you and I get to share my story with many.”

Fighting for My Life

Tricia Slimbarski

Tricia Slimbarski decided to go to the doctor because she wasn’t feeling well. The diagnosis was type II diabetes. Four months later, she returned to the doctor for testing and complained about pain in her jaw and left arm. He referred her to a cardiologist for testing and she was diagnosed with severe coronary artery disease and had a quintuple bypass surgery in February 2008. “Upon discharge from the hospital I was told to eat a Mediterranean diet, which includes fish, olive oil and dairy,” says Tricia. She was still having angina every day. When all was said and done, she was on 13 pills and two shots per day.

In February 2014, Tricia was admitted to the Cleveland Clinic due to severe angina. They placed seven stents into her coronary arteries. One week later, another stent was added. Upon discharge, the doctor told her that she had so much damage that she would be back in the hospital within six months.

When she returned home, Tricia was scared and depressed. She decided to go on the internet and do some research on reversing her condition. She discovered Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and purchased his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. “When I got it, I became vegan ‘now!’” She shares, “Mind you, I had angina every single day for 10 years. After I started this lifestyle, no oil, the agina stopped within two weeks and I haven’t had it yet, and that was three years ago.”

As for tips? Tricia, who says she was fighting for her life, advises others, “Take charge of your life and take control of your own health.” Today, Tricia has a plant-based nutrition course and teaches cooking.

Do You Really Believe This?

Kim Hoffman, of Cleveland, Ohio, thought she was bulletproof until she wound up in the hospital for eight days at the age of 30. Doctors told her that she had multiple sclerosis and that she’s had it for the past decade. Against doctor’s orders, she checked herself out of the hospital and hit the internet.

“My neurologist thought I was crazy and the Cleveland Clinic did not support me because I didn’t want to be on medication,” she says. She discovered Dr. John McDougall and his dietary approach to MS. She signed up for his 10-Day Live-in Program in Santa Rosa, California. She wanted to look him in the eye and ask him, “Do you really believe this?” They talked, and she eventually believed he knew what he was talking about.

She says, “Once I was properly educated, I stopped all medications. I have been on a whole foods, plant-based, oil free diet, and in full remission for six years.”

This was Kim’s first Holistic Holiday at Sea experience. For someone in similar shoes who is seeking recovery, she tells them, “Hit the internet, books, lectures, anything you can get your hands on and educate yourself on your condition. If you can learn how the disease works, you can find ways to combat it. Do not blindly follow doctors and just become another patient number in the system. Educate yourself, then trust your gut instincts.”

Join Us in 2018!

Haven’t seen the Recovery Panel firsthand yet? We’d love to have you onboard. Reserve your spot on the 2018 Holistic Holiday at Sea experience and get ready to be inspired! There are so many new ports of call, exciting lectures by world-renowned leaders in the plant-based movement, and unique excursions to help you on your journey to wholeness. You won’t want to miss it.

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!

Special Offer for First-Time Guests Booking in January

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Holistic Holiday at Sea CaribbeanIf you’re considering a first-time experience on the Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise March 11–18, 2017, then definitely consider booking your spot today! This year’s cruise programming includes an engaging lineup of presenters, special events, classes, and amazing plant-based food. With dancing and fitness classes, it’s a party-meets-conference-meets-retreat on the beautiful Caribbean Sea.

To make the deal sweeter, we are running a special January promotion for first-time cruise goers. If you reserve your spot in January, we will give you $100 onboard credit that can be used for private treatments, consultations, or bookstore items.* Use the code “January Special” when asked how you learned about the cruise to claim this offer.

If you still need convincing to book right now, we have a ton to share. Did you know that the fun isn’t limited to onboard adventures? Excursions in exotic ports of call include Ochos Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico; and Nassau, Bahamas. There are more than 60 pre-arranged excursions that include snorkeling, horseback riding, ziplining, and sightseeing, among other activities.

Six excursions include a vegan lunch. Attendees for these excursions with lunch are required to reserve their spots by January 25. (The 7-Mile Beach Break at Tiki Beach with vegan lunch on Tuesday, March 14, is already sold out.) If you’d like to read a first-hand perspective, check out this blog post with vegan athlete and bodybuilder Robert Cheeke sharing some excursion highlights.

We hope to see you onboard the MSC Divina this March! Please contact us with any questions. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

*Offer only valid for first-time guests (adults only) registering for the cruise in the month of January, 2017. Cannot be combined with other onboard credits. This offer can only be applied during cruise registration. Credit can only be used for items sold onboard by Holistic Holiday at Sea.

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!

Earn CME/CE Credits Aboard Holistic Holiday at Sea

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Holistic Holiday at Sea CME/CE Program

Guests aboard Holistic Holiday at Sea’s 14th annual cruise, March 11–18, will spend the week dining on plant-based cuisine, mingling with fellow voyagers at poolside socials, taking excursions at several ports of call, and participating in cooking, fitness, and mindfulness classes. They’ll also have ample opportunities to learn from experts. Dozens of presentations and panels will be led by more than 40 leading authorities in holistic and alternative health. While many cruise goers consider this event to be their yearly vacation, others are licensed health professionals who combine pleasure with business, earning CME/CE credits while on the ship.

A Collaboration Between HHAS & iCamp

After spending years in school and training, it is crucial for physicians and other healthcare professionals to continue learning and staying on top of the latest research in nutrition.

The CME/CE program is a collaboration between Holistic Holiday at Sea and iCamp (Integrative and Complementary Academic Medicine Program) at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Since the ’80s, Donna Franklin, director of operations for iCamp, has been friends with Sandy Pukel, a cofounder of Holistic Holiday at Sea and longtime promoter of macrobiotics and holistic health. Donna says that a few years ago, they had a conversation that led to this highly successful partnership and program between the cruise and iCamp. “It all fell into place,” says Donna.

This year, there are a total of 35 available continuing education units approved by the Florida Boards of Acupuncture, Chiropractic Medicine, Dentistry, Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, Mental Health Counseling, Psychology, Pharmacy, the Florida Council of Dietetics and Nutrition, and MidWifery. There are 30 attainable Prescribed credits for MDs, DOs, PAs, and ARNPs, 35 CEUs approved by the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies, and 35 ACBN hours approved by the Diplomate for the American Clinical Board of Nutrition.

While everyone is invited to attend all courses, these specially denoted courses go deeper into evidence-based research on plant-based living and eating. Attendees registered for CME/CE credits must sign in and out of each class and these sign-in sheets are used to document hours. All CME courses are also approved as CEs.

Exploring the Benefits of a Plant-Based Lifestyle

The ship offers a unique environment for learning to take place. Donna says, “It’s more than just a class. You’re eating the food and living in the environment. It’s very empowering … You really get it at a different level when you’re surrounded by people that are ‘walking the talk.’ They are eating this way … They’re doing their yoga or their meditation or they’re learning how to cook.”

By experiencing a plant-based diet while learning about it, medical doctors are better positioned to help their patients with nutritional concerns. In this way, the professionals can better understand and explain the challenges and benefits. Donna says, “When you physically experience it, it is life-changing. It changes something in the brain … You’re eating with like-minded people. You’re hearing their stories and they’re hearing yours. You’re hearing their struggles. They’re hearing yours.”

A Range of Topics

The topics covered in the CME/CE program are vast in scope. “You have a variety of different approaches and people really need to see what’s out there and what will work for them,” says Donna.

For instance, Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. MD, FACS, will examine the vascular system in “Making Yourself Heart Attack Proof by Treating the Cause of Coronary Artery Heart Disease.” His pioneering research is summarized in his bestselling Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

David Blyweiss, MD, began his medical career as a pharmacist and since then has become an experienced practitioner of what is known as “functional medicine.” He will present a keynote called, “Chronic Disease is Never One Thing: It’s about Diet, Lifestyle & Environment in the 21st Century.”

Another presenter, T. Colin Campbell, PhD, believes the time has come for the public and professionals alike to understand the importance of nutrition. He discusses the main principles of nutrition and evaluates popular diet types with that understanding in his keynote, “Fundamentals of a Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet.” View the full CME/CE Program here.

Interested in Learning More?

There’s no better way to learn about the science surrounding nutrition and wellness than by experiencing it both in and out of the classroom. If you’re a healthcare professional interested in learning more about the CME/CE program on this year’s Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise, click here for more information. Curious about the schedule? View the entire HHAS program and itinerary here.

If you’re interested in earning credit, you must first book your ticket to Holistic Holiday at Sea before signing up for the CME/CE program. Why wait? Book today!

Meet the Bad Ass Vegan: John Lewis

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Yaaay! We are so pumped for you to learn more about our second Special Guest for the cruise. We have the pleasure of welcoming a member of the vegan body building community.  John “Bad Ass Vegan” Lewis comes to us from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, but is originally from Missouri, the “show me state.”  As a nationally certified fitness trainer, John Lewis has spent more than 8 years in the health and fitness industry and played Division I College basketball. John is decidedly passionate not only about his own health and fitness, but that of others as well.

In addition to his extensive knowledge in body sculpting and contouring, what makes John one of the top national fitness trainers is his creative ability to understand and live a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle while maintaining a highly commendable physique.  In essence, he is able to cater to a diverse group of individuals, masterfully creating and developing personalized, unique and healthy nutrition plans. Thus, his services are highly sought after.

Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to become a vegan?

I would have to say my most pivotal moment was when my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer.  I remember asking the doctors how do you get cancer or how did she get it? The doctor said too much animal protein contributed to this disease. So once I saw that it …I decided to choose the plant-based/vegan route.

What changes have you noticed in your body since you made the switch?

I have noticed that I have been able to train much harder in the gym and not have the fatigue and lack of energy that I had when I was consuming animal-based products. I can honestly train for hours and hours. The next day I have little to no fatigue or little to no pain and I am able to train just as hard as the day before. I have also noticed a rise in my mental clarity that may have not been there before.  I would have to say I am the king of multitasking and actually getting everything done without losing track. I have also noticed that my digestive system is working much better.

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What made you decide to go into bodybuilding?

My college career in basketball presented a need to stay in excellent shape because I always wanted to perform at my best on the court. Bodybuilding really came about because I just wanted to take it to the next level and challenge my body even more. I feel as if we should always challenge ourselves and never get too comfortable.  It’s okay to enjoy the moment but always look at how you can improve your life.

Do you have any specific goals for your future as a vegan athlete?

Right now I would have to say that my main goal as a vegan athlete is to show the world that you can be vegan and be powerful and strong, and push your body to the limits without any hesitation. There are so many people that are curious about the vegan lifestyle and culture; I want to make sure that they can see that they can accomplish great things with a vegan diet, no matter what your dietary background has been.  At one time in my life, I used to weigh 315 pounds, and, yes, that’s when I was eating poorly.  I want people to know about my past weight because I want them to know that they can take hold of their lives. People should understand that what we decide to eat is a choice.  We choose what to ingest.  Anyone can take control of their life, and anyone can take control of their health.  The choice is up to us to decide to live better or decide to live worse.

What is your favorite vegan desert?

I know this may sound biased but I can honestly say that the badass Power cookie is my favorite dessert/go to item. I am sort of a cookie monster so if I can have a good cookie then I am going to be happy! My Badass Power Cookie is not necessarily a desert, but it does have a lot of vital nutrients that can sustain a bodybuilder or somebody that’s just looking to stay in shape. The main ingredient in the cookie is Spirulina, but it also has the amino acids and proteins that help the body recover and also build muscle density.

Supporting the Chefs of the Future

“Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be food” – Hippocrates

One of the most amazing things about the food movement in the last two decades is its ability to recognize and celebrate the variety of people making different dietary choices. There are delicious meals to be had within every food genre, even for people with food allergies. This has supported an increasing demand for chefs who are able to cook tasty and creative meals for an increasingly growing demographic. In previous decades, people were mainly trying to avoid sugar and sodium. However, with constantly updated information about what foods can contribute to certain ailments, one may be left searching for new dietary options –the tastier and healthier the better.

Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts

Lo and behold the Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts, founded in 1994 by Elizabeth Ann Foster, a certified macrobiotic counselor. Elizabeth started the school to manifest her vision of advancing the appreciation and practice of natural, whole food cooking in the Southeast. This vision was continued under the stewardship of Dawn Pallavi, experienced teacher, counselor and macrobiotic chef. With culinary training in France and the US, Dawn brought a culturally eclectic flair to the art of natural, whole foods cooking.

For the last 3 years, the Holistic Holiday at Sea vegan cruise has had an extern program as part of the on-board educational track.  Last year, the vegan cruise started a partnership with the  University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s  iCamp—Integrative and Complementary Academic Medicine Programs to offer CME credits for allied Health Professionals.

Internship Program on the Cruise

Below is an inside look at the externship opportunity on the cruise and how it serves as a great experience for these already well-rounded culinary students. This will be Jeanine Perla’s 3rd year on the cruise and she will be working with 2 new interns from the academy. We look forward to meeting the three of them and tasting some of their unique and mouth watering creations!

Jeanine Perla

 

HHaS: How did you initially learn about the cruise?

I was a student at The Natural Epicurean. John Belleme reached out to The Natural Epicurean requesting interns and I responded. I had to go through an interview process and I was so excited to be selected.

HHaS: How did you become on of the chefs in the kitchen on the cruise this year?

I worked extremely hard my first year as an intern, so they asked me to come back for a second year. I did well enough in 2013 that they selected me to come back again 🙂

Will you be assisting Mark Hanna with his duties or are you running a particular part yourself?

The two interns and I will be responsible for helping the Mark Hanna’s staff stay ahead of the game. We will be working in the evening pulling inventory, chopping vegetables, prepping meals and more. We are honored to be a key team in the orchestration of the kitchen functioning smoothly. 

Can you tell me a bit about the interns?

Kelly Ritter was drawn to The Natural Epicurean as a result of a trip to Africa. She realized how there is a global need for more preferable foods. She completed her studies and she now does chef work in restaurants, yoga retreats, Africa and more. Dustin Lundewall was working in the restaurant industry and realized that he wanted to develop a career in the plant based food industry. His goal is to become a macrobiotic counselor, so he is looking forward to being part of the Holistic Holiday at Sea chef team.

What would you like for our readers to know about you and your career as a chef?

I come from an Italian family, so cooking has always been a central part of every get together. When I was looking for culinary schools, my father was becoming very ill. I selected The Natural Epicurean because I wanted to be a chef that promotes healing from food. My journey has led me to guest chef work, instructing and catering. It is such a delight to feed people food that is, first and foremost, delicious and also nourishing.  

What’s your favorite part about being a chef?

My favorite part about being a chef is watching my client’s reaction to the food. A good meal requires a lot of hard work. The chef has to forage the food, store it properly, cook it perfectly, balance it with sauces and make sure that multiple textures are present. But the moment that the client eats the food and tastes all of the dimensions and love that was put into the food, all of my body aches wash away as I watch the client revel in the satiating meal.

We’d like to thank Jeanine for sharing her path with us. We wish her the best of luck in her career and her other endeavors. We look forward to seeing her on the ship in March.

Welcome to 2014!!! We are so very excited to be in our 11th year of bringing you great lectures, amazing activities, community building and a celebration of living a compassionate vegan lifestyle! 2014 promises to be an incredible year with new presenters, new and cutting edge fitness opportunities, new entertainers and amazing cooking classes with celebrity vegan chefs! Bring a friend or your entire family. The gift of health is the one that keeps on giving. We look forward to seeing you in March!

Spotlight on 2014 Presenter Bryant Terry

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Interview  by Bianca Philips  ‘aka’  Crunk Master B of Vegan Crunk

I’ve only been on one cruise in my life with my parents and I took a cruise ship to Mexico a few years back. However, I’m sure I would just die of happiness if I could go on the Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise in March. It’s an ALL-VEGAN cruise with cooking demos by vegan celebrity chefs and lectures by the health guru greats.

This year’s cruise features Bryant Terry (the original crunk vegan!), T. Colin Campbell, Neal Bernard, Robert Cheeke, Chef AJ, Rich Roll, and so many more. From March 1st-8th, cruisers can listen to health talks, do yoga, and most importantly stuff themselves with delicious, healthy vegan food. And there are stops in San Maarten, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas. This is my dream vacation, y’all!

Out of all the presenters, I’d definitely be the most excited to see Bryant Terry.

Photo credit: Paige Greene

He’s a fellow Memphian (though he doesn’t live here anymore), and he’s been cooking up soul dishes for years. On the cruise, he’ll be cooking up some dishes from his new book, Afro-Vegan: Farm Fresh, African, Caribbean, & Southern Flavors Remixed.

I have an advance copy of his book (it hits shelves April 8th), and I’ll do a full review soon. But lemme tell ya: Like all of Bryant’s books, this one is jam-packed with awesome — Lemongrass Boiled Peanuts, Pumpkin-Peanut Fritters, Curried Corn and Coconut Rice, Fresh Corn Grits with Swiss Chard and Cherry Tomatoes. Yum!

Anyway, Bryant took a few minutes to dish about his new book and what he’ll be doing on the Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise.

Me: You have a new book, Afro-Vegan, coming out soon. Tell me a little about it.

Bryant: I’m really excited about Afro-Vegan. I feel like all my previous books were preparing me to write this one. I have a new publisher (Ten Speed Press), and this will be my first full-color, hardback book with lots of photos. A large part of my mission in writing Afro-Vegan is to put the ingredients, flavor profiles, and classic dishes of the African Diaspora into wider circulation. I know that folks are yearning for a vegan cookbook that is different than anything else out there, and this is it. Of course there is the political aspect of this book, similar to my others. Cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz said, “If A People’s History of the United States andJoy of Cooking had a baby, Afro-Vegan would be it!” That’s about right. Most important, though, the food is yummy.

And that’s your fourth book, right?

Yep. My third book of which I am the lone author. My first book was co-authored with my friend Anna Lappe.

How has your Southern upbringing affected your style of cooking? 

My family owned farms in rural Mississippi and kept gardens in Memphis where I’m from, so I always had the tastiest local food that was grown, raised, and cooked by people I love. That’s what my cooking is all about, feeding my diverse group of family, friends, and fans vibrant and yummy plant-centered food that reflects my values around health, sustainability, compassion, and community building.

You seem to have a focus on using simple, fresh ingredients to create gourmet dishes, but soul food doesn’t always often tend to be very gourmet. What inspired you to take soul food and step it up a notch?

I don’t know if my cooking is gourmet; compared to many of my chef friends, I think that I cook like someone’s grandmother. But my grandmother used garden-fresh ingredients to make simple dishes, and they were always delicious and satisfying. That is what I strive to do with my recipes. When people talk about “soul food,” they are most often describing the comfort foods of African-American cuisine. My mission is to move people beyond soul food and help them discover the diversity and complexity of my ancestors’ food.

How did you get involved with Holistic Holiday at Sea? Is this your first time presenting on that cruise?

This is my second time teaching classes on the cruise. The first time I presented was in 2010. The organizers knew about my work and wanted me to bring my voice to the program. I had a ball. The food is AMAZING, the people are great, and it is a very rejuvenating working vacation for me.

Any idea what you’ll be making yet?

Tofu Curry with Mustard Greens; Sweet Potato and Lima Bean Tagine; Slow-Braised Greens; and Cinnamon-Soaked Wheat Berry Salad – all recipes from Afro-Vegan. 

What are you most looking forward to with the cruise?
Spending time on the ocean with my wife, exercising everyday, and eating.

Any other presenters that you’re dying to see?

I am excited to take a Qi Gong class with Marcus Gary!

What do you hope cruise-goers take away from your presentation?

I really hope that my presentations further extends farm-fresh, compassionate food to include foods of the African diaspora.

We are excited to have Bryant returning to the cruise this year and look forward to the amazing food he will be preparing and finding out more about “Afro Vegan”. Join us in March 2014 for our 11th voyage of this vegan extravaganza in the Caribbean! Bring someone who is interested in a great time, an opportunity to grow and a unique vegan travel experience where you can be around like minded compassionate folks! This is a traveling experience like no other.

Socialize, Rejuvenate, Grow

There’s something about shared travel that can connect people to a degree that few other experiences can. Perhaps the cause is the removal from regular life that lets us play in a way not possible during our day-to-day routine.  Conversations go further than they would with people seen every day.  Drinks and dances can last longer when there’s no work the next morning, but how to approach that initial moment of meeting? Holistic Holiday at Sea provides many opportunities to connect with other guests so you can delight in new encounters come March.Cruise Photos 3MP-96

 

Evening Events

The main social events happen each night, with possibilities ranging from a Welcome Cocktail Party to “Ice cream” or “Milk” and Cookies Socials.  Share a dance to the song stylings of Bridgette Kossor or share a cooking tip at the Daiya Vegan Pizza Party.

In coming weeks, we’ll tell the stories of couples that connected through the cruise.  If you want someone with whom to share the experiences, the Singles Social gives you the chance to write the next love story. After you hit it off with a lovely gentleman or lady, continue the conversation with a debate over the best Coconut Bliss flavor at the Bliss Vegan Ice Cream Social.

If an intriguing stranger catches your eye during the week, or an inspiring speaker raises a pressing question, you have one more chance to say hello at the Friday night Farewell Dance Party.

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Physical and Mental Fitness Classes

Our lineup of fitness and spiritual practice sessions present another great way to meet folks.  Get out of your room and into rhythm at yoga with instructor Koya Webb.  Meet other morning people and start your day with peaceful smiles at Marcus Gary’s 5-Organ Qi Gong.  When you want a bit more motion, find your up-tempo comrades in “Exercise Your Core” with Rich Roll. Even if you prefer to keep to yourself during the class, the exercise endorphins may propel you to new social boldness upon completion!

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Cooking Classes

If you’d rather let someone else do the sweating while you socialize, daily cooking demonstrations feature three new chefs bringing contagious energy along with their expertise. Join food justice activists wanting to taste the farm-fresh fixings of chef Bryant Terry; get healthy and happy through “Plant-based Comfort Foods” with Jessica Porter; or focus on sweets that serve the body while sharing treats at Chef AJ’s “Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth without Sugar, Oil or Gluten.”  Since the chefs do the cooking, there’s no risk of harming your new friendship with recipes gone awry.

 

Enduring Relationships

Merging travel and food offers the best of two wonderful worlds. The two come together throughout Holistic Holiday at Sea, whether at the dinner table or in a workshop.  It’s brought us great joy to witness how relationships formed on this common ground of health and healing often stay the course, despite the later challenges of time or distance. No matter where you return to after the cruise, you’ll have memories to treasure and new friends to share them with.

 

Join us in March 2014 for our 11th voyage of this vegan extravaganza in the Caribbean! Bring someone who is interested in a great time, an opportunity to grow and a unique vegan travel experience where you can be around like minded compassionate folks! This is a traveling experience like no other.

 

 

Creating Beauty from the Inside Out

The Quest for a Glowing Complexion

From using toothpaste to kill pimples to using baking soda to even out your self tanner gone awry or applying pepto bismol as a refreshing facial mask women have  tried a myriad of approaches to obtain a glowing, radiant and supple complexion. However, one of the best ways to a great complexion, as many vegans will tell you, is a good old fashioned plant based diet.

For example, Vitamin C is needed for collagen metabolism , which increases the elasticity of the skin, providing a smoother and less wrinkled complexion. Some vegan favorites high in C are kale, strawberries, garlic and radishes. Radishes are the only mainstream food high in both of the beauty minerals sulfur and silica, and one of the best vegetable sources of Vitamin C. The three work synergistically to make your skin glow and help with healthy connective tissue formation.

beautiful skin image

A Handful of Vegan Delights for Glorious Skin

Flax & Hemp Seeds: Both are complete proteins and sources of essential fatty acids like Omega 3s that help maintain cell membranes, allowing water and nutrients in, while simultaneously keeping toxins out. They also protect skin against sun damage and help prevent wrinkles.

Sea Vegetables: With a capacity to provide concentrated minerals in easily assimilated form like no other food out there, seaweeds will improve the texture and appearance of skin and hair. They also include alginic acid, a substance known to absorb and remove toxins from the body, making them a stellar detox food during cleansing.

Vegetables: Organic green-leafy and other vegetables are essential for maintaining great health overall, and that includes what radiates externally. A rotating veritable potpourri of local, colorful and organic vegetables will keep you radiant for a lifetime.

Cacao Beans (Raw Chocolate): All chocolate is made out of the cacao bean, or chocolate nut. It contains flavanols, a group of flavonoids, that have been shown to improve the skin’s appearance by decreasing sensitivity to light. Flavanols also increase blood flow to the skin, improving skin structure and texture. Dark chocolate also contains flavonoids, but not quite as much as pure cacao.

Spirulina: Rich in amino acids and beta carotene, this blue-green algae contains many of the B vitamins and trace minerals that may be depleted through illness or stress. Spirulina can be taken in capsules or as a powdered supplement mixed with water, juice or smoothies.

Papaya:  Containing a breadth of vitamins, antioxidants, trace minerals, folates, fiber and more, all the goodness in papayas combines synergistically for overall health.

Avocado: Rich in minerals and high in vitamin A, E and the Bs, avocado is an antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-wrinkle powerhouse that keeps skin nourished and young.

On the Holistic Holiday at Sea Vegan Cruise there will be many things to enhance your beauty, make your soul smile and enrich your lifestyle regimen. Our cruise is more than a great vegan travel experience, it’s an opportunity to better your health while enjoying an incredible vacation!

Join us in 2014 for our 11th tasty all-veggie voyage!

http://shine.yahoo.com/beauty/vegan-diet-skin-saver-complexion-killer-130000083.html

http://www.organicauthority.com/delicious-beauty/10-best-foods-to-eat-for-skin-that-glows.html

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