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Archive for the ‘Vegan Tips’ Category

The Best Vegan and Plant-based Gifts for the Holidays

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Looking to spread the vegan cheer this Christmas season? Enjoy these 8 lovely gift ideas in support of healthy, compassionate living.

The holiday season can be fraught with anxiety; questions like “what should I get my sister?” and “how can I stay healthy this time of year?” are common; luckily, finding meaning and balance is easier than you think. Shower your loved ones with the gift of a healthful 2019, with presents ranging from amazing culinary gadgets, to books and magazines, to the best in organic skincare products! Here’s a round-up of our favorites.

1. Cookbooks with Substance

We’re big fans of cookbooks with substance, the ones that delve into the proven benefits of the plant-based diet. They offer short, concise chapters interspersed with delicious, healthy recipes and meal planning tools. The roster of presenters throughout Holistic Holiday at Sea includes several authors of such books; because they’re easy to digest (literally), these books are powerful tools in converting minds and bellies. We highly recommend Rip Esselstyn’s The Engine 2 Diet, which made the The New York Times Best Seller List and was endorsed by famous brands and people alike, including former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and Whole Foods Markets. You might couple this present with Rip’s follow-up book, The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet.

2. Vegan, Organic Wine from Frey Vineyards

Indulge in the best. Frey Vineyards offers artisan wines from their Northern California vineyards made in the biodynamic tradition. All of Frey Vineyard’s award-winning wines are organic and vegan. They’re easy to order and will certainly impress the wine mavens on your list!

3. Saladmaster Cooking System

If your gift recipient is excited to prepare more veggie-focused dishes to optimize their health, Saladmaster’s exceptional, stainless steel cookware couldn’t be a better gift. This time-proven, innovative cooking system allows for the creation of incredible, plant-based meals without the use of fats, oil, added water, and without the danger of overheating food. The technology maintains optimal amounts of vitamins and nutrients.

4. Essential Oils from EO

Pure essential oils can be blissful, medicinal, and replace traditional perfumes containing harmful, artificial ingredients. EO has a legacy of crafting the highest quality, plant-based body care products featuring essential oils, and their line includes sanitizers, deodorants, moisturizers, facial products, and perfumes. If you’re shopping for a vegan or a loved one with sensitive skin, you really can’t go wrong with EO’s range of divinely smelling products.

5. Vitamix

There’s no better tool for diving head-first into a healthy, plant-based lifestyle than a Vitamix! From smoothies to soups to sauces, the Vitamix is so much more than a blender; revolutionize your friend or loved one’s kitchen with the gift of the iconic Vitamix!

6. Magazine Subscriptions

Your new and long-time vegan loved ones will be delighted to receive a subscription to magazines Thrive, Origin, Vegetarian Journal, or VegNews! Help them stay on top of their plant-based game, discover new recipes, and share their passion for the vegan lifestyle with this gift!

7. Books, Foods, and Tools in Support of the Macrobiotic Lifestyle

For friends and loved ones intrigued by macrobiotic principles and concepts, we recommend HHAS presenter Jessica Porter’s The Hip Chick’s Guide to Macrobiotics, written with humor, and packed with great information and recipes. Couple the book with a sampling of traditional Japanese macrobiotic foods such as miso, umeboshi, maitake mushrooms, and seaweed. Many healing macrobiotic foods can be found in natural foods stores or ordered directly from Great Eastern Sun, Gold Mine Natural Foods, or Eden Foods. These companies are HHAS partners, and offer healing foods in the Zen Buddhist tradition of macrobiotics.

8. Artisan Body Products

Select safe and natural products that support the vegan lifestyle with some of our favorite and most trusted body care brands. Browse the product lines of Goddess Gardens for a variety of natural sunscreens, check out South of France for exceptional soaps and handwashes, and discover rose water and rose oil based face and body serums, creams, and sprays by Rosense.

Tips for a Healthy Transition from Summer to Fall

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As summer transitions to fall and cooler weather sets in, we can make simple lifestyle and diet changes to prepare our bodies for the drop in temperature. For this blog, we turned to Warren Kramer, an internationally recognized macrobiotic counselor, educator, cooking instructor and cruise presenter, for some tips on how to transition into fall with vitality.

“Fall is a time of cleaning out, so to speak, of getting rid of what we do not need,” Kramer says. “As we make ourselves a little more empty we feel more optimistic and hopeful about the future. When the lungs and colon are healthy we experience a nice orderliness in our being, a healthy groundedness, and a nice disposition.”

Fall is the perfect time to support the lungs and large intestine. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the fall relates to the paired organs of the lungs and large intestine (colon). Issues with these organs will often appear in the fall as that is the time they are going through a kind of cleanse.

Beneficial Fall Foods

When it comes to food, Kramer says that the first step is to start reducing cooling foods such as fruit, juice, raw salads, and frozen desserts. There’s no need to stop eating these foods completely, but Kramer advises consuming them less often to avoid being cold when the cooler weather arrives.

Some of the most beneficial foods to incorporate as we move into fall include: short or medium grain brown rice, millet, root vegetables such as carrot, daikon, parsnip, burdock, and if you can locate it, lotus root. Kramer said that these root veggies truly nourish our “roots,” which are our intestines.

From a macrobiotic point of view, late summer is an important time to harmonize our bodies. Any disharmony in the pancreas (which controls our blood sugar levels), can directly affect our digestion, energy, and overall bodily function. Round vegetables like onions, winter squash (buttercup or butternut), cabbage, turnip and rutabaga are wonderful for supporting blood sugar levels. Cut these vegetables in larger chunks and slow steam them to bring out the sweetness. Emotionally, Kramer says these roots make us feel rooted in our lives, which provides a nice sense of groundedness.

The fall is also the time to increase consumption of lightly cooked leafy greens like kale, collards, and watercress. Besides being great for the liver, leafy greens also support lung health.

Warming Soups

As the temperature drops, soup season kicks in. Kramer shares that there’s nothing quite like a bowl of miso soup to warm the system and support digestion. Miso soup, Kramer says, is like a natural probiotic.

Kramer recommends trying some barley or brown rice miso in a soup. You can also purchase some naturally fermented sauerkraut or pickles and have a small serving once or twice a day with a meal or two as they are fabulous for digestion.

Experiment with using pungent flavors such as mustard, ginger, horseradish, grated daikon, and wasabi. These flavors support the lungs and opens them up.

In addition to these food adjustments, Kramer suggests chewing well, eating sitting down, and avoiding late night eating. Kramer said that these lifestyle habits will dramatically change your health. And, for the fall, Kramer recommends spending plenty of time outside enjoying the cooler weather.

About Warren Kramer

Warren Kramer is an internationally recognized macrobiotic counselor, educator, and cooking instructor. For the past 30 years, he has studied and lived the macrobiotic way of life. Warren teaches the macrobiotic approach to health and wellness, including principles of food selection and preparation, exercise, work and personal relationships.

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.

Set Your Intentions This Spring Part II

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Yoga participant on 2017 cruise

Ah, it’s finally Spring! After cold weather in some areas left us feeling cooped up inside, and comfort foods appealed to our appetites, so many of us begin to take stock of where we are and where we want to be in mind, body, and spirit. This is the second part of a two-part series on the Holistic Holiday at Sea blog. Check out the first part here.

In this post, macrobiotic counselor Warren Kramer and registered dietitian Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT give us their tips for awakening the body and feeding what we crave.

Subtle Shifts: The Liver

Warren Kramer is a macrobiotic counselor, lecturer, and cooking teacher. He says, “In traditional Chinese medicine, early Spring (February 4), is when we begin our adjustments for the changing season. Making subtle changes at that time helps the body to adjust to the warmer weather on the way, as well as support the paired organs that relate to the season: the liver and gallbladder. It is what also builds a strong immune system as we align with the environment better that way.”

Warren explains that women’s health is influenced by the liver more than any other organ in the body. Symptoms of an imbalanced liver include: irritability, excess heat in the body, skin rashes, headaches, grinding the teeth at night, difficulty losing weight, fibroids, thyroid issues, trouble digesting fats, eye issues, hip pain, and so many more. “Spring represents an upward rising energy and that is what supports the liver as well.”

kale salad on our 2017 vegan cruise.Warren Kramer’s Suggestions for Liver Health

  • Eat plenty of upward-growing leafy greens, lightly cooked, like kale, collards, bok choy, and Napa cabbage. Both tempeh and mung beans, as well as other high-quality plant proteins are great support for the liver. The cooling effect of sea vegetables are also of great benefit to take heat out of the liver. Wakame in miso soup, kombu in bean dishes, dulse on salads, and nori eaten as a snack or used to make vegan rice rolls with avocado and vegetables.
  • The sour taste in our food also helps to release stagnation in the liver. Lemon, sauerkraut, sour green apple like Granny Smith, brown rice vinegar, and small amounts of umeboshi vinegar also help to open the liver up.
  • Grains like spelt, kamut, barley, hato mugi, oats, rye, and wheat berries in small amounts are wonderful for the light energy they give to the liver.
  • Blanching, steaming, quick sauté, light pickling, raw, and light soups, like a brothy miso soup with a garnish of scallions and greens, make the liver very happy.  
  • The liver and gallbladder are able to cleanse when we eat less. Minimize eating past 7 p.m., sit down to eat, and chew well.
  • One of the best ways to cleanse the liver is to reduce oil in the Spring. This includes the use of nuts, nut butters, and seed butters like tahini.
  • Due to the heavy nature of baked flour products and of course animal proteins, they are best avoided or minimized to support the liver. Eating less volume of food has amazing results when trying to help cleanse the liver.
  • Spending time around green in nature is so helpful as well as expressing our creative self as the liver relates to creativity. We need to find ways to gently release the pressure that can build up in our body and the liver. Certainly laughing, singing, and dancing can help that. Practicing forgiveness and having compassion are both so healing for the liver, not living in the past. Gently massaging your liver which is just under the rib cage on the right side of your body is also be helpful.

Jumping Back In

Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, gives a cooking demo on our 2018 cruise.

A registered dietitian, Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, is a talk show host, international lecturer, and author of The Vegiterranean Diet, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition, and The Permanente Journal’s A Physician’s Guide to Plant-Based Diets. When asked about her advice for spring cleanses, Julieanna replied, “I don’t recommend cleanses, per se. Instead, I recommend people try to incorporate healthy habits into their daily lives. If things get in the way, such as travel, holidays, or stress, I recommend jumping back on the program as soon as you can.”

While some people attempt to quickly make up for months of poor diet and lack of exercise by undergoing extreme cleanses, Julieanna advises, “Instead of dramatic or even dangerous detox regimens, aim to eat plenty of vegetables (especially leafy green and cruciferous varieties), fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds every day.”

The Six Daily Threes

Julieanna offers an easy way to remember how to follow a balanced diet. “Use the 6 Daily 3s as a guideline: Consume three servings each of leafy green veggies (one serving equals one cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked), other-colored veggies, fruits (a serving is one medium piece of fruit or one cup), nuts and seeds (one serving is 0.5 ounces a day), legumes (one to one and a half cups), and include movement (one serving is 20 minutes).

As you shift your diet this season, we hope it brings you energy, joy, and peace. As Warren Kramer concludes, “Springtime means time to lighten up, get in nature, eat less, and have fun.”

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!

A Holistic Cruise for All Ages: Tips from Parents on Vegan Travel

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Do you remember your favorite vacation from childhood? It was probably packed with activities, interesting sights and sounds, and new friends. At Holistic Holiday at Sea, we want our annual voyage to appeal to people of all ages, from the curious toddler to the seasoned world traveler. We work hard to create a fun, healthy experience that every member of your family can enjoy.

Kane and Donavon Borchert on HHAS in Jamaica

Parents tell us over and over again that one of the most special aspects of Holistic Holiday at Sea is the fact that all of the activities and amenities cater to all generations. Our vegan cruise is by no means an experience for adults only. Far from it!

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your next Holistic Holiday at Sea experience if you are traveling with young sailors.

Lectures & Workshops Familiarize Children with Healthy Habits

Lee Salvatore has never missed a Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise. In 2004, she attended the very first voyage with only 410 passengers. At the time, she was exploring integrative medicine and had studied with Michio Kushi. She knew that people with serious conditions were getting better when eating more plants and less meat. At the time, Lee was living in Washington, D.C. About four years ago she moved with her family to Weehawken, New Jersey.

With the cruise, she really didn’t know what she was in for. “I thought this could be something interesting,” she says. “It turned out to be much more than I expected.”

Lee was delighted by the whole experience. She says there were so many presenters on that first cruise who were on the leading edge of the plant-based movement. “They brought all these experts from all these different countries and had them speak.”

The Earnest sisters (from L to R: Brooke, Ashley, Arden & Aubrey) on HHAS in 2007

Lee and her husband Jerry Earnest have four daughters (Brooke, Arden, and twins Ashley and Aubrey Earnest). Their first HHAS cruise all together was in 2005. Brooke was age 8, Arden was 5, and Ashley and Aubrey were 4. At the time, the family was following a pescatarian lifestyle, transitioning into plant-based.

“When they were little, I brought them into some of the lectures and they would sit there and color and do drawings,” says Lee. “By being exposed to that over the years, they started adopting the language and they got old enough to understand charts, diagrams, and statistics. So, in the last few years that we all went, they would sit there and pay attention.” She says that they grew up respecting leaders in the movement, such as Dr. Neal Barnard and Dr. Sherry Rogers. “Even if at that point in time, the child isn’t eating that way, the information is stored in their heads. As the years went by, they understood the science.”

An Abundance of Culinary Choices

The Earnest sisters (from L to R: Ashley, Brooke, Aubrey & Arden) with Chef Mark Hanna on Holistic Holiday at Sea in 2016

Like Lee’s family in 2005, many folks new to the cruise are just beginning their transition into plant-based. While many are committed to the vegan lifestyle, some are just testing the waters. Lee wants other parents to know that non-vegan food is also available if your child hasn’t gotten used to eating those foods yet. “You can bring your children to the food area and see what they will and won’t eat. You don’t have to be stressed out that if they don’t eat the soup or what’s being offered, you still have all the options available to you.”

Children will often grab a big table and sit together during meal times. At school or friend’s houses, it may be rare that your children are surrounded by plant-based eaters. On the ship, however, your child who is perhaps transitioning to this diet and can see other children eat that way and how delicious it can be! The gourmet food is so tasty that meat-eaters can easily get hooked.

It’s a great chance to make new friendships for kids—and adults, too! “We’re one big family,” says Lee. “It’s almost like somebody handpicked really nice, compassionate, caring people and put them all on the boat. It’s very easy to make lasting friendships.”

Excursions Feed Curiosity

Donavon and Kane Borchert in Puerto Rico on HHAS

Be sure to pack your children bathing suits! While there’s so much to do on the boat, exploring ports of call is a great way to try new things. Lee has frequently done the excursions, which are organized group activities at each stop. Denise Borchert, of California, has two sons, Kane (age 16) and Donavon (12). Her family began going on the cruise in 2011 when the boys were 9 and 5, respectively. Her sons’ favorite aspects of the cruise are the parties, visiting the ports of call, and meeting people and having reunions with friends from years past. They love adventure!

Denise’s advice to parents going on the cruise for the first time is to “include your kids in everything you do (even the lectures on board!), have fun with them in the ports (going on the beach, snorkeling, ziplining, exploring, etc.), and going to all of the social events, and meeting new people.”

The Talent Show Brings People Together

The Earnest sisters playing violin on Holistic Holiday at Sea in 2007

Many cruise goers remember Lee’s daughters from their performances in the Talent Show. In 2005, with violins in hand, the girls played “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” for the audience. They also performed for an audience of only children in the kids area. Over the years, Ashley went from violin to viola and Aubrey went from violin to cello, while Brooke and Arden stayed with violin. They are now a complete quartet and attending conservatories for music.

The Talent Show is open to everyone and people are encouraged to bring their instruments (or other talent tools) and sign up!

MSC’s Onboard Childcare Services Offer Peace of Mind

Safety is always our number one priority aboard the ship. The MSC ship has professional and experienced childcare staff to accommodate adults and their children.

Want childcare so you can get an hour-long massage or stroll around the boat? Free baby care and childcare is available while the ship is sailing and during disembarkation for excursions. The Mini Club is reserved for children under three years old to play and mingle. The MSC Cruises Kids’ Club is a free service designed for children between the ages of 3 to 17. Four separate Kids’ Club programs are available, tailored to specific age groups. MSC has partnered with the largest baby brand in Europe, Osservatorio Chicco Baby Research Center, to offer guests free baby essentials, including strollers, backpacks, and high chairs, among other useful items.

MSC Kids’ Club Activities include popular sporting games, arts and crafts, theater, and technology. Onboard space dedicated to the Kids’ Club Program has expanded and kids can now use other areas of the ship, including the disco, theater, and sports courts.

Whether you’re 2 or 92, there’s something for everyone on the MSC Divina. Join us on the 2018 and make family memories that will last a lifetime!

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

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

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

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

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

Ingrid Newkirk

Ingrid Newkirk

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

Dr. Neal Barnard

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

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

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

Jonathan Balcombe

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

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

Gene Baur (Photo by Lee Iovino)

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

Melissa Karpel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bon Voyage!

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

Feel Inspired by the Cruise? Join a Pod in PlantPure Communities!

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In March 2015, guests on the 12th annual Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise got a sneak peek of the documentary film PlantPure Nation, which highlights the importance of following a whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet to promote wellbeing. Since then, the film has been featured in more than a hundred cities across the nation and is available on Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon. The most popular response among viewers? Why didn’t we know this before?

Showing the dramatic and positive effects that a WFPB diet had on residents in film director Nelson Campbell’s hometown of Mebane, North Carolina, the film features the research and expertise of renowned doctors, authors, and long-time Holistic Holiday at Sea speakers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Neal Barnard, and Dr. Michael Greger, among other nutritional scientists. In addition to Nelson, the production team included Fork Over Knives’ (2011) producer John Corry and writer Lee Fulkerson.

The film had a powerful effect on those who watched it. Many people changed their diets immediately, but for some, this was not enough. To answer the desire of audience members to affect change and share what they had learned, the Pod Network formed, and viewers were encouraged to join, connect, and work together to spread the message of plant-based nutrition. The Pod platform provides education, resources, and space for collaboration.

Pods are independently run—the organizers can decide how often their group meets and what goals they want to achieve within their communities. Pods don’t compete with nonprofits and existing organizations, but they provide an umbrella for people of various entities to come and work together in outreach.

Darlene Porter Sandy Lake, Mannitoba, Canada

Darlene Porter, a group leader for Plant-Based Manna-Tobans in Sandy Lake, Manitoba, Canada.

A Grassroots Movement Grows

In November 2016, the Pods were transferred to the nonprofit PlantPure Communities (a brainchild of Nelson). Different from PlantPure Inc., which created the film and offers WFPB meals and other support, PlantPure Communities is all about the Pods. The board of advisors includes Nelson, Dr. Campbell, and Dr. Esselstyn‚ among other WFPB advocates.

After reading Dr. Campbell’s The China Study, a woman named Jody Kass attended the 2015 Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise where she saw PlantPure Nation. At the time, Jody was semi-retired after spending three decades working in the nonprofit sector. Little did she know that she’d be so moved by the film and cruise experience that she would become involved in Nelson’s endeavors and take on the position of executive director of PlantPure Communities just a couple years later. Jody is a member of the Pod where she lives in Great Neck, New York.

PlantPure Communities Staff:Board:Advisors

PlantPure Communities staff/board/advisors photo. Pictured (L to R): Alex Brown, Laurie Courage, Caroline Dyar, Jim Courage (back row), Paula Branson, Nelson Campbell, Kim Campbell, Jody Finkel, Katya Trent, Karen Campbell, and Dr. T. Colin Campbell.

“When I read The China Study, I was absolutely infuriated that I didn’t understand what was so plain in terms of what the science showed,” she says. “People around me were sick and dying from food borne illness (heart disease and type 2 diabetes) and just didn’t know that they could take control of their health by changing what they ate.”

There are currently more than 460 Pods and over 40,000 members. “Since November, we’ve been working to strengthen the Pods,” says Jody. After the film premiered, tens of thousands of people signed up to join Pods. “The next level is what the Pods are going to do. How do we keep people engaged? How do we give them the tools they need to have an impact in their community and on the world?”

One answer? Toolkits.

Making an Impact

Toolkits are a series of roadmaps. Each topic-specific guide is developed to support the PlantPure Communities Pod Network. So far, they include Leadership, VegFests, Dining Out, and School Lunch.

By November, Pods across the globe will be using the Restaurant Campaign Toolkit to encourage local restaurants to add healthier options to their menus.

Providence Oasis Pilot Program

Participants and organizers of the Providence Oasis Pilot Program led by Powered by Plants, a Pod in Providence, RI.

Some Pods have decided to launch VegFests, while others brought smoothie bars and plant-based nutrition education to students and their parents at local schools. New toolkits continue to be released to answer the greatest needs identified by the Pods, and will soon include gardening, transitioning to plant-based eating, advocacy, and more.

In addition to providing support to Pods, PlantPure Communities has launched a program it calls “PlantPure Oasis,” to bring education and affordable, nutritious food into underserved communities. There are currently five Oasis Pilot programs. “People’s lives have been changed,” says Jody. “In a recent pilot in Rhode Island, they wanted to make some change happen and ‘democratize’ the nutrition information. More than 25 Pod members spent several hundreds of man-hours shopping and cooking to make this happen and, as a result, over 100 lives have been forever changed.”


Keep the Momentum Going

Jody says that Pods are also a great solution for folks inspired by Holistic Holiday at Sea who want to help others when they return home.

“I think that a lot of people who come on the cruise feel like the lights have been turned on, and they desperately want to share that information,” says Jody. “The Pods are a great place for them to go. They’re set up specifically for that purpose—to find other people who also feel that way. Folks can work together, reinforce each other and, using the Toolkits, choose how to channel their passion to get the word out.”

People get frustrated when they see people in so much pain around them. Pods are a great way to meet other people and help those who don’t know about this diet. We hope you’ll join us on our next “Voyage to Well-being” to find inspiration for wherever you are on your journey to health, meet like-minded individuals, and take home knowledge to share with your friends and family.

We are so excited that Kim Campbell—author of The PlantPure Nation Cookbook and The PlantPure Kitchen—and Dr. T. Colin Campbell are among our dozens of presenters on the 2018 Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise, February 15–25, 2018!

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

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Are you fairly new to plant-based eating? Or have you been vegan for years? Are you able to maintain optimal health? Or are you feeling frustrated and searching for answers? No matter where you find yourself on your journey to wellness, the Holistic Holiday at Sea experience is designed to meet you exactly where you are. Our next vegan cruise is a 10-day voyage in the southeastern Caribbean, February 15–25, 2018.

Among all of the activities we have planned, one of our most popular sessions is the Recovery Panel. Many people around the world have adopted a whole foods plant-based diet when faced with a life-threatening diagnosis. Each year on the panel, a dozen people share their personal stories of how they triumphed over a serious illness using holistic and alternative therapies.

In part one of this series, we wanted to share with you some insight from three of the participants: Judy MacKenney, Jarod Jacobs, and Jodi Seitlin. Stay tuned for part two in August when we chat with Jane Quincannon Stanchich, Tricia Slimbarski, and Kim Hoffman. We hope you find their journeys to health as inspiring as we have!

Our Bodies Want to Heal

Judy MacKenney is a macrobiotic counselor who has attended the cruise for the past 12 years—and has participated on the Recovery Panel for all of those years. In our previous Recovery Panel blog post, we spotlighted Judy, who has been free of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma for 25 years.Judy MacKenney, Holistic Holiday at Sea Recovery Panel

After she was diagnosed in 1990, she was advised to do chemotherapy. After seven months of radiation, the oncologist showed her the X-rays. Her tumors had shrunk considerably, but he said, “I must tell you, please don’t be excited. It’s not natural for you to heal like this. It will come back with a vengeance. You must be prepared for this.” Disheartened, Judy knew there had to be another way to heal. She read about Michio Kushi and the Kushi Institute. A macrobiotic counselor told her she could be healed and that food was going to heal her. Today, Judy has been cancer free for 25 years.

“It’s such an amazing thing. Our bodies have that opportunity to heal—of any condition you have,” says Judy. “It’s just a matter of being able to change your lifestyle and really put your mind to it. Our bodies do want to do that.” One takeaway Judy shares from the 2017 Recovery panel is a common thread she noticed. “The different types and magnitude of health challenges this panel faced was extraordinary and how nutrition, love, support, persistence, and positive reinforcement played such a huge part in each person’s recovery!”

Judy adds, “There’s a special joy I get from being among like-minded people who are eager to learn more about the benefits of good health and how to obtain it. This year’s schedule of classes and fun events was outstanding and I so appreciate the efforts of Sandy Pukel, David Magaziner, and their excellent staff for the extensive preparation they put into this cruise. It truly is a life-changing event for so many people!”

Every Day is a Gift

Jarod-Jacobs-Holistic-Holiday-at-SeaIn 1986, Jarod Jacobs was just 29 years old when a doctor told him he had multiple sclerosis and that he’d be in a wheelchair by age 40, and possibly dead by 50. Jarod says he was in denial until 2006 because he was asymptomatic. His neurologist prescribed him drugs that he started taking in 2006. At the end of 2007 he was told that the drugs weren’t working and he shouldn’t take them anymore. For the next two years, Jarod was detoxing and bedridden. He says he had an aha moment one day while lying in bed: If I always do what I’ve always done, I’m going to keep getting what I’ve always got. So if I do nothing and keep having a bad time, then I’m probably going to die. Or, if I do something different—change my lifestyle, change my diet—I might get better. “Sure enough, that’s what I did.” By the beginning of 2010, he’d adopted a vegetarian lifestyle.

In 2010, he began physical therapy and chiropractic care. He went to Palm Beach’s Hippocrates Health Institute in 2012 and became vegan. In 2013, he went raw and walked unaided for the first time since 2007. “Not eating hot food made all the difference,” says Jarod. “Digesting hot food is tiring. Heated food kills digestive enzymes the body needs.”

Celebrating his 60th birthday this year, Jarod says that men his age with MS 30 years are not usually alive, let alone cured as he is. This was Jarod’s first year on the panel and the cruise. He told the audience, “I’m so vegan, I don’t even go to Kevin Bacon movies.”

When asked what’s on his bucket list, Jarod answers simply, “Tomorrow.” His advice to people who have been given a diagnosis and are having to figure out the next step is “Be scared, not dumb. Taking a drug and thinking it can do anything is stinkin’ thinkin’. Change your diet and lifestyle. Go raw vegan. Get physical therapy and chiropractic.”

When Life Gives you a Second Chance

Jodi-Seitlin-Holistic-Holiday-at-SeaAfter law school, Jodi Seitlin embarked on a career path dedicated to helping others. She became licensed to practice in 1990, starting out as a criminal prosecutor before moving into civil prosecution for abused, neglected, and abandoned children. She went into private practice in 2007, representing children directly. She describes her style as “the Wonder Woman technique,” that is, “not slowing down long enough to feel.”

She blamed a pain under her left thigh on a yoga injury and hoped it would resolve itself. It didn’t. After an X-ray, MRI, and other tests it was discovered she had spondylolisthesis, a condition of the spine. The pain got worse each day and after a year and a half, it felt like the whole left side of her body had become immobile. In May 2008, she underwent surgery. She described recovery from the surgery as a “walk in the park” when compared with the nerve pain that had “poisoned everything.”

Soon after, Jodi returned to work and continued her non-stop lifestyle until a traumatic event. She received a call in October that a client and the client’s father were murdered. While making phone calls to ensure that her client’s children were safe, Jodi was trying to catch a flight to visit her mother who wasn’t doing well.

“I’m beside myself,” she recalls. “I’m dragging my luggage behind me. I’m going through scanners in the airport.” She says she would’ve kept going like the Energizer Bunny except that the lower half of her body from the waist down went numb. All of her muscles were working, but she felt like her skin had fallen asleep. This was the beginning of a series of emergency room stays, neurologist visits, and many tests. On Halloween evening, Jodi was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 51.

Today, Jodi says she has a sense of humor about the whole thing, but her journey to find the right care was anything but easy. She has nailed down a regimen that works, found a neurologist who respects her preferences, and has chosen to live a simpler life with no more high-stress cases. She has incorporated holistic therapies, including a regular yoga practice, and through them seeks unity of mind, body, and spirit

In the middle of 2014, she began her recovery from alcohol and found a 12-step program. Now, her first preference is to treat things as naturally as she can. She told the Recovery Panel audience, “I can’t tell you what a joy living life without chemicals, without alcohol, the clarity, the purpose that has come back.”

Like Jarod, this was Jodi’s first year on the cruise. She loved all of the learning opportunities and the inspiring people she met. “I wasn’t a vegan before,” she says. “I had no knowledge base on the distinction between vegetarian and vegan… In two days on that ship, I was convinced my body was telling me so clearly that this was so right and everything was just working better. It was remarkable how much better I felt and how much easier things seemed to be in terms of how my body functioned. In tune with all that—much more so because of recovering from the worst of MS—I’ve done a lot of work on making sure that mind-body connection is really drawn. It never occurred to me that I’d jump in with both feet and that it would be so easy. It feels right.”

Recovery is Possible

As all of the Recovery Panelists participants finished their stories, a palpable sense of inspiration and hope filled the room. When it comes to wellness, there is always something new for us to learn. We invite you to join us on the 2018 Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise and experience a voyage with such optimistic and inspiring people. Book your spot today!

Compassion is at the Heart of Farm Sanctuary: Q&A with HHAS Presenter Gene Baur

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Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary

Gene Baur (Photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary)

The nation’s leading nonprofit farm animal protection organization, Farm Sanctuary, celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. It was launched in spring 1986 by activists who investigated the treatment of animals at farms, stockyards, and slaughterhouses and found conditions to be horrific and inhumane. One of these activists was Gene Baur.

Gene, who is the co-founder and president of Farm Sanctuary, will make his Holistic Holiday at Sea debut with us this spring, and we couldn’t be more excited! He has spent decades speaking to people about where they are on their journeys, debunking myths about veganism, and encouraging everyone to take steps in the right direction.

In addition to saving animals from the cruelty of factory farming, Farm Sanctuary encourages all of us to think about the way we live and to make mindful choices. Small decisions can make a big difference. By shifting to a plant-based diet, each of us can have an enormous impact on animals, the planet, and our own health.

As author of Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food (March 2008) and Living the Farm Sanctuary Life: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Mindfully, Living Longer, and Feeling Better Every Day (April 2015), Gene will deliver three lectures during the cruise, which runs March 11–18, 2017. Read more about his lectures titled Living the Farm Sanctuary Life; Kindness on Your Plate; and Veganism 101.

Farm Sanctuary currently operates in three locations in Watkins Glen, NY; Orland, CA; and Acton, CA, near Los Angeles. Jon Stewart, formerly of The Daily Show, and wife Tracey are partnering with the organization to open a sanctuary in New Jersey. We recently caught up with Gene and asked him some questions about himself, the vegan movement, and what he’ll bring to the cruise:

How have you seen the vegan movement change and shift since 1985 when you first began adopting a vegan lifestyle?

The vegan movement has expanded significantly since 1985 when I went vegan. The idea of living without exploiting other animals has become more widely understood and respected in our society, and the movement is expanding with businesses recognizing and creating opportunities for vegan products in the marketplace. We are also seeing growing awareness and concern about a convergence of issues, including environmental, health, social justice, and animal rights, which are spurring more people to consider vegan lifestyles. I am excited and optimistic about the future.

You say that kindness and compassion to animals, ourselves, and to the planet are what the vegan movement is all about. Many people choose to adopt a vegan lifestyle out of health concerns (the cruise, for example, was launched with a strong nutritional focus). Why do you think it’s important for the vegan movement not to lose its roots in compassion for animals? How do you see those three areas of compassion that you mentioned above intersect? Do you believe it’s important to not just focus on one of these three areas?

To me, being vegan is an aspiration to live as kindly as possible, and to create mutually beneficial relationships. These principles apply to how we relate to other animals and the earth, and how we relate to our own bodies. Eating healthy food is a way of being kind to ourselves and creating a mutually beneficial relationship between our food and our bodies. Different people are motivated in different ways, so I am in favor of speaking about all issues related to food, animals (including humans), and the earth. I came to veganism because I didn’t want to support the abuses of factory farming and slaughter, but other people stop eating animal products for health or other reasons. I don’t think the animals care why we stop killing and eating them—they just don’t want to be abused, killed and eaten.

In recent years, I’ve become more aware of the health benefits of eating plants and have started eating more whole, fresh foods. I also know people who stopped eating animal products to improve their health, and over time, they have grown increasingly aware and concerned about the abuses animals experience to produce meat, milk, and eggs. I believe many issues are relevant and interconnected, and should be part of the conversation and process.

Many of the attendees in the group have been practicing a vegan lifestyle for many years now and enjoy attending the cruise because they don’t have to worry about food choices and can hear from many speakers whom they admire. Some guests, on the other hand, have only just recently adopted a vegan diet and the cruise is helping them reinforce their decision. They’re newer to the movement. In terms of the lectures you’ll be giving at Holistic Holiday at Sea, what do you most look forward to sharing with both of these groups about the impact of food choices?

I am excited to meet both long time vegans and those who are just starting to learn about this lifestyle, and I look forward to learning about their experiences and motivations. I believe that eating mindfully, and eating plants instead of animals is empowering and improves our lives, both physically and emotionally. It is liberating to eat food that improves our health instead of making us sick. It also feels good to consciously lessen the amount of suffering and violence in the world, and to eschew some of our planet’s most significant ecological threats. Being vegan is good for animals, the earth, and us. It’s a win, win, win.

Join Gene at HHAS

Inspired by Gene’s words and actions? Book your spot aboard Holistic Holiday at Sea today! Click here to view a full program schedule and explore our wonderful line-up of influencers and experts on plant-based living.

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