Vegetarian Summerfest – Tips From 10 Awesome Vegans

Vegetarian Summerfest – Tips From 10 Awesome Vegans
Heather Nicholds, C.H.N.

This past weekend, I was at Vegetarian Summerfest, which is a 5-day conference with some amazing speakers, delicious food and wonderful people to show – or remind – us how amazing a healthy vegan diet plan is.

The best part for me was that I got to meet a lot of my favorite people in the healthy eating and vegan world.

It was an amazing weekend, and I feel so blessed to have been able to go and connect with such fantastic people.

The internet is so helpful in allowing us all to connect with each other even when we live so far apart, but there’s nothing like getting to meet in person.

If you can ever find the chance to go to a conference, or start a meetup group in your own area, it really helps to connect with people who have the same values and healthy eating habits as you.

You shouldn’t have to feel like the oddball!

For those of you who couldn’t be at Vegetarian Summerfest, or any other conference like this, I wanted to share some of the thoughts and people with you.

I asked a few of them for their number one tip for someone who’s transitioning to a healthy vegan diet…
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Thank you so much to all of you who were kind enough to share your face and your thoughts!

Here’s a recap of their thoughts for those of you who are visual learners 😉

Top tip for transitioning:

  • Dreena Burton: Start with what you know, work with the foods that you like and keep building on that with all the wonderful plant foods that are out there. If you have a hiccup along the way, if you trip up, don’t beat yourself up about it – just keep going and build on your good progress towards eating plant-based whole foods.
  • Dr. Michael Greger: You should go out and buy Let Them Eat Vegan, by Dreena Burton. (You really should watch the video for this one, Dr. Greger is an incredibly animated guy!)
  • Jamie K: Go at your own pace. Don’t feel like you have to do everything overnight. If you can, that’s wonderful, some people do it, but not everybody does. Give yourself some time – it’s a learning process. We all make mistakes, so don’t beat yourself up, and do it at a pace that’s right for you.
  • Colleen Patrick-Goudreau: Take the word ‘vegan’ out of the box. We tend to consider ‘vegan’ food over here and ‘regular’ food over there, but vegan food is really just fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and beans and grains and mushrooms and herbs and spices. It’s food that we’re already eating. We eat bananas, we don’t eat ‘vegan’ bananas, so we need to stop calling this food some kind of special food and recognize that it’s food we’re already familiar with.
  • Jerry Cook: So many people make the mistake when they first transition of substituting a lot of white flour foods, like pastas, and cheeses for the meats. That’s a recipe for failure. The best thing to do is concentrate on a wide variety of whole grains, vegetables and other plant foods.
  • Lisa Pitman: Think about the things that you already love to eat that are from the plant kingdom. Fill your house with beautiful, fresh, vibrant food. It’s so much easier to eat healthy when you’re surrounded by wonderful food.
  • Tara Crawford: If you’re craving meat, prepare a portabello mushroom in a pan with some tamari (soy sauce) and a selection of different spices. That was just the ticket to get my husband to no longer crave meat.
  • Allison Rivers Samson: Try lots of different things. Find new-to-you foods that you can experience and have a new relationship with, and learn something new about. Quinoa, tempeh, kale – all kinds of new worlds will open up to you when you go vegan or plant-based.
  • Cherie Soria: Choose the raw foods that you like the best, make sure that they’re fresh, ripe, raw and organic and see if you can have 50% of your plate made up of those raw healthy foods to eat.
  • Jill Nussnow: Eat tons of vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables. Just include more vegetables every single day.

Favorite Vegetable:

I also asked each of them what their favorite vegetable was, but I’m going to make you watch the video to find out.

Any guesses on what the most popular answer was?? Hint: it’s a dark-green leafy vegetable…

Now, for those who (like me) find it hard to get that leaf down without gagging, click here for some tips on how to make it edible!

I picked up lots of information and interesting thoughts from all of the speakers I got to see.

The only downside of Vegetarian Summerfest is that all of the speakers are amazing, but you can’t see all of them because they have 5 talks going on at once…

Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the PCRM, spoke on my first night there, and he mentioned that bilingual people have a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s.

So that bodes well for me! I wonder if the basic Portuguese and Spanish I can speak in addition to French helps me even more…

As always, when Michael Greger spoke, he shared tons of healthy eating facts to reinforce how fantastic a healthy vegan diet plan is.

I’m not one to shy away from talking about poo, but Dr. Greger takes it to another level. I come away from his talks having a feeling of pride in my bowel movements…

If you haven’t already checked out, he posts a new video every single day and they’re all amazing…

Julieanna Hever threw out a term that I LOVED instantly – plant-deficient.

I think there are too many people in the world who would qualify, and she does such a wonderful job of bringing passion and awareness to the benefits of eating a healthy vegan diet.

Luckily for all of you, her TED talk, Breaking Bread, is now online so you can watch her and help spread the message to loved ones 🙂

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau gave a few talks, two of which were specifically on the wording surrounding animals and food, from a vegan perspective.

It was fascinating, and gave me a lot to think about. The essence is in her video clip for you guys, that I wrote out above.

Another talk I really enjoyed was by Brenda Davis, on how to ensure a healthy balanced diet with plant foods. The information wasn’t new to me, but it’s always good to have it reinforced.

What I found really inspiring about her talk was her confidence in a plant-based diet, and her thoroughness without being overwhelming.

She made the point at the beginning of her talk that when vegans neglect certain aspects of nutrition and become unhealthy, they send a message to others that eating meat is necessary in order to be healthy.

So she went through each nutrient we need to be conscious of in order to be so healthy everyone (including our doctors) wants to know what our secret is.

She’s written several books, or you can check out the slides from a similar presentation on her website.

So, as you can probably tell, I’m feeling inspired after this weekend! I hope that what I was able to share with you here helps to inspire and motivate you 🙂


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