Imagining the Possibility of a Healthier and More Sustainable Human Presence on Earth
I had been working for almost 20 years as a leader in a New Thought church, and I believed my work made a meaningful contribution to humanity. I was overseeing programs for children and families, praying with people, helping lead a program for incarcerated men, and more. I thought I would be working there for the rest of my life.
So, imagine my surprise when in 2015 the Universe clearly told me to leave! Though I didn’t know exactly where my path would take me, I sensed there was something else for me. Shortly after saying my goodbyes and departing from the church, my husband and I watched the documentary Cowspiracy. Suddenly, I had complete clarity about why I’d gotten the Universal boot. After the movie, my husband was sharing his appreciation for my lifelong commitment to children when, agitated and unable to wait patiently any longer, I blurted out: “What difference does it make if three year olds can meditate, if families get support, and if adults get a chance to heal their childhood wounds, if there is no habitable Earth on which our children can live?”
I had already been a long-term vegan, and I knew the impact of diet on the environment, but before my epiphany that day, I had been hesitant to talk to people about diet, fearing they would take offense. I had even watched silently while many people in our congregation sickened and sometimes died from the food that was on their forks.
That all changed after my realization. After educating myself with the most up to date plant-based nutrition knowledge, I started 1) teaching food preparation classes, 2) giving presentations about plant-based diets, 3) running support programs, and 4) feeding people tasty food so that they would know it was possible to enjoy food that was good for them, the Earth, and all Life—and all without sacrificing flavor.
In January 2019, I launched Eat for the Earth , an organization that makes it easier to eat more plants and less animal products, for a more sustainable Earth. I promoted the launch on Nextdoor, Facebook, and the growing mailing list of folks who had participated in my previous events. The idea of eating for the Earth was obviously inspiring, and we ended up with a standing-room-only crowd of over 40 people at that launch. Most of the attendees signed up to volunteer and eight volunteered for leadership roles.
At around the same time, we took the previously dormant local PlantPure Communities Pod, renamed it “Eat for the Earth,” and started three groups on Meetup and Facebook. Our goal was to open multiple doors through which kindred spirits could find their way to Eat for the Earth.
Throughout the following year, our team did all sorts of things. We gave out delicious food samples and free literature at community festivals; hosted dinner party presentations; helped implement the first ever Santa Cruz VegFest; and co-led a successful restaurant campaign with nine participating restaurants.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, every in-person event on our schedule was canceled, but we barely missed a beat. We had over 100 people signed up for our first webinar. We started offering online food prep classes in March 2020, and we still offer these regularly. In this online era, we have been able to reach thousands of people around the world through our classes, programs, and conference appearances. We are so grateful for these opportunities. They’ve helped us make connections globally with other activists as we continue to work toward the common aim of a more sustainable, healthy, just, compassionate, and well-fed human presence on Earth.
In January 2021, we collaborated with two other organizers to offer a free month-long online support program for people shifting toward plant-based diets. The program included 36 events, including presentations by plant-based experts, food prep classes, and a weekly support session. Our intention was to ensure success by wrapping the participants in support, inspiration, information, and love. One participant said:
“Changing my diet to plant-based was incredible. Within days, I felt aligned with what was important and my body was electric. I loved the program. I’m so excited to share with others: “You don’t have to be sick anymore. There is something you can do and it is so easy.”
During Earth Week 2021, we launched Eat for the Earth Communities, an initiative that increases the consumption of plant-based foods through grassroots activism. We are grateful to the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies for supporting this program through its Community Grants program. The goal of Eat for the Earth Communities is to leverage the power, creativity, and positive impact of activists all over the world acting in their own communities.
As activists ourselves, we know that effective grassroots activism requires sound information, access to resources, and a supportive community. Eat for the Earth Communities provides this. Each month, we bring together activists from many areas to connect, share, support, inspire, and work together to form a cohesive community. Participants make a commitment to a specific action, and the whole group holds a vision of them successfully meeting their goal.
The goals of our participants vary, but all support a dietary shift toward more plants. This requires both elevating community awareness and transforming institutional practices, so most of the projects involve some combination of education and systems change. Some activists hold educational events or run Facebook communities; others work for policy change or are writing their own book; some are focusing first on their own dietary change and influencing those around them. Together, we are catalyzing powerful changes in our communities!
In 2022, we are piloting Community Rx, a 10-day immersion and education program that uses a whole food, plant-based diet. The program is being offered in Spanish and English in partnership with PlantPure Communities and several local health care providers. Collaborating with providers will help us meet a double goal: not only will our participants experience health improvements, providers will also witness the healing power of plants. We believe health care providers in our area will be practicing medicine differently when they see the results of Community Rx!
The original vision of Eat for the Earth was to prompt our county to become a model of sustainable eating and support activists working for change elsewhere. Both are happening now to some extent. Through dedication, boldness, and collaboration, we envision exponential growth. If each person who cares about this cause joins with others to create change, together we can bring forth a revolution in human consciousness and reorient values around dietary choices that support the thriving of all Life within the sustainable ecological boundaries of our Earth. That is a goal worthy of our loving attention!
If you are feeling inspired by what you have read, we would love to have you join us! Whether you are already taking action or just getting started in plant-based advocacy, we welcome you to our growing Eat for the Earth Communities. We welcome your partnership. Together, we can continuously re-imagine ourselves in our activism, immerse ourselves in affirmations of possibility, and work toward our most effective activism ever! We also welcome your participation in our online food classes, other educational offerings, and Facebook groups. To learn more, please check out our website or send us an email letting us know how YOU want to get involved!
Copyright 2022 Center for Nutrition Studies. All rights reserved.