Topics » Success Stories » Student Spotlight: Marlene Watson-Tara
T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies

Marlene Watson-Tara is a dedicated health counselor and teacher with decades of experience transforming lives. She is also the author of the bestselling book Macrobiotics for All Seasons and her latest book Go Vegan. Marlene Watson-Tara is a past student of the CNS and eCornell Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate. Visit her site at

My Whole Food, Plant-Based (WFPB) Story

Like many people, my early experience of sickness drew me to discovering all I could about health. From a very young age, I struggled with so many ailments: tonsillitis, adenoids inflammation, chronic constipation, hives, gallstones, and later in life, PMS and infertility.

When I changed my food, my health recovered. As a long-time vegan, there was definitely room for improvement with fewer processed foods and more beans and vegetables. When I first read The China Study in 2005, I realized it was one of the most important books I have ever read. The connection between diet and just about every disease imaginable was explained in such an easy format.

My Advice for Beginners

Don’t be overwhelmed. Read, learn, prepare, and embark on this new way of being with excitement. People tend to eat for reasons that have nothing to do with nourishment, sustenance, or energy, let alone their health. They often eat to relieve boredom or loneliness, and what they eat is often a matter of convenience. The single best way to control the quantity of food you eat is to improve the quality of the food you eat. Whole food, plant-based diets lead to superior health by packing a nutritional punch while filling you up with fewer calories.

For too many of us, good health has always seemed like a complex and mysterious thing, but it isn’t. We have so much power to improve our health, and the only things that hold us back are habits, fear of change, and a lack of practical information. All we need are the desire for change and some important tools for replacing our unhealthy habits with healthy ones. That is especially true for making the switch from animal-based foods to a delicious, diverse, whole food, plant-based diet. Genetically we are all more alike than different, but culture can change what we find familiar and enjoyable. Here are my top tips to those adopting a plant-based diet.

Making changes to our way of life has its challenges, and we can all use all the help we can get. Keep on the lookout for people who are also interested in creating a healthy life and form some partnerships. Go walking together; share health goals and support each other in your adventures. We can all learn from each other, and it is good to know that you are not alone in your quest for a healthier life.

Let your family and close friends know what you are doing, and don’t be critical of the fact that they are not ready to make the same changes as you. Many well-intentioned people become evangelists for healthy living and feel that they need to convert the whole world immediately. Take care of yourself first and develop a sense of humor. Dealing with other people’s skepticism also needs to be addressed. If you are going to live a healthy life, be aware that others may not understand your actions. A good sense of humor and some humility are called for.

Sharing food, drink, and amusement are part of social bonding. If you start to refuse certain foods or drinks, it can be interpreted as an act of arrogance or judgement. It is your responsibility to keep it light. Being healthy doesn’t mean you can’t live in the real world; it also doesn’t mean you should run blindly with the crowd. Everyone has their own decisions to make in their own time. Having said that, there will always be the friendly saboteurs who ask, “BUT… where do you get your protein?”

What most of us do in the course of a day is habit. The way we brush our teeth, the way we pour our tea, the order that we put on our clothes are all habits. What we feed ourselves is one of our most important habits. Your taste buds will adapt very quickly to this new wonderful way of eating, and as your energy levels soar, you will have the desire to continue.

Some people go full steam ahead, while others take their time. My suggestion is to do what works for you. I created my 4 weeks to vegan course to assist as many people as possible by teaching 28 plant-based dishes. Class one, they learn 7 breakfasts; class two, 7 lunches; class three, 7 mains; and class four 7 desserts. Within the month, it’s a done deal, success is huge, and it makes my heart sing to see so many living with this new-found vision of health and longevity. Everything benefits: our environmental impact is reduced, the abuse of animals is diminished, and my own vision for a vegan world continues to inspire me daily.

How I Achieved My Health Goals

My desire to give the gift of health to basically everyone who crosses my path has been made easier simply by sharing the information that I learned on the course. When my brother was diagnosed with prostate cancer with a whopping PSA of 580, I immediately changed his diet and cooked for him for 3 months. His PSA dropped to 1.6. I work with clients who have every disease under the sun, and when they are presented with the facts on diet and the development of disease, they are on board.

I am on a mission to get the world back into their kitchens to cook. Food brings people together. Food should taste great, provide us with optimal health, and satisfy our appetite. I do believe that food can be our best medicine, hence my unfailing desire to teach everyone who crosses my path that health and healing truly start in your own kitchen. My students and clients often laugh when I tell them that most people think they have a kitchen because it came with the house. However, it’s no joke, and we can all see what has happened world-wide since we handed our health over to the food industry.

How the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate Impacted My Life

As a Macrobiotic Health Counsellor and Teacher, the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate shows that I am serious about what I teach, and it both endorses and enhances my work with our human ecology project. From my recommendation, many of my clients and students have taken the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate course as well—some for their own personal development, others to bolster teaching certifications they have from other bodies. It is by far the most comprehensive course that I know of, and it is the best money you will spend. I have more formal training in nutrition than most doctors I know.

One thing I have learned through my study and experience is this. The principles of health are not complicated. The shops are full of books that break things down scientifically and tell you details that are impressive, but the conclusions are pretty much the same. The problem is that it all gets taken apart. Health is not one thing, but everything. It has to do with everything from what we have for breakfast to how we think about life.

The primary focus of my teaching is to impact the lives and eating habits of people, end the use of animals, and heal our planet. These three issues have always been at the heart of everything I do. I achieve this through my educational workshops and public speaking. My message is simple: hydrate, exercise, eat plants, get some sun, done deal.

I recently published my latest book Go Vegan with the foreword written by T. Colin Campbell, PhD. The book covers my teachings on ancient wisdom, the environment, and of course the nutritional science I learned through the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate program. It also includes 85 recipes all illustrated with beautiful photography. Educating future generations is the only way to stop the destruction of humanity. We need healthy humans to have a healthy planet. A day in the life of you and your fork is what I ask everyone to consider. There is nothing new under the sun. We have everything we need from plants and must all join together to be in service for a healthy world for humans and nonhumans alike. That’s my dream and is what makes me jump out of bed every morning.

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