Sunday, May 12, 2013

Plant Based Nation Spring 2013 Conference

Since I was pretty young, I strongly believed in the correlation of a healthy diet and a healthy body. Like many people, I find that I am often tempted by unhealthy food options: fried foods, processed foods, refined sugar, saturated fats, etc. The standard American diet (SAD) is truly sad for our collective health and the health of our planet.

I've been slipping back into some of my not so healthy eating habits over time. I've been hitting the chips and fried foods far too often. As my diet has gotten less clean, I find I'm dealing with more inflammation issues, lack of energy, concentration and feeling generally yucky. I needed something to motivate me to get back on track. The Plant Based Nation Spring 2013 Conference could not have come at a more perfect time for me personally. Plant Based Nation is a grassroots organization that helps educate and provide resources for people seeking to live a more plant based lifestyle.

This was the first time the conference has been held in the Phoenix area. It was a perfect venue to learn about the benefits of a whole food vegan diet with compassion, not guilt. The presenters and the attendees were extremely positive and full of knowledge and information they were happy to share with anyone regardless of their diet. I learned as much from the new friends I made in the audience as I did from the speakers.

The all-day event was held this weekend at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, AZ. The conference featured fantastic food, incredible speakers and live entertainment. I got to the conference a little late, so I missed the breakfast provided by 24 Carrots. I heard it was excellent. Luckily I live very close to them and can eat Chef Sasha's treats whenever I please.

There were 10 options for different topics and speakers. It was hard to pick which one to attend. I was a bit late to the first presentation and caught the second speaker; Chef Sara from Chef Sara's Raw Vegan Academy and Cafe. Her inspiring story of how she cured herself of cervical cancer by using raw foods and good nutrition kept me riveted as it is a stark contrast to all of the very sick people I saw when going through chemo. She was crazy energetic. At 60 years old, she runs her academy and cafe single-handedly. Yep, that's how I want to feel at 60 and beyond.

The second presentation I attended was one given by the spunky Haley Cloud of Living Raw by Grace. Her chat featured easy ways to juice and blend (smoothies). She was hilarious and fun. She let all of us know how very easy it is to whip up a very healthy and tasty meal in a glass. For you moms and busy people out there, this is a great way to get your loved ones to eat their fruits and veggies on the run. Haley offers personal coaching, (un) cooking classes and in-home parties. I love the idea of having a party! The picture is a bit blurry, because she doesn't stand still for very long! Healthy and energetic...are you starting to see a theme here?

It was hard to decide what my favorite part of the day was. Oh, who am I kidding? I am a food lover at heart. Lunch was my favorite part! The lunch was provided by The Pomegranate Cafe in Ahwatukee. I've long loved Pomegranate for their organic, local and healthy focus on food. Yeah, that and their food is off the hook delicious too. I don't know what the official names of all of the dishes were but everything was crazy delicious. I was so fortunate to meet some lovely ladies (one from Canada and one from Illinios) and chat with them during lunch. Such great energy.

Veggie Wraps

Portobello Mushroom Sandwiches

This was one dish I didn't get for some reason, so I am not sure what it is.

Raw Walnut Cilantro "Sour Cream" Cabbage Wraps

Black Bean Salad with Mangos

Pesto Pasta Salad

Raw Beet and Greens Salad

Decadent Chocolate Yumminess

The third speaker was probably my favorite of the day: Dr. Jameth Sheridan. His intense passion and scientific knowledge were a great combination. He was able to share an incredible amount of scientific evidence and knowledge in an easy to understand and entertaining way. His years of research (with evidence of results not just rhetoric) debunk a lot of the nutritional information that we have been taught in our schools and medical practices. One thing I think is important to share is that the theory of "complete proteins" where it has been assumed that you are supposed to have all the essential fatty acids requirements in one meal or food. All fruits and vegetables contain all eight of them in varying degrees. The key is to eat a great variety of whole foods everyday. Don't eat the same foods all of the time. Mix it up and you will get all you need. Dr. Sheridan has been vegan for 26 years and eats mostly raw. Ladies, he flexed for us and um yeah, lets just say he was anything but wimpy and weak. Men, be inspired. You can eat your veggies and be a stud-muffin too. I loved the fact that he sells his own line of superfood and nutritional products, but he wasn't hard selling them at all. To me, this gave him even more credibility.

The final presentation I attended was given by Dr. Jonathan Murphy, an integrative oncologist from An Oasis of Healing in Mesa, Arizona. The news anchor format he used to present his information was kind of cute and refreshing. Their philosophy of using integrative natural and traditional therapies together is so different than what is offered in most oncology practices. I wish I would have had this option when I went through my breast cancer treatment. Not one of my doctors discussed the role of nutrition in healing, recovering and thriving after cancer. I am so incredibly thankful that this type of treatment is now available here in the valley and beyond. Dr. Murphy (and his wonderful assistant) discussed different raw whole foods ingredients and how their nutritional components provided support and healing for the body. I wasn't able to stay for the entire presentation, but I certainly hope they will be back for the fall conference as I'd like to learn more from them.

I left the conference feeling peaceful, excited, educated, entertained and hopeful for a very healthy future. So much so, that when I got home, I signed up for another meet up group for Raw Foods. I was excited to learn that there will be future conferences held here in the Phoenix area. They are planning to hold 3 a year. So if you miss a speaker at one, you can hear them at the next conference. Sign me up!!!

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