We are giving away a free copy of Dr. Greger’s book! To enter, fill out our 2015 reader survey.

I was shocked when I found out that the leading cause of death in the United States could be eliminated by changing what’s on our plates.

One out of every four Americans currently dies of heart disease — a condition that can be not only prevented, but REVERSED with a whole-food, plant-based diet.

If that was the only benefit of the plant-powered path, it would still be a strong argument for making veggies the main course.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood-pressure and other chronic conditions can all be improved by simple changes in diet and lifestyle.

And sometimes these kinds of lifestyle interventions are more effective than prescription pills and surgeries.

These powerful statistics carry a personal touch. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t been affected by one of these diseases, whether personally or through a close friend or family member.

It’s absolutely heart breaking. But we can do better.

How Not To Die

Today, I’m thrilled to share an interview with Michael Greger, MD,  internationally-renowned nutrition expert and founder of what I consider to be the best evidence-based nutrition site on the web, www.NutritionFacts.org

Dr. Greger released his latest book last week which is taking this life-saving message to the mainstream.

In How Not To Die, Dr. Greger reviews an incredible amount of medical literature in order to find the best nutrition and lifestyle interventions for the fifteen leading causes of death — diseases that claim the lives of 1.6 million Americans each year.

The book is a great reference if you are looking for specific recommendations, such as the best foods for treating hypertension.

Greger also provides actionable advice on how to make lifestyle changes stick, and a daily dozen checklist of foods to add to your diet to get the biggest benefit.

I hope you enjoy the interview. But most importantly, please help get this critical message out.

Together we can begin to fix a broken food system, a broken healthcare system, and literally save a million lives. Share this with someone that could benefit from the information.

Watch the interview and learn:

  • (3:50) The 3 biggest killers that can be reversed by changing your diet
  • (10:20) The two guidelines to radically simplify conflicting health information
  • (16:10) The biggest deficiency in modern diets, and how it makes us fat
  • (26:11) The shocking reason why we may choose medication and surgery over lifestyle
  • (28:31) The single most important foods that should be added to every diet

Show notes:

If you like this video, please subscribe to our youtube channel!

Enter To Win A Free Copy Of The Book!

Dr. Greger has been gracious enough to provide a copy of How Not To Die to our community, and you can enter to win!

To enter, fill out our 2015 reader surveyWe’ll be randomly selecting a recipient from the entires and notifying the winner on Tuesday, December 29th.

UPDATE: The giveaway has now ended. Congrats to Karen R!

*Note: Only open to residents of the continental US.

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Visit www.LoveChard.com to learn more about Bethany and Zane

There is nothing I love more than sharing inspiring stories of transformation with you.

Though the particular circumstances of each story is different, the core message is the same.

Each and every one of us has the potential to change our lives, radically transform our well-being, take charge of our health, and wake up every day looking and feeling incredible.

It’s never too late. No step is too small. It’s just about deciding to own your well-being and continuing to show up, day in and day out.

Whew, I could go for hours, but before I really launch into a sermon let’s segue shall we?

Today, it is my privilege to introduce you to Bethany and Zane.


As she describes it, Bethany had been on one diet or another for pretty much her whole life. She counted calories, watched portions, skipped meals, but nothing ever stuck. She would eventually cave and go back to her old ways.

She talks about the struggles of being overweight — how little things like tying shoes, getting in and out of the car, climbing a flight of stairs, or crossing legs at a table used to be a challenge.

Finally, in the summer of 2013, she watched a Dr. Fuhrman documentary on PBS about the power of a plant-based lifestyle and everything clicked.

She switched to a plant-based diet and quickly lost 65 lbs.

Her then fiance, now husband, Zane was supportive of the changes that she was making, but he wasn’t yet willing to jump on board.

Finally, on a drive back from Seattle, Bethany asked Zane join her for a 100-day challenge that she was about to embark on, and he agreed. He never looked back and went on to lose over 70 lbs in just six months.


They have since lost a combined total of over 150 lbs! Bethany dropped from a size 18-20 to a 6-8. Zane dropped from a size 38 waist to a size 31.

In addition to the weight loss, they report feeling stronger, more motivated, and positive. They go on mud runs and hikes, and their relationship is better than ever.

I asked Bethany and Zane to share their story, and we dive into some of the challenges they faced and how they overcame them.

There are many valuable nuggets in this interview, but I think one of the biggest lessons we can learn from Bethany and Zane is how to change your lifestyle without giving up your social life.

They share how they manage to be social AND stay on track, and Zane has an especially important insight to share on how he got his friends to support him.


Watch the interview and learn: 

  • (1:18) How Bethany and Zane lost a combined total of 150+ lbs, and what convinced them to change their lifestyle.
  • (9:40) The detox symptoms that Zane experienced and how he moved through them.
  • (16:40) Bethany’s tips for attending social events (and what she sneaks into movie theaters)
  • (20:10) The brilliant technique that Zane used to get all of his friends on board with his new lifestyle.
  • (21:21) The subtly undermining comments that Bethany received, and her tips for getting friends and family on board.
  • (23:00) Why Bethany and Zane decided to start the Love Chard community and where you can learn more.

If you like this video, please subscribe to our youtube channel!

Show notes:

Keep up with Bethany and Zane on their new website

Bethany and Zane’s transformation  inspired them to help others by starting the Love Chard Community.

They offer support for the transition into a healthier and happier lifestyle through coaching, pantry and fridge overhauls, offering shopping list and guides, helping you work through obstacles, setting and achieving your goals, exploring new whole foods, and learning how to prepare dishes and create recipes.  

Visit www.LoveChard.com for more information.

What did you learn from this success story that you can apply in your own life? Let us know in the comments below. We read every single one.

Help inspire others with your success. Have a success story to share whether big or small? We’d love to hear about it.

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When I first changed my diet, I was SO naive.

I’d never made a concerted effort to lose weight or get healthy before. I would occasionally lift weights, but I certainly wasn’t that into fitness.

So I hadn’t read the books, perused the articles or had any idea of the Pandora’s box of dietary theories that awaited me.

My sole source of nutritional information was a handful of resources that my yoga teacher had sent me on the benefit of raw foods. (Thanks Sujita!)

And reading through those early books on raw food, I thought that I was learning “THE WAY” to health, happiness, longevity and long flowing hair (ok not the hair one).

It wasn’t until a couple months later that I headed on down to my library and checked out Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine by Dr. Gabriel Cousens.

And alas the edifice of my previously unadulterated nutritional paradigm began to crumble.

You see Dr. Cousens recommended avoiding mushrooms, while all the raw food resources that I had read previously gave mushrooms a big thumbs up.


And so I was exposed to the cold hard reality of the nutrition world. Everybody, absolutely everybody, has an opinion on the right way. And they couldn’t be more conflicting.

These days, I can’t turn a corner these days without encountering extreme examples of conflicting health advice.

Maybe I’m more tuned in than I was previously, but I feel like the nutritional confusion has reached a fever pitch.

There is controversy about juicing, smoothies, raw food, coconut oil, oils in general, algaes, alternative sweeteners, saturated fat, potatoes, starch, protein, fat, carbohydrates, the correct ph of water, omega 3’s vs omega 6’s, cruciferous veggies, wine, coffee, chocolate and on and on and on and on and on.

Here is one particularly telling example:

Hmm, interesting. How about a slightly different opinion?


My aim here is not to share my individual opinion about who is right, but to point out how conflicting these messages are.

We have two diametrically opposed examples from from supposedly credible sources — an M.D. and The Washington Post.

So how are we supposed to make any progress towards radiant health and our goal weight when we can’t even figure out which foot to put forward?

Who do we trust? How do we know what works?

What if we invest a ton of time, energy, willpower and money into something that ends up being snake oil?

What if we spend years turning down bacon that we REALLY want to eat and it turns out that the paleo folks were right?!

Oh the horror!

What if your needling husband who thinks you are crazy for eating only veggies ends up healthier than you because you ended up following the wrong plan??!

Yes, there is a lot at stake.

And the sad fact of all this controversy is that it prevents us from making progress.

It makes us waver, it makes us question what we are doing, and it makes it a lot more likely that we’ll just say ah screw it and go tuck into a delicious dinner of pringles topped with ez cheese.

You might be hoping that I’m about to lay down the holy grail of nutritional truth — tell you who is right and who is wrong.

And though that would oh so much fun, it just ain’t quite that easy folks. (Especially since I’m neither a doctor nor a nutritionist.)

Instead, I can share with you some principles that I use to navigate the jungle of information, and give you a framework that can help you make it through unscathed.

The biggest lesson that I can impart is that this is a journey of self-discovery.

You have to learn how to think for yourself, sort good science from bad, and become your own one-person science experiment.

At the end of the day, you have to be the CEO of your health.

So let’s dive in!

Principle 1: Focus On The Big Wins

In today’s landscape of sensationalist articles and opposing viewpoints, it’s so easy to lose the forest for the trees.

One of the biggest mistakes that I made as a beginner was spending so much time worrying about minutiae and controversies that I lost track of the big picture.

  • Is cacao a super food or does it burn out the adrenals?
  • Do I need to be soaking and sprouting my nuts?
  • Is it worth the extra cost of buying organic almond butter versus non-organic almond butter?
  • Is soy good or bad for me?
  • Is making smoothies better than juicing or should I be avoiding both?

After six years exploring these issues, I’d guess that worrying about these details and trying to do the right thing had almost zero impact on my health.

In fact, the stress of trying to figure them out probably ended up having a greater negative impact than any physical health benefit that I would have gained from getting these details just right.

That’s right, I think I would’ve been better off just ignoring all the controversy altogether!

In Michael Pollan’s New York Times bestseller In Defense Of Food, he boils all the conflicting nutritional advice into just seven words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.


It doesn’t get any simpler than this.

Now this is a tough question, because again, I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist.

At some point all these small choices do make a difference. If you are following a perfect plant-based diet and are still unable to lose weight, or if you have a chronic health condition that refuses to improve, the devil just may be in the details.

Maybe worrying about oxalates in greens and lectins in beans is important. And at some point you do have to put in your due diligence, do your research, and look at the objective measurements that we have available to us to make sure that we are on track.

More on this later on.

But my hunch is that for the majority of us, especially those in the beginning stages of moving on from the Standard American Diet, the bigger problem is worrying too much about the details.

For example, in Julieanna Hever’s book The Vegiterranean Diet, she suggests that the Mediterranean Diet has been shown to be effective in spite of the emphasis on fish, olive oil and red wine. Not because of it.

In my quest to understand which diet is best, I’ve seen amazing success stories with raw food, plant-based (no oil), plant-based (with oil), high-carb and low-fat, low-fat and high-carb.

And when I look at the common denominators of all these success stories, I see the same three things:

  1. A focus on whole (minimally processed) foods
  2. A focus on plant-based foods (80-100%)
  3. A focus on leafy greens and vegetables


My (completely unscientific) hypothesis is that just focusing on whole plant foods is the big win that will get you at least 80-90% where you want to go.

I doubt a single medical professional would disagree on that general outline. Eat less processed foods. Eat more greens and vegetables.

All the controversy lies in the details.

Note: Please do not take this as a substitute for medical advice. See your doctor before changing your diet.

Principle 2: The best program is the one that you will follow.

As I mentioned above, focusing on the “big wins” and ignoring the small controversies is the way to drastically simplify your life, and thus radically improve your chances of success.

In this case, just focusing on eating real foods that are plant-based is the big win that will get you 80 – 90% where you want to go.

This is especially important when you are first beginning the journey of changing your diet and lifestyle.

If you are just starting out, just pick a plan and go with it. Choose whatever plan resonates with you the most and seems realistic.

That last part is important. Try to pick something that feels realistic. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Set yourself up for success.

Now, follow that plan to the best of your ability for at least a month.

I know you are making these life changes for a very specific reason: To lose weight, to get off meds, to have more energy, reverse a serious health condition, etc.

I know you want results, and you want them fast! But even if you aren’t seeing results during this first month, do not waver.

Remember, changing your diet and lifestyle comes with a learning curve. In the early stages you are learning how to prepare healthier foods, you are learning how to navigate difficult social situations, to say no to cravings, etc.

Make this early stage about learning these key competencies and training yourself to follow through, regardless of what the specifics of the plan are.

In one study published in the Journal of the American Medical Assocation, vastly different diets achieved similar results. The most important factor in both weight loss and health outcomes was whether or not the participant adhered to the diet.

If you can learn these key skills and learn to follow-through, it’s only a matter of time before you reach your goal. This follow-through matters so much more than worrying about nutritional minutia IN THE BEGINNING.

After the initial month, if you aren’t getting the results you want, then it’s time to start looking at numbers, making substitutions, and tweaking things in order to get your nutritional program just right.

Once you’ve built the foundation and learned how to change your diet and follow through, you can optimize your diet to speed up the weight loss, or reverse a specific chronic condition.

So how do you overcome nutritional confusion in the beginning? Ignore it completely. Pick a plan and follow through to the best of your ability.

You are much more likely to fail from giving up than making some nutritional mis-step.

When starting out, the biggest foes to your plant-based success are overwhelm. That’s why I recommend just picking a plan and sticking to it.

Principle 3: Use objective measurements to validate personal experience.

There is a dark side to Michael Pollan’s advice to Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

The issue? I can justify all sorts of bad choices and still follow that 7-word guideline!

It’s easy to delude ourselves into thinking that we have the healthiest diet imaginable when we are within the guidelines of any given plan.

In my early days as a raw-foodist, I assumed anything labeled raw would be healthy. Even double chocolate ganache cheesecakes loaded with (unrefined) sugar.

And when the amount of (unrefined) sugar I was consuming caused lots of issues, I did a pretty good job of ignoring them because I was so committed to believing that my diet was the healthiest diet imaginable.

Which is why it is important to introduce some objective measurements into the picture.

These are the anchors that give us a measure of whether or not our diet is working, and to make sure that we are making the right choices within the confines of whatever plan we are on.

How you are feeling is of course important. Do you have more energy? Are you sleeping better? Do you feel rested, vibrant, have more pep-in-your-step?

It’s good to ask these questions, but also to back up your subjective experience with some objective data.

So yes, step on the scale, take your measurements, and make a plan with your healthcare practitioner to get your labs done regularly.

If you’d like to find a doctor that is supportive of a plant-based diet, you can find one here.

What labs to order is beyond the scope of this article, but these resources are good starting points:

  1. Top 10 blood tests for vegetarians and vegans.
  2. Full-spectrum thyroid test
  3. Fatty acid analysis blood test

The Nutritional Diagnostic

Wow, that was a long post. Here’s the cliff notes version to wrap up.

  • Nutrition is an incredibly complex topic, and we still don’t have conclusive answers to a lot of the controversial topics.
  • My approach is to look at the common elements across the different successful approaches and to focus on the big wins. In my case, this means eating whole foods that are mostly plant-based.
  • If you are trying to move on from the Standard American Diet, the most important thing is to keep things simple. Pick a plan and follow through! Choose a plan that resonates with you and that is easy to follow. Stick with it.
  • From there, it’s important to use whatever objective measurements we can to make sure that we aren’t getting into nutritional trouble.

Once you have established the basic habits of healthy eating, it becomes a lifelong journey of self-discovery. Understand that you are a science experiment of one and the CEO of your own health and well-being.

It’s up to you to sort through the controversies, measure your own experience with the best that science has to offer, and cultivate an open mind.

If you are more interested in the truth than defending your own position, you will find it.

Finally, it’s easy to get off track on whatever plan we are on. If I’m getting off track, then I take a step back, look at my diet and ask these questions.

  1. Am I eating mostly plants?
  2. Is at least 50% of my plate vegetables and leafy greens?
  3. Am I eating a wide variety of leafy greens and other veggies.
  4. Am I eating mostly whole unprocessed foods?

Start there. Keep it simple. And good luck!

Have you struggled with making sense of conflicting health information? What is the most difficult question you have struggled with? Do you have a method of sorting through the mis-information? Share it below in the comments!

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If you ask me, raising kids is nothing short of heroic.

My brother and his wife just had their fourth, and whenever I visit I am humbled by how much selfless devotion goes into caring for their children.

Regan and I often get questions from parents about how to help their kids eat better, but the truth is that we don’t have any firsthand parenting experience as of yet.

Here in DC, we live close to Regan’s niece and nephew and are blessed to get to spend time with them on a regular basis.

But I’m pretty sure being the fun aunt or uncle isn’t quite the same as raising your own!

So today, I’m thrilled to defer the questions on pregnancy and parenting to the very knowledgeable and articulate Dreena Burton.

Plant-Powered Families

I had the opportunity recently to talk with Dreena about her new book Plant-Powered Families and ask her lots of juicy questions about the nuance and challenges of raising plant-powered kids.

Dreena has three wonderful, busy, hockey-playing girls, and has accumulated a mountain of hard won wisdom on how to make healthy eating work in the midst of fast-paced family life.

Her book is a treasure trove of kid-tested recipes and features tremendously valuable tips on how to navigate birthday parties, pack lunches, prepare kid-friendly snacks and more.

Plus, it’s gorgeous. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful plant-based recipe books and this is right up there with the best of them.

Ok enough of me gushing about Dreena and her book. If you are interested in learning more or pre-order her book, you can do so here.

In either case, check out the interview! We cover:

  • (2:25) Pregnancy and why it’s so important to work with someone who supports your lifestyle
  • (7:10) The best way to introduce new healthy foods to your kids
  • (9:05) The number of times you may have to introduce a new food before your kids will try it (this blew me away!)
  • (11:45) What foods Dreena sends with her kids when they go to a party
  • (20:25) How Dreena stays organized while running a busy household

If you like this video, please subscribe to our youtube channel!


Enter to win a copy of Plant-Powered Families

UPDATE: The giveaway has now ended. Congrats to Donna and Danielle! We’ll be in touch to send you a copy of Plant-Powered Families.

Dreena has been gracious enough to provide a copy of her book to our community, and you can enter to win!

We’ll be randomly selecting two recipients (see entry details below) and notifying the winners on Friday May 8th, 2015.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Sign up for the email list using the form below. If you are already subscribed, you do NOT have to subscribe again.
  2. Leave a comment below letting us know the following: Do you have trouble getting your kids, friends, or other family members to eat healthy? What are some of the issues you face? What has worked and what hasn’t? Give an example and be specific.

*Note: Only open to residents of the US and Canada

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We have a special interview and book giveaway to share with you today.

But first we wanted to say thank you to everyone who took the time to send us travel questions and well wishes on our move! We made it safe and sound and are enjoying getting settled here in the DC area.

Next time, we’ll go behind the scenes and share all the tips and tricks we use to eat well on the road.

But for now, on to the feature du jour…

If you are at all interested in nutrition, you’ve likely heard of The China Study.

This landmark book has sold over a million copies and the New York Times called it the “most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease.”

The China Study was co-authored by legendary nutrition researcher T. Colin Campbell, PhD, and when it was time to write the book he asked that his son Tom move back home to help out.

This supposed one year project ended up taking four years to complete, and during the process Tom developed such a passion for the subject that he went on to become a physician.

The Campbell Plan

Fast forward to the present, and the now Thomas Campbell, MD has released a new book that offers a practical follow-up based on The China Study principles.

His book The Campbell Plan explores the science behind recent dietary confusion, feeding kids as well as what to stock in your kitchen, how to read labels and shop, and what to watch for in social and eating out situations.

And of course recipes! 55 delicious and easy recipes to be exact.

You already know how nerdy I get about behavioral psychology, so I was especially excited to see that the book addresses some of the behavior change principles behind making and sustaining healthy eating habits.

If you liked this video, subscribe to our youtube channel.

Show Notes:

  • (1:35) How strong is the evidence showing the correlation between the consumption of animal products and chronic disease?
  • (5:57) Why is there so much dietary confusion and how do we navigate it?
  • (14:50) Why information alone is not enough to change our behavior, and the three most important factors that help us change.
  • (19:00) The surprising reason why making a 100% commitment is sometimes easier than making gradual changes.
  • (22:30) What Dr. Campbell thinks is the most important thing to eliminate from the Standard American Diet and why.

Enter to win a copy of The Campbell Plan

Dr. Campbell has been gracious enough to provide a copy of his book to our community, and you can enter to win!

We’ll be randomly selecting one recipient (see entry details below) and notifying the winner on Monday April 6th, 2015.

UPDATE: The giveaway has ended. Congrats to Tracy C! We’ll be in touch to send you a free copy of The Campbell Plan.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Sign up for the email list using the form below. If you are already subscribed, you do NOT have to subscribe again.
  2. Leave a comment below letting us know the following: How has your decision to eat healthy impacted your relationships with friends and family? Give an example and be specific.

*Note: Only open to residents of the Continental U.S.

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When it comes to health, I believe joy is the key to sustainability.

Plant-strong works long-term because it’s not about restriction, deprivation, counting calories or other forms of socially accepted self-torture we like to call dieting.

Instead we can celebrate awesome nutritious meals and delectable dishes that are made of super fresh, vibrant, wholesome, and nurturing ingredients.

We don’t have to give up comfort food, dessert, snacks, treats, or the enjoyment and satisfaction of a hearty delicious meal.

Instead, we can “trade up,” exchanging unhealthy options for a version that supports our desire to live a healthier life.

And this helps cultivate the right relationship with food as a wonderful and important piece a balanced, joyful, and fun-filled life.

Which is why I’m so excited to share Julieanna Hever’s new book The Vegiterranean Diet with you today.

Julieanna is a nutritionist, best-selling author, and has been featured on the Dr. Oz Show among many other noteworthy accomplishments.

Her material is always extremely well-researched and succinctly presented, and she has a special gift for condensing a ton of information into one or two easy take aways.

The Vegiterranean Diet is all this and more, but what I loved most was how she channels the culture of the Mediterranean to share her passion not just for health, but for life.

Picture long dinners shared amongst friends, celebrating life, food, and friendship with beautiful ocean views.

In order to stay on plan long-term, we have to make things fun, delicious, abundant, joyful, and just a touch indulgent. This book is just the catalyst we need.

I had the privilege of interviewing Julieanna about her new book, and I know you’ll love her approach as well as the facts.

Watch The Interview And Learn:

  • (2:53) What it is exactly that makes the Mediterranean Diet so health promoting.
  • (4:15) The role of olive oil in the diet and how it affects weight loss.
  • (5:26) How loving food is an integral part of overall health.
  • (10:20) Is there one magic pill or silver bullet for health? What does it really take to get healthy?
  • (12:10) The inspiration for the 66 recipes in The Vegiterranean Diet
  • (15:55) Why Julieanna’s parents staged an intervention and took her to a steak house!

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 Show Notes:

Enter to win a copy of The Vegiterranean Diet

Julieanna’s publisher Da Capo Press was kind enough to offer two free copies of her book to our community.

I’ll be randomly selecting two recipients and notifying the winners on Tuesday January 6th, 2015.

UPDATE: The deadline is now closed. Congratulations to our winners Rachel and Karen!

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Sign up for the email list using the form below. If you are already subscribed, you do NOT have to subscribe again.
  2. Leave a comment below letting me know what inspires you to eat more plants. What is your goal? Your dream?

*Note: Only open to residents of the US and Canada

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