I was lucky enough to hang out with leaders in healthcare last week at the International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference. I learned a lot from the speakers - you would recognize many of them if you've seen documentaries like Forks Over Knives (available now on Netflix. Check out Cowspiracy while you're at it.) Superstars including Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Robert Ostfeld, Dr. Scott Stoll, Dr. Brenda Davis, Dr. Robynne Chutkan, Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. Michael Klaper, and more - plus athlete Brendan Brazier and Chef Chad Sarno (I am FOK plant-based certified thanks to him). These are people who inspired me to take action to improve my own health, and it was beyond an honor to be in the same room with them, let alone have conversations with them! (I encourage you to click on their names above and check out their websites. Amazing people doing good.)
I also learned a lot from the doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals attending who were up for the challenge of helping patients reclaim their health. They were also an inspiration. This was a life-changing event that I will be talking about for eons. There was so much scientific information shared that pointed to positive outcomes from eating real food - not by dieting, not by counting calories, but simply by eating plant-based whole foods like fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains and reducing or eliminating consumption of animal-based foods. Several speakers pointed to how plant-based food alone could reduce cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even cancer - even to the point of reversing the diseases in the very sick! So the hopeful message that rang out loud and clear was that we can manage our own health to a great extent by eating more whole plants. And the health of the planet too, by the way. Great news!
When trying to eat plant-based while traveling, planning ahead and packing foods that work can be helpful. On this trip though, I didn't do much of any of that. All meals at the conference were WFPB (whole foods, plant-based), so that helped. I only had a few meals to figure out. I'm happy to report that we managed to eat plant-based the entire trip and found it was less of a challenge than we expected. A shift is happening, albeit slowly.
Plant-Based on a Plane
When a little pick-me-up was needed on the plane, I was very happy to find that Alaska Airlines now has a Mediterranean Tapas box that is completely plant-based! As a snack, it's plenty for two people to share or a meal for one. It's not exactly equivalent to a veggie-packed soup or salad, not exclusively whole foods, but it's a satisfying meatless option that is healthier than other offerings.
The Camp at Costa Mesa
Once off the plane in Orange County, we took out our phones and searched "vegan restaurants" for lunch and saw that there were quite a few options nearby. We chose Native Foods in Costa Mesa - I'd heard of it and was eager to try it. We were pleasantly surprised to find that it was located in a "green gathering spot" called The Camp that's just full of good vibes. We loved it!
Oh wow, Native Foods is such a treat! From Baja tacos to meatball subs, soul bowls to BBQ chicken salads, Scorpion burgers to greek gyros, everything is completely plant-based. Yes! In fact, when we had one other opportunity to choose a restaurant for dinner, my husband requested that we go back for more. Boy, were we glad we did. Native Foods uses non-GMO ingredients (organic when possible), and they really know what "delicious" means.
International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference
Another treat was being able to attend an intensive conference over four days and have all the food be WFPB. Chef Chad Sarno's food demo had us drooling.
Chef Chad Sarno's Food Demo
We made a family trip out of this, since the conference was in Anaheim. I mean, how could I go to Anaheim and not take the kids to Disneyland? After learning so much more about the benefits of eating plant-based foods, I was actively searching for such dining options when I met up with the family for some fun at Disneyland. I was not expecting to find all whole foods, just hoping for some decent vegan options. I was glad to find more available than the last time we were there a few years ago. Here's what we found:
- Dole Whip at the Tiki Juice Bar in Disneyland
- Portobello Philly sandwiches at Award Weiners in California Adventure
- Grilled Veggie Burritos at Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill in California Adventure
- WFPB options at Fairfax Market, an open market stand
We heard there were a few other vegan menu items in the park, too - we were only there one day together so didn't have a chance to try them all...isn't that good news?! More than we could eat in a day! These plant-based options really helped us spend less time figuring out what to eat and more time just having fun!
Love for Luigi
I thought I'd finish this post off with the cutest ride in the entire Disney Park - yes, even cuter than Heimlich's Chew Chew Train: Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters, aka "Dancing Cars" - because these adorable little "cousins of Luigi" cars actually dance to Italian tunes. ! It's like Dancing With the Stars with Cars! Sometimes they line up and dance in formation, sometimes you're in a car that's got a little dance solo - it is beyond cute, and a must next time you find yourself in the land of Disney.
So thankful for the good vibes of this trip that I know will linger for a very long time.