Local pod of PlantPure Communities holding monthly pot lucks focused on plant-based eating | VailDaily.com

Local pod of PlantPure Communities holding monthly pot lucks focused on plant-based eating

The members of the Vail Valley pod of PlantPure Communities are like, well, peas in a pod.

What started as a 40-person group in September is now close to 100 strong, meeting once a month for a lively potluck focused on a plant-based diet.

Members of the PlantPure Communities pod, which is free to join, sign up for a variety of reasons — mainly health concerns and environmental impacts.

"Many people are not 100 percent plant-based but are simply trying to eat more plants, which is great," Vail Health Dr. Dennis Lipton, who is involved with the group, said in an email. "Even moving from getting 10 percent of calories from whole food plant sources up to 50-60 percent of calories is a big step in the right direction."

“Following a plant-based diet can be kind of isolating for a lot of people, so I thought it was a great opportunity for people to meet each other and feel the support of the community.”
Dr. Dennis Lipton
Vail Health

'MORE OPTIONS'

The PlantPure Communities pod in the Vail Valley is part of an international organization promoting stronger, healthier and more sustainable communities. There are more than 460 pods registered with PlantPure Communities across the globe with more than 50,000 people involved.

"When I moved up here two and a half years ago, I was looking for something like this," said Katherine Costa, who launched the local chapter and is a health coach and owner of SOL Wellness Design. "I was surprised that for being such an active and healthy community that there weren't more options for plant-based eating in the area and that there weren't groups. And that's why I started this pod."

In addition to holding potlucks monthly at homes of members large enough for gathering, the group is also going to be engaging local restaurants on ways to include more plant-based options.

"The potlucks are just fun social gatherings," Lipton said. "Everyone is so friendly and easy to talk to, and food is often the main topic of conversation."

HEALTH BENEFITS

Lipton and his wife held an informal plant-based potluck in January of 2017, including some friends and patients that practice the plant-based lifestyle.

"Following a plant-based diet can be kind of isolating for a lot of people, so I thought it was a great opportunity for people to meet each other and feel the support of the community," Lipton said.

Shortly after his own small potlucks, Lipton met Costa, who "brought some structure to the gatherings."

The group promotes whole food, plant-based healthy eating, not just vegan eating where the person would avoid animal products but still might eat healthy foods.

"Changing eating patterns can be difficult for some people, but I've also had patients and friends who learn of the benefits and change instantly," Lipton said. "The trick is to stick with it for several weeks until your taste buds adjust. The other hurdle for some people is the social aspect. … The payoff for sticking with a more healthy eating pattern is greatly reduced chronic disease and health crisis, and feeling great."

Because a plant-based diet is so rich in nutrients and fiber — and excludes calorie-dense foods such as sugar, flour and fried foods — "it leads to fairly rapid attainment of ideal weight almost universally," Lipton said.

Lipton cites numerous studies demonstrating that including more vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes in a diet leads to reduced risk of multiple chronic diseases.

Doctors Dean Ornish, Caldwell Esselstyn and Joel Furham have published scientific articles and books about the power of whole food, plant-based diets to halt and even reverse heart disease for many years now. Dr. Ornish's intensive cardiac rehab program is covered by Medicare for people with heart disease as an option to bypass surgery.

"Most importantly, people just tend to feel so much better when they eat more health-promoting food and reduce intake of sugar and other processed foods," Lipton said.

UPCOMING POTLUCK

While most monthly events are potluck dinners at someone's home, April's event is a little different.

Dr. Greg Feinsinger will be presenting on plant-based diets at the potluck gathering at Miller Ranch Community Center. The event is from 6 to 8 p.m. RSVP by emailing vailvalleyplant basedliving@gmail.com.

"I love that I now have this organization to refer patients to if they're trying to eat healthier and not sure how to do it," Lipton said, "or if they're feeling isolated and alone. At the potlucks, they instantly have friends that are there to help and support them."

Remember, you can't feel like a million bucks if you order off the dollar menu.

JOIN THE PLANTPURE COMMUNITY

The Vail Valley PlantPure Community's website is http://www.vvpbl.org and is updated with news, upcoming meetings, resources and local restaurants that offer vegan meals on their menu. Email vailvalleyplantbasedliving@gmail.com to get in touch with group leader Katherine Costa.

For more information about the Plant Pure Communities international organization, visit http://www.plantpurecommunities.org.

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