Karina: You're listening to the No-Bullshit Vegan podcast, episode 65. Vegan power couple, Chris Bratseth and Dr. Danielle Marentette are here to talk about their work in our community, raising vegan kids, day to day practicalities of eating a plant-based diet as a family, and some myth-busting along the way.
Hey, welcome to the show. I'm Karina, your no-BS, vegan fitness and nutrition coach. Thank you so much for joining me today for my first interview with people from my own town. So for those of you who don't know, my husband and I live on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia in Powell River, which has a population of around 13,000. We decided to move here without ever having visited before. It was based entirely on the amazing location and scenery and the town’s reputation around its sense of community and the amazing music and art scene and lots of other things as well. We actually bought our house sight unseen. So we've been here since June of 2018 and we absolutely love it. It's amazing here. The vegan population is really active, quite vibrant. I was thinking, it's high time that we have some Powell River vegan superstars on the show. Enter Chris and Danielle.
Now the funny thing is we still had to do a call-in style interview rather than an in person interview because my recording room is freaking tiny. It's basically a one-person space. So my husband and I actually had no idea that our house even had a recording room, totally soundproofed and everything, until we'd already purchased our property. We saw it for the first time and we're like, Holy shit, there's a recording room in here, which is awesome because we are both musicians. It turns out one of the former owners of this house was a musician and I also needed a soundproof space for recording this show. So how perfect is that? Now super quick before I introduce Chris and Danielle, if you've been listening to the show for a while, you know that I don't accept advertising because I honestly think it decreases the listening experience for you and it would also likely decrease my own credibility.
One of my favorite advertising related quotes from Sam Harris, who has one of the most popular podcasts on the planet, is the following:
“If I spent the first five minutes of every show trying to sell you a mattress, you could reasonably worry about whether my enthusiasm for it was sincere. What else might I exaggerate if I'm willing to assure you week after week that memory foam will solve all your sleep problems?”
That is totally brilliant and exactly how I feel about advertising. So given that it costs me a decent amount of coin every month to run this show, how can you support the No-bullshit Vegan? Well, the first way is super easy and also free, is to leave a star rating and review on iTunes. So you can do that at Nobullshitvegan.com/itunes. The second way you can support this show is to check out my brand new ebook Sprouted Gains at Sproutedgains.com. It’s written specifically for new and wannabe vegans, so you can make sure you're effectively fueling your training and eating in a way that's supporting your physique goals.
It's a full length book and it covers all the fundamentals like food prep, specific nutrients you should pay attention to, and of course everyone's favorite vegan topic protein. There's a whole chapter on protein and it also comes with a free companion guide and that contains sample food logs and a whole bunch of further resources. If you're already a pro at the whole veganism thing, do keep this book in mind as a resource for anyone you come across who is new to veganism or someone who wants to make the transition. So check it out at Sproutedgains.com.
Okay, let's get to our kickass guests for today. Chris and Danielle are husband and wife and proud parents of a five and seven year old. Chris Bratseth is a teacher at Brook secondary school in Powell River, BC. He teaches an alternative experiential learning program called the Explore program. The program focuses on adventure learning, volunteering, academics, health, wellness and work experience.
He's helped to facilitate plant-based nutrition seminars and classes for both students and staff. He's an author of the Canadian bestselling book, Cool to be Kind and he's a founding member of the kindness crew and extremekindness.com he holds a masters in Physical Education and he's worked as a personal trainer and yoga instructor.
Dr. Danielle Marentette is a full time small town family doctor also here in Powell River. Within her full service family practice she has a special interest in food as medicine and specifically using a whole foods plant-based diet to prevent and reverse chronic disease for her patients. She teams up with plant-based registered holistic nutritionist, Emma Levez Larocque to get groups of patients into the kitchen to learn the why and how of transitioning to a plant-based diet and she's seen incredible results for her patients. She's a former captain of the Western University track and field team and continues to live an active lifestyle. Chris and Danielle were vegetarian for many years before making the switch along with their children to a vegan diet just over three years ago. Their favorite vegan meal is tofu scramble from the Chef Chloe cookbook. Here's our interview. Hey Chris and Danielle, thanks so much for being on the show today.
Danielle and Chris: Thanks so much for having us. We're thrilled to be here.
Karina: I'm very excited to have you. You know, you guys are actually the first local Powell River guests on the show, which is kind of hilarious cause we've been living here for close to two years now. But it's about time that I have you on the show vegan power couple extraordinare! So I'm super excited. I would love to start by asking each of you about the work that you do, including the work that you're doing in the plant-based area. And then I want to get into your day to day life with your kids and how the transition to veganism worked with young kids a couple of years back, your approach to food with your kids, some myths you might encounter and pretty much anything else that comes up, but basically just going to see what happens. So why don't we start with you Chris? You teach an experiential learning program at our local high school, so can you tell me and our listeners a little bit about this program and the work that you do there?
Chris: Yeah. I run a program called the Explore program at Brooks secondary school here in Powell River and it's an alternative program for students that are having a hard time fitting into the traditional classroom. It’s a blend of community based work. We actually run a social enterprise called The Nook at the public library here. You also volunteer at a place called the MCC, which is a thrift store, and our students take part in different volunteer activities. We have a really big focus on health and wellbeing. The students get a chance to participate in gymnastics and yoga and mindfulness work. One of my passions is obviously plant-based cooking and nutrition, so every Monday is a Meatless Monday in our classroom and we actually bring in Emma Levez Larocque who's a plant based nutritionist and chef. The idea is to integrate their academic work that allows them to get credit towards graduating while partaking in a holistic.
Karina: Well that's fantastic. Meatless Monday, which is awesome and Emma is great. She's the best. So that's really cool that you guys have connected that way. I think you're doing some other kind of nutrition classes or seminars for students and staff, is that right? In addition to this program itself?
Chris: Yeah, so I've been involved in a number of different initiatives in this school district and bringing the new Canada food guide and plant- based nutrition to both staff and students. So we've had Emma come in and help facilitate plant-based cooking and nutrition courses for staff across the district. And then also I ran what was called an X block class, which is kind of like an elective passion block that teachers get to facilitate. And that I co-taught with a good friend of mine, Darren Bennett and we taught plant-based cooking and nutrition and tips to kids. We had about 30 students that took part and it was a semester of Fridays, making smoothies and watching films like Forks over Knives and having discussions about what nutrition and health meant to them and trying to find ways to understand what plant-based nutrition could look like in their lives.
It was amazing, it was really catalytic to see some of these changes in the kids. You have a student go home and ask to have a plant-based meal on the table. Within sometimes weeks you'd have the whole family adding more nutritious meals into their diet and some families fully transition to plant-based. It was unbelievable actually. Some of my students had parents that were physicians and they were inspiring them and their own practice and their eating and it was really wonderful.
Karina: That's amazing. So the ripples of effectiveness or just going out into the whole community, which is amazing.
Chris: Yeah, I just had students yesterday come up to me and say, “Oh, I really wish you would teach that class again. I had such a fun time” and “do you have any new recipes?” Yesterday at Brooks we had the jellyfish project, which came in to speak about climate change and ocean health. One of the pillars they touched on was the idea of being able to eat plant-based and being able to eat local. Right away I had four students that ran up to me after the presentation and were reflecting on just how powerful that course was that they took with Aaron and myself.
Karina: That's amazing. So was there any sort of a resistance from either the students or parents when you're presenting this new way of eating to people?
Chris: Yeah. I really believe in a dialogical approach to education. So it's very conversational. So we had lots of exploratory conversations about, you know, we have a lot of families in town that choose to hunt. So that was definitely something where we had lots of dialogue around what is a responsible way to eat and how do we honor indigenous perspectives on health and wellbeing and on food. One of the threads that came out of that on both sides was the idea of just trying to eat more local, you know, being critical in our thinking about what is sustainable. Is it sustainable to ship avocados from a different country? Should we be looking at other ways of growing fruits and vegetables in our own community?
One of the things that came out of that and the work that I do at my Explore program was supporting local agriculture. So we've had a chance to work at Paradise Valley Farms and also at Terra Nostra farms here in town. We’ve also worked in the community garden and the community resource center. So just kind of connecting kids to the soil within their own community really gives them a chance, a tactile experience to be involved in local agriculture. And so I think that, I wouldn't say it was resistance, but just lots of differing opinions and perspectives. I love that. I feel like it's really important for us, even those of us that are choosing the plant-based to really be mindful of different perspectives and also to even question our own eating practices.
Karina: Absolutely. Yeah, that's a really good point that you have about the way in which it's brought up probably affects how people respond to it. You know, if you're going to say, okay, we're all eating plant based, end of story, it's probably not going to go over very well compared to having a discussion.
Chris: Definitely. It's important to honor an individual's choice and to have the lens that there's only one way to eat lacks inclusiveness. I think everyone's on a continuum and on a journey. I'm more interested in just planting a seed and allowing it to germinate and evolve in whichever way an individual chooses to. I would say that's very similar to the way that we raise our children in terms of giving choice to our children about what they choose to put in their mouths.
Karina: Absolutely. Well, I'm looking forward to getting to that, but I'd love to hear from Danielle. Danielle, you're a family doctor here in town and so I'm really excited that you're using a whole food plant-based diet, basically like food as medicine. Right? You know, preventing and reversing chronic diseases. So can you tell us a little bit about the work you do one-on-one with your patients? Also I'm really interested in your group medical visits, which I actually don't know much about. So what is the deal?
Dr. Danielle: Well, I think in my own journey after learning more about this way of eating and having inspiration both from Chris and other people in the community like you and Emma, I changed personally my way of eating and also started learning more about all of the research that supports plant-based nutrition. After I had made a shift myself, I felt comfortable enough to start sharing that with some of my patients in terms of planting seeds for them and starting to talk to them about this way of eating and all of the benefits. I think I had to be experiencing it myself first before I felt confident enough to start talking to patients about it and also wanted to be more informed about what the research is behind this. I mean that, that's an approach that I take in my practice in general.
I think it just became more and more clear and more and more convincing that I would actually be doing my patients a disservice by not talking to them about this. So I started by just basically answering questions. If someone had asked me in an office visit for something else about, well, is there something else I could do instead of starting this pill, then that would be a door for me to start talking about using nutrition instead of medication. I really just started talking to patients on a one on one level initially. Then Emma, who Chris has done some work with, who's so wonderful, her and I had teamed up on some other stuff in the past and had all three of us had attended the plant-based nutrition conference for health care down in California a couple of years ago.
That's where Emma and I had sprouted the idea of getting groups of my patients together to do a four part series on getting them into the kitchen and learning about the why and the how of how to incorporate this into their lives to help treat their medical conditions. So we've run a few of these series already and have been just so inspired by all the changes that people have made and all of the really amazing results that people have had. So we're continuing to offer these classes for my patients.
Karina: That's amazing. So obviously your one-to-one patients who are coming to the office would hear about this. Are there others in the community who are not in your direct circle who are saying, Oh, this looks like something I'm interested in and then they're also being kind of pulled into this world, if you will?
Dr. Danielle: They are. And right now we don't really have a community wide sort of format for rolling these classes out on a bigger scale. That is something that we're continuing to brainstorm and work on and try to figure out how to make that kind of thing work. But definitely there are a lot of people in the community who are interested. Emma is running a lot of classes, her own, offering consulting work. There's Sarah from the community as well that's offering consulting work. So there are definitely places where people can get direction and guidance and information as well. Right now the group visits are just for my patients.
Karina: Okay. Gotcha. That makes sense. Nice. That's really amazing that you've been able to do that and tie in the plant-based whole foods realm with both prevention and reversing chronic diseases, which is pretty powerful. So that's awesome.
Dr. Danielle: It's been great to get people hands on in the kitchen as well. I think Chris has found that with his students too, when they can get into that teaching kitchen at Brooks and actually start making different things and tasting it and experiencing it. So much about changing people's mind is just having good food. I think a lot of times people just want a good meal and they don't really care if it's vegan or not. They want it to taste good. I think the more that people can try different foods, the more likely they may be to make a change.
Karina: That's so true. I tell you, man, the number of people I've roped in via ridiculous vegan desserts is probably, yeah, that's my general approach. So I like that it's very hands on. It's not just saying, okay, you know what, you need to be plant-based. Okay, see you later and then there's no follow up. There's no hands on, there's no logistics. So I think that approach is a really good way of doing it. So Danielle, in your practice then, what are some of the myths that you encounter? I mean, something that you mentioned before was that people won't be willing to change or that it'll be too difficult or it'll be too hard for people to understand. What are some of the common myths that you encounter?
Dr. Danielle: A big one is that people won't do this, so don't bother bringing it up with them because they're not going to change. I have been surprised time and time again at who gets inspired by this and who takes it on. I can never predict who may start to make a change and I've been so surprised many times by who actually takes this on.
I think the power of the group as well is when people see their neighbour making a change. You know, if Bob next door could do this, Oh, I could think I could try it. If he’s able to do it and Bob's off of all his medications now and he's dropped 20 pounds and so that sort of social part of it. I think that, that's really powerful for people, but I think a lot of physicians are hesitant to bring this up with their patients either because of a lack of knowledge themselves or lack of comfort themselves, or just the idea that behavior in patients is so challenging, and people are just going to turn their noses up at the idea of vegan as it’s too out there.
Karina: Well, you're proving that that's a myth. It's not actually how things work, which is awesome.
Like I said, it always surprises me at who decides to make the change and when they do, it's incredible.
Karina: I can imagine. I would assume that it's similar to Chris's approach in that the actual approach is just as important as the content, right? Like how you were bringing this up with people and is it framed as a positive thing versus a, Oh crap, I can't eat my favorite foods anymore. There’s different ways of bringing it up. I would assume that both of you guys are doing it in a way that is very positive and it's going to add to your life. It's going to be eating in a way that's consistent with your values and your health and all of these awesome things and you get to eat delicious food at the same time, which is a win-win. That’s clearly having an effect on people's willingness to even start to think about making a change.
Dr. Danielle: Yeah. I think from a practical perspective as well, talking to people about what to include and not what to exclude. So often, a starting point for conversation for me is fiber. Okay, I’d like you to go away and try to get 40 grams of fiber in your day. Well what does that mean? I thought a little handout about how much fiber is in different things and just go for it. I don't care what else you eat, just get 40 grams of fiber in your day at least. People will be very full doing that and they will actually start crowding out the stuff that is not so good for your health. Another example is Michael Greger's daily dozen, you know, go away for the next three days, try to hit all these things on the daily dozen, so he has 12 different things to include in your day. Again, trying to fit all that in is really hard and if you do it, you're going to be really full. So it's this whole idea of crowding other things out rather than saying, don't eat dairy, don't have eggs, you know, that just that will really put people off.
Karina: Absolutely. It's the abundance mindset versus the deprivation. I think it's a super important point for sure. Okay, well thank you guys for sharing some info about what you do and a little bit of background there. I would love to get into your non-work life day to day having young kids. I'm interested in if there was a catalyst, like how did you guys decide to go plant-based in the first place? I know that you were a vegetarian before, but was there some kind of an event or something that made you think, huh, maybe we should go vegan?
Chris: Myself originally it was in 2002 and I was traveling across Canada, just finishing up our Extreme Kindness tour where myself and three good friends spent three months doing random acts of kindness from coast to coast, working with individuals, whether it was roof their homes or help people that were experiencing homelessness or doing on the street theater. I had read the book Diet for a New America by John Robbins. We were driving 48 hours straight from Toronto to Calgary and taking two hour sessions each. There were seven of us in total in this motor home. I picked up that book. It was given to me when I was on the East coast. As I flipped through it, I gained a perspective of first and foremost just the idea of factory farming and the conditions that animals were exposed to and just what their quality of life was like. But it was an interesting time to transition to eating plant-based as it was really difficult in terms of the options available and the education so I kind of migrated back and forth between that and eating vegetarian and then Danielle and I started seeing each other in 2005 and I think together we both had the intention to eat more vegetarian and just kind of slowly found ourselves removing meat from our diet. I guess you could speak to what it was like to have these conversations with Emma and then also be able to go to that plant-based nutrition conference in the States a few years ago.
Dr. Danielle: Emma and I had met on a few occasions just about some offerings that she was having in the community because I've always been interested in using lifestyle approaches for my patients before medications for my whole practice career. So I had been in contact with Emma about that over the years and she had planted the seed for this plant based nutrition conference that was happening - an international conference of healthcare providers who were practicing this way- and Chris and I booked ourselves to go away to the conference. It was the first time that we had been away from our kids together. The kids were two and four at the time and we went down to the conference. I think for me having the evidence was the piece that really sort of tipped the scales for going fully plant-based.
Really after that conference, that was about three and a half years ago, we came home and it was just an immediate switch at that point in time. We had already been doing a lot of plant-based cooking. I mean vegetarian cooking but often making vegan things. So sort of making that final step to eliminate dairy and eggs was not a huge step for us. But I think that being at that conference was a real turning point for me both professionally and in our personal lives. So we came home and it was a clean out the fridge kind of time the day we got home.
Chris: We’re both really active as well, whether it'd be running or working out. Even for myself, it was profound transitioning again from a vegetarian to a whole foods plant-based diet. My blood pressure dropped 30 points and I'm someone that's always been active at least an hour to two hours a day. So it was remarkable to think about just the removing of dairy and eggs and what that did for my own health and wellbeing. It was profound.
Karina: That's amazing. So then it kinda sounds like there were obviously seeds that were planted already. Like you're on the plant-based scale somewhere. But then something like a conference, which honestly a lot of the professionals that I speak with, their decision to go plant-based was the evidence. Now it's very obvious this is all peer reviewed. It's out there. That's pretty common I think is just to be in a situation where it is obvious that this is going to happen for your health. But then how did it go with your kids? So they were two and four at the time, right when you came home from the conference saying, okay, we're going plant-based. How did you approach that with your kids?
Dr. Danielle: Do you want to take that one Chris? I don't remember sitting down with the kids and like having some big, like we're going to change talk with them. I think we just sort of carried on and you know, here is some cashew milk and we're going to try this today with our oatmeal instead of the cow's milk and just left it at that and waited for their questions. Our daughter who's the older one came out with a lot of really great questions and I think an approach that we used with the kids because they were so young, was talking about this from the perspective of the animals. That really resonated with them being as young as they are. Talking about health or your blood pressure or cancer risk made no sense to the kids. So we talked about it from the perspective of animal welfare and why this is good for the animals and good for the earth to have this milk instead.
Chris: I think what was really fun as well was just to use some of the frameworks that were given to us as well. Like the idea of eating from the rainbow. It was something that really inspired the kids and we were able to just show them what that looked like. Like literally have food as something that brings them joy and color and creativity. And I think having the language around growing foods and helping them recognize that plant-based foods helps them grow and be healthy, that was something that they were excited about, just in terms of we've always been really open about having conversations. And I think just as an approach I have with my students at school that we've tried to offer something on the table to them that isn't just food, it's a conversation around what it is that they're eating and to allow them the ability to have the critical thought and dialogue around their food and to ask them about what they think the impact is of the food on their body or on the planet.
I'm always amazed at the insight that they do have. And you know, leading with cooking has been fun too. Like getting plant-based cooking for kids and making smoothies and different drinks and energy balls with the kids and allowing them to get their hands in the oatmeal and peanut butter.
Dr. Danielle: We also have always taken the approach with our kids of letting them make the choice sometimes. We are of the mindset that it's important for the kids to be able to be critical thinkers and to be able to make decisions for themselves. It's a skill that they're going to have to have for the rest of their lives. So if we're out somewhere and someone's offered them something or if they're going to a birthday party or something, the kids can make their own choice as to what they're going to eat. They don't always pick all the vegan things. And afterwards we quickly and gently debrief, Hey, so had that cake. Did you like it? Yeah. Well, yeah, I loved it. And, and they say, Oh, but right now I'm feeling kind of gross or something and say, Oh, why do you think that is? Oh yeah, well it’s probably all the things that were in that cake that's made you feel gross or made you feel a little bit sick to your stomach right now. Or, you know, so, you had that venison stew over at those people's house. Did you take a moment to thank the animal before you ate that? I think it's interesting the choices that they will make when they are left to do that independently. And we always have a dialogue about it afterwards. So we don't take the approach of saying, okay, don't eat anything there if it's not vegan or always bring your own stuff. I think we have to let them make their own choices in certain circumstances.
Karina: I think that's a good approach and they're still very young, so, you know, building up that ability as a skill of thinking about our food and thinking critically I think is super important.
Chris: I don't think you want to oppress your children or control them. You really want to allow their minds and their hearts to flourish. I think that's where children become the most mindful of their eating is to give them that space of choice. Rather than it being something that's always top down. If in the past when the kids were asking for something, the answer is, well, in our family we choose to eat whole foods, plant-based, however you can make your own choices. I’m the community, time and time again, they make great decisions for themselves. And when they do make a different choice they do reflect on it and it's, it's actually profound to see their own minds and their sense of ethics start to be cultivated from their own journey with food. And I think it's so important to hold it gently.
For myself, it's been a few decades and together it's been almost that much of trying to be more conscious in the way that we eat. And so we both want to give our children the space and freedom to be able to do that.
Dr. Danielle: And sometimes they tell us things like we love chemicals. You know, it's Halloween and we sit down and cause they just go trick or treating wherever they want and then we can go home and we'll just have a look at the ingredients. What are the ingredients in that? Okay. Can you pronounce any ingredients in that? And our youngest will say, well that's chemicals. I love chemicals.
Karina: Oh that's hilarious. Where does it go from there? Danielle, what you were saying about like, okay, so how did you feel after eating the cake? I assume there's some kind of a discussion there also. Like, okay, so you ate all these delicious chemicals. How are we feeling now?
Dr. Danielle: Yeah, exactly. Well sometimes it doesn't even get to the point of eating them all. Sometimes we'll say, okay some of these we can give away to other people cause this is a lot of candy, you know? Or why don't you guys choose five things to have right now.
Chris: Oh that's a hilarious topic. What did we do with the children's Halloween candy? Sometimes it's sneaky and into the garbage and just throwing it away. Sometimes it's giving it away. We live in a culture that is surrounded by hyper processed foods and as human beings we're natural explorers and our kids want to explore that as well. There’s no one path that is clearly the right path. And so I think again, for our kids to be able to walk down a different path at different times is really actually important for them and for the lives that they're going to lead. You already see such remarkable change and their ability to understand their food, understand the connection that they have to how they feel when they eat a certain food. Understand that connection between where their food comes from, understand the connection between their food and its impact on climate change. You know, a five year old and a seven year old have immense capacity for understanding and articulating that and they may understand all those different frames and still make a different choice than we do. I think we have to honor that.
Dr. Danielle: And we're not perfect. Our eating is not perfection and we're always thinking about it and doing our best. I think that's important for people with young kids and people with families is to do your best. It's not going to be perfect and you do your best.
Karina: That's a good point actually. I honestly think the all-or-nothing approach, it really holds people back. You know, they feel like, Oh, well I can't do that whole vegan thing so I won't do anything at all. You know, it's one of those things, it's the same in fitness as you guys know too, right? Oh, well, if I can't go to the gym for an hour and a half every day, I'm just going to sit on my ass and not train at all. You know, it's kind of the same. So yeah, having that general approach where you can ask questions, you can do little pieces. I'm pretty sure Danielle, that that would be in your practice too. Like, Hey, you don't have to go a hundred percent plant-based an hour from now. You know, you can do it a little bit. You can eat more plants as opposed to go in all the way. I just think that's a really good approach with people.
Dr. Danielle: Totally. And that's the whole art of behavior change and trying to inspire that in people. And that's a constant area that I'm always sort of shifting and changing and sort of wondering what will be the inspiration for someone or just finding that why for each person it's so different. And I think having that approach that it doesn't have to be an all or nothing thing, you know, I'm certainly more suggestive or try to be more persuasive for people who need an immediate change. Like if someone's in the hospital after quadruple bypass surgery, then I'm a little less lenient because I say to people, you're going to get out of this what you put in. But for people who are trying to work from a preventative perspective or trying to make small changes and things, certainly making small shifts is a great way to start. There are some circumstances though where I say, you know what, this really should be an all or nothing thing. Your health is really at risk.
Karina: That's actually a really good point. And it gets back to that idea of each individual is at a different place and each individual needs to be approached differently with this kind of material. But that's a really good point. I didn't think of that where it's literally someone's life on the line in some cases. That's a good point. So what does all this look like in your day to day? I want to talk about a couple of the myths that you might encounter in just being vegan as a family. But do you guys do a lot of food prep? Do you do like a Sunday big cook for the week? What does it actually look like? Logistically?
Dr. Danielle: I am an organizational type A. My nickname at med at school was plan, you know. We’ve always done meal planning and so we will sit down, usually Friday is our day and we sit down and look at our schedule as a family for the week. Okay. What night are you going to be home late? What night do the kids have activities and stuff like that. And sort of we plan out our dinners for the week. Lunches then are usually leftovers for us and a hodgepodge of different things for the kids. But we do go to the trouble of planning out our dinners for the week. And then we'll do the big shop for that on the weekend. And then we also have a friend who comes to our house and she does some extra food prep for us. So throughout the week she’s such a lifesaver for us in terms of prepping all kinds of stuff that's on our meal plan for the week. And then we will often sort of on the fly throughout the week preps and things as well. So we may do a little bit on Sunday, but that's not always the case cause we're not always around. Or we’re often prepping for the next night's dinner the night before. So after the kids go to bed and we're doing the cleanup of dishes and laundering and getting turned around for the next day and I'm sitting down to do paperwork, Chris is sitting down to do some planning and we'll have on, you know, our pot of soup or dhal or something like that because it can just simmer while we're doing that because most of our meals are on a table like in under 10 minutes cause we get home and the kids are hungry and we're all hungry and we need to eat in 10 minutes. So a lot of what we do during the week is like, pre prepped and reheat kind of stuff.
Karina: That makes total sense. Hey, total side note, by the way, I have a food prep person as well, but she just went back to school and she doesn't have time to do my food prep anymore. So we're gonna need a chat about who this person is and if they have extra time.
Chris: And we discovered online grocery shopping with Save on Foods.
Karina: Oh, you guys have tried that out. Okay. We haven't taken that step yet. So what's it like?
Chris: It’s profound. So we will sit down like we'll do today, Danielle and I, and we'll plan through the whole week and then have the app out or we also use our local grocery here at Pacific point as well for the week. But we'll look at the meal plan, we'll look at what each individual meal is and basically check off what we need on that app. And then we literally go to the grocery store and someone asks it, and it’s there waiting for us. And it's typically what I would do on my Fridays cause I've had Fridays off for the last couple of years for childcare and to do this type of thing. I used to spend an hour and a half in the grocery store every Friday and now it's literally seven minutes. And it's been remarkable. And I, you know, I'm the type of shopper as well who finds something amazing in the grocery store every time that I shouldn't have purchased and I buy it.
We’re probably saving like $20 to $30 a week as well, which is nice. So I think that's been really helpful. Danielle is like the master and I'm learning from the master every week about how to plan and organize all different dimensions of our house. We have a routine everyday after the kids are down that we're both cleaning the house until it is spotless again. And I think it's the same thing with our food prep. We take the effort to plan things out so that it feels like things are in place for the week. And then I think that you get excited about your meals that are coming up. I think it allows you to be creative in terms of what you want to have when. We’re trying out a new spaghetti and recipe from Chloe and trying out rice and mushroom meatballs and just being able to experiment with different things because we're not doing it on the fly.
We're more intentional and creative in our cooking because of that. And that's been really fun, especially with both of us working full time and having two young kids that have a lot of energy.
Dr. Danielle: I'm not a great cook and I'm not someone who super enjoys cooking. Chris is an amazing, just very intuitive cook. Chris can sit down and look at what's in the fridge and just throw some amazing thing together, whereas I'm not just a cook at heart. And so I need to look at a recipe and follow something. So the meal planning helps us to not just say, Oh okay, we'll just go tonight or something like that. It forces you to come home and have something home cooked.
Karina: That makes total sense. So it sounds like it's kind of a combination of planning, doing your own food prep, having someone else do certain amounts of it. For me it's usually the lunches because my husband and I both work at home, right. So we're eating at home literally every meal. So breakfast, lunch, dinner. We usually take care of dinners, but our food prep person would do all the lunches for the week and a whole bunch of breakfast options. Like we're trying to buy back our time a little bit. Right. Cause we don't want to do all of our food prep. It sounds like you're basically the dream team, Danielle keeping the trains running on time and then Chris being a little more creative. And what do we have in the fridge? Let me throw something together that's pretty perfect. Also Chris, you sold me on the online thing, man.
Chris: Danielle put it on the table and I was a little bit hesitant and as soon as I tried it and went there and I picked it up and realized I didn't have to spend from one o'clock until three o'clock on a Friday at the grocery store. It's like mind blowing.
Karina: Maybe we'll try it out. I'll get back to you, let you know how it goes. Okay. I should be getting paid like a promotion.
Dr. Danielle: i’m so in love with it. I talk about it with everyone.
Karina: Danielle, you should be a Save On affiliate, getting a little kickback once in a while.
I've got one more thing that I wanted to touch on, which is some of the myths that you might encounter in your day to day living as a whole foods plant-based family. I know there's tons, we've talked about a lot of them on our show before, but maybe we could do one, like what about people coming over for dinner or going to somebody else's house for dinner? Like I guess the myth around that is nobody's going to invite you to their house and nobody's going to want to come over for dinner. How have you managed that kind of myth?
Chris: I think it's starting to make sense now. Why no one's invited us over in the last three years. Like we haven't had social engagement.
Karina: It's the vegan thing. Sorry to say.
Chris: We're so lonely! We have a dinner club in town here with a few friends that run the Curry Hut in town and Simon that has a sushi restaurant and Sebi Ramirez who's a psychiatrist in town. We have all these amazing friends who are all phenomenal talented chefs in their own ways. Whether it's growing and cooking local or Indian cuisine. It’s phenomenal to be able to bring those people into our house and to cook a vegan comfort meal and do plant-based burgers with poutine on the side and then be able to have nachos with a cashew nacho dip. Just to see how much they enjoy the food. I think that our friends and family instead of resisting it, go the extra mile to make us feel comfortable and to cook something that would make us feel comfortable and that we'd be able to eat. Often what happens is it changes the dynamic of a potluck so people end up bringing things that they wouldn't normally cook. Now there's a lot more options for people to eat plants and I think people get excited by that.
Dr. Danielle: We've been really blessed to have friends and family who, like Chris said, who have really gone out of their way to put on an entirely vegan meal or try things that they normally wouldn't try or try new recipes. And they've said that they really enjoyed making something different or were inspired to make something different. They've just been overly accommodating and overly welcoming and supportive of our decision to eat this way. Both of our sets of parents have been over the top amazing about it and we are often getting recipe recommendations from them or from family and friends who have been, Oh, I tried this new thing. Have you tried this yet?
People have been really, really amazing. We never expect for people to cook for us or accommodate us when we go somewhere. We will often bring something that would suffice as a meal for all of us if we're going to go somewhere. But I can't really think of a time where we've gone somewhere and people haven't really gone above and beyond. I think a really special thing in Powell River in general is that people are really amazing cooks. I've never been to a bad potluck in Powell River and have been really open to trying new things.
Karina: That's a good point. Have you gone to Emma's meatless Monday Potlucks? I've been to a couple of those. Not a ton.
Dr. Danielle: We haven't been able to yet but I was going to mention those as a space for people who want that ongoing support and community. That's an awesome opportunity to go to Eco Central's on those Mondays for the potlucks.
Karina: Yeah. I'm always amazed at the variety of people who are there. There were something like 40 or 50 people at the Holiday one which was amazing, given the best small size of our town. That's a pretty damn good turnout for a vegan potluck.
Chris: I think one of the fun things would be to share is just thinking about how when you do get a chance to cook for your friends who haven't had a chance to experience plant-based cooking, like how transformative it can be. Danielle, would you be willing to share the story of your friend who recently just transitioned to eating plant-based? I think she was really inspired by you and not only the food that you cook, but the approach that you have in your medical practice.
Dr. Danielle: We have a friend who has just made the switch after having spent a few weekends with us and had been thinking about it and talking about it for a while and made the switch a few months ago with her own family. Her own health has just shown absolutely tremendous benefits. She's been able to get off of some of her medications and now her kids and husband are totally on board so she had recently made that transition and I think a big part of that was about eating good food and about seeing how we made it work in our day to day lives and as a family.
Karina: That's huge. So you're inspiring people on the one to one level, like, look at what Danielle's doing. This food looks amazing.
Chris: She's an amazing cook. Danielle inspires not only our patients but her friends through being able to cook for someone and to have someone come and stay here for a weekend and be able to have Danielle's cooking for the weekend and then to be so inspired by it to make that change and then literally to completely transform their health and be able to get off several medications and to have completely different mobility and to be able to have those improvements translate to like a remarkable change in their health. It's one of the most profound things. And again, the question always comes up, why wasn't this the first a first line of defense with the specialists that you saw here? Danielle and her friend are gonna be some of the voices that will hopefully share these, not only the stories, but that research within medical schools and institutions to allow them to at least have that available and within the lexicon of there are health studies because it is absolutely profound. Some of the changes that we've witnessed. It's amazing.
Karina: Absolutely. And I think that goes back to some of those myths that Danielle was mentioning earlier around, while people aren't mentioning it, maybe because it's not really out there as much as it should be, but also because maybe there's some myths around and they're not going to want to change their diet. That's too much work. It's going to be too hard. You know it's seen as too drastic. I think in a lot of cases for it to be brought up at all. But that's really not the case when your health is on the line, I don't think.
I will wrap things up here. I feel like we should do a whole series on transitioning with kids and what you're doing in the community. You're the absolute vegan power couple. So I'm really glad you guys are able to share what you're doing with our listeners and I appreciate being able to speak with you. So thank you so much for coming on the show and being my first official Powell River guests on the show.
Dr. Danielle: We’re so lucky to have you as part of this community and so excited to have you here. Thank you.
Chris: Thanks for being a good voice for change within the community. I think that just your authenticity and the way that you share your knowledge and your own personal experience both within our community magazine and on your podcast are really changing the lives of many people. So thank you very much.
Karina: Well thank you, much appreciated.
Danielle and Chris, thank you for speaking with me and sharing with our listeners the work that you do and also your day to day lives as a vegan family. So awesome to have you on the show and I really appreciate it.
So I've got to update our listeners on the online grocery ordering situation. Right after recording our episode, we downloaded the app and we put in an order for pickup the next day, which was our usual grocery shopping day, and it took two minutes (max) to get our entire week's worth of groceries into the car from the time we parked. And we made sure to put a note in our order that we wanted to use our own bags, so there's no plastic bags involved and it is an absolute time-saving game changer. And this is how we're going to be doing our grocery shopping from now on. So thank you to Chris and Danielle for putting this on my radar because it is fantastic.
So don't forget to head to Sproutedgains.com to check out my new ebook for new and wannabe vegans. And thank you so much for listening to today's episode.