A little about where this all began…..
My name is Laurie Kortowich and I’m a plant strong wife, and mom of 3. I am a kale-loving, cost-conscious cook who embraces the opportunity to demonstrate the joy that may be found in the kitchen, taking control of one’s health.
I work full-time as “Lifestyle Director” for Pioneer Ridge, a Del Webb community on Cleveland’s west side in North Ridgeville. This vibrant neighborhood is comprised of nearly 600 homes, serving active, independent adults who seek to “Love Life to the Fullest”. I, like most Del Webb Lifestyle Directors, am often compared to Julie from the Love Boat – striving to create this cruise-ship-on-land experience. It is, quite possibly, the most fun job on earth.
Because of my role, I was invited to join a collaborative team called North Ridgeville Heart and Sole Challenge. We are tasked with improving cardiovascular health for residents of North Ridgeville by increasing opportunities for physical fitness and providing access to better nutrition. There are many channels that this team will work to fulfill this mission.
My channel is Plant-Based Nutrition.
Our core team consists of Pat Humphrey, a man who has successfully (remarkably!) reversed his heart disease plus a score of other ailments by following a whole foods, plant-based, no-oil diet. His presentations have inspired so many to make the transition – and he’s an accomplished cook!! Come to one of our events to see why (and take the taste test yourself).
We also have Dr. Polly Dengel, M.D. – a Cleveland Clinic physician of internal medicine who serves as medical advisor to our program. Dr. Dengel truly walks the walk, and talks the talk. She presents the facts in a manner that is warm and inviting and is incredibly patient in helping all of us to understand the evidence that points us to plant-based eating.
And there are many others in the trenches, making great strides, who will share their personal journeys very soon. Many talents. Many success stories in the making.
So here we are! On February 3rd, we held our first public talk entitled “How Plant Based Eating Saved My Life” (next event, April 14th 2015!). We threw a Hail Mary press release announcing the event, and in less than 10 days, we gathered up 80 people.
Many who attended had seen the documentary “Forks Over Knives” or had heard of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and his profound work, but hearing testimonial from Pat Humphrey, the crowd was energized. In addition to his poignant and sometimes funny story, there was a plentiful buffet of foods for everyone to sample at the end. This is the key.
You can watch a documentary or be inspired by a success story, but after the buzz wears off, you’re left with questions: Where do I begin? What the heck can I eat? It can be overwhelming.
It was at this event that the idea for Plant-Based Cleveland began.
By forming an organization that’s bigger than one community or even one city, we allow ourselves to reach farther, to have greater impact, to make improvements.
Plant-Based CLE will aim to raise awareness and community support for those who follow whole food, plant-based, no-oil eating. We will do this work at eye level – there is no room for elitism in our quest to community health. This circle is inclusive, not exclusive. We will work to provide a network of peer counselors and health advocates willing to help others and to be an example. We will empower volunteers to build our community and to take ownership. We will establish small-group discussions and large inviting educational events. We will work to convince restaurants how easy and profitable it really is to provide meals that are WFPBNO, and to show we will support them if they do. And we will be champions for grocery stores who stock their shelves with whole food products!
There is much to do. Won’t you join in? We welcome you!
To quote Charles Darwin, “In the long history of mankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” Let’s, shall we?