Plant Powered Kids Grow Up To Be Plant Powered Adults
- Gayle Coates
Healthy for Austin is a non-profit resource hub for families who want to learn how to live a whole food plant-based lifestyle. I grew up in Southern California with parents who encouraged my siblings and I to grow fruits and veggies in our backyard. We enjoyed “harvesting” and especially loved making our own smoothies! Those farm-to-table experiences influenced my life in positive ways. They sparked a lifelong passion to help families nourish their mind, body, and soul.
In my 20's I discovered Dr. McDougall, an advocate of a low-fat, whole food, vegan diet for preventing (and sometimes reversing) lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Giving up meat, dairy, and eggs was fairly easy for me to do even though the government issued "food pyramids" were telling me to do otherwise.
In my 30's I moved to Japan with my navy pilot husband. I taught conversational English at an all girl high school. They were so curious about American culture. I remember their fascination with fast food restaurants and movie stars! I also noticed that those teenage girls were suffering from acne, allergies, and weight problems. It would soon become clear to me that they were victims of the SAD (Sad American Diet).
When I returned home to the states I earned my elementary teaching certification at the University of Texas in Austin. Teaching children was incredibly gratifying. I also began to take a keen interest in portrait photography. As a young mom I was able to work from home photographing families and eventually have a studio built on my property.
Naturally I wanted to give my daughter the healthiest foods possible. Like so many moms I struggled with mainstream doctors who promoted cow's milk, meat, eggs, and cheese for the healthy development of children. To "be safe" (or so I thought), I would give my daughter small amounts of animal foods thinking it might be the only way for her to consume enough calcium and protein. I spent the better part of the 90’s researching so-called healthy diets. Fortunately, I stumbled upon T. Colin Campbell's The China Study. His longitudinal studies convinced me that my family was getting ample amounts of calcium, clean protein, and all of the other macro and micro nutrients we needed when following a whole food plant based diet.
While my daughter was a student at Casis Elementary School (Central Austin), I was asked to be a founding member of the Health and Wellness Committee. Parents and students created robust vegetable gardens on the school grounds and the harvested produce was served as "healthy snacks" in the cafeteria. Betsy Foster (Global V.P., Growth & Business Development of Whole Foods Market) was on our committee. She created healthy meal plan options that were distributed to parents at PTA meetings. Whole Foods Market also donated products for tastings at these events. Teachers found countless ways to extend the vegetable garden theme in their classrooms through language arts, science, and math. I was asked to contribute my photography skills to brighten up the cafeteria with large wall murals of students eating fruits and vegetables. The kids loved the art (the image at the top of this page is one of those murals of my now 19 year old daughter)! I am happy to say those murals continue to visually speak to the hundreds of children that have attended that school. I believe the farm-to-table concept resonates too with those kids just as it did for me at a young age and I hope they too will grow up to be plant powered adults.
Fast forward to 2016, I turned 56 years young ;) and completed the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies certificate program through eCornell University. When I began the program I asked my husband if he would sit in on some of the classes with me. At first he was skeptical of giving up animal products but once he understood the longitudinal studies in favor of it he too stopped eating them entirely. To my absolute delight this was a game changer for him and then naturally our entire family began shifting their dietary choices as well. I highly recommend taking this course with your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, daughter, son, mom, or dad!
In 2017 I attended the Plant Stock - Forks Over Knives event in Upstate New York at the Esselstyn family farm. Local Austin heroes Rip Esselstyn (Engine 2 Diet), and John Mackey (Whole Foods Market) and dozens of other like minded plant-based trail blazers (doctors, scientists, researchers, film makers) presented at this event. They fueled my passion to help others who want to look their best and feel their healthiest.
Living a whole food plant-based lifestyle organically leads to a desire for "whole body wellness" including yoga, meditation, mindfulness, fitness, and community involvement. There are plenty of like-minded people out there in online communities and/or local city groups that will happily support you in becoming the healthiest version of yourself.
It is deeply rewarding to feed my family nutritious and energy packed meals. Our conversations around delicious plant-based recipes are fun and I feel more creative than ever in the kitchen!
Please spend 96 minutes watching the film Forks Over Knives (here) or on Netflix if you are at all intrigued with the idea of letting food be thy medicine.
15 + Things About Me:
I launched my "plant-based living info hub" Healthy for Austin in January of 2017.
I have a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.
I have a certificate in the Mindful Schools Educator Training Program.
I cherish being a mom it's my favorite "job" in the world!
I love hanging out with my sweet husband, kids, and friends.
I have lived in the Bahamas, California, Japan and now Texas.
I settled in the amazing city of Austin in 1994.
I earned my BA in World Cultures and History at San Diego State University.
I earned my Elementary Teaching Certification at the University of Texas, Austin.
I volunteer at Austin, Tx's annual Mack, Jack and McConaughey fundraising event to empower children.
I like watching documentaries and reading historical fiction.
I am thoroughly enjoying the genius musings of Tim Urban's Wait But Why blog posts.
I have found one of the best ways to stay truly connected with friends and family (Blue Zones Power9) is by taking daily walks with them - while chatting on the phone!
I meditate for 20 minutes daily to Deepak Chopra's "Ananda" app. After 3 years of practicing meditation I can "feel" or "see" more positive vibes in my thoughts, words, and actions.
I love being able to offer guests a rejuvenating stay at our Airbnb Hacienda Del Lago Vista in Lago Vista, Tx.
I thoroughly enjoy helping families create a more healthy and joyful life!