"Plant Powered Kids Grow Up To Be Plant Powered Adults."
- Healthy for Austin
Healthy for Austin is a non-profit resource hub for folks wanting to learn more about living a plant-based lifestyle. I grew up in Southern California with parents who encouraged me to grow fruits and vegetables in our backyard. I especially enjoyed harvesting delicious blackberries off the vine. Those gardening experiences taught me the farm-to-table concept and sparked a lifelong passion of teaching children how to nourish their mind and body.
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 I should 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 kind and curious about America. They wanted to learn about our culture. I remember their fascination with fast food restaurants and movie stars. They complained of their acne and allergies and were clearly becoming more sluggish. I did my best to help them see the connection of fast foods with the ailments they were experiencing.
When I returned to the states I knew I wanted to become a teacher. I went back to college and earned my elementary teacher certification at the University of Texas in Austin. Teaching children was incredibly gratifying. I taught first grade in addition to creating a portrait photography business.
At 39 years old I became a mom and naturally wanted to give my daughter the healthiest foods possible. I really struggled with mainstream doctors who promoted cow's milk, meat, eggs, and cheese for the healthy development of children. But, "to be safe" or so I thought, I would give her small amounts of animal foods "to be sure" she was getting enough calcium and protein. (Now, I know the truth that plant-based foods provide ample amounts of calcium and clean protein sources.)
While my daughter was a student at Casis Elementary School (Central Austin), I was asked to be a founding member of the parent lead Health and Wellness Committee. Parents and students created robust vegetable gardens on the school grounds and the harvested produce would be enjoyed for snacks and lunch 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 fresh fruits and vegetables. The kids loved them (The image at the top of this page is one of those murals of my now 18 year old daughter!). To this day, I'm 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 resonated 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 completed the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies certificate program through eCornell University. When I began the program I casually asked my husband if he would sit in on some of the classes with me. At first he was skeptical of giving up animal based foods until he understood the longitudinal studies in favor of it. To my absolute delight, this was a game changer for him and then naturally our entire family too. We are mostly plant-based now. 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 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 let me know if I can be of any assistance on your journey!
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 am a portrait photographer, you can find me at Gayle Coates Photography.
- I am currently enrolled 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 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 for empowering children.
- I like watching documentaries and reading historical fiction.
- I enjoy listening to podcasters: Rich Roll, Tim Ferriss (local Austinite) and Kevin Rose.
- I am thoroughly enjoying the genius musings of Tim Urban's Wait But Why blog posts.
- I get my "healthy-highs" when I do strength & conditioning training at Austin Simply Fit and yoga at Trybeyoga.
- I meditate for 20 minutes on most days to Deepak Chopra's "Ananda" app. After 2 years of practicing meditation I can "feel" or "see" more positive vibes in my thoughts, words, and actions.
- I keep a gratitude journal answering: "What am I grateful for today?" and "What are my intentions for the day?".
- I love to help others on their journey to a more joyful life.