That’s it. You have to make a change. Maybe after a routine checkup you discovered your cholesterol or blood pressure were elevated beyond normal. Could be that your clothes pinch and tug in ways you can no longer ignore. Perhaps you’re inspired by a friend’s change in habits and the ensuing tales of increased energy…

Whatever the motivation, you’re ready to move in a new health direction, but bewildered by the many options. Because of mobility issues or time constraints, a new vigorous exercise regimen might be difficult. But if radically changing the way you burn the fuel that powers your body isn’t feasible, altering the type of fuel you’re using might be.

For many, the minimalistic quote from Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” has become a three-sentence mantra to chant as they enter restaurants or grocery stores. Partly because it’s easy to remember and doesn’t require a calculator, but the quote also calls to something deeper, harkening back to the dawn of memory, when acquiring food was a core pursuit rather than an afterthought.

No matter how beguilingly simple making the transition to eating mostly plants sounds, many people look at beginning the journey as a daunting task – they need encouragement. For health coach Mary Stupin, that nudge came in the form of several family members’ health crises. When both her father and father-in-law were stricken with life threatening illnesses, she wondered if the vegetables she was growing in her large hobby garden could influence their outcomes. She took a steep dive into researching vegetarian, then vegan diets.

The resources available today go beyond “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Actually, many plant-based diet websites are curated by physicians. Dr. Michael Greger’s became one of Mary’s favorites. In the process of helping to assist her family, Mary found her own health radically shifting for the better and realized her 20 years of experience as a music teacher needed to be put to a different use. She became a certified health coach.

Chef Anthony Cruz realized early in life that pleasing people’s palates was a way to show love. He became a culinary professional, but in the process of making others happy, his own health suffered. After reaching a top weight of 300 lbs and being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, he was tired, frustrated and at a crossroads. Doing his homework, he found Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine ( Eliminating animal products from his ingredient list wasn’t easy, but he was determined. Gradually the weight came off, he reversed his diabetes diagnosis, and felt more alive than ever before. He wanted to share this feeling of transformation, and for him that meant heading back into the kitchen. After plant-based culinary coursework, he returned to making people smile – one plate at a time.

Want to find out what happens at the intersection of nutritious and delicious? Meet these two plant-based dynamos when they present together at the Palm Springs Library, November 14 at 6:30 p.m.

Megan Goehring is the Palm Springs manager of Certified Farmers Markets of the Coachella Valley. For local farmers’ markets dates and times visit or call (844) 732.7628. Mary Stupin can be reached at Chef Anthony Cruz can be reached at

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