Dietra Dennis, Food for Life Instructor
Part of Physicians Committee, Food for Life is
an award-winning nutrition education program designed by physicians, nurses, and registered dietitians to promote healthful eating based on the latest scientific research. Classes offered to the public provide information about plant-based nutrition and hands-on cooking instruction to people seeking improved health through their food choices.
Deitra Dennis, instructor, commented:
“The greatest success was empowering communities of color with tools (recipes, handouts, etc.) to address underlying chronic conditions. Some participants experienced normalizing of blood pressure, reversal of
pre-diabetes, and weight loss.”
- Provide participants with the inspiration and tools to try plant-based eating
- Offer free classes in communities of color, taught mostly by people of color
- Encourage participants to join the Physicians Committee’s 21-Day Vegan Kickstart
Food for Life instructors taught classes as part of Physicians Committee’s “Cooking to Combat COVID-19 campaign,” a campaign to empower people with underlying conditions such as diabetes and hypertension that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. A plant-based diet has been scientifically proven to prevent and even reverse diabetes and hypertension.
“very much on the margins, with some vegan and animal rights affiliated individuals and organizations equating my anti-racist, Black feminist, and racial justice vegan focus with ‘racism,’ ‘divisiveness,’ or even ‘white-hating.’ 15 years later, I’ve seen a tremendous paradigm shift from many vegan and animal rights organizations. They are finally acknowledging that systemic speciesism cannot be dismantled without understanding and dismantling systemic racism and creating racial equity in the USA.”
Black and Latinx individuals have been especially affected by COVID-19 due to several factors, including healthcare disparities, the prevalence of underlying conditions, and a disproportionately high rate of infection. Therefore, the program offered free classes to eight communities of color, taught mostly by people of color.
VegFund grants assisted with costs of marketing as well as food for cooking demonstrations.
After completing the “Cooking to Combat COVID-19” course, 65 of the participants filled out a survey. Positive outcomes include:
Sharon McRae, Food for Life instructor
- Participants reported positive outcomes after eating fewer or no animal products: 60% reported better energy, 49% reported better sleep, 42% reported better digestion.
- Of the 54 (83%) participants who were not already eating a plant-based diet before classes started, 44 (81%) committed to a plant-based diet for at least 21 days following the course.
- Of the participants who ate animal products before classes started, many reported decreased consumption. The percentage reporting decreased consumption of the following meat and dairy foods was: 66% for poultry, 63% for red meat,
52% for dairy products, 51% for eggs; 45% for fish.
- Of the participants who were not already eating six or more servings of plant-based foods, the percentage reporting increased consumption of plant-based foods was: 68% for vegetables, 67% for beans, 60% for fruit, 55% for grains.
After this successful pilot program with eight instructors, VegFund plans to continue to fund Food for Life instructors, including those who are widening their scope by offering courses to institutions and otherwise broadening their community outreach.
Leslie Barcus, Executive Director of VegFund, commented:
“VegFund is most pleased to hear from Food for Life instructors and educational alliance partners that the grant support is invaluable for facilitating and deepening their community outreach.”
Funding partners interested in participating with VegFund in their support of Food for Life instructors should contact Leslie Barcus, VegFund’s Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For media inquiries or photos, contact: Kari Hallenburg, Communications Director, VegFund, Inc., email@example.com
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