August 12, 2016 9:03 PM

Forks Over Knives Community Pilot Program Launches in St. Louis


The Forks Over Knives Community Program will be coming back as a 6-week program beginning January 4, 2017. Please sign up for the STLVegGirl Newsletter or LIKE the Facebook page for updates on registration.

Perhaps one of the toughest things to do in life is to completely change what you eat. Food - what we eat and the way we eat it is ingrained in us from the first morsel fed to us. From here, family, friends and community are built around this necessary, life-sustaining act.

That's interesting - life-sustaining act. Food, it not only nourishes our physical being, but also our soul. We socialize around food, celebrate with food, comfort one another with food. So why change that food? Why rock the boat?

What if that food you've been eating, celebrating with, comforting with all your years has now possibly been the cause of your diabetes? Maybe it's the impetus to your high cholesterol and you're now reluctantly popping a statin every day? Can't shake those 20 pounds, uncomfortably sleeping with a C-PAP or dealing with out of control inflammation?

Because you're fed up with the side effects of the medication you are shoving down or injecting in yourself every day, you succumb to the peripheral noise you continually hear regarding food and how the right ones can heal. (Sure, yeah, riiiight....)  However, even though the side effects are hedging on unbearable, it's really the fear of not walking your little girl down the aisle or not holding your first grandchild that gets you to watch that food & nutrition documentary you keep hearing about: Forks Over Knives

The movie, with it's indisputable science, transparent and progressive researchers, real-life patients, comprehensible and approachable narrative, inspires and empowers those who have been downtrodden on their health. Forks Over Knives, the title suggesting we choose a plant-based diet to regain good health instead of going under the knife, does not negate complying with our healthcare providers, however it simply uncovers the vast health promoting ways avoiding animal products offers.

It's enough to make someone go home and clear out all the animal based foods from their kitchen, begin eating a plant-based diet and start to see the progress they've been looking for in a pill.

Enter, real life.

How do you keep up this momentum? Even if you have shed a couple pounds, titrated down on a few meds, maybe your skin has begun to glow a little - you're getting questions, negative criticisms, and eye rolls everywhere you go. Turns out the food that once brought you together with your friends and family no longer nourishes your body. But wait, good news! You have found something that DOES nourish your body, but does nothing to feed your connection with your loved ones.

Now what?

I have been teaching plant-based culinary classes for eight years. In the last five (when FOK was released in 2011) I'd say 70-80% of the people who have attended a class or become a client is because they have been moved by the film - and I am only one person, can you imagine how many other plant-based educators there are out there who, too, have been inundated by people who have also wanted to make a lifestyle change because of this documentary?!

The disheartening part of this is that I see too often people not sticking with their success, not because it is difficult or expensive (which it is not and which it is not), rather, they lack the support and tools to navigate real life while keeping their new eating habits in tact. It's really challenging to not order what your friends are having at your favorite restaurant, to constantly answer questions about where you are getting your protein or suggesting that you'll get weak bones from lack of calcium. You have to learn just a little bit of science, understand how to talk with everyone (seriously, everyone) about why you are choosing a plant-based lifestyle and finally, just navigate life - with confidence.

It is hard as hell to do by yourself. I know, I did it. 

Support will get you anywhere and I knew this was the lacking component for many people. So, I got to work. Using many familiar resources from Forks Over Knives and adding in a few supplements from the researching pioneers in this plant-based nutrition space, I created the very first Official Forks Over Knives Community Program. Having met FOK Executive Producer, Brian Wendel a few times in the past, I called him up and ran this idea by him. He was intrigued. A few conversations later a plan was in place, I edited each week's lesson, sent on to him for additional edits/ideas and an approval, and scouted for a home for our program.

A steadfast supporter of my little business and all around creative and ballsy businesswomen / dear friend of mine, Marianne Moore, offered space in my current culinary education space at Dierbergs, and as they say, sh*t got real.

The 5-week program sold out faster than any single class. Week by week we learned the plant-based basics, of calorie density v. nutrient density; label reading; protein, calcium and omega-3 & 6 sources; pantry purging and restocking; the importance of fiber; what is a WHOLE food and what does that mean; meal planning; going out to restaurants; how to travel with plant-based foods; how to talk with friends, family, co-workers, and on and on. On the last night we even Skyped with Dr. Jim Loomis, the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine's Medical Director for the Barnard Medical Center in an Ask the Doc session!

My objective was to create a safe space for everyone where they could learn, share experiences and ask questions in an environment where they did not feel they were being judged or questioned. This was their support system. My hope is that knowledge is enhanced and confidence is built, so that they can not only continue on their own plant-based journeys, but maybe even gently encourage others to do the same.

And finally, I owe a debt of gratitude to Dierbergs for offering up this space for us. And, to Brian Wendel, truly the forefront leader in this plant-based movement. Thank you for trusting me with your transformative work and allowing me to build a program around it. You have forever changed the lives of millions.


Forks over knives pilot



Forks over knives pilot



Forks over knives pilot



Forks over knives pilot



Forks over knives pilot



Forks over knives pilot



Tagged Under:

Like this? Share it!

What do you think?

Posted by Dana Stilwell on
I was so disappointed that I could not attend the class. I was not disappointed to be in Greece, though. I hope you will offer it again. Soon. So that I can take part in it.

Dana Stilwell
Posted by Dan on
July 4th, 2012 was my last bite of an animal product and the beginning of my journey into the world of veganism and the whole foods plant based lifestyle. I was introduced to FOK by my physical therapist in June 2012 - it is from that encounter and the impact of watching the FOK documentary, that I began my journey.

I did not stop with the documentary; I was so moved by what I learned, I suddenly had an insatiable thurst for more knowledge and off I went looking for, reading, and synthesizing all of the available nutritional research on a plant based lifestyle.

My knowledge and my expertise grew exponentially, beginning with the research conclusions of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn MD, thorasic surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and T. Colin Campbell PhD, and author of the highly acclaimed research book, "The China Study".

Those two researchers and their findings provided the basis for my research gathering - over the past four years my research library has expanded greatly, along with my knowledge and understanding of nutrition and its relationship to wellbeing and diseases. My go to research authority is Dr. Michael Greger MD and his website, and his book, "How Not To Die".

I am documenting my FOK journey and nutrition education in a book titled, "It's Not Your Fault, You've Been Brainwashed - how big pharma and big business has brained washed us into believing that the "American Diet" is good for us, when with proven fact, it is killing us prematurely.

Caryn's FOK class was an opportunity for me to meet others who have the same mindset about healthy eating, disease prevention and remediation, and nutrition; and to share experiences, make new acquaintences, and to be reassured that there are others who are on the same journey, that I am.

The five week FOK class was fun, refreshing, informative, and provided positive re-enforcement and enlightenment. I highly recommend any future FOK classes presented by Caryn - she is an oustanding presenter who is exceedingly knowledgeable and personable - she's a true joy and delight to be around. She knows her stuff on FOK and the whole foods - plant based diet and lifestyle.


Posted by Scott Landsverk on
Come to the Chicago area! :-)
Posted by Denise S on
I have never been interested in cooking so I always either made something simple or heated up with someone else made bought a lot of stuff at Costco now that I'm in my 50s and I'm also lazy eight-year-old twins and my husband has a heart condition I realize I really need to do a plant-based whole foods I have the forks over knives books and I'm getting On it!
Posted by Donna on
I am on the same journey, learning more everyday. I am currently eliminating animal products from my diet. The comments about our American Diet culture are true, unfortunately the Pharma industry is responding to the needs of the American people who choose to abuse their bodies over a lifetime and the expect to be cured of their disease with medications and surgery. Physicians are no better by not being educated on nutrition and prevention of disease. We need to spread the word and educate people.
Posted by Leslie sanders on
If this class is offered again, how do I find out about it again? I live in STL, but never heard a peep about this resource. Thanks
Posted by caryn on

I didn't really have a chance to do a big social media push on this because it sold out so fast. I hope to see you in January!
Posted by Helen Johnson on
I've been on different vegan sites. Trying to learn how to go from vegetarian to VEGAN. What to shop for how to cook. what to eat. My family eats meat and my son is vegetarian. It may be hard but I kno I can do it at least till I move on my own. I'm going to do as u did and start with Internet, also facebook. I Love your story and would like to Follow you and learn from you. You are very educated and aware and I believe know a lot about vegans and platinum base foods. I want to LEARN as much as I Can. ....... Helen
Leave a Reply

(Your email will not be publicly displayed.)

Captcha Code

Click the image to see another captcha.

Post Archive