St. Louis' First Plant-based Nutrition Summit was a SUCCESS!
As I write this, weeks out from the big event, the day still seems blurry and yet so clear. I know this makes little sense; it's sort of like saying it feels like something happened so long ago, but also just like yesterday. In any case, I won't bog down this post with a lot of copy, but rather fit in way too many pictures. I am graciously getting them from many people and the professional images have yet to be delivered (I'll save those for a separate post, FYI). To note, this was a sold out event where 16 states and 2 countries were represented.
Here's the time line in images------->
This is Washington University in St. Louis, a world class institution. Being the alma mater of both my co-host, Dr. Jim Loomis and myself, we saw it only fitting that we hold our event here. We were bringing in some of the foremost plant-based pioneering physicians and researchers, and we thought WUSTL would be a perfect fit. The truth behind the truth-- We had no idea how to get a space on campus so I started asking around. A good friend of mine has a family member who actually built most of the university who then put me directly in contact with the Office of the Provost. We were hoping for a classroom, anything really, we just wanted to be on the prestigious Wash U Campus. Imagine the gasp I let out when I first toured our space, as we were granted their largest educational auditorium, seating 350. It was breathtaking and incredibly scary all at the same time.
SPREADING THE WORD
Thank you, so very much to so many media outlets who gifted me time to help spread the word!
In May the media tour kicked off on my regular Show Me St. Louis spot. Host, Heidi Glaus gave the Summit a lot of love! Thank you Heidi!!
Thanks to Guy Phillips, Laura Hettiger, Sherry Farmer and the Big 550 for having me on to talk about the Plant-Based Nutrition Summit. Side note, during the conversation 1. I was total FAN GIRL that I got to meet Guy Phillips! I'm a broadcast journalism major and Guy is a broadcast institution in St. Louis and our paths have never crossed (I was so sweaty...). 2. During the conversation he mentioned that the only vegetable he didn't like was the sweet potato and as I gift I gave him my Secret Ingredient Chocolate Mousse (yes, containing sweet potatoes..).
Talk about an institution! St. Louis Public Radio (NPR) and Don Marsh graciously had Jim and I on, St. Louis On The Air, 48 hours before the event and this landslid us into a sell out. You can read more about that interview here.
Dear friend, fellow veg gal, and host of the morning drive show, Billy and Julie in the Morning, Julie Tristan and I talked about the Summit on the air a couple of weeks out. Thank you, Julie xoxox!!!
I had a blast Facebooking (?) Live with Becky of Symbowl! This place knows what's up - take note!
Another way we got the word out was by hitting the pavement! My incredible team of volunteers took to the streets of their own neighborhoods and posted info wherever they could! Thank you Natasha for posting in Frida's and thank you, Monica for posting at Pura Vegan!!
SUMMIT PREP - Swag bag fill
As the weeks pressed on, our house got smaller.
The attendee bags are so awesome!! I was adamant about not giving out cheap, throw-a-way bags to our crowd! VIP Sponsor, Fred and Ricky's Plant Delicious Foods and I settled on this insulated tote that has 4 pockets and zips! You'd pay plenty for this! First class all the way!!
Our generous Hydration Sponsor, Dr. Angela Zeng, founder of Karuna Beverages, is holding the beautiful 26 oz aluminum sports bottle with her logo that was placed in every bag.
As a gift to our attendees, Jim and I added these homemade Dr. Greger Savory Spice Blend filled jars to each bag! The recipe can be found in Dr. Greger's How Not To Die Cook Book.
The bags also included:
- A bound journal to take notes throughout day
- Information from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine new Nutrition Guide for Clinicians
- Information from sponsor, Bombay Food Junkies
- Information and a coupon from sponsor, Fred and Ricky's
- Information and a coupon from Frida's and Pedal Pedal Spinning Studio
- A Copy of Naked Food Magazine
- A bottle of water from Dierbergs
VIP RECEPTION THE EVENING BEFORE THE SUMMIT
As the VIP Sponsor of the Plant-based Nutrition Summit, Kathleen and Richard Waidmann of Fred and Ricky's held a reception the evening before our event and invited plant-based supporting healthcare providers and plant-based supporting business owners in our community for a rare chance to connect in their beautiful home. I felt as though I was at my wedding again, standing in the same spot, holding the same glass of wine nearly all evening chatting it up with nearly everyone who attended. I could not believe the amount of people who attended and the energy of excitement that radiated throughout the house. I was impressed and excited about it all! Thankfully Kathleen and Richard had the foresight to graciously provide a sit-down meal for the presenters after the party ended; we were famished! Off to bed soon as we had a big day ahead - it's a good thing I had no idea how big as I would never have slept.
THE MORNING ARRIVES
Up at 4:30am on a hot and muggy day! At 5:45 my dear friend, incredibly talented chef, event planner extraordinaire and newly plant-based gal, herself Marianne Moore shows up in full hair and make-up, ready to put in a 12 hour day. What a woman! Jim soon also drove up in a suit and tie, of which soon began to come off as we took several carloads of attendee bags, signage and other random necessities to the event site. My team of dedicated volunteers began to show up at 6:00 to WUSTL and soon we were in full event mode. Doors were set to open to the public at 7:20 - we knew it would be a lot earlier when we'd see our first guest. We were right. Thankfully our caterers, Bon Appetit, had things covered and breakfast was ready as people soon began filing in to check in, discover the goodies in their swag bag, grab a bite, and secure a good seat (there are no bad seats) in the house!
Jim and I take a moment to thank and welcome everyone, show a very brief video, and we're off!
THE SHOW BEGINS
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., MD
You could hear a pin drop.
Dr. Scott Stoll
Caryn Dugan, Cooking Demo with 2 surprise guests!
I asked Dr. Greger to come in during the beginning of my demo as to explain the process of sulphoraphane, how to activate it and why it is such a powerful cancer fighter. The crowd did not yet know he was in town and they went wild when he whipped open the door to give me a hand! Thank you Dr. Greger!!! xo
Toward the end of the cooking demo, I invited Ann Esselstyn up to help me strip the kale. She made it very clear that St. Louis was about to become the best (kale) strippers yet!
Right before lunch I announced the launch of the STLVegGirl new Cooking and Nutrition Program,
powered by Rouxbe. This is a 60-day, self paced plant-based cooking program
done in the comfort of your own kitchen
After lunch we watched another short video, one that moves me every time I watch it. The Farm at St. Joe is the story of a hospital in the Mercy system that had an extra 20 acres and instead of building a parking lot or another doctors building, they grew a farm. It not only serves the patients and staff, but also the community. This is a magnificent story and I hope there was at least one healthcare provider in the audience who took this to heart and delivered the message back to their employer. Kudos to local film maker, Chris Ryan and his incredible team at Once Films for their fine work on this.
Dr. Fred Williams
Dr. Jim Loomis
Dr. Michael Greger
Dr. Greger wrapped up the speaker series and we then concluded the day with a Q and A session.
The book sales line was long and both Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Greger graciously signed books for every last fan. It was finally time to take a breath - WE DID IT!!! St. Louis's first Plant-based Nutrition Summit was in the bag!!
Now, we celebrate!
Caryn Dugan, Gretchen Schisla (principal at Enrich Creative) and Ann Esselstyn
Toby, AKA the welcoming committee
Telling stories about the day.
Richard Waidmann with Tim and Caryn Dugan Dr. Es gives a toast!
The Company! The food!
Kathleen "Fred" asked us to sign a Fred and Ricky's menu to commemorate the day! What an honor!
I'd like to extend a thank you to our sponsors who very graciously supported our event!
Fred and Ricky's Plant-Delicious Foods - They make sticking to a plant-based diet easy and delicious. As St. Louis' first plant-based grab and go eatery, their over-the-top ready to eat meals are a far cry from boring and I dare you to feed their Plantsagna to any omnivore and receive anything but praise! They have two locations, sell their meals at local grocery stores, deliver locally and ship nation-wide. No excuses anymore.
Karuna Beverages - Owner and founder, Dr. Angela Zeng, takes the the utmost care in getting her line of superfood + prebiotic juices, smoothies and beverages to you. I have visited her production facility a few times and she is always installing some new filteration / cleaning system that save the integrity of her carefully harvested products so that you reap the immune boosting rewards in each drop.
Forks Over Knives - As a leader in the plant-based nutrition movement, I know of no other movie and now lifestyle brand that has not only saved the lives of millions, but also shifted the paradigm in understanding what true healthcare, at its core, really means. It was a true honor to have them support us.
Bombay Food Junkies - No need to head to India for authentic street food, BFJ has it all in St. Louis. As St. Louis' first Vegetarian / Vegan-friendly Indian Food Truck and Fusion Cafe, owners, Krupa and Sid Panchal were born and raised in Bombay, India. They are very active and supportive in the St. Louis Veg scene I hope you'll make your way to see them soon - I recommend the Bombay Munch Bowl!
Enrich Creative - The talent the four people who make up Enrich Creative holds far exceeds any creative / branding company I have ever seen. The compassion, understanding, wit and knowledge the creatives have at EC far exceed any other firm in this wellness space. Enrich leads the charge as they take a deep dive with each of their clients to understand their mission and purpose. They then communicate that message in a beautifully creative + smart way. With global wellness leaders such as Plantrician Project and American Academy College of Lifestyle Medicine as clients, you may already know their work well.
Fridas - Where else are you going to find a vegetarian / vegan (very) friendly scratch kitchen that uses no butter, sugar and hardly any oil at all? Frida's is my second home for good reason - this hip joint has one of St. Louis's BEST veg burgers (named on St Louis Magazine's A-List) and the best dang kale salad you'll ever have. Get there.
Pedal Pedal Cycle Studio - I like to think of this as my neighborhood boutique spinning studio. Nothing corporate about this - except the quality of the bikes. Smooth riding, encouraging and ah, hem, demanding instructors ensure that every class leaves you riding high on endorphins. Essentially, it's where calories go to die.
Our dedicated team of volunteers, without this event would not have happened.
Many people have been asking me if the event went as expected and I always reply with a resounding, "No! - It went much better than I could have ever hoped or prayed for!". This team was truly a gift and there is no way I could ever repay these fellow plant-based, dedicated and incredibly loyal volunteers who I am very happy to call my friends. Stephanie Bosch (please check out her plant-based cheese making classes here), Monica Llorián (Co-founder of St. Louis Plant Centered Living), Carla Hoyt, Dana Schmierbach, Anna Zakrzewski, Paige Ohliger (founder of Plantricious), Chuck Von Bokel and Laurie Anderson, boy oh boy, do I owe you!! xoxoxoxo
(spoiler alert) It's not a success until someone cries.
This video was caught by Kevin Bosch (thank you, Kevin!) as we closed the very successful Plant-based Nutrition Summit in St. Louis. Without the support of my VERY patient and supportive husband, Tim, and the continuing cheer leading from my mom, STLVegGirl would never have come this far. My love to you both.