Texas, the 10th most obese state in the country,  has been noted as a hotbed for health issues – a side of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer all often come along with traditional Texan meals of fried foods and meat-heavy meals.

But the mayor of one city – Marshall, Texas – is helping to change this reputation of unhealthy food fare forever. Get Healthy Marshall, a nonprofit group started by the town’s five-term mayor, Ed Smith, alongside his wife, Amanda Smith, was prompted after the mayor received a prostate cancer diagnosis in 2008. Under a doctor’s supervision, Smith began a fully plant-based diet of “only whole grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes.” Later, the cancer disappeared, and the mayor decided to share the power of plant-based eating with his city.

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In the years following, the Smiths held events in Marshall featuring vegan visionaries like Rip Esselstyn of “The Engine 2 Diet” fame, runner Scott Jurek, and author Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. The organization held monthly plant-based potlucks, and encouraged the availability of plant-based options at local restaurants and grocery stores. Now, at least six restaurants in Marshall feature at least one vegan dish.

The Get Healthy Marshall website encourages visitors to “Join us and take control of your health. Reduce your risk of heart attack, diabetes, and cancer. Shed those unwanted pounds, firm up, and feel better than you ever have in your life—all while making friends and learning new things—with other local folks who will support you in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

And we’re all for that! Here’s to encouraging the entire country to take on more plant-based, whole foods eating habits — one city at a time!

Image source: Jkeiser / Wikipedia Commons