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Interview with The Plant-Based Dietitian (Part 2)

I recently shared part 1 of my Interview with The Plant-Based Dietitian. Today we’ll delve right into Julieanna Hever’s latest publications that are fueling the fire for plant-based living:

E: Julieanna, how did the creation of your documentary To Your Health evolve?

J: As I was absorbing all of the science I was delving into and then witnessing the changes in my clients, I realized I wanted to get this information out to as many people as possible. So, about two and a half years ago, I approached my long-time friend, Jesse Pomeroy, who is a very talented filmmaker. I met him 20 years ago when I was in high school and played the lead in his college thesis project. He was not a documentarian. He is extremely creative and a genius in film and music. Fortunately, he had just finished his first feature and it was perfect timing. He half-heartedly said, “OK, let’s do it,” not truly thinking I was gung-ho and ready to go. Within days of that first meeting, I booked us an interview with Dr. T. Colin Campbell in Ithaca, NY and Dr. Joel Fuhrman in New Jersey. Jesse and I were off to the east coast to begin our adventures. A month later, we were in Santa Rosa, CA interviewing Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Alan Goldhamer, and Dr. Michael Klaper, then to Farm Sanctuary in Orland and several vegan landmarks, like Millennium restaurant in San Francisco. We collected interviews in Loma Linda, CA with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. Neal Barnard and then locally, in Los Angeles, took a cooking class with Chef AJ, interviewed the co-owner of The Veggie Grill at one of the restaurants, and spoke with filmmaker and author Mike Anderson. It was so much fun and we were left with hours and hours of extraordinary interviews on tape. Jesse spent months putting it into a story and making the entire 53-minute film on his own. He even wrote and performed my own theme song, “Plant-Based Dietitian”! And To Your Health was born….

E: How does this film differ from others such as Forks Over Knives?

J: To Your Health is much different than Forks Over Knives because it flows differently than a typical documentary. We call it an “infotainment documentary” because it is fast-paced and fun and delivers a ton of information in a short period of time. We cover all of the questions people have after watching Forks Over Knives and therefore, it is the perfect companion piece (they are even selling our DVDs on the Forks Over Knives site). Some of the topics we have broken the film down into include protein, calcium, supplements, metabolism, and the future of plant-based nutrition. So, To Your Health is a great and entertaining source for answering the most prevalent nutrition questions and I am thrilled to have Jesse to work with.

E: Obviously your book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition, and filmboth offer a variety of insight and motivation to plant eaters. How have non-vegans responded to your publications?

J: I am excited to say that my book and film have taken a lot of people from being veg-curious to becoming confident and thriving herbivores. The most common comment I receive is how easy my book makes it to switch their diet, and that was precisely my goal. I love that I can finally hand over the book and film to people who are confused and say “here, these will give you the answers.” The book has been more successful than even my publishers predicted. It has been their best-selling book for months, and we’re on our fourth or fifth printing and third cover since its publication in August. I am thrilled that so many people are reading it and gaining security on why and how to eat a whole food, plant-based diet. This has been my hope since I began my own journey.

E: What inspired you to become an author/co-producer and was it a challenge to originally publish/produce your work? What steps did you have to take to make your book/documentary a reality?

J: Honestly, it was the fact that when I wanted to know more about eschewing animal products, I was told by my peers, parents, and healthcare professionals that it was dangerous and not healthy. I was so frustrated that what I knew deeply to be right was being slammed down in my face and I didn’t, at that point, have the tools to defend the naysayers. Now that I do have the information and an ability to be objective, I want to share this with everyone that feels the way I did when I was a teenager reading John Robins’ books. In fact, I literally wake up in the morning with that in mind…finding ways to relay this information to as many people possible. And the more people learn, the more the sharing exponentially grows. People who discover how powerful their diet can be also can’t stop talking about it. It is truly an exciting time in history. The steps I took were simply spending a lot of time writing and meeting people, working hard to make opportunities happen. I love the expression that “the harder I work, the luckier I get”…

E: What is the main message you’d like viewers to take away when interacting with you and your work?

J: Eating for health is incredibly simple and delicious! There is no suffering involved and you don’t have to obsess and count calories, fat grams, or milligrams of iron. I am one of the few Dietitians that do not count anything. It is about getting a wide variety of quality whole foods and minding your nutrients like any responsible eater should. It is also something that is right at your fingertips…you do not need special elixirs, expensive supplements, or rare ingredients. Make it simple and you will thrive.

E: I agree! What other projects do you currently have in the works?

J: I have several book proposals I am putting together and many speaking engagements this year. I am also a full-time Mom, so my kids are my main focus and they keep me plenty busy. I am working on television show ideas and hope to get one into production soon. I thrive best when I am insanely busy, so I am always looking for more projects!

If you have a plant-based project idea for Julieanna and myself, please tell us about it in the comments below!

Image Source: Ramsey Bayer/Flickr