The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

March 6, 2013

Plant-based eating makes for diverse, interesting meal preparation

JOPLIN, Mo. — Take a trip to the grocery store with Becky Mitchell and there's a lot of things you won't see. You probably won't eyeball the price of chocolate chip cookies with her. In fact, you probably won't even get the chance to walk down the chip or cookie aisles.

The same goes for the aisle where big boxes of sugary cereals are sold. And forget about the boxed dinners.

You won't browse the meat aisle or pick up a carton of milk -- at least not the kind that comes from cows.

But you will spend lots of time with Mitchell in the vegetable and fruit aisles.

"Vegetables are the most interesting part of the meal anyway," says Mitchell, 64, of Joplin, who has operated Ozark Adworks since 1984.

And, of course, there is whole grains.

Mitchell plans her meals around a plant-based diet, but it was only in the past few years that she made the lifestyle change (although she did say that she has long avoided processed foods, just like her mother). It was after watching the 2011 CNN one-hour special "The Last Heart Attack," based on Dr. Sanjay Gupta's research on avoiding heart disease through nutrition.

Through the TV special, Mitchell learned about the work of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., a director at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Center. He's a longtime advocate for pure plant-based eating and an advisor to former President Bill Clinton, who adopted a plant-based (and eventually vegan) diet after undergoing a quadruple bypass in 2004 for blocked arteries. Esselstyn's book "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease," has helped Mitchell and her husband, Ron, a Joplin attorney, revamp their lifestyles. Esselstyn has also written "Forks Over Knives," a book has  Mitchell used as well.

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