When Yes to Life contacted me and told me what the charity does, do my immediate thought was 'Yes! This is it...this is the tipping point….this is the change that will help veganism become mainstream'.
The big turning points, the shifts in gear, that have propelled animal rights and veganism to its popularity today can be counted on just two hands. In the last 20 plus years I have been witness to these events, the fox hunt ban, the campaign against live exports, Veganuary, the mass viewings of Cowspiracy and other documentaries, the ban (to be enforced in 2020) of wild animals in circuses, are a few.
There is one shift, one change in wisdom that has the ability to save billions of animals, including humans. This is the growing idea that a whole food plant-based diet can help us to live healthier lives. It can prevent illness and support those already dealing with an illness.
Supporting people with cancer
Yes to Life supports people with cancer by providing them with information and funding for lifestyle changes, integrative medicine and alternative therapies to help with the harsh side effects of cancer treatment.
This includes information on how to eat a plant-based whole foods diet, which is where I, the pro-chef, come in.
Over the last couple of years, I have created and co-hosted two series of recipe videos with Yes to Life with follow up workshops to give people real life hands-on experience of cooking vegan food.
We aptly named the series Food for Life. All the information is aimed at people who are exploring a vegan diet through the toughest of routes, by having a life-threatening illness.
We have all been touched in some way by cancer. In my emo youth I morbidly predicted that I would die from cancer. My grandparents died of cancer, so it was a given. Wasn't it?
I dreaded the fate I believed awaited me. I had seen my family members wither and shrink before my eyes becoming frailer at every visit. I had desperately tried to understand my grandmother's words as she spoke, voiceless, after the removal of her voice box - a procedure which did not lengthen her life as hoped, but took her voice, her communication, away so close to her death.
More recently, I sat with my mother and told her the crushing news that my father has cancer. (Fortunately, he is now in remission). When we see these patterns in our families we predetermine our own fate. But the growing knowledge base and the communication of that knowledge in mainstream media counteracts that and gives us that ever so important thing - an option, a choice, a decision we can make that may alter that fate.
Promoting carcinogenic foods
If you watched the 2017 documentary What The Health you will have seen that cancer charities are actively promoting food which is known to be carcinogenic.
This is happening in the UK and America. Recommending to a person with cancer that they eat a carcinogen is perverse and cruel. Browsing through the recipe sections of these sites other unhealthy ingredients are ubiquitous. They may not be labeled carcinogenic (yet) but recommending that people with cancer should consume food that will negatively impact their overall health is highly irresponsible.
How Not to Die
I would expect this content from The Guardian, possibly even The Times, but the DAILY MAIL?!? This 'middle market' paper isn't one of the liberals with pull-outs on zero waste and a special feature on yoga hot spots in the UK. It's as mainstream as mainstream can be.
Admittedly, the V-word could not be found amongst the pages. A wise move in my opinion, as I have seen an ever-increasing aversion to that tag amongst certain groups, preferring the less threatening and less ideological term 'plant-based'.
In March that bombshell was followed up with a request for pancake recipes from The Mirror, a tabloid newspaper whose mainstay is celeb gossip and football news. When veganism gets into these types of media companies, you know that veganism, as a shift in consciousness, is here to stay. It is not merely a food fashion or trend.
Vegan diet and health
Through the research and writings of people like Dr. Greger the link between a vegan diet and good health is bridged. These are the works that have informed Yes to Life and the information and support it gives to people with cancer.
The media coverage helps people to see it as a viable if not optimal diet when they are seriously ill. Yes to Life has big plans, and so it should. In coming years more people will be seeking information on how to be plant-based.
These are people who may not know any vegans, do not know where to get information, and have no idea how to get started. These are people who may never have made a dietary or lifestyle change in all their years. And if they are people who have had a cancer diagnosis these are people that are very, very scared. I am proud to work with Yes to Life to help with this important work.
Vibrancy and joy
And it is important work - but that doesn't mean we don't have a laugh. In all the work I do with Yes to Life, and my brilliant co-host Chantal di Donato, laughter is everywhere.
I'm pushing for a bloopers vid! The vibrancy and joy come through the screen, even if we just brighten someone's day that’s a win.
On Saturday October 6, we will gather for a fun day in Victoria Park to run 10 kilometers to raise funds for the charity and the great work it does for people with cancer.