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Embracing fruits and vegetables as a lifestyle choice

caryn dugan center for plant-based living

At the Center for Plant-Based Living, our mission transcends merely promoting a plant-based diet; it’s about nurturing a lifestyle change. With a world increasingly leaning toward health-conscious eating, the Center stands as a beacon, guiding individuals through their journey to a more nutrient-dense, plant-centric lifestyle.

Our approach to fostering this change is both practical and gradual. Through our in-shop and virtual cooking classes, we introduce participants to one or two new types of produce in each session. This methodical introduction is key to our philosophy. It’s not just about adding new ingredients to their diets; it’s about reshaping culinary perspectives and gradually expanding their palates.

For instance, a recent class featured underappreciated cabbage, creatively paired with jalapeños, garlic, limes, and cilantro in a recipe designed to encourage more use of these items while maintaining a sense of culinary comfort.

Such experiences not only enhance dietary variety but also build confidence in exploring uncharted culinary territories.

The Center also holds a solid place in television broadcasting in the St. Louis market. In weekly segments on our lifestyle show, we bring the essence of plant-based living to a broader audience. These segments are more than just cooking demonstrations; they’re an invitation to viewers to reconsider their dietary choices. We’re also the home to The Doc and Chef YouTube and soon-to-be streaming show.

As the Center’s medical director, Dr. Jim Loomis (the Doc) and I (the Chef) produce 10- to 20-minute topic-driven shows where Jim first lays out the science behind a particular topic (for example, “Where do you get protein on a plant-based diet?”), and I respond by demonstrating an easy and tasty high-protein, plant-based recipe.

We like to say this series is closing the gap between understanding the science behind the health benefits of food and how to apply these benefits to your diet.

The Center for Plant-Based Living is more than a culinary hub; it’s a catalyst for change. By introducing new fruits and vegetables in our classes and TV segments, and through The Doc and Chef series, we gently guide people toward a more plant-centric lifestyle.

This slow, steady introduction ensures that the transition is not overwhelming but a natural evolution toward a healthier, more sustainable way of living. As we continue to inspire and educate, we remain committed to making plant-based living an attainable and enjoyable reality for all who have the interest.

This column ran in the March-April edition of Produce Blueprints magazine.


Caryn Dugan is the founder of the Center for Plant-Based Living, the nation’s first plant-based nutrition and culinary education center, located in St. Louis, MO. She adopted a plant-based diet in 2008 after she lost her dad to cancer, and she, too, was diagnosed just 10 weeks after his passing. Rather than a heavy-handed approach, she simply encourages “A Plant on Every Plate,” which has also been her tagline and motto since she began educating. Visit The Center for Plant-based Living and The Doc and Chef.