Registered Dietitian Julieanna Hever wrote the book on eating a plant-based diet. As one of the first in the industry to use the term plant-based, she has seen through her work with clients, co-hosting a national TV show, and hosting her podcast just how much it has evolved. She joins host Joey Thurman to talk about the importance of eating plants, what you should eat, how you should eat, and where she sees the industry heading.
Joey Thurman: One of my favorite people in the world, Julieanna Hever, I'm glad I get to see you, even though it's on a screen. In front of me, plant-based dietician, the former co-host at Home Sweat Home featuring myself and Julie, was more featuring Julieanna. And then I was kind of in the background. You were the highlight of the whole show. Thank you for being on Talking Plant Protein.
Julieanna Hever: Thank you for having me, Joey.
Joey Thurman: Okay. So you've been around, you were talking plants literally before this was sexy to talk about, right? You, back in the day you wrote like the Idiot's Guide to Plant-Based Eating, correct?
Julieanna Hever: Not only that. They asked me to write the The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Nutrition and I petitioned midway to change it to plant-based because I thought that terminology was so important.
Joey Thurman: Wow. So you would be like one of the... It wasn't godfather, like godmothers of plant-based nutrition.
Julieanna Hever: Well, I don't know if I'd say that, but I am the first plant based dietician. That's why I'm called the plant-based dietician.
Joey Thurman: Oh, that's good. You were ahead of the game. You're always ahead of the game.
Julieanna Hever: It amazing. It's amazing.
Joey Thurman: I don't know if I've ever asked you this question. How long have you been? Plant-based.
Julieanna Hever: 16 years.
Joey Thurman: Yeah. And what brought that about? Why?
Julieanna Hever: Well, it's a long story, so to try to keep it short.
Joey Thurman: Sure.
Julieanna Hever: I read Diet For a New America when I was a teenager. And when I learned how animal agriculture took place, I didn't want to participate in that.
Joey Thurman: Okay.
Julieanna Hever: But I didn't know what that meant and not to date myself, but there was no internet, back then at least not like it is now. So I didn't know what I was doing. So I was just eliminating animal products. And then my parents had an intervention because they were good parents. They were worried about me. And they had their nurse friend sit me down at a steakhouse with a big steak, with a pineapple ring on top and made me eat it because I was going to be deficient in iron and protein and blah, blah, blah. And I got the [inaudible 00:02:05] back. And then I went your route. I became a personal trainer because I loved exercise and nutrition.
Julieanna Hever: And then everyone asking everyone was asking me nutrition questions. So I went back to graduate school because I wanted to know why. I wanted to know what I was recommending and the details of why and how and all of that. And once I finished graduate school and I was able to go back to the literature and I realized the vegetarians aren't falling down like flies, dying off on us like I was told. And so there's got to be more to this story. And once I had that ability to dig into the statistics and all of that, I realized, oh wait, you can get plenty of protein from plants. You can get iron better source from plants.
Julieanna Hever: And I was convinced. I tried it on myself and my gosh, my whole, everything about my health changed. Little things that I struggled with my entire life disappeared, like lifelong acne, lifelong sinus infections, lifelong GI problems. My weight became easy to manage. And once I started doing that, I implemented it with my clients. And then the miracles started to unfold. I don't even mean to sound woo. I just, I can't believe the results I started to see with my clients that were not even predicted in grad school. It was not a thing that you would be able to reverse medication use or reverse age cardiovascular disease or type two diabetes, just the, the benefits are incredible.
Joey Thurman: Now, let's go a little bit deeper into the athletes because this is the question I'm sure that you get the most right? Athletes, recovery, you're going to eat plants. Where you going to get your protein from? How do you get around that in convincing an athlete that is used to getting, let's say quote unquote traditional sources of protein, right? From animals to switching over to making sure they're getting a compilation of nutrition that is completely from plants. How does that conversation start?
Julieanna Hever: I stopped trying to convince anyone of anything several years ago because I was banging my head against the wall. So now what I say, because I always say you could lead a human to healthy, but you can't make them eat. So if you want to go plant based because you've seen a documentary or you've been inspired or you have a health scare or you want to improve your performance, you want it. I will love you all the way down. I will show you all the ropes and all the tricks and all the tips and help you. But you can't convince someone unless they have a why. They have to want it. I've learned that the hard way. But in terms, if you want me to answer the protein question, because it is still predominant. I can't believe people are still talking about protein like this.
Joey Thurman: Yeah.
Julieanna Hever: If you exercise more for the athletes specifically, you have to eat more. If you eat more and you're eating these whole plant foods, you're going to get more protein, right? Because you're not just eating. Unless you're eating-
Joey Thurman: Whoa, crazy. You're nuts. You eat more, you get more nutrition, you get more protein. You get more fiber, you get more vital nutrients. I don't know. You're super crazy.
Julieanna Hever: Unless you're eating white bread, white oil, white sugar, and you're eating this fine stuff then of course that's a problem, but I'm not recommending that.
Joey Thurman: If people are watching this, they should know not to do that. It's like, I drink seven days a week. Probably not good for you. Don't do it, you're going to be okay. All right, carry on. Sorry. I had to-
Julieanna Hever: You had to get on the soapbox for a second, but that's okay. That's good. It's true. No, I want people to eat my list, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, mushrooms, nut seeds, herbs and spices in infinite tasty combinations. And if you base your diet on those foods, it's easy.
Joey Thurman: Yeah.
Julieanna Hever: You get everything. There's notable nutrients. You have to be mindful of your B12 and your... But every way of eating, you have to be mindful of certain things. On the standard Western diet, you have to be mindful of your fiber. There was a study that just came out again that's showing that less than it's like 7% of the U.S. population doesn't meet the minimum fiber recommendation. The minimum. And that's like the most important nutrient that we can consume.
Joey Thurman: What is it, like 25 grams per female, 30 for male around there.
Julieanna Hever: It's 14 grams per a thousand calories. So-
Joey Thurman: Okay.
Julieanna Hever: Do the math.
Joey Thurman: So if you're having your 2000 calorie diet, that would be roughly.
Julieanna Hever: 28.
Joey Thurman: 28 ish. That's crazy. Right? Because I remember years ago when we met, I barely had anything green and you're like, Joe, just eat some more green things. I'm not telling you to not do whatever you're doing, just eat more green things. You'll feel better. Like, ah, I don't want to eat anything green. If it's a green jolly rancher, maybe I would have it, but literally growing up in Wisconsin and St. Louis, green was only a salad to me. And that's the only thing that I thought. And then, we were in filming Manhattan. So actually I was like, okay, let me try this whole green thing. And fortunately enough in Manhattan, I had the availability to go and there was cooked asparagus and everything at like, we were staying in like financial district and there was a little market.
Joey Thurman: I don't know if you went to it. It was a little market that had all this wide array to things and brussel sprouts, like, let me try this brussel sprout. And I think I started with like a brussel sprout had on maple syrup or something on I'm like, oh, this is delicious. And then my pallet started changing where I didn't need the maple syrup on it. And then I started having asparagus and it is really interesting to see that. And now just the availability of all these different plant based products. I feel like that's got to be exciting to you just to have this. There's no longer food deserts anymore, right?
Julieanna Hever: Oh, I was just talking about this in a lecture I was giving. In the last 10 years, it's like, it's almost, it's impossible to miss it. It's everywhere. I remember when I used to have soy milk and rice milk as a choice, and now there's a wall of milks. You go anywhere in the world and there are plant-based options. I literally kid you not, I got off of a boat, tiny boat and a tiny island in Thailand randomly. And the first restaurant we walked into, they had a plant-based menu.
Joey Thurman: Wow.
Julieanna Hever: Coincidentally. Yeah.
Joey Thurman: Wow. I think that's great because people, as you said, you stop trying to convince people of things, but now having these options, you can have a restaurant and there can be stake there, but also, having not just a salad as your option. They might have vegan or uncooked or raw, like all these different, like... There's all these different choices. And I think by adding those choices for individuals, then you don't have to go to an only raw place, only whatever. Everybody can choose what they want to eat. And I think that almost takes a little bit of the... People always want to judge you from what you're eating, but if it's already at that restaurant, it's already on the menu, they're not looking at you like you're strange. So it's nice to see that. And so let's talk about like the industry, like where do you see plant-based culture and food heading? Is there like, you got the inside scoop on anything what's happening, Jay, what's happening?
Julieanna Hever: It's a good question, Jay. It's a really good question. I didn't foresee it taking off this fast and broadly as it has. Interestingly, I see people, I have clients that have been vegan coming to me now for the first time with similar health problems as the omnivores, because you're eating a lot of the junk food. So now that anything you could eat, I could eat vegan. It can also be a concern. So I hope that people stick to the wholer foods and have those as treat foods because you want to keep, preserve all of these extraordinary health advantages that we see and that the literature supports. So going forward, I'm hoping it's more healthy foods, more whole foods that are more easily distributed that are... So it's more accessible for people. But I think the industry just on fire right now, so there's no telling what's going to happen. They're trying to make that sell cultured meats out there. I don't know if that's going to take off or not, but yeah, it's fascinating.
Joey Thurman: Yeah. Okay. So plant-based, would you put like a percentage like 75% of your food comes from plants? 90? 51?
Julieanna Hever: No. I want people to eat all plants, at least most of the time.
Joey Thurman: Perfect answer from the plant-based dietician.
Julieanna Hever: Right. But I'm very opposed to perfection, the mission of perfection. I think that inhibits a lot of people and scares off a lot of... And I don't think it's necessary. I know you don't have to be perfect. Nobody is perfect. But I think that striving for that a hundred percent and all those limitations makes it more of a barrier for change as opposed to eat more plants. Let's just make this easy. Eat more plants, replace your meals, eat as many plants as like, make that the predominant part of your thing. Try vegan days, try vegan week, try a vegan month, have a meal off plan, whatever. It's just whatever works for you. The more plants you eat, the better.
Joey Thurman: You are a wealth of knowledge.
Julieanna Hever: Thank you, Jay.
Joey Thurman: Julieanna Hever, plant-based dietician. Where can everybody find you?
Julieanna Hever: plantbaseddietician.com.
Joey Thurman: Okay. And then, you're on all the socials.
Julieanna Hever: I'm on all the socials as some variation of plant-based dietician or plant dietician or my name Julieanna Hever.
Joey Thurman: All right. Well, we'll have all that. We have your website. We have your information. Make sure to check out Julieanna and just, I just want to say thank you so much. As always, it's a pleasure speaking with you. At some point, we'll see each other in person again.
Julieanna Hever: I always love speaking with you, Jay. Thank you for having me and I can't wait to see you again.
Joey Thurman: All right. Thank you.