Jess Parsons

Jess Parsons

Posted September 24, 2011

Published in Health

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Children are our Future - Teaching Plant Food and Health

Read More: animal foods, b12, breastfeeding, calorie density, diseases of affluence, dr antonia demas, dr t colin campbell, education, genes, healthy food, milk, New Zealand, omnivores, parenting, plant based diet, processed food, protein

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My son's school requested "parent experts" to help their 12 year old students in various topics - including nutrition and health, and sports nutrition!  With my recently acquired Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition with Dr T Colin Campbell, I felt bold enough to volunteer my amateur and certified expertise.  

During my study, I was inspired by Dr Antonia Demas's Food is Elementary project, which takes a full curriculum on plant-based nutrition straight into the heart of schools.  So this offer was too good to refuse.

My offer was quickly and encouragingly accepted - my declaration of knowledge in Plant Based Nutrition apparently did not trigger any alarm bells.

What to Say?  How to Say It?

Starting from scratch, I enjoyed the challenge of creating a presentation that was comprehensive but not overwhelming.

I designed a friendly lead-in allowing the children to show what they already knew about healthy food.  When I asked, these smart kids already knew that an apple is healthier than a burger, vegie soup healthier than a meat pie, and a potato is healthier than chips.  What a relief!  We were already friends...

The Presentation

Essential topics included:

  • Food and New Zealand Health
  • Nutrition and Confusion
  • What makes a food healthy
  • Plant vs Animal food nutrients
  • Protein, Iron, Calcium Myths
  • B12
  • Milk as the Perfect food (got in the breastfeeding angle here)
  • Genes
  • Processed Foods and Food Extracts
  • Are Humans Omnivores?
  • Calorie Density
  • Healthy Eating Basics
  • Making Changes
  • Health in Later Life
  • Sports Nutrition (with Vegan Champions!)

...and more!

This was a special interest group of 7 children, which created a friendly atmosphere.  All the children were attentive and several readily responded to prompt questions as well as reacting to various points I made. 


This tested out as a full hour presentation and I did not have quite a full hour - it got quite rushed and there are areas that need adjusting.  There was no time for questions but it didn't feel like there were any - probably because there was so much new information to absorb and everybody had already heard the bell.

The teacher's response was very encouraging - she was able to relate very well to the health information I presented.  She seemed even more pleased after my presentation than before, and I admit I had some fears that my plant-based message might seem threatening.

Lessons for me

  • With handholding and encouragement, people can accept the new idea that plant foods are always better than animal foods.
  • This presentation was still aimed too old.  When I revisit this presentation, I want the kids to be as interested as the teacher.
  • This presentation would be great at other schools.