It took many years to write and design Real-Life Vegan: The Big Book of Whole-food Success, and it’s taking years to launch it into the world. They say all good things take time, but my goodness me!

Unimaginable obstacles have been plentiful and overwhelming.

After the success of Health By Chocolate in 2008, and the fantastic feedback to the Real-Life Vegan pre-publication copies in 2012, the next step was to fully release Real-Life Vegan into the world in 2013.

That all came to a halt when my daughter was in a serious car accident. Once we got her back on her feet,  I finally made my long-dreamed-about move to Mexico in 2014, still hopeful the new book’s full release was just around the corner. Wrong again.

It wasn’t until I met Rip Esselstyn in person in February 2015, that I came to the painful realization that once again it wasn’t going to be launched as planned. Ugh!

My friend likes to say it was a “Rip off.” I love her twisted sense of humor!

Will 2016 be the year?

I really hope so and am working hard to make it happen. I’m about to launch a Kickstarter campaign, and I hope you can be a part of making Real-Life Vegan finally become a reality!

I’d first become aware of Rip Esselstyn when I worked for the city of Edmonton Fire Department providing individual nutrition counseling and programing for the fire fighters. The department was going to hold a health & wellness conference, so I was in touch with Rip about the possibility of coming to Edmonton to speak. (The conference was unfortunately cancelled due to budget cuts.)


Rip Esselstyn is the famous fire fighter in the New York Times best-seller and documentary Forks Over Knives, (presently available on Netflix, for those who haven’t yet seen it!)

When I was thinking about who I’d ask to write the foreword to Real-Life Vegan, a friend suggested Rip. Given the working title at the time “Whole-foods to the Rescue!” we thought it would be a great fit. So I dug up his email address and contacted him.

Even though he was super busy writing his second book, and he and his wife were expecting a new baby soon, he generously agreed to write the foreword.

To have someone endorse my work with words of encouragement for my readers is a great gift. It was then that I hoped to one day meet and thank him in person, but he lives in Austin, Texas, so the chances were unlikely.

When an untimely opportunity to be in Austin presented itself, however, I was torn.

Rip Esselstyn, Forks Over Knives, The Engine 2 Diet, and Plant-Strong.


I’d started out five months earlier in the spirit of adventure, driving 4,600 km from Edmonton to San Miguel de Allende, in the heart of Mexico. My grand plan was to live there indefinitely and become part of an ecoVillage, returning to Canada occasionally for things like book launches, and to visit family and friends. My virtual nutrition-consulting and education business allowed me the privilege of living anywhere.

In those short 5 months, however, so many difficult and life-altering challenges occurred that my head still spins when I think about the intensity of it all.

It all started, to my horror, when I checked in with the Mexican consulate to complete my visa requirements, which resulted in learning that I was in the country illegally and would have to drive back to the US/Mexican border, a 3-day, non-stop trip, to re-enter with a missing stamped document.

Realizing I could be thrown in jail if I was stopped by police prior to obtaining the document was to say a bit stressful!

Living out in an incredibly beautiful canyon meant sacrificing reliable internet and telephone. It resulted in having to drive the dusty road into the city and back, most days, to be able to work and be in communication with family. It wasn’t something I had planned for, and in the scheme of things created another level of stress.

Every business owner’s nightmare happened when my website was hacked, just as I was launching a brand new on-line course. Having recently lost my virtual assistant due to exciting new work he’d taken on, and along with the internet, phone and other daily challenges, getting the site back up took weeks and was extremely exasperating.


These, and several other challenges, from car problems to a bug infestation, weren’t fun, but they paled in comparison to learning that my adult daughter back in Canada was critically ill and the doctors, including several specialists, couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  So, in January I flew back to be with her while we continued to search for the answer.  When she was finally diagnosed with a life-threatening infection, we were told the delayed diagnosis and treatment would most likely take its toll and cause a serious chronic condition that would take heroic and expensive measures to overcome.


I knew my dream of living in Mexico was unraveling. My daughter’s future was precarious. I had no choice but to fly back to Mexico, repack my car and drive the long road back to Canada to be with my brave, ailing daughter.

So it wasn’t exactly perfect timing to arrange a visit with Rip, but sometimes, especially in the midst of chaos, we have to grab opportunities even when the conditions aren’t perfect, right? (I know! What was I thinking?!) But it turned out that I had to stay a day in Austin to wait for the next friend who was going to accompany me on the rest of the journey north.  So the day before I left the heart of Mexico, I emailed Rip on the off chance he might be available. I was pleasantly surprised when I heard back that he could spare a few hours for me.

After several long days of more travel, too many sleep-deprived nights, as well as starting to process the emotions of disappointment in having to say good-bye to dear friends and dreams of life in Mexico, I arrived in Austin feeling pretty rough instead of with my usual vigor and zest for life.

Then there was a major mix-up for my friend who had accompanied me from Mexico to San Antonio and was supposed to fly back the next morning to celebrate his wedding anniversary with his dear wife. Due to delayed flights, he finally arrived 2 days later. I felt awful.

It felt like I just couldn’t catch a break, so when all of a sudden I found myself walking up the set of steps to Rip’s office, and realized just how physically drained and mentally harried I was, I wondered about the wisdom of having asked for this, but then again I thought, “perhaps it would be a happy distraction from the chaos?”

I had really wanted the opportunity to to let him know how grateful I was for his endorsement, and connect with him in hopes he could help promote Real-Life Vegan.


So here I was, doing my best to rally, and thankful I was able, if barely.

It was such a pleasure to meet him. We chatted about our families, his wife’s amazing schools project, and his exciting new line of ENGINE 2, PLANT-STRONG food products for Whole Foods Market, (also where his office is located.) He also took me for a delicious plant-strong lunch, and I was blown away by the amazing whole-bowl choices.

Engine 2 Plant Strong Food

Engine 2 Plant Strong Food

In preparing for the rushed trip back, having to make such an abrupt about-face in my life plans, I really hadn’t had time to think about how the book launch was going to be impacted.  But now, telling Rip about why I was having to get back to Canada, my daughter’s diagnosis and uncertain recovery, it was hitting me, “I would have to put the launch of Real-Life Vegan on the back burner – again!”

So many emotions began colliding as we wrapped up our conversation and I was preparing to leave. Something delightful had just happened and now it was ending, and I was going to have to go back to the reality of the chaos I was living. I was starting to feel physically woozy, the room started to spin, and all of a sudden I felt like I was going to burst into tears. I wondered for a minute if I might even collapse.

I’m fairly certain he wasn’t aware of how shaky I’d become, I was doing my utmost to hold it together.

I was trying to take a deep breath and center myself when Rip suggested we take a parting selfie.


Of course I wanted a picture with Rip!

I struggled for several long seconds before agreeing, knowing the internal struggle I was having just to stay upright and keep the conversation going, never mind smile for a camera. I always wear my emotions on my face and I was sure there was distress written all over it. I tried to relax, but my face felt twisted and stressed; there was no faking it.

Nope, no selfie!

No selfie…but here’s Rip again!

He texted the photos from his phone, but I never received them. That’s okay, I don’t need a photo that would remind me of my conflicted heart that day.

I thanked him sincerely and left too quickly, certain I was becoming incoherent, and that tears of both gratitude for his kindness mixed with those of grief, were going to burst forth at any moment.

Even though it was an awkward good-bye, I’m really happy for having had the opportunity, and that I had the courage to ask for it.

And now that Real-Life Vegan is about to launch (if the Kickstarter campaign is successful), I’m even more grateful that I got the chance to connect with Rip. Of course, should I ever meet him again, I’d love a re-do of that selfie, hopefully under much more relaxed conditions!

I humbly hope Real-Life Vegan will take its place amongst the other great inspirational plant-strong books, so that more people will be influenced to make this world a healthier place by achieving both personal health and improving our environment.

In the meantime, Rip has been working on his third book, which will become a great resource for many of my clients, I’m sure. (I’ll share details about its publication in an upcoming post.)

It was a long trek home, and it’s been a long journey dealing with the devastating effects of my daughter’s health crisis, so I am thrilled that the time has finally come to launch Real-Life Vegan: The Big Book of Whole-food Success!


One of the concepts I share with clients who are struggling to change their health habits is the idea that progress doesn’t often happen in a neat and tidy straight line. In fact, it can look pretty messy with stops and starts, and side roads.

It seems my success at getting Real-Life Vegan into the world is taking the long windy path and I assure you there’s been a lot of learning in the process. Some of that learning has resulted in exciting improvements to Real-Life Vegan since the five hundred pre-publication copies were available in 2012.  (You’ll learn about those changes and updates in the Kickstarter campaign.)

Life is full of mystery, and I’m sure I’ll never understand why so many obstacles and challenges have come my way these past years. I’ve learned though, that the more difficult life’s tests are, the more grateful I become for the small and mysterious blessings that seem to sprout out of the pain and confusion.

And that includes knowing how grateful I am for you, my devoted and patient readers. 😀

Thank you!!



“This entertaining, educational, inspirational, and how-to guidebook will help everyone, no matter where they are on their plant-based journey to reach their health goals.” – Rip Esselstyn, Forks Over Knives, The Engine 2 Diet


You’ll learn soon how you can support the Kickstarter campaign to help publish REAL-LIFE VEGAN: The Big Book of Whole-food Success. vl_logo_fork1