By Anne Sullivan
The annual “Passion for Compassion” benefit recently raised over $150,000 for the vital work done by Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) to promote preventive medicine through good nutrition based on the core belief that everyone should be educated and empowered to take control of his or her health. During an informative presentation at the event, PCRM’s founding president Dr. Neal Barnard discussed the organization’s work with policymakers, industry, the medical community, the media, and the public to create a better future for people and animals.
Addressing the audience of supporters, Dr. Barnard said, “Everybody who’s here is here for one reason–you’ve got a heart. You have a heart for people, for animals, or, I’m guessing, you have a heart for anybody who’s vulnerable, who’s hurt.”
The event was co-hosted by Dorothy Frankel, John Bradham, and Michael Schwarz, owner of Treeline Cheese. The host Committee included Jonathan Grill, Leanne Mai-Ly Hilgart, the fashionable force behind Vaute Couture, Dr. Suzanne Kirby, Kate Krone, Nora Marino, Zelda Penzel, Sony Schotland, and Dr. Pam Popper, author and Executive Director of The Wellness Forum. Food by Suite ThreeOhSix and Vegan Treats was served and DJ Stretch Armstrong and Paul Gene provided the music.
A clinical researcher, adjunct professor, author, and one of the leading advocates for health, nutrition, who has appeared on Ellen DeGeneres & Dr. Oz’s programs and written numerous books and journal articles, Dr. Barnard also advocates for higher standards in medical research. When PCRM started, animals were used in virtually every medical school, and today there are only three schools that still do. PCRM’s Toxicology and Regulatory Testing department works on new alternatives to using animals for chemical tests, seeking better, cheaper, more reliable and more ethical ways to conduct chemical tests.
PCRM’s programs include the 21-Day Kickstart program, a free online 3-week program to help people test-drive a vegan diet, and Food For Life, for which PCRM trains instructors to teach various programs such as kickstart-your-health classes, diabetes classes, and workplace wellness programs. So far, the classes reach about 9,000 people each year, and that number is expected to grow as more instructors are added in additional cities across the United States and the rest of the world. PCRM has been invited to speak to employees of Geico, Whirlpool, Sony, Pepco, and other companies. These corporate education programs are focused on helping employees get healthy, and PCRM is helping to make this happen. PCRM is also offering a free diabetes class series to the public and organized the International Conference on Diabetes in Wash, D.C. this July.
Also on the horizon is a medical clinic scheduled to open in November in Washington D.C. where a full range of primary care will be offered emphasizing dietary interventions whenever applicable. The goal being to provide the kind of care for patients that PCRM is advocating and helping to lead by example.
Dr. Barnard also discussed PCRM’s “Power Plate” initiative. When it was launched in 2010, PCRM contacted that USDA directly but did not hear back. In 2011, however, the USDA launched its “My Plate” icon, the replacement for the Food Pyramid, which First Lady Michelle Obama and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack released to serve as a reminder to help consumers make healthier food choices. The similarity between the two images is pretty obvious and PCRM reports on the full story here.
Additional health-focused events during the weekend included a nutrition talk and book signing with Dr. Barnard at Donna Karan’s Urban Zen boutique in Sag Harbor and a “Shop the Nutrition Rainbow” tour of the Sag Harbor Farmers Market, for which Dr. Barnard was joined by Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride and Jennifer Taylor of the Wellness Foundation, a community-based nonprofit that helps Hamptons-area residents recognize the value of healthful eating. Demonstrating the powerful health benefits of a diet loaded with colorful fruits and vegetables, the community-based event coincided with National Farmers Market Week.
About Anne Sullivan:
Anne Sullivan went vegetarian while growing up in Michigan (credit goes to her mom, who experienced the grim reality of meat production while working in her father’s butcher shop in North Dakota) and switched to a vegan diet in the early ‘90s. She runs a communications consultancy and strategizes publicity and marketing campaigns for publishers, media outlets, non-profit advocacy organizations, and eco and animal-friendly businesses.