September 19, 2022
227: Karoline Mueller | Reclaiming Your Freedom and Healing Your Relationship with Food

After being shamed by her family for her weight and being encouraged to diet, Karoline Mueller develops an obsession with food that lasts for years until she discovers whole food plant-based living and finally finds her commu...

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After being shamed by her family for her weight and being encouraged to diet, Karoline Mueller develops an obsession with food that lasts for years until she discovers whole food plant-based living and finally finds her community.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Karoline’s childhood story of seeking freedom from obesity and depression
  • The power of whole food plant-based living in changing one’s way of life
  • How Karoline is still working on her relationship with food and how she is using her experiences to help others

Another episode you'll enjoy
59: Food For Life with Karoline Mueller

About Karoline Mueller 

Karoline Mueller is the Pod Leader for Bayou City Beet – one of the several Pods in the wider Houston area coming together as PlantPure Houston. The partner Pods strongly believe in supporting each other. Members participate in potlucks, restaurant outings, and online meetings with special guests. Pod leaders connect with area organizations to increase awareness of the power of food for health and sustainability. Karoline’s quest for health started in childhood seeking freedom from obesity and depression. 

In 1981, her family added whole grains and lots of raw vegetables to their standard repertoire. After coming to the United  States from Germany to study for her Ph.D. in Chemistry, she learned more and more about diets. First, she explored vegetarian, then vegan,  and in 2011 she discovered whole-foods plant-based. The last was where she found her community. In 2015, she trained as a Food for Life Instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) to deliver nutrition and cooking classes. After watching PlantPure Nation in  2016, she was excited to join the Pod movement. 

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Karoline Mueller:It's really joyful to see people come together. They're praying the food. It's sharing food. It's many conversations, just different people coming together. I invited one of my students who changed his diet to whole food plant-based because I talked to him about it.

Maya Acosta:You have more power over your health than what you've been told. This is a healthy lifestyle solutions podcast. I'm Maya Acosta, and I'm passionate about finding healthy lifestyle solutions to support optimal human health. If you're willing to go with me together, we can discover how simple lifestyle choices can help improve our quality of. And increase longevity in a big way.

Maya Acosta:Let's get started. All right. Welcome back to another episode of the Healthy Lifestyle Solutions podcast. I'm your host Maya Acosta. And so we continue with this series of PAC interviews. That's the Pod Advisory Committee. That's part of the PlantPure Communities organization. And today we're gonna meet Karolina Mueller. She's the pod leader of Bayou city beat one of several pods in the wider Houston area coming together as PlantPure Houston, the partner.

Maya Acosta:Pod strongly believe in supporting each other members participate in potlucks restaurant outings and online meetings with special guests, pod leaders, connect with area organizations to increase awareness of the power of food for health and sustainability. Karolina's quest for health started in childhood seeking freedom from obesity and depression in 1981.

Maya Acosta:Her family added whole grains and lots of raw vegetables to their standard repertoire. After coming to the United States, from Germany to study for her PhD in chemistry, she learned more and more about diets. First she explore vegetarian then vegan. And in 2011 she discovered whole foods plant base. The last was where she found her community in 2015.

Maya Acosta:She trained as a food for life instructor, with the physician's committee for responsible medicine to deliver nutrition and cooking classes. And after watching PlantPure Nation in 2016, she was excited to join the pod movement. Welcome Karolina. 

Karoline Mueller:Thank you so much, Maya, for having me on and. Reading this lovely, um, introduction.

Karoline Mueller:I'm so honored to be on the pod advisory committee 

Maya Acosta:and we are honored to have you, you know, I've had some interactions with you. I just really think you're an awesome person. You've been on my podcast before. And so the fact that you have been able to join the Pod Advisory Committee, I think is so great.

Maya Acosta:And we're gonna share your story. For our listeners. So it could be that we have people that are actually pod leaders or belong to a pod or people that are pod curious. So we're gonna learn a little bit more about your story. So tell us briefly, what is the subcommittee that you're part of for PAC? 

Karoline Mueller:I'm part of the growth subcommittee.

Karoline Mueller:So we are looking how we can get the word about the pod network out. Into the wide world. And it's really exciting undertaking because it gave so much to me. I really think that anyone there's definitely anyone who's interested in whole food plant-based should have access to it because it's such a main support in my life.

Maya Acosta:Yeah. And when I'm in subcommittees, we're talking about different ways that PAC members are working to, like you said, spread the word and also on our end to support pod leaders. But it is very important. Like you said, that we help spread the word to whether it be physicians or regular individuals. Just helping them to understand that this is life-changing.

Maya Acosta:This way of life is incredible. And then once we adopt this way of living, it's just like we have a new mission, a new purpose for life. So for anyone who may not have heard your story, and I am gonna include a link to the interview when you came on, I wanna say it was actually 2020. So you came on and then you did a little food demo.

Maya Acosta:So that's right. I had just started to do video online food demos.

Karoline Mueller: That's right. And I was proud showing off how I had to set. 

Maya Acosta:I thought your, uh, setup was pretty cool because you were working two cameras and that's pretty tricky. I've tried it myself when I've gone live doing food demos, and it's really hard doing it on your own.

Karoline Mueller:It is. And I have tried recordings and nobody helping behind. Right. And I wanted to use the good camera. So I didn't use the forward facing. I used the backboard facing one and boy, my head was cut off, 

Maya Acosta:I'm sure that you're in a very different place today. So that was 2020 when we all had to pivot and we were finding ways to support our community online.

Maya Acosta:So that's part of what we're working on for the events of subcommittee. Okay. Karolina. Start off by learning a little bit about you now in your bio. I did read that when you were younger. Fruits and vegetables were introduced to you because I do sort of know your story. And like I said, I'll link the first interview to the show notes.

Maya Acosta:Let's start off by talking a little bit about your own story and how you have battled with food. This topic is so important to me because I do come from a background of having had disordered eating. And while I didn't fluctuate so much with my weight, I became very obsessed with food. So can we start at that point?

Karoline Mueller:Well, people can probably hear that I'm not American. I grew up in Germany and, uh, I was one of those rare kids who struggled with food. Most kids around me did not actually in my family. I'm the number four or four, and one of my sisters, she had like stomach issues. Now, or my parents thought he had to be encouraged to eat.

Karoline Mueller:And so with me, they tried to encourage me to eat less. So that's split that parents try to do with different kids and. I really got food obsessed at very, very young age. Like I might have been four years old when I remember like checking nobody's there, climbing up on the kitchen calendar to get to the out all-outs and the sugar and the milk out of the fridge.

Karoline Mueller:I was old enough to open that oil-fashioned fridge were the door handle was still locking. Yeah. That's is really intense memories, even though I was so very young and I think it's, for me, it's part of, because I had surgery when I was three years old and something shifted. And I just wonder if like my guts microbiome shifted or something happened.

Karoline Mueller:I had a lot of antibiotics at the time, so something just didn't support me in just being a healthy kid that, you know, eats when food is around and then stops thinking about it. 

Maya Acosta:So did your mother's reaction to it all contribute to it as well? So while she's encouraging one child to eat more, she's encouraging the other one to kind of restrict, it sounds like.

Maya Acosta:Yeah. 

Karoline Mueller:Um, you know, back then there wasn't much knowledge around that and that much wisdom and it got really worse when, uh, I think it might have been third grade. There was an official government doctor coming to the school, checking on the health of the children. And boy did my mom get the lecture about her daughter being overweight.

Karoline Mueller:It was so bad, it really made a huge impression on my mother. So we went back to our regular family doctor and she talked about, and was like, let's put on a diet or do something. And the doctor said, hold on, just, you know, calm down. Just let it be. She might just go out of it. And I think she would have been white, but now we had to do something and I went for four weeks on Atkins diet and yes, I lost the weight and after we stopped the weight came back and the same again.

Karoline Mueller:Yeah. 

Maya Acosta:Oh my 

Karoline Mueller:goodness. That sounds fun. so, and that was the beginning to really stoke the flame of food obsession. And, uh, then older brothers that were on quest for health. We had a lot of cold and flu and allergies and my oldest brother had such a bad, I think it must have been like a sta infection just before the exams for the Balo the gym high school.

Karoline Mueller:Exams, which is a big deal that really determines your grade, that antibiotics didn't work anymore. That was a little scary. Um, that same family doctor, she also was an acupuncturist. She had actually gone to China to study. She was a really rare individual and she had this acupuncture and then the quest continued.

Karoline Mueller:Finally, we found someone who was really in Germany. It was known as Schnitzer diet. So he believed in raw food. He took it to not just raw vegetable and fruit. So we ate a lot of the raw vegetable salads, shreds, wood, vegetables, and all kinds of vegetables mixed together, but also to eat raw whole grain.

Karoline Mueller:So not eating wild outs, which are steamed, but get a little meal. Something that can shred the grains and shred it and so good overnight and eat it raw with swish to, and back then some yogurt and whole grain bread. This was in the eighties. There was not that much whole grain bread around. And when my family does something, they do it.

Karoline Mueller:So we went out to buy a mill electric mills were really, really. Expensive. And my oldest brother was a physics student, so we bought one of the larger, well, probably like this hand mills. And I actually had the joy of grinding some of the flower for bread by hand, which took about an hour. And then he got.

Karoline Mueller:From someone motors and build this humongous over engineered electric mill. And then you would have to flower for your bread in about five minutes. And we made bread still. Somehow the local bakery started making whole grain breads, and back then these days, when you look on a package and it stay on the fond whole grain, it's actually most likely.

Karoline Mueller:The grain is still treated and they use the starch part and then they add the outside layer and they're all engineered together. Now this was just the grain put into a mill and flower comes out and that's what you pick with. And so that was so important to me. That's when I came to the states, I came to the mill.

Karoline Mueller:Yes, a little tiny one. And then later I bought a bigger one. 

Maya Acosta:That's an important skill to have though, knowing how to make bread. That's very important, especially when, you know, we have limitations like doing groceries or like what we were facing in 2020. Yeah. Were you making it? 

Karoline Mueller:No, actually lately we haven't made much bread.

Karoline Mueller:Yeah. All of this, you know, it really like through my teenage years, it really helped it sort of Calmed the Dragon. And I was in pretty good shape and then a single stay in France, three weeks vacation with a pen pal in France, and they really want to show me French cuisine. And there was a, like every weekend we went out to wine and dying.

Karoline Mueller:I mean, a 16-year-old wine was included. It's Europe. It stoked that dragon in me again. And when I came home, I was on route to study to go to the music, conservatory, to study piano, and I didn't go to school. So I had lost outside contact and all, I had this pressure to get good enough to pass the audition and be at home practice and all was in my head was hunger and where the chocolate is and where the food.

Karoline Mueller:And I had some joint issues. It was terrible. it's just, can't say it any different. And I didn't pass the audition. I didn't become the musician. I wanted to be that then stoked depression on top. So. 

Maya Acosta:So you initially went to France because of your love for music and the, is that what it was? And then it was just a pen pal.

Karoline Mueller:Actually, it was just to learn more French. I was getting quite good in French. Okay. And it was a great time. I love being, they lived in the suburb in Paris. We went into Paris. Mm-hmm, they have an older brother and cousins. It was a great time. 

Maya Acosta:Mm. I bet. So. I feel like a lot of listeners, especially the female listeners could probably identify with that struggle that you've had most of your life where there's the diet that comes in after you've been shamed by somebody in the family.

Maya Acosta:So there's the diet. And then it sounds like you hit a really nice spot at one point when you were doing mainly raw foods and you were making your own bread and then the traveling exposing you to food. Many of us love food. I still consider myself a foodie, but now it's just a different type of food that I eat.

Maya Acosta:So tell us more how you, um, you know, what else happened because it sounds like right now you're probably may have healed your relationship with food.

Karoline Mueller:Is that so not completely, actually, I still struggle because I would like. Interesting food to be in the house for my husband. I mean all whole food plant-based, but still more interesting.

Karoline Mueller:So there are some dried food and some nuts in the house and the whole COVID time. As much as I managed with keep things going, keep cooking glasses going. Something shifted. And, um, right now I'm actually have to work on it a bit more. Again, it's interesting that something like this might never completely go away and all I can do is to support myself is love and kindness around this.

Karoline Mueller:And, uh, I was talking with a friend about it. It's like, maybe it was actually good that I have to deal with it again because it also. Makes me think about it in different terms. Again, I now had conversations and I listened to Dr. Yami Cazorla-Lancaster, and other people who talk about this and it gives me. I had a little bit of superiority before here do this and problem gone, poof.

Karoline Mueller:And now it might not be that straightforward line. Even if you surround yourself this wonderful food made form vegetable forward, whole grain, and Leggos. 

Maya Acosta:So I wanna add to what you're saying in terms of like, maybe you're still back at struggling with some of the things that you have in your home. It kind of is a Testament though, to how important it is to have a support group.

Maya Acosta:And so both of us, you and I had pods before the pandemic, and it's easier when I don't wanna. Our own group holds us accountable, but in a way they do because we have to be role models. So let me back that up by saying, or rewind a little bit. When I started 2020 that January, I wanna say that year I took my mom to DC for one of their immersion programs, the PCRM’s immersion program.

Maya Acosta:And it was just a two-day weekend, a two-day immersion program. It was great. I participated in it as well. I had my labs drawn, everything looked great. And I was thinking to myself at the time, well, of course I'm a whole food plant base. Of course. Everything's. Now as we've gone through this pandemic and have been limited, not only in the restaurants we could go to, but the social events and connecting with people, I slowly started to have a little bit more of the vegan processed foods.

Maya Acosta:and because we track our numbers, my husband and I have these testing kits because we were supposed to use them for another event that got canceled. So we have the testing kits. So I started to check out my cholesterol and Karolina. I noticed that my number, my cholesterol started going up again, like. I was fine, early 20, 20, suddenly my cholesterol goes up and part of me is disappointed in myself.

Maya Acosta:Kind of like what you were saying. You know, it's so hard not to judge ourselves when we gravitate towards a certain lifestyle. And so I got serious about it again, and I put my foot down and I said, that's it. I know that I love whole foods. I know that I embrace this way of life. I know that I know how to cook.

Maya Acosta:So let's cut out all the stuff that's affecting my cholesterol. Despite the fact that I'm still vegan. As you know, there are things like coconut milk and you mentioned nuts. So the cashew nuts can probably contribute to cholesterol levels. And actually, because you are a Food-for-Life instructor, you can probably educate us more on what.

Maya Acosta:Actually drives cholesterol up, but just to summarize my story on my experiences that I got my numbers down again, with the lifestyle, with the whole food plant-based way of living and I got rid of all the processed foods and yes, I really believe. I really believe that part of it is that we find comfort in food.

Maya Acosta:And when we're not able to come together, like we used to with potlucks and social events, well, then we just kind of do what we do at home. I don't know. What do you think about that? 

Karoline Mueller:Yeah, definitely. I mean, there are many different things that can show us just slightly off. And one thing is as much as the community can hold us, I also wanna put out.

Karoline Mueller:If you're still off Kelda it's to go to the community even more and not say, oh, I'm not in good enough shape. I really, this episode here really brings the whole shame piece around it, back into my mind and awareness that if someone comes and still struggles to really be just accepting, they're the person they are.

Karoline Mueller:And we want everybody wherever they are on that journey to come and be welcomed in the community. That's a great, and that there is no judgment about what we are struggling with. There's only support and the support is what the person wants to that

Maya Acosta:level. Right. Absolutely. I think that, you know, I've been plant-based for six years, but when I first joined the groups, the Facebook groups, I remember my husband also joining groups and he would say, oh, look at this comment of, so and so being criticized because they still use oil in their food.

Maya Acosta:Oh, whatever it may be. Or I remember one. Showing off a potato and I have removed the skin and someone else made a very gentle comment, like, oh, I love it too. But I even love the skin even more. And so there are ways that you can encourage people with, but yes, having a judgment-free support group, I think is so important.

Maya Acosta:And Karolina, you brought up shame again. That is such an important topic that especially right now, having gone. An intensive life. All of us have gone through experienced all sorts of losses. So yes, of course we're gonna gravitate towards comfort foods, but to be shamed for it rather than encourage doesn't really work when you shame people, it just doesn't and being gentle with oneself.

Maya Acosta:Let's move forward. I don't know if we covered how you actually discovered the plant-based lifestyle.

Karoline Mueller:I had a long journey. So when I came here to the us, so back home, I was really not that much interested in eating meat. Like I always said, like my family said, oh, let's, you know, have something for Sunday.

Karoline Mueller:I grew upwards. We had meat Sunday and Wednesdays or something like that. So I didn't grow up meat-heavy, but there. Other meat products around all the time. Now it's Germany. So we are talking sausage and cheese and you know, all kinds of animal products around every day. So when I came here, I suddenly was in a situation where I'm studying and people are going out all the time.

Karoline Mueller:So I started going out and I suddenly ate lot more meat than I ever had in my life before. Then in 1999, I did a permaculture course. And for the first time I met vegetarians, I had never met a vegetarian before. And it took me a little bit and it took a, you know, being with the people and going for a bike ride with someone and that person not eating my food because there was meat in it.

Karoline Mueller:Did I really. Stopped and thought, huh? That's actually what I always wanted to be. So I was a vegetarian and then I had really close friends. They were vegan. They were actually at home. They were whole food plant-based. They had found the McDougall program and followed that because one of the friends had, uh, acid reflux.

Karoline Mueller:But when we went out, of course it was restaurant vegan food. And when they said something about cooking without oil, I was like, how do I suite onions without oil? It's like so stereotypical and I think they've won the greatest cook, so they couldn't tell me. So there was. Eventually becoming a vegan. Now my weight got lower and then it came back because I found all the vegan ice creams or all the rich foods.

Karoline Mueller:I have like the four noses or five noses for the rich food. So I really struggled. I, but then I was in, I was getting much more into the spirit of being vegan, not just plant. So I didn't want to let go of it. Even if people made all kinds of suggestions, how I could help myself with food by getting off the vegan diet.

Karoline Mueller:And then one day my supervisor who's, I'm really friends with in reality, he had to bypass surgery. and that made me check out the me Google webpage. Again, I had checked a few years ago and I hadn't understood it and I hadn't gotten it, but I think they also changed the webpage in between and something in my mind changed.

Karoline Mueller:And I suddenly understood. and I got it and I gobbled up everything. I could get my hands on, then me doggles back then. They're put on twice a year in advanced study weekend where it was a two-and-a-half-day event with different speakers. So I got to exposed to all these different speakers and I was buying books and reading and annoying my friends.

Karoline Mueller:And losing that glue, that food is for community, right? That didn't work anymore. So after, but I was very lucky there. Someone new came into my life who became briefly my boyfriend and now was my husband. He fully supported me in this and he made the change himself. He noticed how wonderful he feels. He got married, then.

Karoline Mueller:When I started to talk about becoming a Food for Life instructor, he said, yes, go for it. So in 2015, I trained to be a Food for Life instructor and have been teaching classes since then. And then in 2016, plant pure nation came out. Did come out actually 2016 or 2015. Anyway, in 2016, I found it, it came out in 2015 and I missed the showing here in Houston.

Karoline Mueller:For some reason it was someone else who started bio CDB as the first part in Houston and came up with this name layer St. Thank you. And, um, in may of 2016, I joined the. And I was teaching a cooking class. And at that, the kickstart your health series at the end of the potluck, but I only had two people in class.

Karoline Mueller:So I invited the whole part to join us because I knew that would get variety. And my true students would actually see the full beauty of eating this way. And then shortly after later said, okay, you're a great pod leader. There you are. That's how I became pod leader. And then more parts joined and we started to do events together.

Karoline Mueller:And now we really start growing together. The ones, the pod leaders that are active in the Houston area, we are looking forward to starting a jump start for a group and, you know, really thinking. Ways to bring it out to other communities who haven't had the benefit yet of knowing about this mm-hmm. And we work together with Peaceful Planet Foundation, which is an organization by Drs. Munish and Bandana Chawla here in Houston.

Karoline Mueller:So there is a lot of synergy going on, a lot of supporting each other, which I really love. And so for example, the potlucks, I do the Lifestyle Clinic of Drs. Munish and Bandana Chawla

Maya Acosta:As a matter of fact, I wanna add that. That was one of the things that intrigued me about Houston. When I learned that all of you pod leaders come together and support one another.

Maya Acosta:And now you're under the umbrella of PlantPure Houston. So you're a bigger force. And I don't know what year it was if it was 2019 or the year before, but I found myself driving to Houston. This is before I had a dog, cause now I could never do this, but I found myself driving a Houston three, four, I don't know how many times.

Maya Acosta:And it was to either attend like the rise University Veg Fest that was put together. And that might've been the one where I saw. Different representations of pod leaders. And then at the time I did know Drs. Munish and Bandana Chawla. And so just seeing that collaboration coming together under like the Peaceful Planet Foundation, but just in general was really intriguing for me.

Maya Acosta:And I remember I would drive and do a visit. Like there was also at the mini made park that was a Veg Fest there too. And so I remember coming back and telling my husband, like, I want that in Dallas, like, I wanna create that sense of community. We were already pod leaders, but we don't really have that connection.

Maya Acosta:It just seems, especially because of the pandemic that a lot of pod leaders have lost interest, or just have been limited because of our current circumstances. So you now go under PlantPure Houston. Tell us now about how you're collaborating or you're doing a lot more in person events now with doctors at the actual clinic, the Lifestyle Docs clinic.

Maya Acosta:Tell us more about that. And what has it been like for you resume that activity? The events.

Karoline Mueller:Yeah, we had just started that in the end of 2019, and we started to have monthly potlucks there when COVID hit. And I decided right away that we would keep it going. Most of the time, like once a month, an online meeting.

Karoline Mueller:And I think for some people that was important for other people that didn't fill the gap, then we had end of last year we had, I think one or two meetings then, or we came, we shut it down again. But now we had two meetings and people are coming back and it's really joyful to see. People come together, they bring the food, it's sharing food.

Karoline Mueller:It's many, many conversations, just different people coming together. I invited one of my students from work. He is a, a mechanical engineering student who changed his diet to whole food plant-based because I talked to him about it and he was talking to someone, actually, he was talking to Sherra Aguirre who wrote the.

Karoline Mueller:I'm blanking on the title, healthy vibe. Do you remember Joyful, healthy, vegan joyfulness in there? That's the important word? Joyful, Delicious, Vegan. I'm flaking so badly right now. That's okay. Just playing people come together and then, um, It was sort of a surprise. The, um, Sherra had invited the founder of urban harvest Houston, which is an organization to promote.

Karoline Mueller:Food production in urban gardens in the Houston area. So Dr. Bob Randall and his wife, Nancy Edwards came and she was a, a Peace Corps volunteer in her younger days. And seeing her talk with my student from Guda, it's just, it's just wonderful to see these coming

Maya Acosta:together. Now that, you know, you mentioned urban harvest and I'm thinking of, well, I'm thinking about other doctors that support this plant-based way of living in the Houston area that we still don't have in Dallas.

Maya Acosta:But for example, I want our listeners to know that Garth Davis, Dr. Garth Davis was in Houston at one time. And he's back in Houston. No, really? What. Back in your mm-hmm oh my God. And are you guys gonna work together or have him speak at events? I'm thinking

Karoline Mueller:of, I was thinking of what we can offer him.

Karoline Mueller:Right. It's that whole thing. What can we offer him? Yeah. So I would see to reach out to him in the past. He has been very easy going when there were documentary screenings, he would come beyond panels and talk, you know, just talk to people. So you'll see

Maya Acosta:it's coming. Dr. Davis is a bariatric surgeon. Is that. 

Karoline Mueller:That is correct, but he wrote a book Proteinaholic, which is for anyone worried about port it's an important book. And he's quite active on Instagram. Mm-hmm can follow him and see, you know, he talks about it all the time. He just recently had a post talking about how his patients are so worried about carbohydrates and starters.

Karoline Mueller:I mean, they, the thought is so scary to eat those.

Maya Acosta:Mmm. And so his book Proteinaholic was one of the first books that I read probably right after reading Dr. Selten's book. So I'm a big fan of Dr. Garth Davis. And then you also have in the Houston area, Dr. Baxter Montgomery, who also has a practice.

Karoline Mueller:He has a practice and he has a restaurant, a kitchen.

Karoline Mueller:I think it's called Garden kitchen. It's a wonderful place where people can pick up food. He has. A lot of fresh, raw food, which is really important for people to jump something, maybe struggle with heart disease or with diabetes. So it's a great resource. Now. He is so busy. He is just busy, running, running, running, running.

Karoline Mueller:I bet looking after his patients and running his business and speaking, I mean, he is a national international speaker.

Maya Acosta:Well, Houston in general, the plan-based movement in Houston is incredible. And it's been a real inspiration for me to see everything that all of you are doing. I remember at that mini-made Veg Fest, there was also a panel discussion.

Maya Acosta:And so you had that's when I learned about Dr. Roxanne George, uh, who. Pediatrician and probably Dr. Munish also might have given or been part of the, yeah, he was, he was mm-hmm . And now you I've seen you when you guys had an event for tangerines something. I don't remember the name of it tan. His yes. You named it?

Maya Acosta:Yeah. So.

Karoline Mueller:That I have a, I was in 19 spring of 2019.

Maya Acosta:Yes. I have a sister who lives just north of Houston. And so I managed to convince her to join us. And I wanna say that that's where I saw you for the first time, perhaps doing one of your Food for Life demos. Is that right? I think so. I think you did that.

Maya Acosta:And then I went for my first time that I went, cuz I think 2020, the Peaceful Planet's Foundation's Annual Retreat was canceled. I think 2020,

Karoline Mueller:it was fall of 20. When you came for the Peaceful Planet Foundation Retreat in October. And I did another

Maya Acosta:cooking demo. Yeah. Yeah. And I managed to bring some people from Dallas.

Maya Acosta:And at the time my sister came again. Oh my goodness. And I'm saying this because I want our audience, our listeners to hear what all of these events do for people. But I was able to bring my sister and she was impressed. It was a whole day event, which I think hopefully you guys will resume again. And I saw you doing a food demo there and I, you know, Calm and witty you're witty and you have a good sense of humor, which makes it a lot of fun to watch you do some of your presentations.

Maya Acosta:Thank you so much.

Karoline Mueller:And yeah. So Peaceful Planet Foundation does another event on May 21st. We really start to be active in the third ward in use. Which is a historically African American neighborhood. They do like a half-day retreat. And so it starts in the garden in the morning and then some mindfulness and presentation about food.

Karoline Mueller:And it ends with a cooking demo by Lucy, from Lucy Ethiopian restaurant and then lunch. It's going to be very, very good. And I'm going to miss it because I'm in Germany.

Maya Acosta:That's right. I remember you saying on social media or in your newsletter that you would be traveling. So by the way, what an awesome idea that you're outreaching to a community that could really use this information.

Karoline Mueller:Yeah, we just want to offer it. And whoever wants to come to us and work with us and help become ambassadors for it in their community, make it their own. That's really what we want. We want to offer resources, be supportive and give people the space to run with it and shape it to where they needed.

Maya Acosta:Absolutely another event that I attended that was put together by Dr. Chawla. And I believe you were there as well was the screening of the documentary Code Blue by Dr. Saray Stancic. And so I drove down again to Houston. I made a whole deal. And I asked my sister to attend and she invited some coworkers who also saw the documentary.

Maya Acosta:And the reason that I'm mentioning all of these events is that as a pod leader, who collaborates with other experts in the field, you are really helping to create all sorts of ways that you can outreach to people. Some people might be moved and convinced by tasting foods. Because of the potluck. Some people may need that documentary.

Maya Acosta:Some people may need a Veg Fest to attend to then sample things, to hear lectures, to hear panel discussions. And so you're part of all of that, of all that is happening in the Houston area. So you guys,

Karoline Mueller:me and many other people, so it really helps to have a community of organizers. Where everybody chips in.

Maya Acosta:Absolutely. And collaborating is one thing that really stands out for me. So as we're having some of our pod leaders listening to this conversation, what words of encouragement would you give them right now, as we're sort of coming out of the pandemic and some of us are interested in resuming our events, what would you tell us?

Maya Acosta:How would you encourage us?

Karoline Mueller:We talked about what's going on in Houston. And we could talk about New York and New York City area and be even more amazed, right? These are metropolitan areas where if you get me on a bad day, I would say, oh my God, the situation here is so bad. It's like, you know, there are 5 million out.

Karoline Mueller:I dunno how many million people in Houston. And if we look. I have 150 people on my mailing list. It's like a drop in the bucket. So I want people to not be discouraged when they live somewhere and say, there's nobody around me. And I would invite people to start small, to start apart, look around if there's something in your area, if there's not start part and just invite.

Karoline Mueller:Your friends for dinner and put it out there. Someone can find you. That's great. Then they can join. So you're not going to sit there with one person and commiserate.

Maya Acosta:you're right. You can start in your own home. Yes.

Karoline Mueller:And there's still parts here planted in, uh, in Fort bend. They still dominantly do these home Dinners or potlucks, small groups, get one person, get two people to. It's a start. It's a community you're not alone anymore. Yes. And if you really can't find someone, then join something online.

Karoline Mueller:So you're not feeling alone, join a specific group. So you get to interact with people and it's going to be more personal than just sitting on YouTube and listening where it feels great. But in reality, you're still alone.

Maya Acosta:Right. Also just like any other support group, there's this wonderful thing about coming together with people that agree with your way of eating.

Maya Acosta:And if it's about ethics, it's wonderful to come together with people who care about the animals or also care about the planet. And you have that in common. So it's not just that you're coming together to eat together, but you're building friendships. You're building this sense of, you know, healthy relationships, whatever that means to you.

Maya Acosta:But it's, uh, most of us are the only ones that are plant-based in our own families. So like myself, my mother is coming on board, but I have a lot of family members that are not interested. So this is why we need to create kind of like another family of people that support us. Yeah.

Karoline Mueller:And also like I invite people to potlucks who are not a hundred percent plant-based. We call it plant-forward or plant-curious, and it's getting people through the door and tasting the food. And also once you get a larger community and you have more bandwidths to invite people who are not like totally supportive for you and vice versa, right? You invite people who.

Karoline Mueller:Really just like I said, maybe plant curious, they might say, oh my God, I didn't realize that. Not just you could cook good food, but there are so many people who can cook delicious food or prepare delicious food this way, just to show that it doesn't take extraordinary skill to make good food.

Maya Acosta:very true.

Maya Acosta:I like the idea that you said that you don't have to be fully on board, just interested, I guess, because the whole goal is just to teach you how to bring more plants into your life because you know, most of the foods that the average person eats, I mean, most of the food is processed, so it's void of nutrients.

Maya Acosta:So when you eat more plants, more salads, more fruits, more vegetables, you're eating foods. Can help improve your health. So no shame in you not being fully plant-based. I mean, after all, we don't always wanna preach to the choir. Right? Cat. why outreach to new people. So you've said you've given us tips on whether we're interested in becoming a pod leader.

Maya Acosta:Also. Is there anything else that you would like our listeners to learn about you or something I could have asked you and.

Karoline Mueller:I wanna finally get the correct title for Sherra's book out. It'sJoyful, Delicious, Vegan.

Maya Acosta:Ah, yes, I have heard of that book.

Karoline Mueller:it just that.

Maya Acosta:So now you said you only have 150 people on your newsletter, but I actually thought you would have more because you put a lot of effort into the newsletter. So if anyone, any of our listeners are interested in signing up for your newsletter, do you have a link for that? I do and I can always put it in the show notes if you don't have it.

Karoline Mueller:put it in the show notes because I don't remember off the top of my head.

Karoline Mueller:Yeah. I think I made, or I can make a bit tree link. So it's easier to find.

Maya Acosta:Yes, that's what I've done now. So I'll put your link in the show notes, but I wanted our listeners to know that your newsletter, like I said, you put a lot of effort into it and you include. Everything that's happening in your area, but you also have correct me if I'm wrong, but you've interviewed other people online, kind of like zoom interviews during the COVID times.

Karoline Mueller:I started to invite guests to make our monthly meetings more interesting.

Karoline Mueller:Yeah. And I would like to keep something like this up in addition to the potlucks because it's a different dimension.

Maya Acosta:Right. Exactly.

Karoline Mueller:Getting people, the option to have an interaction with the speaker. So we invited different people. The last one we had on was Dr. Yami Lancaster, and it's just nice to have that personal interaction.

Karoline Mueller:And also I can dig around, you know, the wider Houston area, get people on who might not be able to travel. So I will think about it and it's older than something I can offer people who are not in the Houston area. Who are looking for a home to have some connection?

Maya Acosta:Yes, absolutely. Also I'm subscribed to a lot of newsletters from people all over the world, specifically here in the states as well, because you never know who knows who in what state.

Maya Acosta:And so like, for example, I subscribe to a lot of things in Phoenix, even though I live here because I always wanna continue to offer resources to my family members who are mainly in the Arizona area. So if I know that there's something going on in that area, I let them know which is why I think it's important to sign out for newsletters.

Maya Acosta:If you're interested in this way of living, and then you also include recipes from time to time, you recommend documentaries and books to read. So you offer a lot of resources.

Karoline Mueller:Oh, thank you. Yeah. I'm glad that someone looks like that. You never know newsletter.

Maya Acosta:You never know that is true. So Catalina, I know that you'll be going to Germany.

Maya Acosta:So congratulations on that. Is this your first time since the pandemic that you've been able to?

Karoline Mueller:No, I went last fall. It was really time for me to see my dad. Yeah. It's going to be his 95th birthday. Yes. In may. So. Yeah, every day is now becoming precious. And I'm excited that I get to go so

Maya Acosta:soon again. I know.

Maya Acosta:Well that I think it's wonderful. And you mentioned that in your newsletter that you know how important this is for you to spend time with your family and yeah, that's.

Karoline Mueller:Probably no reminder email, because it's gonna be a very Trabu fully packed

Maya Acosta:vacation this time. That's right. As far as your pod, do you have anything going on that you can share with us for the rest of the year?

Maya Acosta:Anything happening in 2022? We haven't

Karoline Mueller:besides together with the other part leaders thinking about emergence and how we can. Work this, we haven't planned anything as far as I know, but maybe my mind is just going

Maya Acosta:flying. No, I mean, I think most of us are still holding off a little bit. it's like, can we come out?

Maya Acosta:Is it safe? You know,

Karoline Mueller:well, we definitely. Potlucks, there will be a potluck till hopefully we don't have to call it off again every month from now on I actually, I personally hold the hope that in the Houston area, we will have two potlucks, one on Sunday, one on Saturdays in slightly different areas. And so my grand vision.

Karoline Mueller:For these pod networks to have pots in so many places to have pots in all kinds of communities, churches, and schools and gyms, and wherever you have people come together to have these micro support groups or hopefully medium size support groups all over and then network them. Yes. But so. Useless. So huge.

Karoline Mueller:It's so much time to travel. Right? I go to an event at Susan and Ken Mar and Jenna, and. Louis Dennis part, it takes me half an hour, 40 minutes to get there.

Maya Acosta:right. I know, I know that area. Believe me. you have to plan your whole life around that traffic. 

Karoline Mueller:  I'm willing to do it because it's so important to me.

Karoline Mueller:But for someone who's just curious or has limitations in some ways, It's a huge barrier. So we need to have more geo geographic distribution.

Maya Acosta:Yes. I really think we really need to get more leaders yes. On board. So Karolina, you were a leader before the pandemic and you really. Try to offer support during the pandemic.

Maya Acosta:You pivot it like many people. Now, as you say, you're hoping to resume things. You're slightly doing more food demos, this whole experience of being a food leader, a food leader. although it is a food leader, but of being a pod leader, the

Karoline Mueller:food, the whole food cheerleader.

Maya Acosta:That's right. Has it, despite the limitations has been a pod leader for PlantPure communities, has it continued to be gratifying for.

Karoline Mueller:Oh, absolutely. I could not do it otherwise if it wasn't so

Maya Acosta:gratifying. Yeah. It's really given us a sense of purpose. So what is the best way for people to reach you? If they wanna either we will put a link for the newsletter, but if they wanna learn more about you, do you have a website? What's your social media?

Karoline Mueller:I don't have a website yet. I'm on Instagram as Karoline’s Plant Kitchen, and I have sort of mostly stepped away from Facebook. I do have that addictive nature in me. So all these social media. Really tricky. You're welcome to join the newsletter and keep up that way. Mm-hmm and if you have questions, if you want to have a conversation, you can always reach me by email or telephone.

Karoline Mueller:Yeah. I'm happy as much as I have time to have conversations

Maya Acosta:with people. Yes. And I really do think your newsletter is the best way to connect, because I feel that when, like you're speaking to us directly, like you're keeping us informed, which is what people use social media for. So. Yeah. Yeah, well, Karolina, it's been such a pleasure.

Maya Acosta:My friend, I hold you here very dear to my heart. I really admire you. And I respect so much of what you do. You've been a role model. And like I said, my sister has been to these events because I attend them. And so you and the entire group in Houston that is involved with thiswhole food plant-basedlifestyle are doing wonderful things.

Maya Acosta:And thank you so much. I want everyone to know that it's happening in the Houston area. So, thank you. Thank you. You've been listening to the Healthy Lifestyle Solutions podcast with your host Maya Acosta. If you've enjoyed this podcast, do us a favor and share with one friend who can benefit from this episode.

Maya Acosta:Feel free to leave us an honest review on apple podcast that helps us to spread our message. Thanks for listening.

Karoline MuellerProfile Photo

Karoline Mueller

Karoline’s quest for health started in childhood seeking freedom from obesity and depression. In 1981, her family added whole grains and lots of raw vegetables to their standard repertoire. After coming to the United States from Germany to study for her Ph.D. in Chemistry, she learned more and more about diets. First, she explored vegetarian then vegan, and in 2011 she discovered whole-foods plant-based. The last was where she found her community. In 2015, she trained as a Food for Life Instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) to deliver nutrition and cooking classes. After watching PlantPure Nation in 2016, she was excited to join the Pod movement.