September 27, 2022
230: A Successful Mentorship Program Designed to Empower You with Kent Marsh

Do you want to be a part of a plant-based nutrition community that supports and interacts with one another? Kent Marsh shares solutions that you can access to the resources and information you need to make plant-based eating ...

Do you want to be a part of a plant-based nutrition community that supports and interacts with one another? Kent Marsh shares solutions that you can access to the resources and information you need to make plant-based eating easy and enjoyable.'

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Health advantages of a plant-based lifestyle
  • The importance of a support system when transitioning to a plant-based diet
  • What effect does plant-based living have on our overall health?

Other episode you'll enjoy
189: The True Pioneers of the Whole Food Plant-Based Lifestyle Concept with Mark Huberman

About Kent Marsh

Kent is a co-leader of the Harmony N Houston Pod located in Houston, Texas USA. He is a retired urban planner whose purpose in life is to provide the education and experience of whole food, plant-based lifestyle to as many people as possible. His current Pod projects include organization of the seven Houston-area Pods into a regional Pod called PlantPure Houston for more communication and interaction between Pods, and a WFPB immersion pilot called 10×10 that focuses on participant mentoring of 10 participants for 10 days. 

His vision is to create as many working Pods as possible in schools, churches, community organizations, and neighborhoods so that all may share in the benefits of a longer, healthier life. Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be WFPB!

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[00:00:00] Kent Marsh: We've had a good support group with the pod. We started the pod because we felt like having support was a major impact to making things happen in a positive manner. My daughter and her husband are not whole food plant-based and as her children, but my grandchildren recognize very sensitively that we are on a different lifestyle, eat differently, and they try to be very supportive when we go out together. So, that's the positive part of it.

[00:00:26] Maya Acosta: You have more power over your health than what you've been told. This is the 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 life.

[00:00:47] Maya Acosta: And increased longevity in a big way. Let's get started. Making a healthier lifestyle change sometimes requires being part of a support group that can keep you motivated and holds you accountable. Today, we will learn from the Harmony N Houston pod leader, Kent Marsh, how he has been able to support his community.

[00:01:09] Maya Acosta: He has developed an innovative mentorship program. 10x10, where mentors guide newbies for 10 days, stick around to learn more. So welcome back. I'm your host, Maya Acosta. And I've been doing a series of interviews introducing you to Pod leaders who are part of the Pod Advisory Committee for PlantPure Communities.

[00:01:31] Maya Acosta: So I'm very excited to introduce you to another individual. He's located in Houston, not far from me. And so you're gonna know more about Kent and Kent Marsh is in Houston. Like I said, he's the pod leader of the Harmony N Houston pod. That's located in Houston, Texas. He's a retired urban planner whose purpose in life is to provide the education experience of a whole food plant-based lifestyle to as many people as possible. His current pod projects include organization of these seven Houston area pods in a regional pod called PlantPure Houston for more communication and interaction between the pods and also a whole food plant-based immersion pilot called 10x10, that focuses on participant mentoring of 10 participants.

[00:02:22] Maya Acosta: For 10 days, his vision is to create as many working pods as possible in schools, churches, communication, organizations, and neighborhoods, so that all may share in the benefits of longer, healthier life. Be happy, be healthy, be whole food plant based. That's his message. Welcome, Kent.

[00:02:43] Kent Marsh: Thank you, Maya. I appreciate the opportunity.

[00:02:46] Kent Marsh: And I appreciate all the things you're doing for the plant-based community. It's a wonderful process. We're moving forward together.

[00:02:53] Maya Acosta: Yes, we are together. Thank you. And you know what, let me go ahead and say this to our listeners because many of my listeners hear me talk about my experiences or interactions with the city of Houston.

[00:03:06] Maya Acosta: So 2019, I must have gone to Houston, like four or five times. Because of plant-based events that were happening. So I attended the Veg Fest at Minute Made. I attended the Peaceful Planet Foundation's Retreat with Doctors Chawla and the Foundation. I attended their movie screening of Code Blue. I attended the Rice VegFest and I'm sure that I'm leaving something else out.

[00:03:35] Maya Acosta: Okay. So that's when I became a big fond of the work that you and other pod leaders in Houston are doing so great work.

[00:03:42] Kent Marsh: Thank you. Thank you. We've had an opportunity to spread the word as best possible in these, trying times with the pandemic. Obviously, it's much more difficult, but there are ways to make things happen and we've been successful.

[00:03:55] Kent Marsh: I think. Getting out the word to more people.

[00:03:57] Maya Acosta: Yes. You have been. And I must admit, I'm a little jealous that you guys have all of that going on because I feel alone here in Dallas. And it's not to say that we don't have people that are plant-based or that we don't have pod leaders. We just don't have that momentum that all of you have built throughout time.

[00:04:15] Maya Acosta: And in 2019 really seemed to stand out for all of you. What I love about the pod leaders in Houston is you come together. When events like the ones that I just named happen and you support one another.

[00:04:27] Kent Marsh: Yeah, that's what it's all about. We are hopeful that we can set up the PlantPure Houston, regional pod as a pilot, and be able to expand that to other municipalities in the US so that, they too can, use this as a goal to, enhance communication.

[00:04:44] Kent Marsh: That's what it's all about. We're trying our best to enhance communication and support for more than just one pod mm-hmm we have found out, I guess, the hard way during the pandemic. Pod leaders are pretty much alone by themselves. They felt like that they were having to have all the programming requirements done and they were having to have all the newsletters done and all the meeting notices and everything else.

[00:05:07] Kent Marsh: So we came together as a group with the same problems and trying to resolve those problems by having a, a regional pod that would have the ability to take over some of those efforts. Yes. In particular, having a calendar. That would allow each of the pods to put their information on the calendar so that more than one pod could attend, for instance, a potluck or some other activity that one of the pods is having to make them feel like they're part of the community, as opposed to just their own self.

[00:05:35] Kent Marsh: That's been very successful so far. We are also trying to start up projects with the regional pod to,  get more people interested. We have a new project that's just,  come into play. Now we're trying to expand our knowledge and information out to the public at farmer's markets. It gives us an idea and a great place for us to be at a vegetable sales-type facility.

[00:06:00] Kent Marsh: And then most people are asking, well, so what am I supposed to do with all these vegetables? Well, also there we are right there at the desk, saying, well, here's what you can do. So we are having our first experiment at a farmer's market north of Houston that will have a time frame of about 10 to one.

[00:06:17] Kent Marsh: We'll be there at the table and be giving people information about the whole food plant-based journey and how they can use all the vegetables that they're buying to increase their health. That's the whole key.

[00:06:28] Maya Acosta: That's a wonderful idea. Now, how were you able to get a table? Are you having to rent space or is it available to you because of your mission?

[00:06:38] Kent Marsh: Well, a little of both it's available to us. That's sort of a reduced cost. One of our pod leaders took it upon herself and this is, She, it's her project was basically, we're just assigned to support her, but she lives close to the area where the farmer's market's located and contacted the farmer's market.

[00:06:56] Kent Marsh: And they said, oh, we'd love to have you. These are the kinds of people we'd like to have at our farmer's market. We don't sell anything. We, we just give out information. So they're all happy. There's no competition. They wouldn't let us give out any treats or anything like that, but that's okay. We'll give information, but it's,  have a desk, a table, and a canopy and some chairs we had to rent those.

[00:07:17] Kent Marsh: I think it cost us probably less than $50 total. So it wasn't enormous amount of money. And we wanna try this as a pilot project to see if it's successful. And if it is, they meet monthly. So we'll be out there once a month to try to get the word out to, people who are attending. And they have a fairly large group that attends this particular farmer's market and use this as a pilot then to approach other farmer's markets in the Houston area to use the same type of process for us to give information to other people in the area.

[00:07:47] Kent Marsh: Yes. Who normally would come in contact with a whole food plant-based program, but this way they're exposed and, they can answer some of their questions.

[00:07:56] Maya Acosta: It's an excellent idea. And it makes sense as you, and I know that when we first started as pod members or pod leaders, the goal was to get the word out, to get people, to come and attend other events that we hosted in the area.

[00:08:10] Maya Acosta: So this is a wonderful way to kind of put yourself out there and make yourself available. Exactly. So people are there already to buy local produce. So why not learn delicious recipes? And we also, you can put together through you. I wanna add also since we are talking about the farmer's market, that that's sort of what I did with our community walks before we became officially a chapter for a Walk with a Dog, is that there's say a farmer's market that sets up about maybe three miles from where we live.

[00:08:41] Maya Acosta: And I did the same thing. I basically reached out to them and said, my husband and I would just like to be available to lead a group in the area and basically to walk in the area and then return to the farmer's market so that we can encourage them to support local markets. And they said, definitely we would love this.

[00:09:02] Maya Acosta: And so that's what we did. And it was great. The only reason we moved our location was because I felt that maybe some of the roads or the areas were not as safe for my walkers. And so Walk with the Dog, believe it or not, does offer insurance for every individual that walks with us. And so I really didn't want any injuries.

[00:09:19] Maya Acosta: That's the only reason that we moved away to another area that's designed specifically for community walks. So I love that you're doing that. Do you wanna also tell us and then we'll learn more about yourself? This program you brought up in our PAC meeting. Again, you're part of the Pod Advisory Committee.

[00:09:38] Maya Acosta: It's a group that's designed to help support and empower pod leaders. You have this program that I read in your bio 10x10. Tell us more about that.

[00:09:49] Kent Marsh: I have been exposed to several ranges of sizes for, different immersion projects through PlantPure Communities. You've seen several of 'em on podcast and those kinds of things that are on the PlantPure Communities website.

[00:10:03] Kent Marsh: And I was concerned about having a little more specific, focused strategic relationship with the participants so that they felt like they were loved, so to speak. And that they had support throughout this entire process. One of the difficult things that I have found, and I think others have too, is that.

[00:10:24] Kent Marsh: Starting out is okay. But, staying with it is a lot more difficult than most people understand. I've been on this journey now for about five and a half years. And the first, couple of weeks was fine. No problem then, but after the first month or two early, I'm glad that I had my wife a support for my program as I was going through the time.

[00:10:44] Kent Marsh: And that's exactly what we're trying to provide in the 10x10 it's 10-day immersion, which is,  not the shortest timeframe. There's actually a seven-day immersion that you can do, but it felt like that having it for 10 days with 10 people. Gave us a small enough group that we could focus our attention and our energy on from a pod standpoint, and be able to provide an individual mentor who has this experience already for each of the 10 participants.

[00:11:11] Kent Marsh: So that if that participant, in the middle of the night gets hungry and says, what do I do? and text the mentor. Then the mentor says, well, go have a drink of water first and then see if you're really hungry. So it's those kinds of things like common knowledge that most of us have in the plant-based community.

[00:11:28] Kent Marsh: It's not out there as far as the participants are concerned and that gives them an excellent support. The mentors are assigned a particular participant at the same time. They're required to contact the part. Once a day, every day during the 10 days. So there's a person there and a, a reaction there that they can say that there's some support.

[00:11:48] Kent Marsh: And that's the biggest thing is having support because you cannot do this alone. There is just absolutely no way. You're bombarded by so many other outside influences that, doing this by yourself. There's, you're setting yourself up for failure to begin with. So that's what we did. We have the let's call it 10 by 10.

[00:12:04] Kent Marsh: We provide the recipes. We have lifestyle instructors that are actually giving their time to produce 15 recipes so that we have the recipes we have the support from the mentors is to show them how to go to the grocery store. If they need that support what to do with their particular recipe, how to do it, how much time it's gonna take and those kinds of things, and, and batch, cooking, those kinds of issues that you don't get demonstrations. We have three meetings during the 10-day process. One, the. One in the middle one at the end, we call it the jump in the midstream and the jump out for immersion process. And that gives us an opportunity to have a presentation, a cooking demonstration, or a presentation of some sort about the benefits of the whole food plant-based lifestyle.

[00:12:50] Maya Acosta: So forgive me for saying this, but it reminds me of the support that AA organizations offer their people. And, and you might have had that idea in mind. I did.

[00:13:01] Kent Marsh: I did. I did. I could, I can, I can, I can hear everybody in the room saying my name is Kent Marsh and I've been on this journey for just two days.

[00:13:10] Maya Acosta: There you go. There you go. I love this model. Is this the first one of its kind for food for this way? As far as I know.

[00:13:18] Kent Marsh: Yeah. The immersion process is been around for quite a while, but keeping it this small and keeping the individual mentor relationship is the new thing that I think is gonna be more helpful to other people.

[00:13:31] Maya Acosta: Absolutely and I agree with you 100% when you said you can't do this alone, and if you're starting off for the first time are not prepared and you decide that you wanna do this overnight, although you do have different phases, people can jump in, they can jump out when you commit to 10 days of making a complete lifestyle.

[00:13:52] Maya Acosta: I do believe in having that support available. I myself tell the story often that when I jumped on board and did it overnight, I was all over the place. I was inspired by Dr. McDougall, but. Really, there was a raw foodist on YouTube that really got me to go overnight. And then, so I try the raw till four, which you're probably familiar with where you eat everything raw till 4:00 PM.

[00:14:16] Maya Acosta: And I had my counters full of papayas and bananas and mangoes and everything. And I had fruit flies everywhere, and then we started traveling, and then Kent, after that, I started doing the process vegan food. And before you knew it a year into this, I had gained weight from eating so much processed food, food, processed food that I didn't even eat before I went plant-based.

[00:14:39] Maya Acosta: And so well you are offering our mentors. Already 100% involved in knowing how to do this the right way. And then you're choosing people who want the support. So by the way, how do you decide on which participants become part of this program?

[00:14:55] Kent Marsh: We don't really have any particular criteria. First of all, we establish what the whole food plant-based lifestyle is and, give anyone who wants to part.

[00:15:04] Kent Marsh: The opportunity to join. I mean, we don't wanna segregate to any particular group or any particular lifestyle, but, I think there's enough, need out there in the community that there's no reason to have it particularly demonstrated to one particular group we're targeting it, to begin with, with the underserved community.

[00:15:21] Kent Marsh: Mm-hmm because we feel like that that's one of the best places to start that has the least amount of information about the whole food plant-based lifestyle. And. As far as the qualifications are concerned, if you have the desire and the need and the want to go forward for 10 days, I feel like you can do just about anything for 10 days and try this out and see what you think.

[00:15:42] Kent Marsh: And, see if you can get some results out of it. If you can. Great. If not, then mm-hmm. That's okay too. But I'm a firm believer in that it's my responsibility to let people know that they have a choice. If they don't know they have a choice, then it's my fault. If they know they have a choice and they choose otherwise, it's okay.

[00:16:00] Kent Marsh: I'm okay with that. But I wanna make sure that everyone has an opportunity to know the difference between a whole free plant-based lifestyle and what they're doing at that point in time.

[00:16:10] Maya Acosta: Yes, absolutely. And, you know, Mark Huberman was on the show recently and he was saying towards the end when I was just saying how amazing that he and his wife are both on the same page because we know that many marriages.

[00:16:26] Maya Acosta: When they make these lifestyle changes are sort of a little bit divided. And he said, you know, Maya, you and I are both lucky. We're both lucky that our spouses are on board. And so that brings me back to the support that you offer, which is most of the time, it's the one person in the marriage that joins, or if the couple joins, then there's the children.

[00:16:48] Maya Acosta: You know, there are the children that are not necessarily on board. And you get a lot of pushback from family members, as well as you're making this change because suddenly you're changing how they feel about the get-togethers as well. So, I think that it's amazing that you put together this program to support an individual.

[00:17:05] Maya Acosta: And as we know, 10 days, is enough to show that you can make a significant improvement in your health. And also out of curiosity, do you offer biometrics? Do you do any labs before and after those 10 days?

[00:17:19] Kent Marsh: We are going to offer those as an option, but we're not gonna provide them per se. We're going to tell people there's a location that you can have this done.

[00:17:27] Kent Marsh: You'll have to pay for it yourself. But we would encourage it because you'll be able to see the difference physically between what you air before and what you did after you went through the 10 days. Absolutely.

[00:17:39] Maya Acosta: Okay. So let's get started in, in terms of learning more about your story Kent, before you organize Harmony N Houston, that's the name of your pod before that?

[00:17:50] Maya Acosta: How did you come about learning about the whole food plant-based way of living?

[00:17:55] Kent Marsh: Well, I'll give you the longer than the short version. About 45 years ago when I was 27, I,  Made an appointment with a cardiologist in Houston now, fairly famous cardiologist. And because I had symptoms of high blood pressure, I had headaches.

[00:18:14] Kent Marsh: I couldn't sleep well and ringing in my ears and all those kinds of things. Now keep in mind, I'm 27 years old, I'm in pretty good shape, physically out those kinds of things. But I had this issue that I need to get resolved. So I made the appointment and I called my mother and I told her mom and said, I've got an appointment with a cardiologist for high blood pressure.

[00:18:33] Kent Marsh: She says and she was serious about this son. I help you understand that. No male on my side of the family has ever lived past the age of 50 and that still rings in my ear. I can still hear her voice saying that because that's been one of the primary directions in my life is to try to figure out how to live past the age of 50.

[00:18:53] Kent Marsh: And I did pretty good. I stayed on the standard American diet forever and ever, and ever, and I gained weight. And, about six years ago, I was about ready to retire. And I said, you know, I'm not going to retire overweight. I'm gonna have to figure out some weight to lose some weight. So I looked at the various diets that were on the websites and all of them looked well, you know, this Keto thing.

[00:19:16] Kent Marsh: I, I'm not really sure about that, but now Paleo now that's what I would like to have. Cause I can eat all the meat I can eat. Mm-hmm and sure enough about. The 1st of June around the 1st of June in 2016, I,  started off on Paleo diet and I was in hog heaven. We went on a trip to Alaska and I had king crab all day long, and we went on week-long trip to Maine and I had lobster breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

[00:19:45] Kent Marsh: It was fantastic. You know, I could just, I couldn't think of anything better in the world. So about, December, I had to have an appointment with my,  primary care physician because I was on four-lifetime medications, two for high blood pressure, one for high cholesterol, and one for gout. And, he makes me come in every six months and get my prescriptions renewed and checks me out well.

[00:20:09] Kent Marsh: So I had an appointment for early December. In 2016, I went to him and said, docs said,  I've been successful at losing some weight. I've lost about 30 pounds. But I need to lose some more and I, I just can't get past this plateau. So his comment to me was just very straightforward and very serious here.

[00:20:28] Kent Marsh: It says, you need to read the book, The China Study didn't tell me why or what it was involved or anything else. He just says you need to read the book, The China Study. So I said, okay, so I had a, about a week's vacation coming up. So I, right before Christmas. So I decided I'll get The China Study and read it.

[00:20:46] Kent Marsh: So I read all 457 page. Then I read, I saw Forks Over Knives documentary. Then I read, how not, then I read, how to prevent and, reverse heart disease, and on and on. And I've got books, I've got mounds of rows of books, in my library about all the things I've read about all these subjects. So this is about a week's worth of reading.

[00:21:09] Kent Marsh: And I decided this, this got to be the answer. This is better health lose weight. Maybe even get off my meds. Who knows? So Christmas day, actually, it was the day before Christmas day, I,  told my wife, I says, going on this whole food plant based diet, she said, oh no, you can't do that. . And so I said, yeah, that's what I'm gonna do.

[00:21:31] Kent Marsh: She says, well, okay. So she had in the meantime, Her diet was really one of not having any meat because she couldn't digest meat very well. And so she was in a dilemma of while I was on Paleo of fixing meat for me, but her not eating it. And that consternation between those two lifestyles and she said, okay, It's our history that we on our anniversary day, which is,  our wedding anniversary is the day after Christmas.

[00:22:00] Kent Marsh: We try to go out of town to some small place close by Fredericksburg. You probably know where it is and we spend three or four days there. And we stay in Austin. We go to Fredericksburg back and forth to the winery, et cetera. So we went to Austin the next day after Christmas, and I did not have any meat Christmas day.

[00:22:19] Kent Marsh: So we went to Austin and she called her support person. And she's just crying. She says I don't know if I can do this. This has got to be too hard for me to do. And the support person, her endocrinologist gave her all the kinds of information she needed to start on this path. Well so here we are. This whole food plant-based process heading down the road through time, a couple of things happened.

[00:22:44] Kent Marsh: One, we found out about a Vegan Cruise. I said, man, that would be ideal. I'd have somebody cook for me for 10 days. So sure enough, Susan found out about this through Sherry Shrallow, which is,  Friend of hers in Houston that moved to Chicago. Sherry has a book out called Staying Alive and she called Sherry and says, Sherry, what's going on?

[00:23:05] Kent Marsh: And Sherry said, you've gotta go to this cruise, this Vegan Cruise. So we signed up and in February, went on a 10-day Caribbean cruise where 2,500 of the people on the ship were all. So it was wonderful. Had no problem at all eating at that point in time. But before that, when Susan was trying to cook all these new kind of dishes, she would throw things away.

[00:23:27] Kent Marsh: She would burn things. It wouldn't be good. It wouldn't be cooked, you know, on and on, on cuz, she had no support at that point in time. Mm-hmm, so she was learning on her own. So she finally figured out how to do all this. And I must say at this point she's a wonderful cook. She cooks whole food plant-based for us and for anybody else that wants to be involved in a very delightful, well-tasting, healthy manner for you.

[00:23:51] Kent Marsh: That's just unbelievable. So, she's learned the hard way. So this is in 2017, and so we had this cruise, and about two months after he got back from the cruise, Susan started having an issue with her heart. So she's been on this whole food plant-based diet now for about four or five months. And she walks with her friends in the morning every morning, and one morning she got up and she couldn't walk very far about a half a block.

[00:24:18] Kent Marsh: She said, this is not right. So she tried again the next morning and sure enough, same thing. So she went, to a cardiologist long story short. They put her in the hospital and did an angio plant, angiogram on her, and did a stint on her heart. She had a 95% blockage of her LAD her whip is called the Widowmaker.

[00:24:37] Kent Marsh: Oh my God. The doctor said she had maybe two weeks left before she'd have a major heart attack. So that's how close it was to her, just not being around anymore. So that was a life issue that we all had to get around, but we still stayed on the whole food plant-based diet. About six months later, I had lost a total of 70 pounds.

[00:24:58] Kent Marsh: So I went from two 40 to one 70. Lost. Six inches in my waist, I went from a 38-inch waist to a 32-inch waist changed shirt sizes from a large to a medium. My next size went from a 17 to a 16. So, you know, it's just amazing the results that have happened on top of that. About two years ago, my primary care physician looked at all of the blood test numbers and he says, everything you've got is below normal.

[00:25:24] Kent Marsh: We're gonna have to take you off these meds. So at the end of this date, I do not take any medication. any co-market disease. Oh my goodness. So, and it's amazing. So from that perspective, I'm sold, you can't tell me that, this, hasn't been better for me, for us, and usually mention it's hard when you have by yourself.

[00:25:48] Kent Marsh: Fortunately, I've had my wife along with me and we've had a good support with the pod, we started the pod because we felt like having that support was a major impact to making things happen in a positive manner. And I, I will have to admit my daughter. Lives up three feet away. Right next door. She and her husband are not whole food plant-based.

[00:26:06] Kent Marsh: They're good meat eaters, good solid meat eaters. And as are her children, but her children, my grandchildren recognize very sensitively that we, their grandparents are on a different lifestyle and eat differently and they try to be very supportive when we go out together and making sure that we go to places.

[00:26:25] Kent Marsh: Susan and I can eat. So that's the positive part of it. And I think it's just setting the example, not paying, saying this or that about what you're doing, but just setting the example when they ask questions, answer the question, but otherwise just leave it alone, let them see for themselves. Excellent. So that's kind of where I am.

[00:26:41] Maya Acosta: Well, congratulations, because you did say that you started off by trying to figure out what is the best way that you could eat so that you can get off your medicine. And you reach that goal and not only that, but I'm sure your quality of life improved your longevity, you probably have extended. And you've done this together with your wife, Susan.

[00:27:03] Maya Acosta: Now, did Susan have to have any procedure or can you give us a follow-up of what happened with her blockage?

[00:27:10] Kent Marsh: Well, after she had the stint. Oh, she did

[00:27:12] Maya Acosta: Oh, she did have the stint. Okay. I'm sorry about that. I missed that. Oh yeah. Yeah.

[00:27:15] Kent Marsh: She had, okay. They put her in the hospital, did the angiogram and put, and did a stint the same time all while she were there.

[00:27:22] Kent Marsh: Because I mean, like I said, she had a 95% blockage. There was no way she was gonna get outta the hospital without them doing something. So, and she's been very successful and because standard protocol is to have a statin prescribed after you have a stint to keep the platelets from collecting on the stint.

[00:27:38] Kent Marsh: And she's been successful. And her doctor taking her off of the statin. Wow. Every time she goes in for her annual checkup, her cardiologist that did the procedure says, what are you doing here? You're in perfect condition. And he asked, so tell me about this diet that you. And so this is the way to introduce people, just by example, just not forcing the issue, just setting the example mm-hmm and people will begin to ask questions.

[00:28:04] Kent Marsh: I have people all the time ask me, well, tell me a little bit about this whole food diet. What are you doing and what is it and where do you get your protein? Those kinds of questions. Mm-hmm so you know, this 24 hours a day, just about people asking about what's going on. Why? Because everybody wants to live longer and healthier. They just don't know how. mm-hmm.

[00:28:23] Maya Acosta: So you also touched on something that is very important to me, which is when your physician is not on board. I had an individual in my Facebook group dealing with a similar situation and could not find a plant-based cardiologist here in Dallas. Can't afford a direct of pocket.

[00:28:40] Maya Acosta: Kind of concierge medicine approach that some plant-based physicians are taking and she was very frustrated. And so she got all sorts of advice. And I really don't like adding on top of that, to the confusion and the anxiety that the individual is already facing. But what I said was follow up with your cardiologist and do the procedures of whatever it is that's recommended to keep you alive, but then in your home, do what you know is right, which.

[00:29:08] Maya Acosta: Eat the right foods, because we can't always wait until our physicians catch up until our cardiologist, you know, decides that he finally believes in supporting a plant-based lifestyle. And also not to mention that a lot of times these physicians, these surgeons kind of refer the patient to say a registered dietician.

[00:29:29] Maya Acosta: For example, as you may know, that with my podcast, my goal is to help the individual empower himself, or he. And so many times this is what we have to do. We have to take charge and take control of our health and not wait for everyone else to catch up. And that's exactly what both of you did. So Susan's cardiologist was still sort of like, not necessarily on board, it sounds like what you said.

[00:29:53] Kent Marsh: Well, I can tell you this, Susan asked him, or he told her one way or the other, that what you're doing on a whole food plant-based diet is great for you. But I can expect the rest of my patients to do it because they think it's too hard. They won't try, they give up and I personally think it's because they don't have the support and that's what we need to get out.

[00:30:12] Kent Marsh: There is the support.

[00:30:13] Maya Acosta: Yes. We also know. And it comes up in these conversations about misconceptions that physicians have. Sometimes there is sometimes an error. In believing that patients are not interested. I think it's important to convince or to convey the message to healthcare providers that let's present the information and then allow the individual to make that decision.

[00:30:37] Maya Acosta: But you are right. If typically a physician only says, eat healthy foods, but doesn't give you a program to follow or a guide like the content that the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine makes they have like all these resources that you can have in the physician's office so that you can at least paint a picture of what it looks like to live a whole food plant-based lifestyle.

[00:31:00] Maya Acosta: And then the guides that they provide PCRM have recipes as you know, but yeah, we can't discount sharing the information with patients just because we believe that perhaps they may not be interested.

[00:31:13] Kent Marsh: Well, and I tell people all the time, when they ask me, what do you do about your doctor? And I said I'll follow my doctor's advice a hundred percent.

[00:31:20] Kent Marsh: And. If that's the case and then my numbers start dropping. My cholesterol starts dropping and my blood pressure starts dropping. And my uric acid starts dropping down to below normal levels. Then if you're getting blood tested every six months, which you probably should anyway, mm-hmm, if you're on those kinds of medications, then eventually he's gonna see, or she's gonna see that these levels are all coming down and sees the trend and is willing to talk about, well, let's think.

[00:31:46] Kent Marsh: Either a smaller dose or maybe even taking you off completely.

[00:31:50] Maya Acosta: Yep. Exactly. Very important. And how soon after Susan's stent, was she able to get off the, oh, the word just left me statins.

[00:31:59] Kent Marsh: Statins. She got off the statin about a doctor, took her off a year later. Okay.  because the standard protocol was at least a year.

[00:32:05] Kent Marsh: So at the end of a year her cholesterol was low enough that she didn't have to worry about that anymore.

[00:32:11] Maya Acosta: Wow. It's beautiful. What a beautiful story. It's a moving one too. I'm sure that your pod members who heard the message love being part of. Because you're a living example that this way of living works.

[00:32:24] Maya Acosta: So can you paint a picture for us of what life was like before the pandemic? So what sort of things did your pod do?

[00:32:32] Kent Marsh: We had a great time. We're still actually, we're getting back to a fairly normal condition. At this point, we usually would have monthly meetings where we would have, we are very fortunate and very demanding that our meetings include not just eating together, but also an educational component so that we would have either an author.

[00:32:52] Kent Marsh: For instance, we have an author here in Houston, Sherra Aguirre who wrote Joyful, Delicious, Vegan. We had her come out to one of our meetings and after the potluck, we had her talk about her life and what she did about life without heart disease and how she did it, and what her community does as far as promoting that particular direction.

[00:33:11] Kent Marsh: So, and we have the Doctors Tralo at one of our meetings to talk about lifestyle medicine. What is lifestyle medicine, and why is it different than the other kinds of medicine, those kinds of things, and how whole food plant base fits into that? So at each of our meetings, we have something to eat.

[00:33:27] Kent Marsh: Because everybody likes to eat. And of course, being together with eating people is, is a great socialization. And that's one of the four Cardinal principles of lifestyle medicine is increase your socialization. So we do that part and then, we also have an educational component so that everyone learns something and feels like that their time was worth the effort of not just eating, but having to learn something.

[00:33:50] Maya Acosta: So educational is what we're about as well. So I appreciate like being able to work with the resources in your community and people that are like-minded to bring 'em into your space. And I don't remember if you mentioned it, but where did you establish yourself? Did you partner with a church or any physical?

[00:34:08] Maya Acosta: Like where was your physical, your meetings? Where were they held?

[00:34:12] Kent Marsh: We're fortunate enough to live in a community that has an outdoor pavilion. Oh, so we could actually have meetings during the latter part of the pandemic and people felt comfortable. Our last meeting was a month ago and we had 35 people there.

[00:34:25] Kent Marsh: So, we're very fortunate to have an outdoor facility that, doesn't charge us to rent that facility. So it's free and all we have to do is make a reservation. So as a resident, then we can reserve that particular pavilion. It holds about, eh, it's about enough room for a hundred people. So we have plenty of room it's open just as a top so that you have all the freezers coming through, so you don't have to worry about the COVID and those kinds of issues. Yeah. But it was wonderful to see, we have 35 different meals, types of food for everybody to eat from salads to desserts and everything in between and everything was whole food plant-based, no oil.

[00:35:03] Kent Marsh: And just wonderful food. Just amazing how much diversity and variety there is in a whole food plant-based diet.

[00:35:11] Maya Acosta: Yes. So that's one of the things, since I know that we have,  pod leaders that will be listening to this conversation, I sort of wanted to give them an idea. And even people that might be interested in becoming pod leaders, give them an idea of what supporting your group can look like.

[00:35:26] Maya Acosta: So you can have people come in and give lectures. You mentioned Dr. Chawla, which by the way they were featured on, I don't know if you caught that they were on Chef AJ yesterday. 

[00:35:38] Kent Marsh: I did, and I didn't get the live, but I got the recorded version.

[00:35:42] Maya Acosta: Right. They're my favorite Lifestyle Docs. I really enjoy them.

[00:35:46] Kent Marsh: I am very fortunate that Dr. Batina is my preferred primary care physician.

[00:35:51] Maya Acosta: Yes. Well, see, when a pod leader can partner with a physician. Wow. You can do great things. So physical in terms of the actual place where one can hold meetings, you can be very creative if the weather is ideal and you can do outdoor gatherings. That's awesome.

[00:36:08] Maya Acosta: For us. We started at a library. yep. Using their auditorium and then churches are a good choice. Yeah. Churches are another choice. And how does one go about just, I guess you reach out to the administration and ask?

[00:36:21] Kent Marsh: Yes. Just pick up the phone call and say, I'd like to have a meeting at your church about whole food.

[00:36:26] Kent Marsh: Plant-based healthier lifestyle living. And I've never had anybody say no at this point. That's right. Churches are a good choice. Some places have county facilities that you can meet in without any charge. We're fortunate in Houston Harris county to have some county facilities that we can meet. Actually, there's quite a few people, persons that have the locations meeting their houses so that you can have that one on one relationship in a much more intimate type of setting mm-hmm so there's lots of places to go to have meetings and it's just, we'd never have had a problem.

[00:36:57] Kent Marsh: Finding a place to move. Yeah.

[00:36:58] Maya Acosta: It's a wonderful thing to be able to create community through like-minded people. And when you either establish a pod because you need that support or you join one, you'd be amazed. How many people come out suddenly and start attending? And that's what happened to us. Like I mentioned, No one spoke to me in person about this way of living.

[00:37:19] Maya Acosta: I learned it through the internet and doing research kind of like yourself. And then once we started doing our meetings at the library, people started coming from everywhere groups that were already established or people that had been longer in this lifestyle. You know, I started to meet individuals and then they bring.

[00:37:38] Maya Acosta: People that they're still trying to get on board. And next thing you know, you realize that there are people that need the support. It's such a beautiful thing.

[00:37:46] Kent Marsh: Yeah. I always encourage people to join a pot that's existing and active. And if they can't find one to start one, there's really not that big of a challenge to starting a pod.

[00:37:57] Kent Marsh: Mm-hmm if you've got two people, you got a pod. So, you know, it just grow from there. Reach out to your neighbors, reach out to the friends around you, reach out to your friends, reach out to those around you, who you are. Members of other organizations. There's plenty of opportunity for people to join a new pod.

[00:38:15] Kent Marsh: So I strongly encourage, I would love to have one day have pods at every church, every school, every facility. Those kinds of places are the starting points for people to interact with this whole food plant-based. Laughter.

[00:38:28] Maya Acosta: Absolutely. So talk to us a little bit about what life was like when we all had to stop getting to, you know, when we all had to pivot and you mentioned a little bit, but what are you doing now with your pod?

[00:38:42] Maya Acosta: How are you beginning to support the group? 

[00:38:46] Kent Marsh: Well before when we were in the middle of this pandemic, we had zoom meetings and they went fairly well. We would have out of our 30 or 40 participants live, we would have maybe half of those on a zoom. Again, we had an educational aspect to it because people were expecting their time to be used wise since they couldn't eat anything, they would go ahead and be on the zoom call, but they would expect something in.

[00:39:09] Kent Marsh: Excuse me. So then at that point, we felt like we're not doing a whole lot of good at this point, but we were, people were still engaged. And that was the main thing. After things led up a little bit and we could begin to meet, we felt like it was the first place was outdoors so far. We've had three outdoor potlucks. And since the pandemic, is let down a little bit, but at the same time we have a right next door to the pavilion. We have an indoor building that we can meet in if we need to, but we've been very successful in moving the locations around, not having it in one particular location on purpose, because again, getting its interaction, connectivity with different people, cuz you never know when you have a potluck or pod meeting at somebody's house.

[00:39:51] Kent Marsh: People are gonna see. Well, where all people come from, what are they doing? Oh, you had this food. Oh, what kind of food? Oh, you had whole food. What kind of food? Whole food. Oh, okay. Well, what is all that about? So you just never know where you're gonna have people ask you to begin this journey. We were at a hot dog, stand, a vegan hot dog stand by the way, one day.

[00:40:13] Kent Marsh: And we had a couple of ladies walk up in line and we talked, we said, oh, have you been doing this long eating vegan? Now, this is our first time. And I, she said, wait, really? So what got you into this? And she said, oh, well, you know, we heard about it. And we thought we'd tried. See what it was like. And I said, oh, okay.

[00:40:31] Kent Marsh: Well, you know, we have this pod that does all these things together. You might wanna think about join the pod. Here's the website information. So sure enough, they join the pod. So you just never know what kind of positive impact you're gonna. On anybody at any point in time. So live the life, set the example, and be willing to cooperate with people coming up to you.

[00:40:51] Maya Acosta: Yes. Yes. And I should add also that your wife is your pod leader as well. She's just as involved. So we're having a conversation with you, but really it's both of you.

[00:41:02] Kent Marsh: Actually, it's four people. We have four people and that's co-leaders myself and Susan, my wife. And then we have Janna and Lewis Dana who, by the way, we met on the second, Vegan Cruise.

[00:41:14] Kent Marsh: We went on, like everybody kept saying, have you met the other couple from Houston? now keep in mind, you got 2,500 people on this boat. And there's only four people in the whole boat that are from Houston and we never could catch 'em. So the last day we finally met him and we have become best friends and we do things all the time together.

[00:41:32] Kent Marsh: They're whole food plant-based, and he had a cancer issue that he had resolved with going on this diet. And she's supportive of him. The four of us together, sort of share the load more than anything else. Susan does most of the work, all the newsletter and getting the meetings together and those kinds of things, but we all support each other and together it just has happened and keeps happening and gets larger and bigger and better.

[00:41:55] Maya Acosta: Yes, it really does. It's such a beautiful world to be part of. So let's talk about, well, we're talking about community and supporting members, but really we wanna also support leaders and this is why we're part of pack. So last year in December, we had our first annual pod leader holiday party. We will have that again this year in December.

[00:42:17] Maya Acosta: And part of what we did as the event part of, I mean, in the events subcommittee, one of the things that I did is I went to PPC and looked. On the map, all the pods. And I tried one by one reaching out to every pod leader and some seem inactive. And some individuals kind of just, you know, gently told me, well, I'm not involved anymore.

[00:42:40] Maya Acosta: We're not getting together anymore. And so I wanna speak to those individuals who might have felt like, because I, myself felt like I had abandoned my group. I mean just cold Turkey. And that's basically what life did to us. It pulled us away and we suddenly had to separate from one another and we haven't resumed anything in person, but I'm feeling very optimistic and I have ideas of what I'd like to do again, as we move forward to supporting people that want the support, but for leaders, what would you say to individuals who might feel like they just don't know where they are anymore in terms of their leadership, in terms of supporting their members?

[00:43:19] Kent Marsh: Well, I can give you a personal example about, three, four months ago, I had a call or an email from one of the PlantPure community staff saying,  we're trying to set up a mentor program. Would you be interested in being a pod leader, mentor? I said, well, whoa. Yeah, sure. Why not? I, I have plenty of time for that kind of stuff.

[00:43:41] Kent Marsh: so anyway, sure enough. About a week later, I get an email from the same person saying we have a pod leader in mountain home, Arkansas, and I didn't have a clue where mountain home Arkansas was, but I found out a little bit later, we have a pilot of you there. That's a little frustrated and not really sure what's going on with this PlantPure lifestyle and how she can promote it in her community.

[00:44:05] Kent Marsh: Would you be willing to be her mentor? Wow. I said, well, yeah, sure. So she gave me her email address and I contacted this person. It was, Patricia Bibas and she's 83. She has a clinic and while she goes to a clinic and she has a pod that's starting when she couldn't figure out how to, how to get the members to come to meeting.

[00:44:29] Kent Marsh: So I gave her some ideas about what to do to get the members there, to have monthly meetings, be consistent and have a program, some education part of it, in addition to the eating part mm-hmm. So she tried that and it was successful and everything went real smooth. And I kept checking back with her every, a couple of weeks just to see how things were going.

[00:44:46] Kent Marsh: So about three weeks ago. When I last checked up with her, I said, how are things going? How is the meetings going? And she said, you know, I've got all these meetings and all these background, all these things that I've done, but I just don't have any subjects left to talk about. I said, oh, well, I can help you with that.

[00:45:04] Kent Marsh: So I sent her 12 different things to talk about like salt and oil, and what's good for those and bad for those, and sugar and the book, how not to die. And those kinds of things. I sent her a list and she sent me an email back about 30 minutes later. She says, you know, you're the greatest mentor in the world.

[00:45:20] Kent Marsh: This is exactly what I needed. So that made me feel like that my time was worthwhile and helping pod leaders get past these humps through this mentor program is a very worthwhile effort. 

[00:45:32] Maya Acosta: It really is and I myself feel since I've been part of PAC because we are pod leaders and we're sharing ideas, I feel uplifted and optimistic about the future, but that's, our goal is to be there for one another and to share ideas, everything from creating newsletters to how to support your group online.

[00:45:53] Maya Acosta: So we have been working behind the scenes to offer that support. So I love that.

[00:45:57] Kent Marsh: Well, a lot like the primary actor in the XFiles, if you remember the X files, the word across the screen was we are not alone and that's the same way with pods. We're not alone.

[00:46:10] Maya Acosta: We really are not alone. And it feels so good to come together in person. I'm.

[00:46:14] Maya Acosta: I'm so looking forward to that, so a couple of other things, I feel like I might have forgotten, but I wanted to know if people are interested in learning more about your pod or any other information that you'd like to share, what are those links so that I can make sure I put 'em in the show notes.

[00:46:31] Kent Marsh: We have a pod Facebook page Harmony N Houston.

[00:46:35] Kent Marsh: And we have a website page on the regional pod called So those are two excellent sources for that beginning spot. And then of course there's always lots of information on PlantPure Communities website. So we're in that website as a pod, so you can contact us directly or any other, other Houston area pods or any pods at all for that.

[00:47:01] Kent Marsh: So that's a source and then email got my email address. It's

[00:47:12] Maya Acosta: Okay. Got it. And like I said, I'll include that in the show notes. Is there anything else that you would like to share with our listeners? Maybe something that I didn't ask or something else that you'd like to share?

[00:47:25] Kent Marsh: Well, I'd like to close and say, you know, This is a challenge. There's no question about it. That you are bombarded on a hourly daily basis with the opposing side, the meat industry, and the dairy industry. And I lack this very similarly to what happened while I was growing up regarding tobacco. And nicotine and the habit forms of tobacco that the tobacco industry denied to begin with.

[00:47:54] Kent Marsh: And when they finally came out to the point where, eh, well, maybe so they fought it the whole. I firmly believe that animal protein and dairy are the nicotine and tobacco of the 21st century. You go back and look at the tactics. It's the same taxes we're seeing today that they used back in the sixties regarding smoking.

[00:48:14] Kent Marsh: Smoking was good for you. Milk is good for you. Beef is good for you. Well, yeah, but it's killing you. Mm-hmm so, you know, it's one of those things where you have to be able to step back and think about it from a common sense. Why is it that some people say it's 70%? I think that's conservative. Other people have said, you know, if you take out the people that are sick and are unhealthy to begin with 98% of Americans are overweight and you look around and you see everybody's overweight.

[00:48:45] Kent Marsh: Well, why is that? It's because we are addicted to animal protein and dairy. There are addicting elements in those foods. And when you figure out that you're addicted to it, and the only way you can. Not addict to it is to get off of them. Then we've made progress. So it's the same process, but there is hope it's the movement is going forward.

[00:49:05] Kent Marsh: It's getting larger. Every time I go to a restaurant, we went to a restaurant yesterday in the middle of Houston, well known vegan restaurant that was cooking with oil. And we said, is there anything that you can cook for? That doesn't have all that she says, well, yeah, we can cook this particular dish.

[00:49:22] Kent Marsh: We don't have to put all in it. So she did and sure enough, it was amazingly well done. So you just have to educate people and let them know that there is demand. And if they see that they will come to attention and they'll follow it.

[00:49:36] Maya Acosta: mm-hmm. Absolutely. And this is how we help to empower ourselves to use our voice, to speak out.

[00:49:43] Maya Acosta: And for example, ask restaurants to do this. Yep. Yep. Um, yeah, it's been such a pleasure, Kent, getting to know you this way and I'm sure you're gonna see me as soon as things happen in Houston. Again, you'll see me there again.

[00:49:56] Kent Marsh: I'll be anxious to meet up.

[00:49:58] Maya Acosta: Well, thank you again for sharing your story and for all the great work that you're doing in Houston and beyond.

[00:50:05] Maya Acosta: Really? So thank you. Okay. Thank you for the opportunity. When Kent was 27 years old, he began to experience symptoms of high blood pressure. He didn't make any significant lifestyle changes at the time. His mother concerned about his health shared with Kent that men in their family do not live past age 50, only six years ago.

[00:50:26] Maya Acosta: Kent was preparing for retirement. He wanted to enter the stage of his life by losing a little bit of weight around the belly after studying about various Fad diets. Kent decided to try the paleo diet. He was in hog heaven. As he described an indulge in meat, Kent was able to lose close to 30 pounds.

[00:50:47] Maya Acosta: During this time he decided to revisit his physician. His doctor recommended that he read The China study. This book introduced Kent to the power of eating a whole food plan-based diet and had tons of information that is evidence-based in 2017. Ken and his wife, Susan went on a vegan cruise where they attended more lectures about lifestyle and met other like-minded individuals.

[00:51:13] Maya Acosta: Like many of us. Kent read every book and watch every film on the topic. As he made his transition, they eventually met another Houston, couple informed the Harmony N Houston support group. That same year Susan began to develop heart problems and discovered that she had a 95% blockage in her left anterior descending artery.

[00:51:37] Maya Acosta: This blockage is also known as a widow maker due to its high mortality. Her physician said that, has she not visited him. She most likely would've had a heart attack within two weeks. Ken and I spoke about the importance of having a support group. It can be frustrating to have physicians disagree with our new dietary choices.

[00:51:59] Maya Acosta: Family members are not always supportive of our healthy endeavor. Kent describes ways that we can hold in-person meetings with our group members. He suggested partnering with churches and other organizations. I discussed that my partnership with my local library was an ideal situation. We were able to screen documentaries and offer panel discussions and guest lectures.

[00:52:24] Maya Acosta: Kent developed a mentorship program, similar to that of an AA. Members have mentors who are available to offer support when needed his 10x10 project is a 10-day immersion program designed to help 10 people transition to a plant-based diet. The program provides participants, recipes, mentors, support, and nutrition information.

[00:52:50] Maya Acosta: Kent believes that this program will help people make a lasting change to their diet and improve their health. Support groups also teach members how to dine at restaurants and also ask for healthier options. Kent is a member of the Pod Advisory Committee, a small group of nine people from all over the world.

[00:53:10] Maya Acosta: Our goal is to help support leaders who run these groups because this is a grassroot movement. We volunteer our time and energy to help others. Therefore we need support and staying motivated. Kent set out to lose a little bit of weight, his knowledge improved his quality of life, and may have given Susan a second chance at life.

[00:53:33] Maya Acosta: The whole food plant-based lifestyle works. There are now tons of books and documentaries on the topic. If you wanna make a change and need support. Find a group in your area or create one. I will meet Kent for the first time in person. When I drive down to Houston for the Peaceful Plant Foundation's Annual Retreat on October 8th, if you are in the area, please attend the retreat to meet other leaders who are empowering community members, friends.

[00:54:01] Maya Acosta: I hope that you enjoyed this interview. If there was someone you think I should have on the show, email me. Also, get on my email list so that we can stay in touch with you, head on over to bit ly that's to download a helpful guide towards starting a plant-based lifestyle.

[00:54:28] Maya Acosta: And all of the links will be in the show notes again. Thank you so much for being a listener. 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, feel free to leave us an honest review on apple podcast that helps us to spread our message.

[00:54:51] Maya Acosta: Thanks for listening.