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More than 300 turn out for New Year New You Health Fest

By Robin Y. Richardson
Jan. 18, 2014 at 10 p.m.

<p>Attendees at the New Year New You Health Fest take a break for some lunch from the Good Karma Kitchen on Saturday. More than 300 attendees participated at this year's event. See more photos at</p>

More than 300 vegans from across the country shared in the third annual New Year New You Health Fest this weekend for three days full of education, fun and good, healthy eating.

"We had way more people than we expected last night," Amanda Smith, co-founder of Get Healthy Marshall, sponsor of the event, said of Friday's kick-off activities.

And Saturday's activities - including cooking demos, safety classes for women, exercise classes and lectures - drew a whopping audience of 75 to 100 people.

"We've had 75 to 100 people at cooking demos," Smith said, adding they also had more than 100 people attend the safety class for women.

"We've had a great day," she said Saturday. "We're doing really well. That's what we want.

"We want them to hear the speakers; we want them to attend the lectures," said Smith. "That's why we do this.

"We're really happy and all of the feedback seems to be really positive," she said.

In addition to activities, attendees were also able to check out various vendors who traveled from as far as Chicago and California to promote their products.

"We have 16 vendors. Some are local, some are national," Smith said, noting that one of them, Herbivore Clothing Company, traveled all the way from California.

"They're coming a long way to our little, teeny town of Marshall, Texas," she said.

Nancy Hibbard and her daughter Jenny Singer traveled all the way from New Hampshire to attend.

"We actually discovered this last year. We both decided to go vegan about a year and a half ago and decided that we just wanted to meet more people who were doing the same thing and discovered this festival and came last year and had so much fun that we actually decided to volunteer this year," said Singer.

Her mother, Hibbard, said what impressed them so much about the festival was the energy, information and education offered.

"Like she said, we've been doing this about a year and a half, so we had only been six months into the being vegan, and just coming down here and getting more information (motivated them)," she said.

"I do a lot of the cooking, so changing the way you eat changes the way you cook, so it's been a learning experience for me, too," she said.

The mother and daughter said they would absolutely recommend the festival to anyone wanting to learn more about the lifestyle.

"A lot of the chefs here make it so easy and accessible," said Singer, recounting how last year, Chef AJ, a culinary instructor from Los Angeles, warmly welcomed a visitor who came just to learn more about the plant-based diet. "He was like I'm here for information. So she was like welcome…

"Something like this, you do see mostly people who are plant-based vegan, but you see all different people here whether they're young, old, thinking about it, been vegetarian for 20 years or just recovering from some bad situation that they're trying to help themselves with, so there's just a ton of information, and a great community here," said Singer.

She said being in northern New Hampshire where they live, they do not have many resources regarding the lifestyle, but they are building a community.

"Being in northern New Hampshire where we are, there's not a whole lot.

"So being here, you kind of come and you get re-inspired, re-invigorated," said Singer. "But it's two weeks after the new year when everybody's resolutions start to fade away, it's like oh, wait, no I want to do this; this is good."

Not only is the festival good, but converting to a plant-based lifestyle is also good for healthier living, said Dr. Alan Goldhamer, one of the lecturers. Goldhamer, founder of True North Health Center, traveled from California to lecture on "Escaping the Pleasure Trap."

"Issues are easily corrected by putting people on plant-based diets," Goldhamer told the audience. "As long as your diet is a vegan diet and free of all salts and sugar, it'll yield a good outcome."

At his center, which is the largest facility in the world that specializes in medically supervised water-only fasting, doctors help patients manage high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and a wide range of other health conditions.

Goldhamer said oftentimes, physicians who come to the center for training and to do their residency are shocked with how the adoption of a vegan lifestyle is benefiting patients.

"This is the first time they've ever seen patients actually get well because in their mind these patients will never get well, and yet them seeing them get well really blows their mind because it's the first time that's happened," said Goldhamer.

He said they're surprised mainly because the medical profession often gives the impression that those suffering with diabetes, arthritis and other health conditions will have to be on medication for the rest of their lives.

"The medical profession promises you if you have that you'll be on drugs for the rest of your life because you will never recover."

"They're guaranteeing you're never going to recover," said Goldhamer.

That notion is not true, he said.

"The way to get rid of this is to get rid of the cause," he said, informing that will mean a change in diet. "There is a way out of those things. It's just there's no way out unless you're willing to make those kinds of radical changes," said Goldhamer.

"If you're desperate enough to be willing to do dangerous and radical things like eat well, exercise, get enough sleep and maybe even have to undergo a detoxification process like we do at the center called fasting (you can recover)," he said.

The festival continues today, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., featuring a Hollywood Boot Camp, more informative lectures, exercising classes and more.



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