I’d like to introduce an awesome family to give you some encouragement on your journey to better health through plant based nutrition. If you’ve been holding back from diving into this lifestyle because you don’t have room for all the latest gadgets and are always on the go, then meet this family who is learning to cook and eat a plant based diet from their 29 foot camper! They live in their camper year round and are “full time RVers.” They live in Northeast PA from April to November and usually stay in Madison, GA during the winter months. John does construction work while in PA and the whole family has been volunteering for Source of Light Ministry in Georgia in the winter season.
I first met Loretta and John and their two children Erica, 14 and Shane, 11 at a Plant Based Eating Group pot luck dinner in Tunkhannock, PA in May of this year. They were invited to the gathering by its founder, Virginia Fennelly, a chiropractor and plant based eating advocate. Loretta had recently suffered a hemorrhagic stroke at age 38 and Virginia knew that she could benefit from a healthy plant based diet to control her blood pressure, prevent another stroke, and recover from her illness. Up until this time, the basis for all of their meals at home, as with most American families, was a good dose of animal protein including steak, chicken, sausage, or burgers.
When Loretta sat down with me at the pot luck to ask questions about the 28 day Engine 2 challenge we were starting in June, she was very skeptical, but she knew she had to make some changes. She has had high blood pressure since she was 18 years old and her recent stroke affected her right side and caused her difficulty writing. Her biggest concern was the kids and how they would accept the changes she was considering. She decided to give it a try and made a date to participate in our challenge group. John had been interested in going vegetarian for years and was ready to hop on board.
The change was difficult at first for the children who loved mac n cheese, chicken nuggets, and French fries. Loretta told me that the first night she cooked a plant based dinner, Shane looked at his plate for two hours. She used some vegan treats in the beginning to transition him to healthier foods, and then she found he really liked veggie burgers which are a staple of his meals now and he is starting to add more veggies to his diet. It hasn’t been easy for Erica to participate in activities with her friends who eat cheese pizza and all of the usual teen junk foods and being at church camp was challenging for the whole family since they were the only ones there who eat a plant based diet. Despite a challenging summer of camp and picnics, they got back on track and didn’t give up just because of some bumps in the road. I am so proud of Erica and Shane who come to our Engine 2 gatherings and sample new foods and are respectful and kind.
John has really embraced this new lifestyle, has lost 40 lbs since June, lowered his blood pressure, gotten rid of tremors, and has plenty of energy for the hard work he does every day outdoors. He also has great knowledge about edible plants in the wild and found some edibles in my yard that I just thought were ugly weeds. Loretta has lost 12-15 lbs, is feeling better, has made a fabulous recovery according to her neurologist, and is busy homeschooling her kids and making great plant based dishes in their camper. Erica has also lost weight and Shane no longer has stomach pain that he used to get frequently.
So , if you think you need a big fancy kitchen to make delicious plant based dishes, just remember the Sicklers! Here’s to hoping they inspire other full time RVers in their travels!