The Daily Beet

04 Apr Guest post by Lani: Taking a plant-strong stand.

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Taking a plant-strong stand


  • Walking into any restaurant, popping open the menu, and navigating to the plant-strong items.  And even better, plant-strong choices starred with ‘no added fats or oils’.  And you don’t have to ask “Is there lard in the beans?”
  • You are invited to a dinner party and your host includes, with the invitation, the easy and courteous question of, “We will be serving a plenty of plant-strong dishes, too, along with salad, rice and beans with no added fats, would you like to be in for the plant-strong menu count?”  Um, yeah!
  • You’re at a social event, noshing and conversing with new acquaintances, and when the term ”plant-strong” enters the conversation, no one says “What does plant-strong mean, anyway?”  Instead, you just launch into some enthusiastic recipe sharing and menu ideas.


Now, it’s time each of us take action that will benefit us all.  No doubt you’ve done some of it already.  I’m talking about taking a plant-strong stand by asking for what you want.

How to help grow the plant-strong movement by asking for what you want.

Plant-based eating is a grass-roots movement.  It is growing stronger every day because more and more of us are taking a stand with our forks and moving plant-strong mainstream.

It is precisely because those who have gone before you have asked for veggie burgers, oatmeal, and salad with dressing on the side that these eats are easier and easier to find on restaurant menus.  Continue the tradition and make it easier for those who follow you.  Help grow the plant strong movement by simply asking for what you want.

I believe that the ‘imagine plant-strong’  scenario above is entirely possible. Yet we will have to work together to make it happen.  Here are 3 simple ways that you can hasten the day:

  1. When ordering in a restaurant, if what you want is not on the menu, politely ask for it. In person, over the phone, or both. For example, it’s breakfast, and you order a bowl of oatmeal.  Simply ask, “Do you have almond milk?”, or “Do you have soy milk?”  Even if you are not a big non-dairy milk drinker, and you just like a splash on your early morning oats, stating the question brings the issue into the public eye.
  2. When invited to dine at the home of a friend, enthusiastically and graciously offer to bring a healthy plant-strong dish to the table.
  3. At your local supermarket, ask for items that you’d like them to carry.   In a local market near where we leave, there are even tagged items on the shelf that carry the message “by customer demand”.  And don’t ask just once and let it go.  Ask each time you are in for quinoa, brown jasmine rice, you favorite sweet potato.

Vendors respond to customer demand.  Their desire is to please you so that you remain a loyal customer.   But how is your supermarket manager going to know what to get for you if you don’t ask?  As an example, I am writing this from an island in Micronesia.  There is a breakfast buffet that comes with the hotel room we have booked for a couple of nights in transit.  There’s fruit, salad, bread and and then a long line of eggs, bacon, some kind of other meat stirred in with some veggies, and of all things cocoa puffs and sugar-frosted flakes.  We asked for soymilk and meusli (which we’ve seen in the market) and guess what the staff proudly presented us with the next morning?

Don’t apologize for what you eat.  Ask for it!

Patiently explain what you mean, if needed. Remember, a plant-strong lifestyle, like any other change, is caught more than taught.  You will win more hearts by attraction via your own success, kindness, and courtesy.  Like it or not, we are each ambassadors for change and how we speak and conduct ourselves makes a huge difference.  Deportment!

Have you a suggestion for other ways to take a plant-strong stand, to help move plant-based further into the mainstream?  Please share your “ask for it!” brainchilds with us in comments and inspire others to action!

Lani Muelrath is a plant-strong fitness expert! Lani is the creator of The Body Transformation Formula and Fit Quickies™ 5 Minute Workouts. She has a Master’s Degree in Physical Education and over 30 years of experience as a teacher, coach, and trainer. She has received awards for her instruction, created and starred in her own CBS TV Show, and her expertise in the area of health and fitness is called upon by examiner.com, as Fitness Expert for Dr. John McDougall’s Health and Medical Center, coach, Dr. Neal Barnard’s 21-Day Kickstart program, and Health and Fitness Lifestyle Expert for Vegan Mainstream.com. She is Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University. She and her husband also built their house with their own hands!

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Engine 2 Team
Engine 2 Team

The Engine 2 Team is dedicated to helping you become plant-strong! Each of us are on the plant-strong journey right along side of you!

  • Mary
    Posted at 12:17h, 04 April

    I like Doug Lisel’s “Seem” strategy. I use it at places to eat when people start questioning my no oil request, “no oil seems to work best for my digestion” or “no oil seems to be preventing a heart attack”
    It can be hard at first though!

  • Dia
    Posted at 12:56h, 04 April

    Great suggestions.
    My daughter’s family & I have been eating GF for almost 3 years, since the genetic testing showed we have double genes for gluten intolerance, & it’s been great! AND eating out presents some of the same challenges.
    We went dairy free last fall, & I’ve done ‘low meat’ for years, so this last shift to ‘Plant Strong’ (sans gluten: ie wheat, rye, barley & conventionally farmed oats – so most oatmeal you’d find ‘out’) just tweeks the program a bit more.
    I find the same thing, that requesting, calling ahead, questioning – all politely, but firmly, helps smoothe the way for a safe, positive experience! I also pack digestive enzymes, or have a splash of vinegar in water with a meal, to aid digestion 🙂
    Thanks for a lovely article.

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong health & fitness
      Posted at 13:53h, 04 April

      Dia, you are a shining example of not allowing challenges – multiple, I might add! – Get in your way. Brava!

      Thanks for your kind words and for sharing your story today.


  • Kathy Grant
    Posted at 13:31h, 04 April

    What a great idea! It is true that the more the public asks for things, the more store owners or restaurateurs listen. Let’s do it!!

  • Kirsten Walker
    Posted at 19:54h, 04 April

    I have been focusing on living the plant strong lifestyle since January when I started the 28 day challenge (I had been gradually adapting this healthy way of eating since August when I went dairy free). I LOVE this lifestyle and love the idea of ASKING FOR WHAT WE WANT…I do enjoy eating out with my hubby, so I’m definitely going to start asking for what I WANT…no oils, plant strong, dairy free items…I like the comment of “no oil seems to be preventing a heart attack”…great words!!!

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong health & fitness
      Posted at 20:21h, 04 April


      That’s the spirit! You are very inspiring.

      Did you do the 28 day challenge on your own or as part of a group?

      Thanks for your comments today.


  • Wendy (Healthy GIrl's Kitchen)
    Posted at 22:03h, 04 April

    I do this everyday!!!! I can’t wait to hear other people do it to! Whoo hoo!

  • Avital
    Posted at 00:51h, 05 April

    I want to start by saying just how much I love this post. This is something I’ve thought about every day since I went plant-strong 2 years ago.

    I thought I’d share some successes I’ve had with pushing forward with the plant-strong movement on a smaller scale (still grass-roots, I know). As most of us who read the Engine 2 website probably already know, just living by example as a committed plant-strong eater can have such an impact. One of my roommates became plant-strong a month ago and loves everything about it. She had been thinking about it ever since we met a year and a half ago, but she told me that by watching me live this way, it gave her the confidence to try it herself. My other roommate is still a carnivore, but again by learning about my eating habits and the health reasons behind them, she rarely eats meat and only has dairy and eggs a couple times a week. She has even begun experimenting with making vegan baked goods.

    With other friends, I always engage with them about what I eat if they initiate the conversation (of course I never force it). Often they’re just very curious, so I end up responding to their initial interest with an “I-just-did-some-research-one-day-and-got-really-into-the-whole-vegan-thing-and-here’s-what-I-found” kind of start. Most people seem to just be fascinated that vegetables are also sources of protein, calcium, iron etc. I often find these conversations very helpful in inspiring others to simply start thinking about what they eat at all (it seems the thought process involved in choosing what to ingest is very rare… It’s just about what tastes good).

    Finally, work to make change within your small communities. My mom started a wellness group at her office where she provides her colleagues with a mini library of resources from her bookshelf (including “The Engine 2 Diet” and “Forks Over Knives”, of course) as well as replacing current food options with healthier choices. For example, they provide fruit plates for employees on birthdays, and they’ll have a regular Make-Your-Own-Trail-Mix day with an assortment of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. Both have been huge successes. Often it seems that it was only because no one had taken the initiative to make a change food-wise that they kept being served the cakes and donuts, but everyone has completely gobbled up the healthier options and prefer them to the previous ones. Since we’re all relatively well-read on this stuff, it’s our job now to help others to articulate their own desires for healthier food choices!

    This post is really long, so I’ll stop now. I’m just really excited about viewing the plant-strong movement in its future, large-scale form. My goal is to see it come to fruition when I’m a grandma… As a 22-year-old now, that gives us 50 years. Let’s do it!

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong healthy living
      Posted at 08:59h, 05 April

      Avital, what an inspiring set of stories and suggestions. I love the lending library – go mom! And your enthusiasm is touching many. You go.

      You point out something that is an easy take-away that I’d like to underscore – being armed with some basic facts that do get attention, such as the protein and calcium. The way you present it, as sharing helpful tips, can make such an important impact and gives people a great place to start. Though we know a plant-strong diet is just part of healthy living, since we are often first presented with questions about protein or calcium, being prepared with specifics to meet people where they are is always a good idea.

      Thanks so much! Onward!


  • Leslie
    Posted at 07:48h, 09 April

    Thank you for this post! It is vey belpful to hear how to handle things. My husband and I have been plant stong for eight months now and we have had our little challenges with eating out and with conversations with friends and family. Our comminity is econimically driven by industrial diaries and chicken ranches here in Central California and people look at us as though we are from another planet and that we are an oddity and being difficult when ordering at restaurants. Thanks for the much needed support. We appreciate all the help we can get.

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