50 episodes

The Plant Yourself Podcast features interviews with guests who are healing the world in various ways. From plant-based nutrition, to joyful movement, to evidence-based healthcare, to gardening, to environmental action, to social justice, to spiritual common sense - basically, all the folks I want to be friends with.



Listen to a few episodes, subscribe if you like, and meet my friends.

Plant Yourself - Embracing a Plant-based Lifestyle Howard Jacobson, PhD

    • Nutrition
    • 4.9, 283 Ratings

The Plant Yourself Podcast features interviews with guests who are healing the world in various ways. From plant-based nutrition, to joyful movement, to evidence-based healthcare, to gardening, to environmental action, to social justice, to spiritual common sense - basically, all the folks I want to be friends with.



Listen to a few episodes, subscribe if you like, and meet my friends.

    Going from Racist to Anti-racist with Dustin and Josh LaJaunie: PYP 415

    Going from Racist to Anti-racist with Dustin and Josh LaJaunie: PYP 415

    Dustin and Josh LaJaunie have amazing transformation stories. They went from obese to fit. From junk food addicts to plant-based eaters. From hunters to vegans. From sedentary to active.

    And everyone in the plant-based and vegan communities celebrates them for these achievements.

    But what's most inspiring and exciting to me about their new identities has nothing to do with food or health. Instead, it's about how going plant-based started a domino-chain of changes that opened them up to full-on compassion.

    First, for themselves.

    Next, for animals.

    And then, for all life on the planet.

    From homophobic to celebrating Pride with  rainbow posts. From reactionary to progressive. From racist to antiracist.

    I've gotten some flak for publishing this conversation. I fully expect my Patreon funding to decrease. And my risk is nothing compared to Dustin and Josh, who live not only in the plant-based world, but also in the small bayou town in Southeast Louisiana where they were born. A community that is struggling to rise to the challenge of the present moment, where so many white Americans have begun to say, “This stops now.”

    The main gist of the criticism is, why can't plant-based people just stick to that topic, without going all gooey about social justice and turning people off? Stay in your lane, herbivore!

    You be the judge – does the LaJaunie brothers' transformation turn people off to the possible sequelae of going plant-based, or is it perhaps the most eloquent and beautiful argument in support of eating with compassion?

    I want to say one other thing to my white audience. I'm a little uncomfortable sharing this conversation at this moment, precisely because so many white liberals and progressives can look at the old, racist LaJaunies and say to themselves, “Well, that was terrible, and good for them for changing, but I've never been a racist.”

    If that's your reaction (and I certainly share it, because it makes me feel good about myself), then I invite you to listen to this conversation through a different lens.

    I want you to ask yourself: Where do I need to start showing the courage that Dustin and Josh demonstrate right now? Where are my core beliefs unsupported by my actions on a daily basis? Where are my current blind spots about how I'm contributing, without intention or consciousness, to the perpetuation of racist outcomes in my society?

    We're not having this conversation to be congratulated. Instead, we're having it to model discomfort. The same discomfort we feel when we stand up for our way of eating in the face of peer pressure and even ridicule. The same discomfort we experience when we exercise to the point of exhaustion.

    Being healthy in this society; being plant-based; being vegan: these are all gyms where we've honed our discomfort muscles.

    Now it's time to get out of the gym, and start lifting weights to make this planet great – for everyone.

    Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

    Links

    JoshLaJaunie.com

    Dustin and his mom's cookbook: Pure Ambrosia: LaJaunie Family Traditions Recreated for Health and Longevity

    Grow Where You Are (Eugene Cooke)

    Books (Where possible, book links are to Mahogany Books, a Black-owned bookstore in Washington, DC. These are not affiliate links.)

    Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison

    Passing, by Nella Larsen

    To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

    Videos

    13th documentary from Netflix (free on YouTube...

    • 1 hr 31 min
    The Role of Science in Public Discourse and Racial Justice: Dean and Ayesha Sherzai, MDs: PYP 414

    The Role of Science in Public Discourse and Racial Justice: Dean and Ayesha Sherzai, MDs: PYP 414

    Team Sherzai, aka Dean and Ayesha, join me on the podcast to talk about the role of science and scientists in dealing with all the false statements propagated on social media (as well as, occasionally, traditional media).



    What the Sherzais value highly about science is the holy grail of falsifiability; the challenge that every theory and finding implicitly makes to other scientists: prove me wrong!

    They also appreciate the inherent humility that is baked into true science, as well as the imperfect nature of knowledge at any given time. And how that humility is sacrificed when scientists annoint themselves past protectors, rather than claiming their rightful mantle as future seekers.

    It's a fine line to walk – we discussed the Covid deniers arguing that the whole thing is a conspiracy to make us compliant victims of the pharmaceutical industry, in light of what we know about widespread corruption and greed in that very industry. While the political discourse around the coronavirus is mostly binary, they stressed the importance of nuance, complexity, and humility in ascertaining the truth of this disease and how to deal with it.

    We also talk about racism, and where it comes from in the brain, and what we can and should do about it. As medical researchers and clinicians, the Sherzais have not been shy about advocating for racial justice in the aftermath of the uprisings over George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmed Arbery, and now Rayshard Brooks.

    We talk about their backgrounds, the racial profiling they have (and haven't) been subjected to, and Amy Cuddy's concept of “the range of allowable behaviors” that defines how Dean, a darker-skinned man with a non-Western last name, may comport himself in public – restrictions that light-skinned Ayesha is not bound by, despite her equally “foreign-sounding” name.

    In case you're not familiar with the Sherzais, here's a bit of their bio, shamelessly copied from their website:

    A unique husband and wife team on the cutting edge of brain science, Dr. Dean and Dr. Ayesha Sherzai are dedicated to educating people on the simple steps to long-term health and wellness through their work as Directors of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University Medical Center, with patients, as well as through online writing, videos, and books.

    As Co-Directors of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University Medical Center, the Sherzais, through research and their extensive collective medical backgrounds, work to demystify the steps to achieving long-term brain health and the prevention of devastating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

    Dean Sherzai, MD, PhD, is co-director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University. Dean trained in Neurology at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and completed fellowships in neurodegenerative diseases and dementia at the National Institutes of Health and UC San Diego. He also holds a PhD in Healthcare Leadership with a focus on community health from Andrews University.

    Ayesha Sherzai, MD is a neurologist and co-director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University, where she leads the Lifestyle Program for the Prevention of Neurological Diseases. She completed a dual training in Preventative Medicine and Neurology at Loma Linda University, and a fellowship in Vascular Neurology and Epidemiology at Columbia University. She is also a trained plant-based culinary artist.

    If you haven't read their book, The Alzheimer's Solution, I highly recommend it for anyone with a brain, or who knows anyone with a brain.

    Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

    Links

    The Sherzai's website

    a href="https://amzn.

    • 1 hr 20 min
    The Key to Human Resilience with Scott Carney: PYP 413

    The Key to Human Resilience with Scott Carney: PYP 413

    Most of my work as a health coach involves helping people respond differently to stimuli.

    That is, develop the ability to make different choices when confronted with tempting foods, tempting environments, tempting people, and tempting sensations, emotions, and thoughts.

    Think about it – NOT having that ability basically means you're a robot, a machine. If you can't control your responses, you have no freedom.

    Psychologists and coaches typically work on the cognitive level; the realm of thoughts. Motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy – these are based on the idea that if people fixed their dysfunctional thinking, their behaviors would change to be in line with their goals, instead of sabotaging them.

    And it's true that sustained changes in thinking can and do shift behavior.

    The problem is, our thoughts are often not the root cause of the dysfunctional behavior, but are themselves symptoms of something deeper.

    The question is, what is the root cause? Not just of dysfunction, but the source of all our interpretations of reality, and our responses to those interpretations?

    Today's guest, Scott Carney, spent the past three years exploring that question.



    His exploration took the form of a question, based initially on his experience with the work of Wim Hof, the Dutch “Iceman” who trained himself to perform physiologically “impossible” things, like control his core temperature and immune system.

    Scott wondered, what other “unconscious” biological functions can we gain control over? And what does this say about our potential as human beings?

    In other words, can we extend the freedom to choose our responses to stimuli to the automatic processes of our bodies?

    Scott's quest took him to flotation tanks that have been used therapeutically to treat PTSD. To a Latvian sauna to receive a redline treatment that appears to help significantly with depression. To an MDMA-informed couples therapy session with his wife. To a class in juggling kettlebells to explore the concept of flow. To a Peruvian ayahuasca ceremony. And – fans of Andrew “Spudfit” Taylor will love this – to eating nothing but potatoes for five days.

    Just as my clients seek freedom from their conditioned responses, Scott explored the world of people seeking the freedom to reset their nervous systems, immune systems, endocrine systems, and muscular systems.

    For better physical and mental health.

    For greater control over themselves.

    And to discover the edges of what it means to be a self-determined human being.

    Scott calls this ability The Wedge.

    In our conversation, we explore the science of neural symbols, discuss how to decouple sensation from emotion (hugely important for people trying to change how they eat and exercise), and explore the physical analogs of depression and anxiety, and how careful introduction of environmental stressors can make us happier and healthier.

    Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

    Links

    The Wedge, by Scott Carney

    Scott Carney's previous Plant Yourself episode 

    ScottCarney.com

    What Doesn't Kill Us, by Scott Carney

    Andrew “Spudfit” Taylor's Plant Yourself episode

    Support the Podcast

    This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help.

    • 1 hr 13 min
    How Pollution Affects Chronic Disease with Richard Kwok: PYP 412

    How Pollution Affects Chronic Disease with Richard Kwok: PYP 412

    Today's podcast was recorded before most of today's front page news was front page news. However, with COVID-19 and the uprising for racial justice, the themes we talk about in this conversation are highly topical. Enjoy…



    Richard Kwok is an environmental researcher who studies the effects of environmental pollution on human health. He's also my neighbor, and we met while cleaning up litter and quickly discovered a lot of interests in common.

    While the environment doesn't often change our genetics, it can have huge impact on our epigenetics, or how those genes get expressed in our bodies. We can see those changes in methylation and histone markers in our blood, and they can be dramatic. And with advances in data science, certain chipsets can predict health outcomes with sometimes scary accuracy.

    This is huge.

    Traditionally, we know about the links between environmental factors and disease through self-report. Epidemiologists assess the environment and then find people who've been exposed to it and see how they fare. Do they have more cancer? More heart disease? Impaired respiratory function?

    The problem with this methodology is that it can take years or even decades for some environmental exposures to have a clinical impact on health. And public health is rarely well-funded (at least, before the shit hits the fan and some pandemic is ravaging the population, which is arguably always too little too late). So we don't know what's dangerous and lethal until it's been around long enough to do a lot of damage.

    When we study epigenetic biomarkers, on the other hand, we can look at a population exposed to, for example, the Blackwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and quickly discover the downstream health implications.

    In our conversation, Richard guided me through this new field, and shared some of the most robust findings that have the potential to revolutionize public health and health care.

    Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

    Links

    The DOHaD Hypothesis

    Minireview: Epigenomic Plasticity and Vulnerability to EDC Exposures, by Cheryl Lyn Walker

    Methylation-Based Biological Age and Breast Cancer Risk, by Kresovich et al.

    DNA Methylation GrimAge Strongly Predicts Lifespan and Healthspan, by Horvath et al.

    Support the Podcast

    This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by . Click the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.

    Ready to embark on your Big Change journey?

    Are you tired of knowing what to do, and still not doing it consistently? The WellStart Health Big Change Program, led by Josh LaJaunie and myself, will help you take the steps to finally live according to your knowledge and values.

    Go to WellStartHealth.com/program to learn more, and to get notified about the next program.

    Ask your questions or share your feedback

    Comment on the show notes for this episode (below)

    Connect with me

    Subscribe, rate, and review in iTunes

    • 52 min
    The Practice of Compassionate Self-Care During Times of Crisis with Bojana Jankovic Weatherly, MD: PYP 411

    The Practice of Compassionate Self-Care During Times of Crisis with Bojana Jankovic Weatherly, MD: PYP 411

    Dr Bojana Jankovic Weatherly is one of my favorite physicians, double board certified in internal and integrative medicine. She has also trained in functional medicine, nutrition and mindfulness.

    Dr Jankovic Weatherly is a real stickler for evidence of efficacy, whatever modality she's exploring or recommending. Which makes her a very reliable podcast guest, especially when talking about topics not fully embraced by mainstream medical practice.

    And, she's a mom struggling to homeschool two children in a New York apartment while working full time from home.



    We talked about the stresses that most people are dealing with around the pandemic: fear, uncertainty, economic hardship, lack of social support, disease, fatigue.

    And how a mindful, gentle, kind approach can take some of the pressure off, and allow us to seek our best health without a constant voice of doubt or recrimination or “should should should.”

    We also explored Dr Jankovic Weatherly's decision to stay home and serve her patients through telemedicine, and the conflict she felt (feels) over not participating in the “front lines” of New York hospitals.

    And clarified options for Covid-19 testing, based on the latest clinical evidence.

    One note: this episode was recorded before the murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests, so if our conversation sounds painfully aware, to some extent I can blame it on timing.

    And at the same time, the issues raised by his murder, and those of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and hundreds of other Black people killed by a White Supremacist culture of impunity, were on full display for a long time prior to our recording.

    And while this podcast is mostly about health and plant-based living, I recognize that I can do much more to support my Black sisters and brothers leading the movement for racial justice. And that I pledge to do going forward.

    Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

    Links

    Dr Jankovic Weatherly's website

    How to Make Yourself Miserable, by Dan Greenburg

    Jon Kabat-Zinn Mindfulness Presentation at Google, 2007

    Full Catastrophe Living, by Jon Kabat-Zinn

    Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, by Jon Kabat-Zinn

    Support the Podcast

    This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by . Click the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.

    Announcements

    Group Coaching with me – Pay from the Heart, starting at $15/month for a weekly 1-hour session (with a $50 suggested “edge-of-sustainable” monthly payment). We meet every Wednesday at 1pm US Eastern Time. Register here.

    Ready to embark on your Big Change journey?

    Are you tired of knowing what to do, and still not doing it consistently? The WellStart Health Big Change Program, led by Josh LaJaunie and myself, will help you take the steps to finally live according to your knowledge and values.

    Go to WellStartHealth.com/program to learn more, and to get notified about the next program.

    Ask your questions or share your feedback

    • 1 hr 19 min
    Tidings of Comfort or Joy: PYP 410

    Tidings of Comfort or Joy: PYP 410

    Here's a ridiculous story to start us off:One day my grandfather (that's him in a boater hat in the above photo) punched someone in the face over some disagreement. The recipient of the blow, wounded more in pride than body, wobbled down onto the curb and began yelling, “Iodine! Police! Iodine! Police!”To which my grandfather responded – and this is the part of the story my father thought was hilarious – “Make up your mind: iodine or police. You can't have both!”If you don't find this anecdote amusing in the least, I'm right there with you. Why on earth couldn't the man have both? What was so funny about the logic of the rebuttal? And why was my grandfather going around slugging people anyway?But the phrase “Iodine or police, you can't have both” is, for better or worse, an indelible part of my psyche and genetic memory.Which is why, when I was singing carols at a nursing home yesterday, and got to the chorus of “God Bless Ye, Merry Gentlemen” that announces “tidings of comfort and joy,” I suddenly thought: “Make up your mind: comfort or joy. You can't have both.”Comfort In Sick to Fit, Josh LaJaunie and I rail against comfort. We argue that it's the desire for physical and emotional comfort that keeps us from being our best selves, by preventing us from doing the hard things that we need to do in order to be healthy and happy.We avoid physical exertion because straining muscles and labored breathing are uncomfortable. We binge on junk food because it's uncomfortable to sit with the urge to eat and not capitulate. We give in to peer pressure because we fear teasing or subtle judgment or outright ostracism.And as we keep seeking and achieving comfort, we generate anxiety. Because the farther we get from discomfort, the more we fear it. Our “comfort zone” constricts until we get freaked out by the thought of saying no to cheese fries or walking in a cold rain or raising a difficult topic with our spouse or friend.And the reality of our physical existence also generates anxiety. A human body that doesn't move and exert and sweat is in an unnatural state. The only legitimate explanations from the body's point of view are, “I must be really sick or seriously injured or in mortal danger.” Not exactly a happy-happy thought form.And so lives lived in the thrall of comfort end up in the grip of misery. We're unhealthy, lacking in physical vitality, unmotivated, drugged, and at some level deeply ashamed.Not a recipe for joy, eh?JoyIn Sick to Fit, we paraphrase philosopher Brian Massumi in defining joy as different from happiness or comfort:Joy can be painful and frightening. Because, at its core, joy is what you feel when you are growing. When you are starting to move toward embodying your true potential, your authentic self.Joy can hurt. Joy can sting. Joy can cause you to weep uncontrollably.But ultimately, joy is the emotion of liberation. So commit to practicing discomfort again and again, and free your joy!Sounds like we have to choose,  like the dude grandpa slugged: Comfort or Joy. We can't have both.Or can we?Comfort and JoyDid you ever build a fort when you were a kid? If so, I bet you tried to make it strong, impregnable, and safe.Well, that's not an accident, etymologically speaking.The word “comfort” literally means, “with strength,” from the Latin root “fortis” (as in fort, forte, fortify, and fortitude).Something that provides comfort doesn't coddle or weaken us. Instead, it supports and strengthens us.

    • 7 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
283 Ratings

283 Ratings

Rgbrgb11 ,

An extraordinary podcast

I can't recommend this podcast highly enough. The guests on the show are extraordinary and the topics could not be of more importance and urgency. If you have any interest in living a more just, healthy, compassionate, and sustainable life, give this a listen!

QueenOfSalads ,

Solid, fast paced, and well researched interviews

Just finished listening to the “straight talk on Covid-19” for the second time through. Probably the most rational information I’ve heard on this topic. I’m a long time listener of this podcast and enjoy the guests almost as much as your thoughtful and insightful interviewing skills. Well done. Please keep them coming!

Leah Stolar ,

Highly recommend PlantYourself!!

As a long time listener of the PlantYourself podcast, I can’t recommend this podcast enough. This is my go-to podcast for all things plant-based nutrition, behavioral science and just good listening. Howard does an enormous amount of preparation for each episode and it’s evident by how meaningfully he engages with his guests. The podcast is less like an interview and more like a relaxed conversation between two friends and the audience. And unique to PlantYourself, Howard is all about imparting knowledge to the world to make it a better place for his listeners and the planet. Howard is genuine and gracious in his interactions with his guests and his listeners and provides practical, real-life metaphors that enhance the listener’s understanding. I highly recommend a regular dose of PlantYourself for yourself and the planet!!

Top Podcasts In Nutrition

Listeners Also Subscribed To