Small Town Marshall, Texas Mayor Turns Vegan, Whole Town Follows!

Heather Suhr
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As the saying goes, “Everything’s bigger in Texas!” The state where barbecue, fried chicken, and potatoes appear to be the staple in the majority of people’s eating habits, so are obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Ranking at the highest in obesity prevalence rate, it was a big surprise to find that a small town in Marshall, Texas decided to go against that trend. The city of Marshall is a town where many people deliberately avoid ordering animal products and strive for a healthier lifestyle.  (1,2)

It all began with the Mayor

Mayor Ed Smith was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008, which is the most common cancer among American men. While typically treated with drugs, chemotherapy, and surgery, the mayor decided to take a drastic approach: nutrition. (1,3)

He approached his health with aggressive dietary changes under the direct supervision of his doctor, which entails whole, plant-based foods including whole grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. As a result, the cancerous growth disappeared! (1)

One person, whole community

Mayor Smith and his wife started a movement in the local community to spread awareness about adopting a whole food, plant-based diet and the people are catching on. Ms. Smith simply organized a monthly potluck gathering, which typically attracted about 30 to 40 people. (1,4)

This movement grew and more people are experiencing a change in their health for the better! A local fire fighter, Reggie Cooper, reversed his type-2 diabetes and eventually was able to stop all his medications. (4,5)

Another person from a nearby town, Vicki VanDeCarr, believed that being a vegan meant eating foods that tasted like cardboard, however, she found that to be far from the truth! Her health turned for the better and her family members adopted the lifestyle as well. (1)

“Many people are using this approach and getting great results,” said Dr. Neal Barnard, president of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a preventive-medicine group that advocates a vegan diet. (1)

The movement continues.

The “Get Healthy Marshall” program

Beginning with a small group of people, the “Get Healthy Marshall” program has become a prominent vegan movement in the community.

This group offers monthly potlucks, healthy-eating tours at local supermarkets, influenced six restaurants to add vegan options on the menu, and more. All of this happens with an emphasis on food, fitness, community, and education. (1,6)

Though the origin of this movement was focused on health awareness, over time the animal rights aspects came to attention. Mayor Smith says, “We’ve seen people make the change for health purposes, and once they’ve been able to disassociate themselves from animal products, all of a sudden they’re more receptive to what’s happening with animals. It’s not such a challenge to their own personal ethics.” (1)

According to a recent statistic, approximately 16 million people worldwide are opting for the vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. The next time you’re faced with a food crossroads, opt for the healthier choice and you may be surprised that healthy foods are delicious, fun, and delightful to eat!

Sources for this article include:
(1) www.nytimes.com
(2) www.cdc.gov
(3) www.cdc.gov
(4) www.ktbs.com
(5) www.youtube.com
(6) gethealthymarshall.com

Image source: www.youtube.com

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