Monday, March 26, 2012

Meeting Dr. Neal Barnard!

Yesterday was pretty special for me.  I met and talked with Dr. Barnard for the first time!  Let's set the scene, shall we?...

I knew he was coming to town to do a couple of talks, one at Whole Foods.  In fact, I learned about it through my contact (Jill Eckart) with PCRM since I was working on recipes for the April Kickstart program.  As the weekend approached I e-mailed Jill asking if I might be able to grab a few minutes to meet Dr. Barnard before his talk.  I had no idea how busy it might be, and feared I might not get to talk with him at all.  She forwarded my message on to the good doctor.  Later that day I received a note directly from Dr. Barnard saying he would be happy to meet and thanking me for my work on the Kickstart!  (oh happy day!)

So, the whole family got ready to head into the city Sunday after lunch.  We don't live downtown, so it's a bit of a trek with the three kiddos.  But, I wanted everyone there to see his talk, and also - I needed someone to take a picture, ha!

When Neal said to come a little early, I think he meant 5-10 minutes early.  We showed up 45 minutes early!  But that's me.  I freak out if I'm a little late for things, so err on the side of very early.  His talk was at 3pm, and I was pushing us out the door at 1:15.  Well, we used the time to pick up some much-needed groceries.  But, my word, Whole Foods was insanely busy at 2pm!  What you might not know about me is that I greatly dislike shopping (of any kind) at peak times of the day.  Clothes shopping, grocery shopping - anything... I like to get out before noon while it is peaceful.  I enjoy the calm and clarity of open aisles and quiet areas.  Probably because I am so naturally hyped-up that it is too much stimulation to shop when stores and busy and crowded.

We start shopping, but I also zipped off to scout out where Neal would be talking.  What I didn't know was that our 2 1/2 year old was wailing while I was off.  She is a 'mama's girl', so even though hubby and the girls were with her, she bawled.  So, I hung with the family and shopped more until it got closer to 3pm.  But not too close.  (Remember, I must be early.)  So, by 2:40 I was back at the location where Dr. Barnard would be talking.  They were still setting up chairs.  Yes, I was early.

Finally, around 2:50, I see Dr. Barnard making his way through the doors.  Now, I did not know how much time he would have before and after his talk.  So, once he got within a foot of the speaking area, I pounced!  Oh dear, I jumped right in front of him and introduced myself.  I think I might have scared him a little.  I mean, I was just so overexcited!  (And now realizing I had a similar reaction seeing Platinum Blonde go into Hotel Newfoundland after their concert when I was 14. "Crying Over You"!)  This time I'm not (as) embarrassed by my reaction.

Anyhow, we talked very briefly and then I asked for a picture.  Our eldest (who has also been doing my recent YouTube cooking videos) ran up and started snapping.  I think Neal might have felt like he was on the red carpet!  She snapped away.  This one is from her ipod, so a little grainy:
And then, I said "can I get you to sign your book before your talk?".   Again, I didn't know how much time I'd get with him, so I grabbed my well-worn copy of Food for Life for him to sign.
I also brought a new copy of eat, drink & be vegan, since he wrote the foreword to that book.  Again, my little photographer snapped away!



Dr. Barnard looked confused at first when I gave him my cookbook to sign.  But I said "well, it might be my book, but it's your foreword, and I want this one for the vault".  Greedy me. :)

We enjoyed his talk.  He connects with the crowd and relates with personal stories.  One of my favorite stories was him discussing his mother's journey to eating vegan.  He explained how she wasn't making any dietary changes for years, even after he had written 15 books!  He'd talk to her about her cholesterol, and switching to plant-based foods - but nothing.  Until, her own doctor saw some improvements in her cholesterol after she experimented for a few weeks.  And THEN, she was convinced and made permanent changes.  He joked about being the 3rd born child, and so it didn't matter what he said, the message had to come from someone else.  My husband looked at me after and said "Dreena, you only need to write 11 more books to get your mom on board".  Funny.  But, it's true what Dr. Barnard said - sometimes the message has to come from an 'unbiased' source, and usually in a time of personal health crisis.
Just before wrapping up his talk, Dr. Barnard introduced me to the audience.  O.M.G. But, here's the best part:  He said "I want to introduce you all to Dreena Burton.  Dreena has some incredible recipes - Dreena, do you have one of your cookbooks there?" (he DID sign ed&bv after all).  But, hubby had taken all our things down to the car, so I didn't have it to show the crowd!  argh!  Never mind, it was such a proud moment for me, I was so overwhelmed I didn't really care about showcasing my books.

I said a brief good-bye to Dr. Barnard, and then allowed other people to talk to him. ;)  

What a memorable experience.  I feel so fortunate to connect with him personally after so many years following his work and what PCRM does to promote healthy vegan eating.  For those of you in Vancouver, Dr. Barnard will also be speaking at the Roundhouse Community Centre tonight.  Don't miss your chance to hear him, meet him - and bring out your inner goof!

23 comments:

Karin said...

I met Dr. Barnard in Toronto back in November and I was exactly the same way! LOL! I dragged my husband out very early (afraid there would be a line up around the block to get into the library where he was speaking...what was I thinking?) and ran right up to the book tables to get copies signed for both my parents and my husband and I. It was like I was meeting rock star royalty. My, how times have changed. Haha!

Vegyogini said...

Wow, what a fantastic story! I LOVE Dr. Barnard and his amazing work. His Foods that Cause You to Lose Weight was one of my first vegan cookbooks and is so well-loved and well-worn that the middle pages have fallen out of the binding! I am such a fan of his message and the way he delivers it. I'm so glad you were able to meet him! I'd love to get my parents to try the 21-day Kickstart one day, although my mom stopped eating animals 11 months ago, so she's already started in the right direction. :)

Karin said...

I met Dr. Barnard in Toronto back in November and I was exactly the same way! LOL! I dragged my husband out very early (afraid there would be a line up around the block to get into the library where he was speaking...what was I thinking?) and ran right up to the book tables to get copies signed for both my parents and my husband and I. It was like I was meeting rock star royalty. My, how times have changed. Haha!

Dreena said...

Karin, thank heavens I'm not alone!! What our hubbies put up with sometimes, huh? :) Funny! Thanks for the note.

Anonymous said...

The font size on your post is so small that it's very difficult to read on 1440x900 monitor.

Dreena said...

Vegyogini, so true, his work has helped SO many people. Good news about your mom! Tell her I asked her to ditch the dairy too. ;) xo

Dreena said...

anonymous, sorry it's tricky for you to read. I'll check my settings. I know it's on the 'normal default' set - will see. thx.

Mattheworbit said...

You're gorgeous and hilarious!... I could have written that blog post, and you're totally not scary/crazy - just endearing and passionate - it's wonderful!

Dreena said...

Matt, you just made my day.

Sandy said...

SO SO SO SO SO SO SO incredibly jealous!!!!!!!! I want to meet Neal Barnard! Send him to Australia pretty please!!!! Lucky girl! :-)

Desiree Nielsen RD said...

I so wish I could have come out to see Dr Barnard speak. It is not every day you get to be in the presence of nutri-royalty! What a fantastic day...

Sarah said...

That's such a cute story! I'd act the same way if you were coming to halifax for a book signing!

Young Family said...

What a great story! I had to laugh at your "stalker moment" with him when he showed up at the reading. But if he wrote the foreword to your cookbook, I don't think you had any reason to be shy about meeting him. You're pretty well known yourself!

I'd love to meet Dr. Bernard, but haven't had the chance yet. Maybe at the Toronto Veg Food Fair some day.

Andrea said...

I just heard Dr. Barnard speak at Seattle Vegfest, and it sounds like he gave the same talk! I, too enjoyed it very much and thought he had a great way of sharing his message in a very personable and accessible manner.

Whole Foods Vegan Momma said...

Funny how we get nervous when meeting "famous" people. I met Dr. Ornish once (also kind of a plant-based guy, not vegan). Just a nice, normal guy.

I'm a big Barnard fan. He's definitely a bit more forward in his approach and doesn't mind shaking things up a bit. Very cool that you got a chance to meet him.

Your gorgeous, btw!

Kristin Fisher said...

All I can think about now is how to get 13 books out of myself so my mom will finally consider going vegan, or at least vegatarian. I'd love to meet Dr. Bernard!

VeganCouchPotato said...

Wow, that must have been great! I am glad you got to meet him! He's pretty funny!

Veronica said...

Hi Dreena

Dr. Barnard was in my city of Vancouver on Monday, that was pretty cool.

I wanted to email you to ask if you'd be interested in a copy of my vegan recipe book Comfort Soups To Keep You Warm, but I can't find a contact email. Could you contact me?

SallyT said...

What a great experience! I wish that writing 15 books would change the minds of my friends and family. Don't think I'm going to make that goal.

Dreena said...

thanks so much you guys for the kind words.

Desiree, "nutri-royalty"... that's great! :)

wholefoodsveganmomma, I would love to meet Dr. Ornish as well. My husband's father followed his program to reverse heart disease over 10 years ago, was a drastic life change for them both, but changed them for the better forever. Since then, I've felt grateful for his work - and that my fil's cardiologist recognized Dr. Ornish's work to recommend his book.

Sally T, like Dr. Barnard said in his talk, usually the message needs to come from an outside source, not family. So even if you wrote 50 books... still mightn't do the trick. :-/

Veronica, I haven't been doing a lot of book reviews recently, just don't have a lot of time to give justice to a book by trying recipes and taking photos etc. If you'd like to contact me though, my e-mail is dreenaburton@gmail.com. I might be able to give a mention on twitter/fb, etc. thanks. :)

elise said...

oh man im so jealous! dr barnard is SUCH an inspiration (so are you). and i completely agree about things needing to come from an outside source for someone close to you to really hear it and take it in. so frustrating at times, but i guess it just means we need more and more vegan advocates...

michele said...

Just started reading about Dr. Barnard and his work. Sounds like you had a good time meeting him.

Cathy Aronson said...

I just saw Dr. Barnard on the Dr. Oz show last Friday, the same day I was diagnosed with severe Celiac disease

I struggled for over 10 years with just not feeling "right"
I blamed everyting on menopause as I am 64
I had all of the 9 symptons on your survey for Gluten intolerance
I was not living life

In one week, after removing ALL gluten products from my home I am on the road to recovery. I have lost 5 pounds and am off Migrane meds, which I was taking every day.
I am also forming a support group in my community so I may share this info with others so they can avoid the terrible struggles that I have gone through. It was Gluten the entire time!!!!
Thank you for your insight, Cathy Aronson
Corona, CA