Debby Sunshine’s Appearance At The Sid Jacobson JCC

My husband takes lousy photos, but this blurry one of me clearly proves that I did complete my first public appearance last night at The Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center in Greenvale, New York.

photo copy 13The segment was entitled “Jazzy Juices & Spectacular Salads.” I eagerly arrived early to set up my juicer and Vitamix blender, and to organize the fruits and vegetables for the small crowd which pre-registered for the class. What I didn’t expect was a crowd four times the size of what was anticipated by me and the JCC organizer. Oh no! And you guys know how long it takes to make one small cup of fresh juice!

My initial plan was to talk a bit about juicing and its growing popularity, and to prepare two of my favorite juices for the attendees to sample: my Simple Vegetable Juice and my Hot Beets Juice. I also planned to make a couple of raw kale salads, greens being at the core of my class.

While I was juicing and handing out samples for the crowd, questions began flying and my little food demonstration turned out to be more of a lecture about plant-based diets. I found myself talking about the recent Kaiser Permanente report, The China Study, and “yada, yada, yada…” I did get to prepare Chef AJ’s Hail To The Kale Salad providing small plates to everyone. It was a hit! And I handed out some nice packets including several recipes for juices, salads and salad dressings, as well as a list of my favorite food websites. The packet also included the Environmental Working Group’s 2013 Shoppers’ Guide To Pesticides, advising which produce to buy organic and which produce is clean.

The only kink in the night occurred when some of the attendees expressed their beliefs in diets such as the “Eat For Your Body Type” diet, the “Wheat Belly” diet and the “Paleo” diet, placing them in the same category as the vegan diet. The beliefs of many were that “all diets are supported by science and that it all depends upon which one you believe in.” Many stated that nothing is “black and white.” Clearly, there are those who truly believe that a vegan diet is nothing more than a “trend.”

My uncontrollable, but passionate, self felt the urgency to speak up (perhaps too strongly). I should have handled the situation a bit more tactfully, but I spoke about Dr. Esselstyn’s work at The Cleveland Clinic, Dr. John McDougall’s long career treating patients with plant-based diets, the work of Dr. Colin Campbell, and other doctors who have devoted their life’s work to studying the science of nutrition. After hearing about the “Eat For Your Body Type” diet one too many times, I may have used the word “bull…t” (but I did try to say it in a cute way).

Other than a few bumps in the road, I think that the night was successful. It was clearly a learning experience for me, and I did learn a lot!

Here is what I learned…

1. Many people view a plant-based diet as a “trend,” and are unaware of just how overwhelming the scientific evidence is that it is anything but a “trend.”

2. There are many people who are open to learning about plant-based diets, and age is not a factor in their willingness to change. I realized this from watching people take notes, and from the astute questions which were asked.

3. Change is slow and difficult, but worth fighting for.

4. I need to learn to speak to people in a more tactful way, recognizing that the way to win them over is to pursue a softer approach.

5. I do not want to make a career out of cooking demonstrations for large crowds, unless I have several sous chefs and assistants to boss around (only kidding…I mean “to help me out”).

6. Although I have to work on properly responding to the questions and comments of my audience, I do enjoy speaking about my vegan lifestyle and trying to educate people about all that I’ve learned along the way.

7. Life is clearly a growing process, and all that any one of us can do is to “live and learn!”

Goodbye for now…I’m off to do some more living and learning,







  1. Helen Maxman says:

    Debby, everyone is BOMBARDED with so much information on healthy living, healthy eating, the best ways to lose weight, the best way to prevent heart disease, cancer, Alzheimers, etc. My head is constantly spinning from the influx of information on health. After speaking to you so many times on the subject, I am sure that if nothing else, your deep knowledge and extreme passion for a vegan lifestyle was certain to have been convincing, fact based, informative and powerful. And just like your effect on me, I am sure some people walked out of your presentation and will be changing many aspects of their diets. Rome wasn’t built in a day!!!!!
    Congrats on another chance to share your knowledge!

    • Thank you so much Helen, my good friend! I agree that everyone is bombarded by so much information, and that is why people need to look at the strongest body of scientific evidence, to date. I hope that someone was positively influenced in some way. I appreciate your overly kind words which mean so much to me!

  2. Ellen Francis says:

    I am proud of you—I know that you prepared for the lesson but nothing could have prepared you for the big turnout and all the questions and comments that came with them! It sounds like you did your best and that you learned just as much from the lesson as everyone who came. Thank you for sharing—not just the way the evening turned out but how you felt about it and how that will help you n the future. We can all learn from every situation if our minds are open to it!!

  3. Rebecca Amitai says:

    Debby ran a wonderful class at our JCC. How wonderful that so many people are interested in learning about a healthier food system and healthier lifestyle. Debby managed to entertain over 20 people (probably more), and prepare a wonderful juice and a terrific salad for us all to sample. The person sitting next to me announced that she would bring her own juicer out of retirement in her basement — she was that inspired!!

    Thanks Debby!!

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