According to the Center for Disease Control, over 160 million Americans, which is nearly half of the United States’ population, are obese or overweight. Additionally, the leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease, which is, in many cases, linked to obesity.
Moreover, when considering the word, “health,” 50% of its letters are “EAT”; and when doing the same with the word, “death,” 60% of its letters are “EAT.” What we “eat” directly impacts our health, and with poor choices, what we “eat” can lead to death.
To promote better eating habits and the positive benefits of a balanced, healthy lifestyle, Breath of Life Television Ministries, in collaboration with the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, AL, held its first-ever “Green Plate Day” on October 26. On this special day, the benefits of plant-based eating were emphasized and advocated. For the Divine Worship Experience, award-winning actress and vegan advocate, Kimberly Elise, was recognized for her championing efforts in promoting a vegan lifestyle. Elise, who made the choice to become a vegan at an early age, recounted her diet transition and shared some tips, “There is nothing wrong with you for choosing this [vegan] lifestyle. Don’t feel like you have to go cold turkey. Educate yourself. I love that this community is supporting the education aspect of it.” After the award presentation to Elise, the internationally renowned Oakwood University Aeolians shared their music ministry and Carlton P. Byrd, D.Min., Speaker/Director for Breath of Life and Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church, shared his preaching ministry in harmony with the “Green Plate” theme. Immediately following the worship experience, vegan food samples were made available to all in attendance, along with a vegan magazine filled with healthy recipes.
The Sabbath festivities also included an afternoon book-club style panel discussion featuring professors from Oakwood University’s English and Foreign Languages Department and Sherine Brown-Fraser, Ph.D., RDN, CPT, Oakwood University Chair of Nutrition and Dietetics. These educators convened to discuss Ellen G. White’s classic health ministry manual, The Ministry of Healing. Panelists shared their diet experiences, struggles, and joys about plant-based living, and nuggets from the book. Fraser also articulated many pitfalls from an unbalanced diet and gave tips about various health issues. Following the discussion, Plant-Based Celebrity Chef, Cynthia Chea-Pean, and “The Chef Mommy,” Heather Martin, hosted a vegan cooking class and shared healthy dishes that anyone can make.
The day concluded with a “taste” of vegan and vegetarian food in the Oakwood University Church Family Life Center. Twenty-four food vendors and restaurant owners in North Alabama came to offer food samples and dishes to the nearly 700 attendees! One individual commented, “This is great! We need to do this every year.” Said another attendee, “With my children having food allergies, this has been very helpful with identifying easy, healthy food options.”
Later that evening, Elise took to social media where she positively recapped her experience at the Oakwood University Church, saying, “Oakwood University Church is affiliated with Oakwood University in Huntsville, AL. Oakwood University is the only university in the state of Alabama that offers a 100% vegetarian-only cafeteria. This is extraordinary!”
Truly, the day was extraordinary! Church members, university students, and community residents alike benefited from the emphasis on “Green Plate” eating as all in attendance were challenged to be faithful stewards of their body temples, and to shine for the Lord through healthy, balanced living.