As you probably know, 2023 was another eventful year, with more than its share of ups and downs.
In the “at least things haven’t gotten worse” department, the price of food and other essentials stabilized somewhat but remains well above what it was pre-pandemic. Factors maintaining high prices include the continuing effects of the pandemic on the food chain and the impact of the Russia/Ukraine war.
Meanwhile, climate chaos (a phrase that’s much more accurate than the anodyne “climate change” or “global warming”) is already causing havoc, contributing to higher food prices by bringing droughts to some places and floods to others, leading to crop failures and economic hardship.
In many parts of the world, climate chaos will continue to hamper food production, particularly in areas suffering from prolonged drought and relying more and more on groundwater — leading to accelerated aquifer depletion. This threatens to create massive disruptions when wells run dry — something that’s already happening in many places and is likely to intensify dramatically in the years ahead.
I was stunned by a recent opinion piece in the New York Times about Uzbekistan’s disappearing Aral Sea. A photo accompanying the article shows rusted boats stranded in a lifeless desert that used to be a thriving port — now 75 miles from the nearest body of water.
All these developments highlight the critical importance of eating lower on the food chain. Doing so can save massive amounts of land, water, and other natural resources — and can significantly reduce the food system’s contribution to climate chaos.
And, as we frequently discuss on this site, eating more plants, fewer animals, and less processed food can also be a great move for your health.
In short, the mission of the Food Revolution Network is more important than ever.
A Couple of the Many Lives Changed by the Food Revolution
At FRN, we’re privileged to hear, almost every day, from people whose lives have been touched by our message. Some of the stories we hear make us cry! And all of them fill us with determination to carry on and to spread the word.
Here are just a few of the memorable member stories from 2023:
WHOLE Life Club member Diane M. from Saugerties, NY, USA, wrote:
“With WHOLE Life Club, I sought support and information to help me on my journey to a… whole food, plant-based diet. It has done that and a whole lot more! I have lost over 120 pounds since September 2022. My A1c dropped from 10.4 to 4.5, my triglycerides are now in a normal range, my LDL cholesterol has dropped tremendously, and my HDL cholesterol is in a healthy range and creeping higher. I feel so much better, with more energy, motivation, and a healthier mindset. Thank you to WLC and all its members! I enjoy how positive everyone is, and the nonjudgmental way the leaders include everyone as they teach, no matter what phase students are in on their journey.”
Plant-Based Coaching Certification graduate Terry Baker from Oro Valley, AZ, USA, wrote:
“Food Revolution Network’s Plant-Based Coaching Certification was truly the answer to my prayers, and I am so eternally grateful. I value the PBCC so highly because not only did I learn about the vast intricacies of the human body and exactly what it needs to be truly healthy at any age, but also I gained the knowledge and confidence to successfully share this vital information with others, hoping to end unnecessary suffering and disease. Do not hesitate in taking this course! You have no idea what a beautiful, powerful, and positive impact you could have in this world! Thank you to EVERYBODY in the Food Revolution Network for making this course possible.”
The Future of Plant-Based Eating
More and more people around the world are showing an interest in moving toward a more plant-based diet, and the number of people who make the shift is also increasing.
Veganuary — a fun portmanteau of vegan and January — broke all previous records with more registered participants than ever, from nearly every country in the world. And many of those folks maintained a more plant-based diet after the 31 days of the event.
More and more restaurants, businesses, and other organizations are responding to an increased demand for plant-based options — and sometimes leading it — by cutting down on animal products or eliminating them altogether. NYC Health + Hospitals, which operates 11 public hospitals in New York City, now serves plant-based meals to inpatients by default. Not only are the meals healthier than before, but they’re also changing perceptions of how “hospital food” tastes — with chefs creating dishes inspired by Latin American, Asian, and other cuisines representing the populations served by these institutions.
In a move that might have seemed unbelievable just a few years ago, the US Conference of Mayors (a nonpartisan organization that includes the mayors of all 1,400 US cities with populations of 30,000 or more) ratified a resolution supporting a plant-based approach to fighting the epidemic of chronic disease, mitigating climate chaos, and saving money desperately needed by the municipalities.
The number of restaurants offering plant-based menu options is also increasing. According to research by the Plant Based Foods Association, 95% of restaurants that offer plant-based selections expect sales of those items to remain steady or increase. And four times as many foodservice operators were planning to add plant-based options as the number that were planning to remove them.
A student-led campaign in the UK, Plant-Based Universities, is working to get all university catering facilities to transition 100% of their menus to plant-based. Begun in late 2021, the campaign has given a voice to students who are voting to remove animal products from university food halls specifically to address the climate crisis.
And in the US, Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts won our “best acronym” award by introducing the Peas, Legumes, and Nuts Today (PLANT) Act in the House of Representatives on July 28, 2023. If passed, the act would establish an Office of Plant-Based Foods and Innovative Production at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and help fund farmers who produce ingredients specifically for plant-based foods, like legumes and mushrooms. It would also create a research program to further the development of plant-based proteins that could replace meat and offer technical and financial assistance to businesses that move the food industry in a more plant-forward direction.
Plant-Based Diets Continue to be Better for Your Wallet, Health, and the Planet
One of the nice things about advocating for more plant-based eating is that it tends to make people’s lives better right away — starting with their wallets. A study by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine found that adopting a low-fat vegan diet led to a 16% reduction in grocery bills, for an average savings of $500 per person per year.
If you’d like to avail yourself of the economic advantages of a plant-based diet, a good place to start is our article 7 Healthy Recipes for Eating Plant-Based on a Budget.
While the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet to your pocketbook can be felt immediately, it might take a few days, weeks, or months to notice health improvements. But scientific research continues to find more and more evidence that such improvements are likely.
A 2023 study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine followed 59 patients with type 2 diabetes as they were placed on a low-fat, plant-predominant diet for six months, along with receiving standard medical treatment. By the end of the study, 37% of the patients, whose average age was 71, had their diabetes in remission.
A 2023 study published in the journal Nutrients looked at how diet, genes, and lifestyle factors contribute to obesity by analyzing body fat in adults. Researchers discovered that a plant-based diet helped reduce the risk of obesity, even for those with a genetic predisposition to higher body fat.
Another article published in the past year collected data from 55 recent human trials on the effects of a plant-based diet on cardiovascular disease. The authors wrote that the preponderance of evidence showed that incorporating more plant foods into the diet can protect against heart disease and may also help prevent other chronic conditions.
Plant-based eating, especially a diet rich in whole foods, was also found to be predictive of mental health. A 2023 study found that a high-quality plant-based diet may offer protection against depressive symptoms and should be considered as a lifestyle-based treatment for people suffering from the condition.
And in November 2023, the results of a carefully conceived and remarkable randomized controlled trial involving 22 pairs of identical twins were published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Network Open. The study authors concluded: “The findings from this trial suggest that a healthy plant-based diet offers a significant protective cardiometabolic advantage compared with a healthy omnivorous diet.”
What About the Earth?
One of the major drivers of the trend toward more plant-based eating is increased awareness of the scope of the chaos wrought by human-made climate change. While switching to electric vehicles and replacing energy-guzzling appliances with more efficient ones are steps in the right direction, the impact of these actions pales in comparison with the effects of adopting a plant-based diet.
Research published in the prestigious journal Nature in 2023 found that, on average, vegans produce 75% fewer food-related greenhouse gas emissions than meat-eaters. And plant-based dietary patterns also reduce harm to land, water, and biodiversity.
Becoming a B Corp
Speaking of impacts on the world around us, we wanted to share some exciting company news about FRN. In 2023, FRN submitted an application for B Corp status with high hopes that the submission will be approved in 2024 (our Owners and Board members are Ocean Robbins and John Robbins, as you might guess).
A B Corp, or benefit corporation, is a type of company that’s recognized for meeting higher standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. B Corps are committed to generating positive impacts on society and the environment.
The application process includes an extensive review of the company’s mission and where its impact is and is not aligned with that mission. The review looks at things like donation of money, products, or services to social causes and at-risk communities; decreasing pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and production of waste; use of renewable energy and resources; support of tree planting and other forms of carbon sequestration; equitable compensation of team members; integration of mission-related responsibilities into employee performance evaluations and job descriptions; and providing employment and advancement opportunities for women, people of color, and other traditionally marginalized groups.
Since we started FRN in 2012, our mission has been front and center. We’re committed to healthy, ethical, sustainable food for all! So becoming a certified B Corp seems to be a natural next step to formalize our values.
Our 2023 Contributions to the Food Revolution
In 2023, thanks to you, our million+ community members, and 25+ FRN staff, we accomplished an amazing amount.
- We published 106 articles on nutrition, health, and sustainability topics and more than 148 new plant-based recipes. Our content reached more than six million unique readers, and our website was accessed over 13 million times.
- Through customer purchases of our digital products, we supported the planting of over 75,000 organic fruit or nut trees that will sequester more than 6,000 tons of carbon dioxide while providing food to low-income communities with Trees for the Future.
- In terms of non-digital products, Food Revolution Network put out its first physical cookbook this year. Real Superfoods: Everyday Ingredients to Elevate Your Health was published by Hay House on October 31, 2023. Over 9,800 people took part in the Real Superfoods Challenge leading up to its publication. And the book was an Amazon bestseller in its first week!
- Ocean delivered a captivating and inspiring TEDx Talk at the prestigious TEDx Alexander Park this year, and the excitement is contagious! His presentation, entitled “Eating Your Way to Happiness,” has already racked up more than a million views.
- Ocean was a featured speaker at Holistic Holiday at Sea, a plant-based cruise to the Caribbean, where he presented two keynotes. More than 150 FRN members and hundreds of other wellness enthusiasts participated in the cruise. To find out more about the cruise and get a $50 onboard credit for the next one, visit the Holistic Holiday at Sea website.
- Across our social media pages, Food Revolution Network had a combined reach of 5.6 million people, over 6.2 million impressions, and over 560,000 followers. Video content was the preferred medium on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
- The 2023 Food Revolution Summit was a special one, debuting as a full docuseries for the very first time. This year’s Summit reached 437,302 participants who viewed over 209,800 hours of empowering and groundbreaking content.
- We debuted FRN’s first foray into the coaching world with our Plant-Based Coaching Certification (PBCC). New and experienced coaches learned unique skills to help them empower their clients to transform their lives through a plant-based lifestyle. In the first cohort, PBCC welcomed 244 students. Graduation timing is flexible, but by the end of 2023, more than half of the inaugural cohort had already graduated. After completing a brief exam administered by the Lifestyle Prescriptions University in partnership with the nonprofit Lifestyle Medicine University Foundation, graduates received 24 CE/CPD credits from the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching and 24 CE/CPD credits from the CPD Standards Office. Additionally, for RDs/RDNs, all activities offered by the Food Revolution Network’s Plant-Based Coaching Certification were eligible to receive CPEUs by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
- FRN helped over 10,468 people improve their blood sugar balance and metabolic health with our Tackling Type 2 Masterclass and course with Brenda Davis, RD.
- Over 46,990 people received transformative guidance on implementing a healthy diet with our Food for Health Masterclass, and nearly 2,900 went on to enroll in the Plant-Powered & Thriving course it introduces.
- We shared The Need To GROW — an award-winning, solutions-based environmental documentary — with more than 181,300 audience members.
- We gave an awe-inspiring look into the mushroom kingdom to more than 61,600 people with the film Fantastic Fungi.
- The groundbreaking health film From Food to Freedom debuted to over 81,300 viewers.
- Our Healthy Heart Masterclass reached over 23,500 people, with 1,500 enrollments in the Healthy Heart course with holistic integrative cardiologist Mimi Guarneri, MD.
- FRN relaunched our Brain Breakthroughs Masterclass, taught by husband and wife neurologist team Drs. Dean and Ayesha Sherzai, to over 31,700 people, and shared their Healthy Brain course with over 1,750 people.
- More than 19,850 people participated in our first-ever Eat the Rainbow Challenge with the reopening of WHOLE Life Club registration.
- We helped over 3,300 people take small steps every day for two weeks with our 14-Day Plant-Powered Accelerator. Participants received healthy eating secrets straight to their inboxes to support lasting changes to their diets.
- And within WHOLE Life Club, we provided 53 Action of the Week videos, 12 expert interviews, 312 recipes, and monthly live member events (In the Kitchen Live Calls, Culinary and Coaching Q&As, and Community Connection Calls) with our WLC community, which has grown to more than 10,000 active members.
The Most Popular Food Revolution Network Blog Posts Published in 2023
These were FRN’s most popular new posts of 2023.
- Is Bone Broth Good for You? (88,432 views)
- Plant-Based Lysine: Do You Need Meat To Get Enough Lysine? (87, 715 views)
- The Importance of Fiber in Gut Health and Hormonal Balance (64,881 views)
- Goitrogens: Should You Worry About Their Effect on Your Thyroid? (58,403 views)
- The Zesty Truth About Limes: Exploring Their Health Benefits and Potential Risks (50,054 views)
The Most Popular Food Revolution Network Recipes of 2023
Snacks dominated the top-viewed recipes list this year, along with a couple of tasty and legume-filled curries. Unsurprisingly, our Super Simple Homemade Date Paste made the top ten again but has been dethroned as the most popular recipe.
Our most popular recipes for 2023 were:
- Easy Cheesy Herbed Crackers (18, 474 views)
- The Best Creamy and Crunchy Snack! (14,486 views)
- Thai Almond Chickpea Curry (13,409 views)
- Super Simple Homemade Date Paste (13,403 views)
- Sweet Red Lentil Curry (13,214 views)
- Creamy Vanilla Cinnamon Chia Pudding (13,206 views)
- Cherry Cheesecake Smoothie (12,376 views)
- Super Seedy Granola (9,794 views)
- Oatmeal Banana Bites (9,393 views)
- Sheet Pan Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp (9,139 views)
On a Personal Note
In 2023, my dad, colleague, and dear friend — and FRN cofounder — John Robbins, experienced the progression of a health condition, post-polio syndrome, that has had a significant impact on his life and on our family. He is working with it in a profound way, and we shared about it in this video. We have received nearly a thousand deeply moving responses to this sharing, and they have lifted our family’s spirits. The way my dad is working with this condition is profoundly moving to me — and to many other people, too.
My dad and I are profoundly privileged to work with an amazing team of 25+ at FRN. This is, without a doubt, the most friendly, cooperative, dedicated, accountable, and effective team either of us has ever been a part of. The FRN team works virtually, and as much as digital tools like Zoom and Slack allow us to collaborate and be in each others’ lives, they aren’t a perfect substitute for in-the-flesh human interaction. So I’m delighted to share that in October 2023, we hosted our first in-person team retreat since 2019.
Thank You for All that YOU Do
We work hard at FRN, and sometimes the mission that we’ve staked out, along with the tasks and deadlines that bring that mission to life, can feel daunting. So it’s important for us to constantly remind ourselves that the food revolution movement is a mission much bigger than my dad, much bigger than me, much bigger than any one person, and much bigger than the FRN staff. It’s a movement that is growing and gaining traction, saving lives and bringing healing to our world.
And that movement includes you, about whom I’ve saved the last word.
FRN has a voice and influence because of you. When famous and influential people and brands consider whether to partner with us, one of the things they look at is our “reach.” Because we’re over a million members strong, we can work with the folks who gave the world movies like Fantastic Fungi and The Need to GROW. We can interest a book publisher like Hay House in publishing our cookbooks (with another coming back for final editing next week for publication in 2024).
We can attract an all-star lineup to share their ideas in our annual Food Revolution Summit because they know that a huge audience is there to “eat up” their wisdom — and use it to improve the lives of themselves and their loved ones, their communities, and the entire world.
There’s a video that was published in 2009 on YouTube that went viral and has now amassed over 24 million views. Titled “Sasquatch Music Festival 2009 — Guy Starts Dance Party,” it’s a 3-minute clip showing a lone dancer doing a series of pretty goofy moves. After a while, he’s joined by his first follower and then a second. A little over one minute into the video, it suddenly turns into a dance party — a mass movement. The energy grows and becomes contagious. When I first watched it, I wanted to jump through my laptop screen and join in.
Without you, dear reader, my dad, our staff at FRN, and I would still be the first three dancers, enjoying ourselves but lacking impact at scale. Your willingness to embrace the mission and the frequent calls to action — and to share and amplify the messages and make them your own — is what allows us to make the contributions highlighted above.
So please know how absolutely grateful we are to you for all the ways you generously support our work and provide loving and helpful feedback to help us improve. And for all the ways you assume leadership in your families and communities, day in and day out.
Like: Moving toward a plant-based diet. Choosing organic produce when you can. Buying local, from farm stands and farmers markets. Buying less and loving more. Donating to worthy causes. Loving the people you love with your whole heart. Trying new healthy recipes from our blog articles. Sharing articles, films, and healthy food with friends and loved ones.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Thank you for caring about the food that you eat and the food you share with others. Thank you for caring about the well-being of the people who produce that food.
Thank you for aligning your actions and purchases with your values, and for being willing to look at inconvenient truths and adapt your behavior accordingly.
Thank you for all the ways in which you strive to be the change we all wish to see, and to manifest, in the world.
Here’s to all we accomplished together in 2023, and to the healing, compassion, and beauty we’re creating, one meal at a time.
May all be fed. May all be healed. May all be loved.
Ocean Robbins and John Robbins
Cofounders, Food Revolution Network
Tell us in the comments:
- How has the food revolution impacted your life in 2023?
- What was your favorite Food Revolution Network article from this past year? What made it special for you?
- What are you looking forward to in 2024?
Featured Image: iStock.com/Irina_Strelnikova