Volunteer Spotlight: Suzy Sorensen, RD, LD, CDE

Suzy Sorensen is a Twin Cities-based Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator who is passionate about plant-based eating! She has a Certificate of Training in Vegetarian Nutrition from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and opened Move2Veg Nutrition Counseling in 2009 to support those interested in plant-based eating. For more information, visit move2veg.com.

This month, the first part of her new four-part nutrition series, Growing Up Vegan, will be published on our blog. The series will explore ideas for supported eating during the four main stages of development. Read on to learn how Suzy’s passions for veganism and nutrition intersect.

What drew you personally to veganism?

A vegetarian friend invited me along to a PETA seminar here in the Cities (nearly 20 years ago). That first opened my eyes to what happens to animals and the choices I can make to reduce suffering. That’s where I connected with CAA! My “aha moment” was very shortly after that. We were visiting friends in Florida and happened to be there for lobster season: a few days when scuba diving for lobsters is allowed. Essentially, a hunting season. I was able to catch a lobster (the guilt is as present today as it was then). When we got to the dock, the idea was to twist the animal in half, separating head (thrown away) from tail (the desirable part to eat). I could not, would not ever do that. That was it. If I couldn’t kill an animal to eat it, I would not have someone else do it for me and pretend that was ok. That up-close experience with an animal headed for the plate made compassionate eating immediate, personal, and real to me.I sometimes say a lobster changed my life! And I’m grateful.

What drew you to your practice (and study of) nutrition?

I have a degree in education and taught science for 7 years. I was looking for a change and took a career development class. I shadowed a dietitian, took an intro to nutrition class, and it was love at first sight! I realized that food is powerful medicine, much more than just “fuel for the machine.” Food plays a critical role in health and disease. I still consider myself a teacher, but with a new subject matter—nutrition! Later, when I became vegan for compassionate reasons, I was driven to learn about plant-based nutrition to take care of myself and my family. It didn’t take long to realize that there was a lot of misinformation out there among my friends and my patients! That’s what prompted me to start Move2Veg, there is a need for accurate, evidence-based, individualized nutrition information. With that, we can be our best plant-based selves!

What are three tips you would emphasize to a friend transitioning to a plant-based diet? 

1) It does not have to be complicated or difficult to move to a plant-based diet. There aren’t “rules” or a “right way” to do it. We each need to do what works best for us to reach our goal. 

2) Make connections, you aren’t alone! Go to pot lucks, dine outs, other social events, connect with a mentor, meet with a plant-based dietitian! We can learn from and be inspired by others.  

3) Forgive yourself—learning something new takes time and practice, there will be moments where it doesn’t go quite as planned but tomorrow is another day.

Do you have a favorite food trend?

Easy, plant-based! The research shows more people than ever are giving it a try! Specific food trend? SO many new vegan cheeses, I’m always curious to check them out. Lots of people say cheese is the hardest thing to eliminate—not anymore!

Do you see a shift happening in public perceptions of nutrition?

Absolutely! I work in clinic part-time as a diabetes educator. Patients are interested and excited to hear more when I bring up vegan diet as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. It’s not a foreign concept. Better yet, many more people come in already giving it a try after reading a book or seeing a movie like Forks Over Knives! The word is out about the powerful health properties of a vegan diet!

To read more from Suzy, follow her new four-part nutrition series, Growing Up Vegan, released monthly on our blog starting March 6.

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