Like his father, retired Cornell University biochemistry professor and outspoken vegan T. Colin Campbell, who studied the effects of nutrition on long-term health, Nelson Campbell is convinced of the benefits of a whole food plant-based diet and wants to share that message with as many people as possible.
The director of the documentary film PlantPure Nation and founder of PlantPure Inc., Nelson Campbell says he is not fazed by diet fads that champion meat-eating and full-fat dairy. “The benefit that we have is that a whole food plant-based diet is supported by a tremendous amount of research and solid science,” he emphasizes. “A lot of those other diet fads are promoted by authors who have no training in nutrition or are distorting research or tailoring it to support their particular positions. So we have the benefit of science on our side.”
Campbell is especially concerned about the obesity epidemic in the United States and the prevalence of mostly preventable chronic health conditions, particularly among lower-income populations that often live in “food deserts.” That’s why the end of PlantPure Nation included a call to action, urging people to form local support groups called “pods” that would educate people in those communities about the health advantages of plant-based eating.
“We call them pods because people are planting seeds in their communities around this idea,” Campbell explains.
Since the film’s release in 2015, close to 500 pods have been formed, many of them operational, he says, estimating that the total number of people participating in this network, overseen by the nonprofit PlantPure Communities, is more than 60,000. The nonprofit is also spearheading an initiative called the Oasis Program, the mission of which is to deliver nutrition education and affordable food to underserved communities.
“The pod network has been very helpful in mobilizing people and getting the word out,” according to Campbell. “On the business side, we’ve developed a number of assets in the two categories of education and food. We are ready to combine all of the above, along with a new web-based social platform that we’ve developed, into a package that we can use to help communities launch health campaigns.”
Diving into the food business, PlantPure has launched a line of 20 frozen vegan meals, ranging from Smoky Creole Beans & Rice to Peanutty Buddha Bowl (PlantPure 2018). Although the entire line is only available online at PlantPureNation.com, five of the entrées are now being carried by Publix Super Markets.
Campbell says his goal is to make high-quality vegan meals as inexpensively as possible. His organization is exploring how to mass-produce a line of products at the lowest achievable cost that PlantPure’s nonprofit could distribute without a markup to low income communities.
“We’re really trying to crack the code of getting this healing food into these communities in a way that’s affordable,” Campbell says.
Campbell and his 85-year-old father have also been touring the United States as part of PlantPure’s Healing America Campaign, speaking to audiences to lay a broader ideological foundation for the plant-based food movement.
“It’s not just about food and health but also environmental considerations, economic considerations, and social justice,” he says. “We’re very interested in garnering the support of younger people. You can’t really have a movement like this if you don’t have youth and energy. We want to articulate an ideology around this that goes beyond fruits and vegetables and health.”