Chef Lisa has been sharing the joys of Plant-Based
eating with the SF Bay Area since 2005.
Now it's YOUR turn to get vegucated!
About Chef Lisa
Hi, I’m Lisa…a plant-based chef and a plant-based educator, or, as I like to call myself a Professional Vegucator. Nothing makes me happier than sharing the joys of plant-based foods with others. Let me tell you a bit of my story to share with you where I have come from and where I am now. I love food (eating it, creating it, sharing it, shopping for it, etc…) so much so that it was my everything! As a child, growing up in an abusive and toxic household, I used food to self-soothe because I had no one to talk to and access to nothing else but food to help ease the pain of my dark reality.
As a teenager and adult woman, I continued with the familiar cycle of abusive relationships and used food to try and make me feel better but the dopamine hits from the food were momentary at best. I also used many other maladaptive coping strategies to ease my pain but nothing worked. My weight reached over 300lbs and my health started to severely decline. I was pre-diabetic, on anti-depressants and taking dozens of other medications for my myriad of ailments. I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto’s and told I had a 33% genetic risk of breast cancer. I felt hopeless! The bottom fell out when the physicians I was seeing stated that they recommended I go on permanent disability because there was nothing else they could do to help me!
That defining moment changed everything! I was already eating veg but that included a lot of refined carbs, sugar and veg junk foods and I was still sick. I looked at all my pill bottles and realized that I needed a new RX. The answers I had been seeking were at the end of my fork and not at the bottom of a pill bottle! I realized I needed to start healing with my meals and that I matter. The first Whole Foods Plant-Based (WFPB) meal I consumed was my first act towards self-love. In addition to eating healthier, I purged the toxic, abusive and narcissistic people out of my life and started surrounding myself with positive caring people who loved me until I could truly learn to love myself.
I started cheffing and teaching veg food at festivals, schools and community centers all over the San Francisco Bay Area combining education, advocacy, a chef demo and a bit of schtick. Then, in 2011, I was approached by a Kaiser physician who wanted to develop a WFPB diet program for patients and asked me to design the culinary portion of the program. I did and have been vegucating patients, staff and physicians at Kaisers throughout Northern California ever since.
I have also been blessed to have released over 100lbs, won Vegan Iron Chef in 2013 and Best of Raw in 2010. I am healthy, off all my synthetic medications and not on disability. The WFPB diet was my first step towards vibrant health and self-love and I’ve made it my life’s goal to give back by vegucating the world! Additionally, I earned my MS in healthcare in 2005 and love being able to train providers and bring activity-based therapies and health promoting foods to marginalized populations and persons in institutionalized care.
I am a continual work in progress. I’m still working on reducing more weight and am grateful I am no longer wearing a size 26W. I view life as a journey vs a destination. I hope my recipes and musings provide you with the knowledge that you are not alone in your struggles, you can make do this and that you are deserving of a loving foods diet…Eat the Foods That Will Love You Back!
See what nutrition experts and clients are saying about Chef Lisa and her Vegucation programs.
Meet the experienced team of Vegucators that support Chef Lisa.
Debra Shapiro, MD - Physician and Certified Vegan Health Coach & Educator
Debra Shapiro, MD is a graduate of the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine and a Board Certified Obstetrician/Gynecologist . She became interested in plant based nutrition as a way to prevent, treat and reverse many of the common conditions she found in her patients. Veganism strongly resonated with her as a way to reduce greenhouse gasses and polution from animal agriculture while also reducing animal suffering. She has a Certificate in Plant-‐based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, and she is a Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator through The Main Street Vegan Academy. Her goal is to educate and motivate people so they can enjoy long and healthy lives.
Alicia Rydzewski - Executive Assistant and Nutritionist
Alicia Rydzewski earned her Master's degree in Health Education with a specialization in holistic nutrition and health coaching from John F. Kennedy University. She has over six years experience working in the health and wellness field with companies such as Kaiser Permanente, the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and the YMCA. She has an immense passion for helping others regain their health and vitality through a plant-based diet.
When she isn't vegucating the world, she spends her time working in the garden, teaching fitness classes, and volunteering at her local food bank. She is currently working on obtaining her Holistic Nutrition credential from the National Association of Nutrition Professionals. She is also pursing her credential as a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT).
Chelsea Bearce - ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT & CO-VEGUCATOR
Chelsea loves to share her knowledge and passion for plant-based diets. In addition to being a vegucator, Chelsea is a stand up comedian and actress from the Bay Area and is a new mom! She enjoys eating plant-based whenever possible and considers herself a vegan and vegetarian enthusiast.
MEERA LYER - FOOD SCIENTIST
Meera became vegan in high school and discovering that the major of Food Science existed at the college level, she knew that she wanted to pursue it. Meera completed a B.S. in Biochemistry from UCLA and subsequently my PhD in Food Science from Cornell University.
Since then, she has had the opportunity to work for some amazing small businesses as well as a large company to further her knowledge in applied food science and develop new vegan products. Meera feels that providing resources in an objective and non-judgmental manner is the best approach to educating those curious about having a plant-based diet.
Rachelle Marquez - CULINARY ASSISTANT
Rachelle's goal has always been to bring health to others by providing individuals with the necessary tools to maintain a lifetime of health through an all-encompassing lively approach.
She is a Professor of Kinesiology, the program coordinator and professor of Skyline College's Adapted Physical Education Program. Additionally, Rachelle is a certified Personal Trainer, Strength and Conditioning Coach, and Health Educator. Educated through Living Light Institute She has worked with Raw food business advocates such as Que Se Raw Se Raw, Chef Lisa Books-Williams, and Jillian Love's holiday events, selling raw food cookies. She is a health advocate who educates through movement, plant-based, raw and vegan nutrition and thrives from seeing others progress and find their way to health and success.
ERIKA IKEMOTO - CULINARY ASSISTANT
Erika Ikemoto has been a vegetarian for over 26 years and fully-plant based for over 5 years.
Food had been the center of all of her family events growing up and she always wanted to feed whomever she could. Working and being in the kitchen is where Erika belongs since she loves to eat, create, experiment, and feed people. As a health teacher, nutrition is her favorite topic to teach. Erika teaches it in a way that provides evidence of how food can be our medicine based on the choices that we make and how it can also be toxifying to the body and lead to the many illnesses and diseases that many are diagnosed with and can be prevented based on our decisions. Erika is also the founder of The Feeding Frenz Project.
Veronica Bearce - CULINARY ASSISTANT
Owner of Veronica's Veggies, she has a passion for vegan cooking and treating food as medicine. Her culinary journey started at age 10 and intensified when diagnosed with cancer in 2012. Veronica enjoys growing, preparing, and eating food. She retired from a 24 year career in education to begin her vegan cooking service. Veronica enjoys Vegucating every chance she gets when not babysitting her new grandson.
michelle lang - culinary assistant
Vegetarian for 28 years with the last 5 being strictly plant based, Michelle loves cooking and sharing with others the knowledge and path she has developed along the way. Since 2015, Michelle has been Chef Lisa's trusted culinary assistants and fellow Vegucators for her Kaiser plant based diet program -food preparation demonstrations.
She offers knowledge of good food choices to those looking to improve their health and well being. Michelle's goal is to be the seed and conduit to people's awareness leading to a colorful life through a plant based diet, resulting in many positive effects on their lives, the lives of other sentient beings, and the plant as a whole.
Renee Laverty - Culinary Assistant
Renee is a long time vegetarian who recently moved from San Diego to northern California. She loves showing people how much she cares for them by serving them great, healthy plant-based food. Renee enjoys vegucating people with recipes that are easy to prepare and delicious.
Michael Bedar - CULINARY ASSISTANT
In addition to helping Chef Lisa vegucate, Michael is a speaker, author, and advocate for people's health through diet and lifestyle solutions. Michael's engaging live talks and workshops, his book "Sweet Healing: A Whole Health Journey," and its sequels, all support you to live with greater presence, which is a key to thinking healthy thoughts and consciously choosing healthy plant-sourced nutrition.
Michael has been taught by world-class nutritionists and practitioners of healing at a transformative level, for the last 14 years. Michael serves as a whole being facilitator for thousands of guests at the all-vegan Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center, and was a co-founder of the documentary film, "Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days."
David Smugar - CULINARY ASSISTANT
Vegetarian for 15 years, and vegan for the past 8, David find there's something very empowering about being vegan and that it signifies the individual has made a conscientious choice to enjoy a lifestyle that stems from awareness: awareness of the plight of animals, awareness of the environmental ramifications of raising animals for food, awareness of the limited, precious resources we have here on earth.
He loves sharing knowledge on the vast and wonderful variety of plant-based foods that are packed with protein, nutrients and flavor. In addition to being a vegucator, David is a certified Spanish medical interpreter as well as a Spanish teacher.
Shauna Sherman - CULINARY ASSISTANT
Shauna is a Vegucator at heart, always looking to help others become their healthier, feel-good selves. Shauna loves being a part of the plant based community and is passionate about heart-healthy living. Shauna is certified through The Health Sciences Academy as a Nutritional Therapist and has her certificate in Plant Based Nutrition, T. Colin Campbell's eCornell program.
Kenneth G. Williams - CULINARY ASSISTANT
In addition to helping Lisa vegucate in Solano county, Ken is a vegan activist, the first vegan champion bodybuilder and co-host of “Soul Food-For-Thought.” He has been vegan for over 20 years and has a passion for raw vegan foods.
Elizabeth Bechtold - CULINARY ASSISTANT
Elizabeth is 77 years young and has been vegan for 35 years. She enjoys plenty of raw green smoothies, is an avid tennis player, snow skis competitively, and dances regularly with plenty of energy. Elizabeth is passionate about vegucating clients on how to eat healthy and avoid degenerative diseases. She is dedicated to spreading the health benefits of a plant-based diet and helping people realize that you can be vibrant at ANY age.
Janet Balsiger - CULINARY ASSISTANT
Janet has an enthusiasm for healthy eating since several years ago. In an effort to lose weight and transition out of the "SAD" diet most Americans eat, she stumbled across the Raw Food community and began to explore the benefits of eating a plant-based diet. Janet found that eating fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats not only helped her drop twenty pounds, but also made a tremendous difference in the way she felt. She went from being lethargic and unmotivated to the "Energizer Bunny"! Currently, Janet eats both cooked and raw foods, and can honestly say that her favorite things to eat are veggies! She enjoys sharing this healthy lifestyle with others.
Ida Friedman - CULINARY ASSISTANT
Ida believes that if you really want to identify your passion and calling in life, you have to think back to what made you really happy when you were young. What made her the happiest was the way her mother and grandmother cared for her when she wasn't feeling well. She felt so nourished and loved.
Ida knew that she wanted to dedicate her life to caring for people in a nourishing, healing way that makes a lasting transformation in their lives. At the core of every life-changing health transformation that she has been part of is a strong belief system of healthy eating, and the best way to get that right now is to get VEGUCATED.
MARITA VILLANUEVA - CULINARY ASSISTANT
Marita was inspired at the 2011 SF World Veg Fest, after attending the speeches of Dr. Colin Campbell, John Robbins, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Miyoko Skinner & Chef Lisa to became vegan.
Marita is a kindergarten teacher who strongly and passionately advocates eating fruits and veggies for her students and their families. She raises compassion for animals and health awareness via songs, chants, art, role-play & books.
Everyday, she posts news and inspirational messages on her Facebook timeline under Maritz Vee.