Posted on May 9, 2012 in Wellness

Following My Passion: How I Grew into a Plant-Based Chef

In 2006, having resigned from a stressful position in publishing, I found myself sitting across from a career coach I found in one of those free New Age magazines. Halfway through our first session he blurts out, “You are such a number seven!”

“OK, now we’re getting somewhere,” I thought. As a person who’s had more jobs than socks, I was really hoping he could help me figure out my “life’s work,” as they say.

He explained that the Enneagram, a tool used for personal development, places people into one of nine personality groups. Sevens, he said, thrive on change and versatility, and seek out adventure as if it were water; they are the quintessential “Renaissance” people.

While “Renaissance woman” has a nice ring to it, I had come to feel that in my case it described one who couldn’t commit and was too idealistic. But three things were clear to me: (1) I wanted to do work I was passionate about, (2) I wanted to help and teach others, and (3) I wanted the freedom to express myself creatively.

He then asked me a pivotal question: “What kind of books do you read for enjoyment?” Oh, that was easy: I read health and nutrition books, as they had helped me to overcome a couple health issues. From there nutrition had become a hobby of mine. Things were coming into focus.

With nutrition at the core, I began to get excited and envision myself helping others improve their health. I enrolled in a local nutrition certification program knowing that I did not want to return to college to become an RD, and most likely work in an institutional setting (my “seven-ness” sensed there would be less freedom and creativity there).

I simultaneously contacted Dr. John McDougall, whose nutrition books had helped me a great deal, with the hope of landing a part-time or even volunteer job that would allow me to dip my toes into the field. The timing was right and I began working for the McDougalls part-time at their live-in nutrition programs and special events.

It was here that I began my “eyes wide open” education about food and its effects on the body. I repeatedly heard presentations by experts in plant-based nutrition as well as accomplished vegan chefs. I also talked with attendees who spoke of their remarkable health improvements on a plant-based diet. I was finally doing work I was passionate about.

Then in 2010 I had the opportunity to teach cooking classes at another live-in facility that specializes in water fasting and also promotes a plant-based diet: True North Health Center. I jumped in with both feet and now teach there once a week. I also added “cooking instructor” to my list of duties with the McDougalls. I was finally teaching and helping others directly.

My website has been a labor of love. It is now filled with delicious, plant-based, SOS-free (salt, oil, sugar) recipes, including traditional favorites like potato salad and pancakes, as well as the more unique, such as Tandoori Love Soup and Rosemary, Mushrooms & Kale. With a background in writing, and a passion for photography and cooking, my website is an ideal outlet for my work, a place to express myself creatively on a regular basis.

I love that I am now able to bring my talents, skills and passions to my work. All of these have driven me to where I am today. But I have to believe there was a little luck involved. As for lucky numbers, I’d have to say mine is seven.

Click here to see Cathy’s recipe for Mushroom-Basil Au Gratin, which was posted yesterday.

Don't want to cook? Try our Forks Fresh Meals delivery service and receive 5, 10, or 15 healthy and delightful meals at your doorstep every week.

About the Author

Cathy Fisher is a plant-based cooking instructor who teaches at TrueNorth Health Center and the McDougall Program in Santa Rosa, California. Visit to view her healthy plant-based recipes.

View all contributions by Cathy Fisher