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Going from Racist to Anti-racist with Dustin and Josh LaJaunie: PYP 415

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Dustin and Josh LaJaunie have amazing transformation stories. They went from obese to fit. From junk food addicts to plant-based eaters. From hunters to vegans. From sedentary to active.

And everyone in the plant-based and vegan communities celebrates them for these achievements.

But what's most inspiring and exciting to me about their new identities has nothing to do with food or health. Instead, it's about how going plant-based started a domino-chain of changes that opened them up to full-on compassion.

First, for themselves.

Next, for animals.

And then, for all life on the planet.

From homophobic to celebrating Pride with  rainbow posts. From reactionary to progressive. From racist to antiracist.

I've gotten some flak for publishing this conversation. I fully expect my Patreon funding to decrease. And my risk is nothing compared to Dustin and Josh, who live not only in the plant-based world, but also in the small bayou town in Southeast Louisiana where they were born. A community that is struggling to rise to the challenge of the present moment, where so many white Americans have begun to say, “This stops now.”

The main gist of the criticism is, why can't plant-based people just stick to that topic, without going all gooey about social justice and turning people off? Stay in your lane, herbivore!

You be the judge – does the LaJaunie brothers' transformation turn people off to the possible sequelae of going plant-based, or is it perhaps the most eloquent and beautiful argument in support of eating with compassion?

I want to say one other thing to my white audience. I'm a little uncomfortable sharing this conversation at this moment, precisely because so many white liberals and progressives can look at the old, racist LaJaunies and say to themselves, “Well, that was terrible, and good for them for changing, but I've never been a racist.”

If that's your reaction (and I certainly share it, because it makes me feel good about myself), then I invite you to listen to this conversation through a different lens.

I want you to ask yourself: Where do I need to start showing the courage that Dustin and Josh demonstrate right now? Where are my core beliefs unsupported by my actions on a daily basis? Where are my current blind spots about how I'm contributing, without intention or consciousness, to the perpetuation of racist outcomes in my society?

We're not having this conversation to be congratulated. Instead, we're having it to model discomfort. The same discomfort we feel when we stand up for our way of eating in the face of peer pressure and even ridicule. The same discomfort we experience when we exercise to the point of exhaustion.

Being healthy in this society; being plant-based; being vegan: these are all gyms where we've honed our discomfort muscles.

Now it's time to get out of the gym, and start lifting weights to make this planet great – for everyone.

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.


Dustin and his mom's cookbook: Pure Ambrosia: LaJaunie Family Traditions Recreated for Health and Longevity

Grow Where You Are (Eugene Cooke)

Books (Where possible, book links are to Mahogany Books, a Black-owned bookstore in Washington, DC. These are not affiliate links.)

Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison

Passing, by Nella Larsen

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee


13th documentary from Netflix (free on YouTube)

True Justice documentary, about the work of Bryan Stephenson

Alt Right: Age of Rage on Netflix and to rent for $0.99 on Amazon

Time: The Kalief Browder Story on Netflix

Looking for Transformational Change?

You know how when you discovered plant-based eating, you basically went, “Holy shit, how come the entire healthcare system isn't totally embracing this as one of the most powerful keys to disease prevention and reversal!”?

That's how I feel now about a psychological approach to transformational change called “Memory Reconsolidation.” Few psychologists have heard about it, and when they do hear the radical transformations it can bring about in a very short time, they're often skeptical to the point of disbelief.

But I've added Memory Reconsolidation work to my own coaching, and can attest to its amazing efficacy. So much so, my team and I are studying with the best clinicians and teachers in the world, with the goal of introducing it into our health coaching training.

If you're interested in experiencing the magic of memory reconsolidation coaching with me or a member of my team trained in the process, click the link below to open the form in a new browser tab. Someone will get back to you within 3 business days.

Yes, I'm interested in Memory Reconsolidation Coaching.

You CAN Change Other People!

Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative book of that title.

What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.

Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.

Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight

Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.

It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂

Tip Jar

This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by clicking the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.


The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.


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33 comments on “Going from Racist to Anti-racist with Dustin and Josh LaJaunie: PYP 415

  1. Sara says:

    I appreciate this so much. I have no ability to connect with people who don’t understand that justice and opportunity for our fellow humans must be part of a compassionate life. There is no lane to stay in. Any creation of a lane is a construct of people who don’t want to know and deal with the truth. I have trouble with the calm persuasive thing for sure and I don’t care. I’d rather fight and f it up than let it go by in my presence. Thank you again. We as white people have so much work to do.

    1. Howard says:

      “I’d rather fight and f it up” – yes! The courage to act must include a willingness to learn and grow.

  2. Barbara says:

    Thank you for this inspiring interview. These honest, reflective, self-driven brothers give me hope. It’s impressive seeing people open to educating/growing themselves. And now they are our teachers.

    1. Howard says:

      Thanks for the kind feedback, Barbara. Yes, these brothers are teaching me all the time!

  3. ann says:

    Loved this episode. Howard hats off for again steering your ship right into the wind. Hats off Lajaunie family for stepping out and showing us what it’s like to lead in our communities, families and social circles. I grew up a mile away from where George Floyd was murdered, and was raised to think of the North as righteous. I now know its history better and know it’s anything but. Getting racism out of my mind is like weeding–I seem to never be done. Anti-racism is related to plant-based sustenance because both take holistic view of life forms, valuing all parts of whole rather than elevating some people/organs/cells/species while devaluing others. Racist culture and unhealthy diets both require blindness to the rot they produce. Love to you all, I’m grateful for your voices.

    1. Howard says:

      Ann, thanks for those thought-provoking comparisons! I feel their truth.

  4. Bonnie says:

    I am grateful for the three of you having the courage to tackle this topic and such an insightful and helpful way.

    1. Howard says:

      Thanks, Bonnie!

  5. ann says:

    I wanted to share another comparison here among the holistic-health seekers. We whites often claim we didn’t know how awful the experience of racism was for our brown fellow citizens, but I don’t think this is true. I think we half-know it in a specific way we often learn disturbing things as children and are also educated to not talk about them. A child might feel a natural revulsion to seeing or experience injustice, to an animal, a family member, or to themselves, but as is common in abusive interactions, be told in those same moments how to accept the abuse instead of revolt against it. We learn to bury our trauma, our natural revulsion; we learn to reframe, to excuse, to justify, to forget. As adults we might not “know” in our surface, conscious thoughts, but I think we do know in our guts, where we have always known.

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