John Reid, executive director of the Healthy You Network, unpacks wares for the new resource center, which aims to help people making the transition to or seeking information about plant-based, whole-food eating.

Benjie Sanders / Arizona Daily Star

Many meat eaters will tell you it’s impossible to get enough protein without consuming animal products. A local group is out to teach people otherwise.

Things such as spinach, grains, broccoli and beans provide all the protein you need, said Jamie Roach, spokeswoman for the Healthy You Network. The nonprofit is opening a resource center Saturday to support people following or transitioning to a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle.

“You can get all your nutrients from eating plants, as long are you are eating a variety of plants,” Roach said.

The network, a registered nonprofit, is committed to educating Southern Arizonans about the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle.

Executive Director John Reid said the mission is simple: teach people how to use food as their medicine and incorporate whole foods into their lives.

Plant-based nutrition focuses on consuming food as close to its original state as possible.

“We want people eating whole potatoes rather than french fries,” Reid said.

Whole-food, plant-based nutrition focuses on grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts.

Like veganism it avoids animal products, but it also excludes processed foods and foods with added salt, sugar and oils.

The Healthy You Network has held events and symposiums in Tucson for nearly three years to spread the word about the advantages of eating plant-based foods.

“The piece that we have been missing is the ability to follow up after those events,” Roach said.

People can go to the resource center or call to ask questions, learn how to shop for food and get help changing their diet, she said. Many have no idea where to start.

“That is where the resource center is critical,” Roach said.

The resource center has information in the form of books and DVDs, as well as merchandise and a kitchen for food demonstrations and potlucks. It will also be a meeting venue for volunteers and a space for the Healthy You Network’s smaller events, Roach said.

The volunteer-run center will be open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

It’s one thing to hear about the plant-based movement, Reid said. It’s another to see what the food is, how flavorful it is and how easy it is to prepare. Tours and tastings will be included in Saturday’s opening.

“Come check us out,” Roach said. “This way of eating is not for everybody, but it’s right for a lot of people.”

Kathy Iannacone is a member of the Healthy You Network and chef-owner of Urban Fresh, a whole-food, plant-based restaurant downtown.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand the importance of having a place like” the resource center, she said.

Iannacone opened Urban Fresh last December and has been working to educate people on plant-based nutrition. With the opening of the resource center, she’ll have a place to send customers who want to know more.

“I knew that they are doing something really great for the community.”

Kaleigh Shufeldt is a University of Arizona student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at or 573-4117.