Plant Sumo Interviews

Sharon Palmer

Known as The Plant-Powered Dietitian, Sharon has established an award-winning career in the field of nutrition and sustainability. One of the most widely recognized registered dietitians in the world, Sharon is an accomplished writer, editor, blogger, author, speaker, and media expert. In particular, she has gained recognition for her expertise in plant-based nutrition and sustainability. Sharon has authored over 1000 articles in a variety of publications, including Better Homes and Gardens, Oprah Magazine, and LA Times. Her book The Plant-Powered Diet: The Lifelong Eating Plan for Achieving Optimal Health, Beginning Today (The Experiment, July 2012) was a critical success, which was followed by her second book Plant-Powered for Life: Eat Your Way to Lasting Health with 52 Simple Steps & 125 Delicious Recipes in July 2014. She is currently working on her third and fourth books on plant-based eating due for publication in 2021. Sharon also has contributed to several book chapters on nutrition and sustainability. She serves as the nutrition editor for Today’s Dietitian, associate faculty in the MS of Sustainable Food Systems Program at Prescott College, judge for the James Beard Journalism Awards, nutrition consultant for several organizations such as AICR and Oldways, and co-founder of Food and Planet. Sharon presents frequently at conferences, and is also a weekly contributing nutrition expert in the media, including print, online, radio, podcasts, television, social media, videos, and film. Sharon enjoys organizing farm and sustainability tours across the world, including her collaboration with Sterling College’s Italian Alps annual tour. Sharon recently completed her Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems from Green Mountain College in Vermont. And she still has time to blog every day for her popular online community (400 K members strong and growing) at The Plant-Powered Dietitian. Living in the sustainability mecca of Ojai, California with her husband and two dogs, Sharon enjoys tending to her own organic garden, visiting the local farmers market, volunteering in local environmental organizations, and cooking for friends and family.

What Is The Book (Or Books) You’ve Given Most As A Gift, And Why?

The Plant-Powered Diet, Diet for a Hot Planet, Omnivore's Dilemma.

What Purchase Of $100 Or Less Has Most Positively Impacted Your Life In The Last Six Months?

Seina Manual Collapsible Cart for taking to the farmers market, available on Amazon.

When You Feel Overwhelmed Or Unfocused, Or Have Lost Your Focus Temporarily, What Do You Do?

I love to go out in my garden and care for the earth or plants. It gives my mind something to do, and I get fresh air, sunshine, activity. It's healing.

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?

Getting my MS in Sustainable Food Systems in my fifties.

How Has A Failure, Or Apparent Failure, Set You Up For Later Success?

I was very shy and a poor public speaker. But that drove me to push myself and become more comfortable in public.

What is the most significant thing that someone much younger than yourself has taught you?

To be fearless. To reach out to someone and ask for help.

Tell us about your business. What does it do and what value do you add?

I am a registered dietitian and expert in plant-based, sustainable food systems. I am a blogger, writer, author, speaker, consultant, professor, and media expert. My business allows me to be involved in many opportunities.

What is a useful skill someone could learn in one minute?

Box breathing techniques.

What is the most surprising thing you've seen in your industry?

Polarization of values, just like politics today. People reject other's philosophies and are vocal about it.

What's your favourite colour?


What's your favourite holiday destination?


What popular celebrity do you admire the most and why?

Meryl Streep--she is an intelligent, creative person who has been able to maintain a strong family life.

What's something exciting you're currently working on/learning that only a few people know about?

My new book is coming out in March--California Vegan.

What's your favourite vegetable?


What are you NOT Very Good at?


What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Steel cut oats with apples and walnuts.

What Are Bad Recommendations You Hear In Your Profession Or Area Of Expertise?

That you need to focus on calories and deprivation to be healthful, that plant-based diets aren't optimal.

In The Last Five Years, What New Belief, Behavior, Or Habit Has Most Improved Your Life?

Being more aware of the injustices of race issues in m profession of food and nutrition. Trying to bring more anticracism practices to my work.

What's your favourite vegan meal?

Mushroom Lentil Loaf, Gravy, and Mashed Potatoes, with Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

If You Could Have A Gigantic Billboard Anywhere With Anything On It — What Would It Say And Why?

Eat more plants!

What Advice Would You Give To A Smart, Driven College Student About To Enter The “Real World”? What Advice Should They Ignore?

Get some practice. Find a mentor. Do an internship. Don't be afraid to contact people whom you admire.

What Careers Advice Would You Give To Your 21-Year Old Self?

To start looking at your niche earlier on. Don't be satisfied with your hum-drum job, start developing that dream job immediately.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Chef, farmer

Where do you see your industry in the next 5 years?

We are going to be more involved in sustainability.

Tell us about someone you admire and why you admire them?

Alice Waters understood the connection of good healthy food and the soil before most of did.

What Is A 'Hack' You Have For Success That Most People Don't Know About?

Take breaks to refocus every couple of hours--get up, go for a 5 minute walk, drink some tea--then come back and refocus.

How has Covid-19 changed your industry?

It has created new problems for many dietitians working in healthcare, where they have more patient responsibilities, and it has also meant more private practice dietitians have had to find new revenue streams.

How has Covid-19 changed your company?

I have been busier than ever, as people are hungry for information on healthy eating.

What one thing in life do you consider to be overrated?

retirement. I think most people benefit from continuing working in some form.

Are you vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian or something else entirely?


What's your star sign?


About the Author


Heather Wilkinson is a globe-trotting content creator and PR enthusiast who’s finally put down roots in her native UK. When she isn’t working, you’ll find her pretending to care about Minecraft for her son’s sake, while secretly reading the latest Ace Atkins novel (or sleeping – her second favourite past-time).