July 21, 2020
When I first met my environmental mentor Dr. Bruce Bekkar, we met at True Foods in Fashion Valley. I met him with Dr. Dave Niesen who is a young ED physician and in charge of wildfire responses. It was the retired ob-gyn climate activisit founding member of Surfrider, the young blond ED physician wildfire expert, and me – middle aged litter picking pediatrician and self proclaimed Dr. Plastic Picker. It was at a vegan restaurant and at that point I was not #tryingvegan. We met in one of those surreal moments ala Matrix, where Bruce Bekkar looked at us younger physicians. Bruce had given ground rounds 10 years ago at our HMO on climate change, and the profound lack of interest among the physicians was profound. And now here we were, two younger physicians from complete opposite ends of the healthcare organization had separately found him. He looked at us across the table and said, “I’ve been waiting for you two for 10 years.” And this is when this group of concerned climate activists was formed to try to move health care organizations within our region to a more sustainable model. But one of the most powerful memories I had during this vegan meal at this vegan restaurant with these two already vegan physicians, was how non-judmental their veganism was. They recommended a certain tofu broth dish. I was intrigued. I ate it, and mostly it was the conversation that I came for. We were planning, and dreaming and discussing the climate. But I left with a normal sized restaurant bill, a sense of wellness and I felt light but also full – if that makes sense.