Connecticut-based chef and entrepreneur Mary Lawrence has opened the state’s first all-vegan wellness center, Ahimsa Health & Harmony, an organization that uniquely provides products and services that are 100 percent vegan, following the Buddhist principle of practicing nonviolence in oneself and with all other living beings (“ahimsa”). Over the past decade, there has been an exponential increase in interest in veganism and curiosity about how to make the transition to a healthy, plant-based diet. Ahimsa Health & Harmony teaches people of all walks of life about making connections between their food choices and overall well-being, embracing an understanding that everyone has the ability to manage his or her own health when given the proper tools. Led by Executive Director Mary Lawrence, who’s been teaching, counseling, and living a vegan lifestyle since 1997, the center offers such services as wellness coaching, plant-based nutrition instruction, yoga, meditation, art and nature therapy, and other holistic healing modalities. Lawrence brings to the center a wealth of knowledge and more than a decade of experience managing her successful vegan personal-chef business, Well on Wheels (wellonwheels.com)., through which she’s helped hundreds of clients lead healthy, happy lives or recover from a wide variety of health problems including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, IBS, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease, asthma, obesity, and food addiction. She has worked with people of all ages, from children to senior citizens, from those living in urban and rural populations to the economically disadvantaged and physically challenged, demonstrating that food can be healthy, affordable, and delicious. Lawrence teaches what she knows, having regained her own health after overcoming decades of chronic illnesses by switching to a whole foods, plant-based diet, practicing meditation and yoga, and reconnecting with her love of animals and nature. She later trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute and earned a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the Dr. T. Colin Campbell Institute at Cornell University. In describing Lawrence’s culinary expertise, Maribeth Abrams, a director of the North American Vegetarian Society, says, “Mary Lawrence caters to seasoned vegans and beginners alike, with an artful array of masterfully flavorful yet easy recipes sure to knock your socks off.” As one client attests, “the meals are just incredible—so delicious, beautiful to look at, and a pleasure to put in my body. I am aware of feeling better physically after eating them. My appreciation for her artistry just keeps growing.” Jasmin Singer, host of the popular internet podcast Our Hen House, notes that “in addition to her culinary know-how, Mary also has a wealth of insight on animal rights issues,” which she deftly integrates into her center’s mission of having compassion for all beings. A frequent presenter at conferences and workshops, Lawrence is described by Dr. Don Showradio host Mark Sutton as a “compelling” speaker whose “dedication and integrity shines through.” Ahimsa Health & Harmony is located in the beautiful Arbor Arts Center, a converted Underwood Typewriter factory adjacent to Real Art Ways in Hartford. Hours are Thursday through Sunday by appointment. The center’s mission is to educate and empower individuals to achieve optimal health through diet and lifestyle practices, to gain inner strength and confidence while navigating life’s daily stresses, and to live in peace and harmony within the global community.
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