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  • Writer's pictureXimena Diaz Velazquez

Inspiring Plant-Based Business: The visionary behind Nutritional Science, ft. Dr. John Tanner

In our latest episode, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. John Tanner, the visionary behind Nutritional Science. Dr. Tanner's journey from a life-altering health scare to founding an organization focused on promoting a plant-based lifestyle is truly inspiring. In this blog, we'll explore the highlights of his interview and delve into the business and entrepreneurial aspects of his plant-based venture.

The Awakening:

Dr. Tanner's life took an unexpected turn in 2009 when he experienced cardiac arrest during a routine run. This event sparked his curiosity about why it happened and led him on a path of research and discovery. Driven by his newfound knowledge, he began sharing his insights with friends, family, and, eventually, larger audiences.

Nutritional Science Takes Root:

To disseminate information more effectively, Dr. Tanner developed Nutritional Science Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing valuable resources for those interested in adopting a plant-based lifestyle. The foundation's website,, became a treasure trove of information, featuring guidelines, recommended books and movies, recipes, and motivational stories.

Spreading the Plant-Based Message:

Initially, Dr. Tanner started giving talks and presentations, utilizing unused conference rooms from his technology company. He soon expanded his reach by speaking at various clubs, churches, and events, captivating audiences with science, personal experiences, and delectable plant-based cuisine. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a shift to virtual platforms, where Dr. Tanner continued to inspire and educate through Zoom events.

Looking Ahead:

As the world slowly recovers from the pandemic, Dr. Tanner contemplates the future of Nutritional Science. Should they return to in-person events or maintain the virtual format? This question remains unanswered, but one thing is certain—Nutritional Science will continue its mission of spreading the plant-based message and empowering individuals to embrace a healthier lifestyle.

Collaboration and Growth:

Dr. Tanner's work aligns perfectly with the goals of the Real Men Eat Plants initiative, which aims to promote plant-based living through a 30-day challenge. The collaboration between Nutritional Science and Real Men Eat Plants could provide a powerful combination of educational resources and practical experience, bridging the gap between knowledge and action.

Supporting the Cause:

To sustain its operations, Nutritional Science welcomes donations on its website, allowing them to purchase books and cover essential expenses. With minimal costs involved, Dr. Tanner's dedication and passion remain the driving forces behind the organization's success.

Dr. John Tanner's journey exemplifies the potential for plant-based businesses to thrive while making a positive impact on individuals' lives. Through Nutritional Science, he has created a platform that educates, empowers, and inspires people to embrace a plant-based lifestyle. As the future unfolds, the continuous pursuit of knowledge and innovation will undoubtedly shape Nutritional Science's path to even greater success.

> Episode’s transcript:

Bryan (00:00.994)

Hello and welcome everyone to Plant Based On Fire, where we're talking about plant-based businesses and their inspiring stories as they thrive in the industry. I am so pleased to have John Tanner here with Nutritional Science, and he's gonna be expanding on this great company that he's created and founded many years ago. And so I just wanted to welcome you and look forward to hearing about your vision for the future.

of it being more plant-based. So welcome to the show, John.

John Tanner (00:31.809)

Thanks, Brian. It's great to be here. I really appreciate what you're doing. It's such an honor to be a part of it.

Bryan (00:38.018)

Thank you. Yeah. So, I mean, help set the stage for some people that may or may not know, um, what nutritional science is and your background and stuff. So what's been sort of your journey and how did nutritional science come about?

John Tanner (00:51.797)

Well, as of 2009 is when I had my big event. At that time I was running my technology company that I still run, software and electronics robotics, that kind of stuff. I thought I was healthy. I was 52 years old. I was running a mile every day. In the middle of one of my runs, I staggered a couple of steps and hit the ground unconscious with my heart stopped.

There's very little warning for most people. I mean, this is a problem with the insides of your arteries, right? You can't see it from the outside. There's no nerve endings there to tell you you're about to die. It just came upon me very suddenly. What a surprise.

Bryan (01:26.487)


Yeah, wow. And so what so that you obviously survived, thank goodness and saw some treatment and, and that started this nutritional science is its foundation, right?

John Tanner (01:50.641)

It did, yes. And you're right, I was very lucky to survive. I think the statistics are about 3% of the people who have cardiac arrest outside of the hospital survive. And somebody saw me go down, came over and gave chest compressions. The firemen were there in four minutes. 17 people were just in the right places that day to save my life. And afterwards, I started asking the question, why did this happen to me? And my doctors were not at all

helpful. You know, this is the leading killer in this country. What do you expect? But a friend of mine sent me information about a paper that had just been published by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a name that a lot of your audience will know. And I read that paper and it was about cardiac arrest and that led me to his book and that book led me to The China Study by Caldwell.

Bryan (02:33.973)


John Tanner (02:50.715)

by sorry, Colin Campbell. And from there, a book by John McDougall and it just keeps going.

Bryan (02:58.222)

Keeps going from there. Yeah.

John Tanner (03:01.457)

And as I would learn this stuff, I would turn to my family and say, you can't believe this. The leading killer just goes away if you eat properly. Really? And then I'd be out with my friends and other social situations, and I would be spewing this exciting stuff. And eventually I realized it would be more effective if I kind of organized it a little bit, and I started to develop a presentation,

Bryan (03:10.722)



John Tanner (03:31.511)

some written material after it was over that they could think about and mention, you know, they could look up these books if they wanted to. And that went on for a few months and then eventually I realized I could reach people more effectively if I got a whole bunch of them in the room together and said it once. So I started doing that. I just invited whoever was interested.

I've never had any money or anything for advertising, so I would just tell people, if you've got some value from this talk, come back again and bring somebody you love that we can share this with. And I started, at first I would give away books.

Bryan (04:09.527)


John Tanner (04:15.685)

you know, I started developing this list of books that I thought were really good. I mentioned a few of them. And I found that some people, you hand them a book and they'll take it and they'll never read it. And you've just wasted a bunch of money. So instead we started making coupons that were good to be redeemed for one book. And that way, if they're not really interested, you haven't wasted any money. Well, we needed a website for that. And so I developed a website.

Bryan (04:21.442)



Bryan (04:40.59)



John Tanner (04:44.739)

website where I put all the valuable information that I could think of. I sort of modeled it after Amazon's website where there's information all over the place. You don't have to scroll miles to get to things. And so the website is, the organization Nutrition Science Foundation. So the first two letters of nutrition, N-U, next three letters of science, S-C-I.

Bryan (04:54.551)


John Tanner (05:14.759)

as much of this information as I could. There's general guidelines, you know, you should eat this stuff, you should not eat that stuff. There's my list of what I think the best books are, as well as a couple of movies. There's recipes collected from Chef AJ, she has some recipes there.

Bryan (05:23.783)



John Tanner (05:45.277)

The Forks Over Knives folks, the Collin W. Esselstyn's book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, got some recipes. So I asked each of them if they would allow me to get one or more of their recipes out there. So there's some of those on There's some motivational stories that I've collected.

Some of them from people that I've interacted with directly. Others written stories that you've probably encountered yourself. We created a doctor directory. Here's one of the frustrating things, Brian. I'm sure you've seen this as well. You go through some effort to convince somebody that they should eat this particular way. Let's be blunt. One of the worst things you can eat are animal products.

Bryan (06:14.99)


Oh my goodness, yeah.

Bryan (06:34.146)


John Tanner (06:35.045)

And then the person is considering that and they go to their doctor and the doctor says, oh no, you should eat animal products. Yeah.

Bryan (06:41.57)

You need the iron, whatever it is. Yes, yeah.

John Tanner (06:44.997)

And the three hours that you spent with this individual is eliminated by one sentence from a doctor. But there are some doctors that understand nutrition. They don't get this in medical school, but some of them have read the research and they understand this stuff. And so we've tried to collect a directory online of these doctors so you can put in your zip code and it'll show you a map with some nearby doctors

Bryan (06:48.235)

Out the window, yeah.

John Tanner (07:15.151)

all about.

Bryan (07:16.482)

such an amazing resource, my goodness. Like it's just, you know, I don't know. I started 13, 14 years ago myself and there wasn't anything really, you know, it's hard to find or whatever. I guess I'm a, you know, CTO for my stuff outside of this podcast. And one of my first CTO opportunities was in emergency department software. And I got to speak to so many doctors.

And they said, I said, so what's the secret to staying out of the emergency room? And they said diet and exercise. Those two things will keep you and don't do something stupid, of course, to wind up in the emergency department. But like it's really, really simple. And then you ask them about the meat stuff and then they go off the rail. But, but, but yeah, they, they understand it's diet and exercise, but they, they haven't put it all together. So, so it.

John Tanner (07:52.617)


All right.

Bryan (08:10.274)

I guess I want to maybe unpack a little bit of the business side, because this is trying to be more of a businessy podcast. But then I definitely have some questions about the overall real many plants umbrella that I've been working on. So it's this amazing foundation jam packed full of so many different types of resources from what you were just describing. And so it's obviously grown bigger than just you supporting it. So it's turned into this.

nonprofit. So where are you getting some of the funds and some of the sponsorships coming in? And what's kind of the day to day use of it at this point and to keep it propelling forward?

John Tanner (08:51.201)


That's a great question. We do have one page of our website that asks for donations. We don't, you know, throw it in your face first thing, but we do ask for help and people can enter their credit card and send us some money which helps us buy books that we give out and things like that. It doesn't actually cost that much to keep it going, right? A website is fairly inexpensive.

John Tanner (09:22.451)

but I'm doing them myself so it's my time and I don't charge, I've never charged to give a talk. So the costs are actually pretty low. It's buying books and postage to ship them out, that sort of thing.

Bryan (09:35.99)

Yeah, that's good. I guess, are you employing ambassadors then or what's the next steps for the thing? Like, I guess I would love to try and run some of these in my local city, but I guess I don't feel confident and I feel confident enough to run a podcast, I suppose, and talk about this intelligently, but not to get up in front of a bunch of people and try and convince them to grab the coupon for the book and walk out of here and change their lives, although I wish they would. So...

John Tanner (10:06.053)

It's definitely a challenge.

Bryan (10:06.37)

Yeah, where are you taking the organization, I guess?

John Tanner (10:10.249)

That is a good question. COVID has really changed us a lot and we're still trying to figure out the results of that. As I mentioned before, it sort of grew slowly into me giving lectures to people. I had my company, my technology company had unused conference rooms in the evening so that there was no cost of having to rent that. And so once or twice a month I would give talks to whoever would come.

started getting invited to give talks at Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club, churches, all kinds of places. A few out of town, I would require them to pay my airfare and expenses while I'm there, but I wouldn't charge for my own time. But mostly it's just been around Los Angeles where I'm located. But then COVID hit, and for six months we did nothing.

Bryan (11:08.492)


John Tanner (11:09.803)

And then I thought, well, I better figure out this Zoom thing. So we started to do Zoom events. When I would do it in person, they were three hour events. And I would talk for 2 and 1 half hours. In the middle there, we'd have a dinner break. And so I always said that I hit him in the head, the heart, and the stomach. The head was the science. The heart is, oh, I almost died. And please don't you die.

Bryan (11:14.272)



John Tanner (11:40.623)

And then the stomach was, oh, this food that's healthy can really taste good too. So that combination of three things together over a three hour period seemed to work. I never had anybody walk out in the middle because they were bored. But then when we switched over to Zoom, well, you can't have people sit for two and a half hours. They just won't. So I tried to figure out, well, what can I shorten so that most of my talks were one and a half hours.

Bryan (12:00.866)


John Tanner (12:10.723)

That allowed us to expand our reach. We didn't have to be just local. Anybody in the country or the world even, we had a few people from other countries that would pop in. And that grew for a while and then it started to shrink as COVID started to decline and people didn't want to sit in front of their Zoom for, and so if I, yeah. So then at the end I just said, okay, this last one, I'm gonna record it. And so I've got a one and a half hour record.

Bryan (12:28.906)

Yeah, we had zoom fatigue for sure.

John Tanner (12:39.883)

you can go to and sign up and we'll send you a link. You can see that talk. But what happens next? I don't know, Brian. Is it time to go back to in-person talks again? Would that work once again?

Bryan (12:58.102)

I do like your concept of, because I guess it's a good segue to pivot into what we're trying to do with the real many plants, really. I'm thinking we have our 30-day challenge. I'd love to put your video in as one of our 30-day challenge emails to say, hey, go watch John's video talk on that. I'm going to make that little note to make that change to our system. We can collaborate a little bit. I guess it's that question around like...

It would be so awesome if you did the in-person and hit them with the plant-based meal while they're learning about it. Because I think that's half the stigma is it's too hard, it's too expensive, it doesn't taste good. I don't want to eat lettuce. But just showcasing the flavor profiles are exactly the same. It's just a thousand times healthier for you. Less sodium, less everything. You know, the list goes on.

Um, so I strongly encourage you to go back to some in-person stuff. Um, but yeah, come to Charlotte, come to barbecue land, would you?

John Tanner (14:04.273)

Q land. Challenging place.

Bryan (14:06.858)

It's funny cause there is, there is bar, bar VQ right around the corner and it's a, it's a plant based barbecue company. So I'm proud to say we've got that really close nearby where I live, but, um, but yeah, we're in, we're definitely in the pork territory here. So, well that, that is awesome. I mean, congratulations on your successes. Um, with the, with the foundation, it's really inspiring to see you, um, try to bring.

John Tanner (14:24.353)


Bryan (14:35.146)

so much change to people's lives through nutrition and health on that front. So what do you feel is, I kind of asked you, but like where do you see this year and next year going with the foundation? And again, maybe hit us with the website and social media handles one more time.

John Tanner (14:55.517)

Sure, the web address is, N-U-S-C-I dot org. We'd love for you to come to the website, poke around. I have a newsletter that you can sign up for. I've archived all the old newsletters on the website as well. And love for you to listen to my talk and send me some email. There's a way on the website

you can shoot me an email. I love to talk to people that have interesting things they're doing or questions or anything I can do to help. That would be great. Ryan, for the real man eat plants, is a component of that athletics? Or is that more just?

Bryan (15:36.512)


I mean, I, I definitely, I mean, I, I'm a strong believer in diet and exercise as, as the two keys to unlock a long, healthy life. So, um, I think, I think most people, you know, probably don't exercise enough, but, but they know they need to, like, there's not a stigma around that. Um, so it's probably more around the diet side of it, but yeah.

John Tanner (16:10.473)

Well, if I could say just a couple of words about athletics, I mean, my whole life I've tried to be active, but there are times, decades in there where I didn't do a whole lot. But I was running a mile a day when I had my cardiac arrest, and after I recovered from that and learned what I should have been eating and so on, I gradually increased that. So now I'm running 5K, 3.1 miles every day. I have no problems with that.

Bryan (16:15.246)



John Tanner (16:41.307)

It energizes my day. I run in the morning. It doesn't wear me out. I play in a softball league. I play in ping pong tournaments. I'm 65 years old. And you can still do this stuff at 65. I mean, I don't know when it will end, but I just love what eating properly can do for somebody in terms of life enjoyment.

Bryan (16:44.127)



Bryan (16:59.436)


Bryan (17:09.37)

100%. Yeah, we had Geoff Palmer, the vegan bodybuilder on a few episodes ago and just phenomenal story. And, you know, he he's going strong with the big biceps the whole nine yards, plant fueled as well. So yeah, I think, honestly, John, we're gonna have to have you back again to unpack this a little bit more. So I hope you'll come back to the podcast again soon. And so everybody should check out new

learn more about John and his great resources to help you bring more people into the fold. And if you can, make a few donations to help him get the word out and spread it around the globe even more for us. So thank you again, John, so much for being here. We really appreciate your time and wish you the best of luck with your organization as it moves forward.

John Tanner (17:58.185)

Alright, Brian, I look forward to coming back again and maybe we can talk a little bit about a plant-based food company that I've started. Would that be okay?

Bryan (18:06.166)

That sounds really exciting. Yeah, we'd love to have you back on that. Talk soon, John. Thank you.

John Tanner (18:10.245)

All right. Thanks, Brian.


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