Stoke GP Dr Taisia Cech supports Nelson becoming a Good Food City. Photo: Kate Russell.

Planting a good food idea


A Stoke GP believes that 80 per cent of the conditions she sees in her patients could be fixed or prevented with a plant-based diet and is asking Nelson to become a ‘Good Food City’.

Dr Taisia Cech was one of 30 submitters to Nelson City Council’s annual plan requesting they sign up to the C40 Good Food Cities declaration.

Globally, 14 cities have signed to take actions to encourage residents to move towards a ‘Planetary Health Diet’ by 2030 with balanced and nutritious food, reflective of culture, geography, and demography, as well as reduce food waste.

“A common morning for me would be seeing a 53-year-old man discharged from hospital with a stent, a 45-year-old woman diagnosed with diabetes, a 70-year-old who’s been transferred to a rest home with a stroke and an obese 10-year-old who’s got foot pain,” says Taisia.

“I think a lot of these conditions could be prevented or improved through a really good diet.”

Integrating a more plant-based way of life into her practice is a passion for Taisia – but it’s also tricky.

“You don’t want to tell people what to do, but I clearly see so many conditions that could be helped by what they eat,” she says.

She’s seeing blood pressure and cholesterol levels come down in patients who choose to take her advice onboard.

“It’s cool to see them go ‘wow, there’s something in this’.”

Nelson Marlborough Health are also supportive of the declaration, saying there is a “strong appetite” among NGO’s.

“NMH would like to work in partnership with council on a joint action plan to reduce food waste, increase consumption of plant-based foods and address overall food resilience,” says health promotion manager Lauren Ensor.

Group manager strategy and communications at council, Nicky McDonald, says the objectives of the declaration are a good match with council’s work on reducing emissions.

During annual plan deliberations, Cr Pete Rainey said it was “not out of council’s realm” to be considering these kinds of initiatives.

“We have done this before, in regard to sugary drinks.”

Cr Rachel Sanson said she was happy to see council expressing support for the declaration and encouraged NMH to lead it.

Meanwhile, Taisia says she feels “inspired” by New Zealand’s Covid-19 fight – giving her faith that we can tackle other chronic epidemics such as diabetes and obesity.

“Many people grew up with a ‘meat and three veg’ diet, so it’s hard to suggest alternatives – but if they came to my house for dinner, I don’t think they’d even notice there was no meat. We still cook pizza, pasta, burgers – it’s just shifting people’s thinking.”

You can visit Taisia’s website here