Food, and the eating of food, is a social activity. It’s not just about getting a certain number of calories or getting the right combination of nutrients.

Food is also what we use to bring our friends and families together. It’s how we celebrate holidays. In fact, we celebrate everything with food.

People in business go out to lunch with clients in order to establish a closer relationship than can be gained in the office. Food and drink are central to any good party we might throw. In everything social, food has a role.

The person who eats whole food, plant-based has a need for social connections just like everybody else does. And the plant-based eater likes to celebrate with food, party with food and meet clients and friends for lunch or dinner just as other people do.

Social connections are just as important to the plant-based eater as they are to everyone else.

But more than that, we also need reinforcement at times. We need to see others who are going through the same type of struggles we are. We need to hear experts on eating plant-based speak. We need to socialize with others some of the time who are also eating whole food, plant-based.

In that regard, we are fortunate in this area to have two clubs that can help us to meet these needs. And with those clubs, there is the expertise and knowledge that could allow for setting up additional clubs as well.

The largest of the two clubs is in Sun City and it’s called the Eat Smart Live Longer Club. This club, led by Ross Glatzer, is open to all Sun City residents for an annual dues fee of $10.

The club holds monthly meetings and has actively sought out some of the top speakers in the industry. Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Doug Lisle and Chef AJ have all spoken to the members of this club. The club offers a number of benefits as well, including a lending library of hundreds of books and DVDs available for member checkout, quarterly potlucks, a 21-day kick-start program and more.

For those who don’t live in Sun City, the Palmetto Plant Eaters is open to all residents in the area. Carla Golden of Carla Golden Wellness is the leader of this group that meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month, and there is no fee to join or attend. Just show up, meet some new people, and you’re on your way. Palmetto Plant Eaters brings the VegFest to Shelter Cove every year.

Those are two good opportunities. Or, as I mentioned, you can start a new club for the community you live in. You might be surprised how fast it grows.

J Lanning Smith is a local freelance writer focused on the whole food, plant-based way of eating.