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25 August 2023

Overcoming MS at VegMed

Karen, Co-Ambassador for the Sussex Circle, wrote about her experience on the event organising committee for Europe’s largest in-person conference on plant-based nutrition, 'VegMed', and how it will help promote the Overcoming MS Program.

How MS changed my career

When I was diagnosed with MS, it felt that my career was over or at least limited in some way. I had already left my role as a nurse in intensive care (way too stressful) and was starting to build a small business of my own which took up a lot of my time and energy. But how was that going to pan out now?

Fortunately, seven years on, I’ve discovered that rather than limiting my career, new opportunities have opened up instead. And I’ve achieved ambitions I probably would never have got around to doing if I was still working in a regular job, including writing and publishing my first book.

I never know what is going to pop up next, which means having an open mind to opportunities. For example, this year I was asked to do some event management which has required me to draw on all my experience in organising (or bossing people around according to my other half!) Even my time as an Overcoming MS Circle Ambassador has been useful!

The VegMed event

The VegMed event itself is exciting – Europe’s largest in-person conference on plant-based nutrition. I attended the last one in London back in 2019 and it was fantastic. So, of course, I had to say yes to helping out at this one. We aim to make it even better and more ground-breaking than ever.

VegMed is very much a science-based, research-backed conference, directed at medical and other healthcare staff, but also the public who have an interest in plant-based nutrition and health. It’s not going to be dry and boring though! There are lots of opportunities for interaction and a huge range of subjects. When we started looking at supporters, I, of course, came to Overcoming MS to ask if they wanted to be involved. Especially as we have one full session dedicated to autoimmune and other inflammatory conditions. They said yes, so hopefully more exposure and opportunity to share the Overcoming MS Program.

Making VegMed Overcoming MS compliant

One of my other key roles has been organising the event’s food. As anyone who has been to a conference will know, the plant-based options are usually dire and rarely Overcoming MS compliant; I usually take my own lunch as I’m not good at missing out.

Getting the chef on board was key, so I requested a meeting with the head chef himself to tell him about whole-food plant-based cooking, frying without oil and maximising flavour. Saying I was nervous doesn’t do it justice! But it turns out he knew all about these techniques and explained how he could modify dishes to meet our requirements. Result! So, at last, I can be confident of going to a conference and being served up a tasty 2-course lunch – yes, dessert too. No missing out this time.

Having the confidence to do this comes from following the Overcoming MS Program for the last 7 years. Despite early concerns about how MS would limit my future, the Program has enabled me to learn how to manage this condition, moderate my activity to keep my fatigue at bay and be well enough to do the things I want to do. One of the fantastic things about VegMed is that this theme runs through the research being presented about all sorts of other conditions. And Overcoming MS has put it together in one, healthy, tasty package.

Come and see us there!

If you, or someone you know, wants to come along, there is still time to get your ticket. As an organiser, I can also offer you a super reduced price too. I’ve learnt that the cost of organising a conference is huge which puts up the ticket price, but this can make it difficult for some to attend. So, I’m hoping this makes it more accessible.

VegMed is running on 9th and 10th September at Imperial College in South Kensington, London. There is also reduced-price accommodation at the university if you need to travel down. You can find all the information about it at If you want the discount code, please email me at: [email protected] and I’ll gladly send it to you.

I am ready for a break after the conference closes. I’m not sure what’s next, but I’m sure it will be just as much fun.