First-Of-Its-Kind Clinic Offers Plant-Based Approach to Health
by Dustin Rhodes
Izzy Jacobus is many things: a former professional singer, 45-year-old amateur bodybuilder, poker enthusiast and billiards lover.
He’s also currently the retail manager for the world’s first vegan, environmentally sustainable luxury menswear line in the world—Brave Gentleman—the brand founded by fellow New York City resident Joshua Katcher almost a decade ago. But perhaps what’s most intriguing is he is also a part-time nutrition counselor and wellness instructor at a plant-based medical practice that’s the first of its kind: Brooklyn Nurse Practitioners in New York.
Surprisingly, Jacobus was not always the picture of health that he is today—muscular frame, glowing skin and easy, friendly smile.
“A few years ago I was very unhealthy and almost disabled. I was also taking eight prescription medications daily for a range of issues,” he admits.
Determined to take control of his health, Jacobus sought out a more holistic approach—through exercise and diet—which led him to explore nutrition-based documentaries. Those films led him down the proverbial rabbit hole of the world’s industrial food system, and before he knew it he became exposed to the animal exploitation and environmental destruction inherent in animal farming—causing him to ultimately ponder the question: Should I give up eating animals?
“Yes,” he decided.
Shortly after becoming vegan, his inner activist kicked in and Jacobus founded Vegans of New York— which, almost immediately, became a large group of local vegans with an active social media component holding a range of social events and group discussions about pressing issues.
“The goal was to create a community for existing vegans, a resource for new transitioning vegans and events which might bring together the large population of vegans in the metro area who aren’t normally very active,” Jacobus said.
It was around that time Jacobus sought nutritional training and expertise through the renowned plantbased doctor, Joel Fuhrmann, and then decided to seek employment at Brooklyn Nurse Practitioners. It is a comprehensive primary care clinic dedicated to providing the best care possible to patients through a multi-faceted, plant-based approach to healthcare.
It was started by Dina DiCenso and Patricia DiFusco, both of whom are nurse practitioners. The environment and staff are vegan and the goal is to address as many of their patients’ issues as possible with dietary and/or lifestyle changes rather than just writing another prescription.
Patients range from those looking to address a specific ailment or deficiency and those seeking weight-loss assistance to vegans looking to refine their nutritional choices and people who watched the new What the Health movie and are looking for guidance to transition to a plant-based lifestyle. And the icing on the vegan cake is that Brooklyn Nurse Practitioners takes insurance.
According to Jacobus, “We take 15 major insurance plans including 1199, Medicare and Medicaid. For patients of the nurse practitioners, my services are included in their copay,” Jacobus says.
For clients who are uninsured or not patients of the clinic, Jacobus says his services are still very inexpensive. “Our goal,” Jacobus says, “is to provide nutrition and lifestyle advice to the surrounding community in an easily affordable form. I also do remote work for clients who need guidance but who are not local to NYC.”
When asked what the clinic offers that a typical doctor’s office does not, Jacobus offers: “Our office is actually similar to other primary care clinics. The differences are that we provide a vegan environment—we choose cruelty-free alternatives for everything, whenever possible— and we suggest dietary or lifestyle changes rather than always opting for traditional medical options.”
When asked what guidance he’d offer to any Friends of Animals’ members considering a plant-based diet, and how to transition, Jacobus offers sage, easy to follow advice: “Go for it! Eat a wide range of plant foods including all the colors of the rainbow. My nutrition training comes from Joel Fuhrmann’s school, NEI. His acronym to achieve optimal health is G.B.O.M.B.S., which stands for greens, beans, onions (and garlic), mushrooms, berries and seeds (and nuts.) Follow that guideline list by incorporating each of those ingredients into your daily diet and your body will thank you.”
Brooklyn Nurse Practitioners is located at: 210 Montrose Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11206; appointments can be booked through their website: brooklynnp.com