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The Health Science Podcast | Episode 080. | May 16, 2024
080: Eco-Seas: Unveiling Unusual Plant-Based Cruises with Lisa and Clayton McCarl
080: Eco-Seas: Unveiling Unusual Plant-Based Cruises with Lisa and Clayton McCarl

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Cruising is a dream for many, offering the allure of exotic destinations and luxurious relaxation on the open seas. Yet, for some, the prospect of setting sail comes with hesitations. Concerns about finding suitable dietary options, environmental impact, and overall wellness can cast a shadow over the excitement of embarking on a cruise adventure.

Enter McCarl Travel, a boutique agency founded by Lisa and Clayton McCarl, dedicated to transforming the cruising experience into a holistic journey of health and adventure. Their recent appearance on the NHA Health Science Podcast with Dr. Frank Sabatino unveiled the remarkable fusion of plant-based living and travel that defines their pioneering approach.

Plant-Based Beginnings: A Journey into Wellness

Lisa and Clayton’s journey into the realm of plant-based living began with personal experiences that highlighted the profound impact of dietary choices on health. Lisa’s transition to a vegetarian diet, prompted by witnessing friends battle cancer, sparked the couple’s exploration into plant-based nutrition. 

Clayton’s diagnosis of kidney cancer further solidified their commitment to a whole-food, plant-exclusive lifestyle. Armed with insights from influential works like the China Study and Forks Over Knives, they embarked on a transformative journey towards optimal health.

Discovering the NHA: A Lighthouse of Plant-Based Health

The McCarls found inspiration and guidance with the NHA. The NHA’s inclusive approach, encompassing diverse perspectives within the plant-based movement, resonated deeply with Lisa and Clayton. Their connection with the NHA ignited a vision to merge their passion for travel with the principles of health and wellness promoted by the association.

Uniting Health and Travel: The Birth of McCarl Travel

Drawing upon their shared love for group travel and a commitment to plant-based living, Lisa conceived the idea of plant-based cruises with complete support from Clayton. Their mission is clear: to curate immersive travel experiences that cater to individuals seeking healthy alternatives while exploring the world’s wonders. Collaborating with the NHA, McCarl Travel set out to revolutionize the travel industry by offering plant-based cruises that prioritized health, wellness, and adventure.

Challenges at Sea: Pioneering Plant-Based Cruises

Charting a Course for Wellness: The Future of McCarl Travel

The launch of plant-based cruises presented its share of challenges as Lisa McCarl navigated uncharted waters in ensuring onboard dining options aligned with their vision of salt, oil, and sugar-free meals. In partnership with Wanda Huberman, Lisa overcame the initial resistance from kitchen staff, they educated chefs and collaborated closely to deliver exceptional culinary experiences tailored to plant-based preferences. Despite the hurdles, the joint dedication of Lisa and Wanda laid the foundation for McCarl Travel’s success.

As the world emerges from the pandemic, McCarl Travel sets its sights on redefining luxury travel through wellness-focused experiences. With an expanding roster of plant-based cruises and partnerships with eco-friendly cruise lines like Windstar, the company aims to prioritize health, sustainability, and adventure. Through their unwavering dedication, Lisa and Clayton McCarl continue to inspire travelers worldwide to embark on transformative journeys towards holistic well-being.

Join the Movement

Feeling inspired? Take the first step towards your own plant-powered adventure by visiting the National Health Association website and exploring upcoming travel opportunities with McCarl Travel. With their expertise and passion, Lisa and Clayton are redefining the cruising experience—one deliciously healthy voyage at a time.  

Explore the NHA Travel and all McCarl Travel has to offer. CLICK HERE

[00:00] Introduction 

[02:00] Where the plant-based journey started for Lisa and Clayton. 

[06:00] Dramatic health changes after going plant-based. 

[08:00] The NHA Conference is the “Switzerland” of WFPB protocols. 

[13:00] The evolution of McCarl Travel offeiing Plant-Based travel options.

[16:30] TRaining chefs to know, no SOS is really salt, oil, sugar free.

[21:30] Plant-based travelers tend to be more active than most others.

[26:00] Activities can include yoga, music, trivia night, hiking, snorkeling and more.

[29:00] The integration of casual to lavish travel. 

[33:30] Lisa McCarl is now training other agents on how to serve the plant-based 

About Lisa and Clayton McCarl

Lisa McCarl is a former open heart recovery nurse and earned a master’s degree in nursing and health policy. With over two decades of experience as a travel agent, she is a Certified Travel Agent (CTA) accredited by The Travel Institute and an Elite Cruise Counsellor (ECC) recognized by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

Having embraced a whole food plant-based lifestyle since 2011 alongside her husband Clayton, Lisa’s journey into wellness has been transformative. As a former health professional, she was profoundly impacted by the realization that preventing and reversing diseases is achievable through lifestyle changes rather than solely managing symptoms.

Motivated by her passion for health and travel, Lisa collaborates with the National Health Association (NHA), a non-profit organization advocating for whole plant-food diets since 1948. Through their partnership, Lisa curates travel experiences promoting an active lifestyle and healthy eating among like-minded individuals. By combining her expertise in travel with her commitment to wellness, she strives to spread awareness about the benefits of plant-based living.

At McCarl Travel, Lisa provides personalized service to craft exceptional travel experiences for her clients. With her extensive industry knowledge and numerous accolades, including being a recipient of the Top Legacy Agent Award and the Capital Readers Choice Award for Best Travel Agent, Lisa ensures her clients receive exclusive benefits and cost-saving amenities. Her vast array of professional accreditations, awards, and certifications, ranging from IATAN Accreditation to being a Windstar Cruises Club 180 Top Partner, attests to her dedication to excellence in the travel industry.

Lisa is deeply committed to helping others explore the world while prioritizing their health and well-being. Through her expertise and passion, she endeavors to make every travel experience extraordinary for her clients, while also promoting the benefits of a plant-exclusive lifestyle.

Dr. Clayton McCarl embarked on his journey in academia at the University of Maryland College Park, earning a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Business and Management. Joining his grandfather, father and brother, he pursued a career in dentistry and graduated from the University of Maryland Dental School in 1984.

With over forty years of experience, Clayton continues to find fulfillment in dentistry, bringing smiles to his patients’ faces every day. In addition to his dental practice, he shares his zest for adventure with his wife and business partner Lisa, providing support and expertise to her travel business, enriching the lives of others through memorable travel experiences.


NHA WFPB Travel Group on Facebook


About Dr. Frank Sabatino

As a recognized authority on the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, Dr. Frank Sabatino has cared for and inspired thousands of people for over 40 years. Dr. Sabatino has a PhD in cell biology and neuroendocrinology and has done extensive landmark research on calorie restriction, stress, and aging. He currently is on staff at the TrueNorth Health Foundation in Santa Rosa, CA, and serves as the Director of Health Education at the NHA.

Dr. Sabatino’s passion and life’s work include raising awareness about the benefits of whole-food, plant-exclusive nutrition (without added salt, oil, or sugar), health rejuvenation and stress management.

About NHA

The National Health Association (NHA), founded in 1948, is a nonprofit organization that promotes the benefits of a plant-based diet. The Association provides educational materials, educational events, and services to thousands of people around the world.

The mission of the National Health Association is to educate and empower individuals to understand that health results from healthful living. The NHA recognizes the integration of all aspects of health: personal, environmental, and social.

The NHA also provides travel experiences around the globe through the NHA Plant-Based Travel and cruise division.

More information: 


A unique benefit of the NHA Conference is the selection of two medical students who receive a full scholarship to the conference.

Contact Wanda Huberman for more information on how to apply for the scholarship.  [email protected]

NHA membership

For a very nominal investment, you can enjoy incredible benefits of the NHA membership.

Members of the NHA enjoy a subscription to the award-winning quarterly health journal, Health Science, access to the “Members Only” section of the NHA Website (which contains all 43 years of back issues of the magazine),  the ability to download for free many classic out of print eBooks on the history of the Natural Hygiene Movement, including Fasting Can Save Your Life and The Greatest Health Discovery, discounts on books, and early notice of the NHA events.

Only $35 a year for basic membership within the United States.

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