Dr. Nammy Patel of San Francisco Green Dentistry discusses the values of holistic living that she gained from growing up in India.

Tell me more about when you were growing up in India and what you learned from this experience

So I was actually born in my living room, in my own house, in a village of eight houses. So my mom was actually milking the cows and she went into labor, so I came out in the living room. For a long time, I didn’t really understand it. I didn’t really know what it meant when I came to the US. I actually felt embarrassed because not a lot of people had that experience.

As I’ve gotten older, what I really realize is that it was the best blessing in my life because I didn’t realize that it had set me on a path of being so natural, and my parents being poor when we were younger, I had no idea why we always went to the farmer’s market or why we always…we would even go pick our own almonds in the fields.

And I didn’t really understand why we did those things. I just thought it was because we were really poor, but I didn’t really understand that our values were based upon being really conservative and also making sure that our food is medicine and also being conscious of what we eat.

I’m a vegetarian — I’ve been vegetarian my whole life. And I just really put a lot of thought into the food that goes inside of me; also the materials I purchase, the way I live, the people I interact with. And it’s really important for me to have purpose and passion and be very surface oriented, which I didn’t realize that I became like that until when I sit with my coach and I look at “how has your life impacted you? What are the things that you went through that made you who you are today?” And being born in a little village in India was definitely one of them.

I could not have imagined what my life is like today. I’m so blessed and I am doing what I love to do, which is working with you guys and sharing my knowledge, being able to be of service, being able to start a nonprofit, being able to work with patients who are like my friends.

People would talk about retiring and I don’t think I ever can. There’s no way I can. I love what I do. And I love that I can share with people. I love that I can have interactions like I’m having with you. I love that we both can communicate together and also build a better society. And even in times like this, we can look at how we can come together and create a better community.  How can we serve each other? How can we help each other? And I really love that.