Well, it was amazing, uplifting, informative and hopeful. I don’t know any other way to describe it.
In my quest to be the strongest, healthiest person I can be-the best me, I have done quite a bit of research on plant based eating. We already know that one can love junk food and still be vegan. This is not what I want for myself or anyone else who lives on this planet, vegan or not.
In watching Forks Over Knives one evening, I was introduced to Dr. Esselstyn and Rip Esselstyn (Engine2Diet). I then read a bit about Dr Esselstyn and his research into the causes of heart disease, how it can be prevented and even reversed. I checked into Rip and his story as a Texas firefighter and advocate for strong plant based eating. I set the info aside and let it percolate in my mind for a little bit. I was interested, but not blown away, because, after all, heart disease is for others, not for me.
I don’t have angina, I don’t eat any nonhuman animal products and I did not think that heart disease was in our family. So, with my supposed get out of jail free card safely stowed in my pocket, I moved on to other researchers and other programs . But something kept nagging at me and I kept going back to the Engine2Diet website until I saw that there was an upcoming Plant Strong weekend retreat at the Esselstyn family farm in Claverack, New York. I decided to go, asked my husband if he would like to join and reserved our spots.
It was a sunny, cool morning when we arrived at seven thirty for breakfast at the family farm. There was a lighthearted energy in the air as we drove up the lane way and were directed by smiling folks into a grassy field to park our car. Dr Esselstyn was tooling around in a little golf type cart and stopped to offer us a lift to the house. This one gesture felt very open and personal to me and, as it turned out, set the tone for the entire weekend.
We found some spots under a huge white canopy, put down our stuff and headed over to the breakfast table. There was an interesting variety of plant based options from which to choose-steamed kale, homemade salsa, oatmeal, mini muffins, cold cereal, plant milks, fruit and so on and so on. It was a refreshing and filling breakfast that we both enjoyed as we waited for the seminar to begin.
And start, it did, when Rip Esselstyn bounded up onto the stage (right on time, I might add), welcomed all of us and invited us to take back our palates which, he says, have been high jacked by big business.
- “There is no glory in moderation”, he exclaimed. Whole food, plant based, no added fat, high starch diet is the secret to good health.
- “Your genes are not your fate”. – Dr Dean Ornish
- “Enlightenment is the absence of suffering” -The Buddah
- “Our good health can just be.”
At this point, there was no doubt in my mind that I was there for a weekend of discovery, delivered in a fun filled, energetic and hopeful way.
What followed was a varied lineup of stars in the field of plant based eating and living. They all delivered engaging, informative, and sometimes funny presentations.. I encourage you to check these people out. They come from all walks of life and perspectives and there will certainly be someone with whom you can relate in your own search for healthy living.
Rip Esselstyn -Engine2Diet
Neal Barnard,M.D.- Reversing Type 2 Diabetes
Dr. T. Colin Cambell -Whole
Dr. Calwell B. Esselstyn – What Causes Heart Disease? and Curing and Ending Heart Disease
James Wilks – The Game Changers
Jane Esselstyn – Cooking Tips for Plant Strong Success
Ann Esselstyn – Living Plant Perfect
Doug Lisle, Ph.D. – The Pleasure Trap and Getting Along without Going Along
John Joseph – A street surviving, punk rocking, vegan advocate!
Robert Cheeke – A health and fitness vegan advocate
During breaks, we did funny little dance and exercise routines with members of the Esselstyn family, and wandered around the venue. We chatted with others, had our books signed and enjoyed the hands on presence of all the speakers. I met a fellow vegan who runs a Facebook page, Vegan Pro of which I am a member. Kimatni P. Rawlins is a welcoming, open individual who promotes exercise, healthy eating, and respect for nonhuman beings. It was a pleasure to touch base with him and I invite you to check out his Facebook page. If you join, you will be part of a forum that promotes peaceful discussion of all things vegan.
And what can I say about the food, other than it was varied, delicious, plentiful and plant strong.. I saw many people going back for seconds, so there is no doubt that it was enjoyed by all.
The weekend ended as we headed down the lane way. Rip was at the exit wishing everyone well as he ensured that we made it safely onto the busy road that runs along their farm. This gesture alone proved to me that this is a man who is interested in us as people. He has much to offer us in terms of our health, our vitality and our joy as we continue on this journey we call life. Thank you, Rip!
Annie’s Vegan View
In the meantime, ditch the potato chips, the soft drinks, the fries, the plant oils and above all, the nonhuman animal products. This one step will put you on the road to a healthy life, well lived.
As vegans, one can be plant based, but not necessarily plant strong. As non vegans, one is neither.
Be compassionate, be vegan and be plant strong.
Therein lies our salvation.
May all beings be happy and free.