“Genes are not our fate. Lifestyle matters most.” –Dr. Saray Stancic
The above is a quote that I heard while attending Plant-Stock this year. Yes, I went to Plant-Stock again. It was my third time actually and I would go again in a healthy endothelial strong heart beat.
My first time at Plant-Stock was in 2015, I attended alone. It was one of the most amazing and eye opening experiences that I have ever had. I laughed, I cried and I met so many wonderful people.
So much so, that in 2016 I returned! In 2016 my trip to Plant-Stock included my friend Stonegate who was just as blown away as I was my first time. Again, we laughed, we cried and we met so many wonderful people.
This year, I brought Vans. Actually, I brought my whole family, kids and all but the kids ended up staying with the grandparents back in New Jersey, giving Vans and I our first solo weekend without kids in a very very long time!
The crew at Engine 2 changed things up this year for Plant Stock! Instead of two fun filled amazing days, we really had 2 and a quarter days because they added an Banana Nice Cream Social on Friday evening.
This was great because it gave everyone an opportunity to find the farm, see the parking, understand the layout of the property AND meet all their “online friends!” You know those people that you follow or communicate with on Instagram or Facebook but don’t really “know” very well. 🙂 Friday was perfect for this.
We ate banana ice-cream and were officially welcomed to the farm. We also saw a preview of the movie Big Change by Jason Cohen.
Saturday morning came bright and early. I wanted to do the morning group run. We had to be at the farm by 7:00 am. Vans, who is injured and in a boot, was a trooper. He sat in the car while I ran.I had the pleasure of running with a friend’s little girl for a good mile or so. She had a smile on her face the entire time.
It had rained the night before so the grass was super wet but I don’t think anyone really minded because the views were just gorgeous.You had the option of running a 2.7 mile loop or doing a walk which I think was a little over mile. They also offered lake side yoga which looked amazing!
Just like last year, the final portion of the run was climbing up to Tank Hill. Tank Hill is where last year, Josh LaJaunie was waiting at the top cheering everyone on as they made the steep climb up. This year, Josh is working on healing an injury so when I reached the top, there were just a few of us checking out the views.
It was such a spectacular morning. The humidity wasn’t that bad and the sun was rising into a clear blue sky.
Soon others started climbing the hill. I felt like it was such an momentous occasion that I needed to cheer them on until Tim Kaufman could get there and take over the reigns that Rip Esselstyn had assigned him. 🙂
This truly is a fantastic way to start your day. I met some wonderful people. I talked with Josh’s mom briefly on our hike down the hill. She’s an amazing lady.
After the run you have time to clean up (bring an extra change of clothes, a towel and some baby wipes is my word of advice). Then you grab a breakfast of kale, oats and fruit and settle in under the 12,000 square foot tent ready to have your mind blown.
First up was Rip Esselstyn, followed by his dad Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn who said, “Food, and food alone, can absolutely reverse heart disease.”
Dr. Stancic is a physician who while in the midst of her 20 year conventional medical profession, learned that she had multiple sclerosis. She was blown away. She went from fast moving Doctor to needing a cane to help her walk. She was prescribed horrible medicines that left her in pain and sleepless nightly. She quickly went from Doctor to Patient. She wanted to change the cards that she thought were dealt to her. She did. Her story is captivating and inspiring. She continues to do amazing work at her clinic, Stancic Health and Wellness in Ramsey, New Jersey and is working on a documentary called Code Blue.
Following Dr. Stancic was Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine founder, Dr. Neal Barnard!
He discussed The Cheese Trap, his new book and why cheese is so addicting. He is a charismatic speaker whose humor is welcomed. Many people often say that they could give up eating meat, but not cheese. Dr. Barnard explained not only why this is but also, how cheese is essentially killing our nation.
Milan Ross was a new-to-me speaker. His talk, The Change: Transforming Yourself and Your Body into the Person You Want to Be was hilariously funny and incredibly inspiring.
Dr. Melanie Joy was also new to me. She discussed: Understanding the Psychology of Eating Animals for Effective Plant-Based Outreach and Communication. I also picked up her book, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows. It’s a very graphic and eye opening account of our agricultural industry.
Also talking again this year was Adam Sud with his, From Pills to Plants story.
Tim Kaufman aka FatManRants spoke as well. I briefly met Tim last year at Plant-Stock but this was the first time I have heard his full story. He weighed over 400 lbs! But what struck me most, was his honesty. His wife had to tie his shoes. She mowed the lawn. He had all but given up, but thankfully he didn’t. His story will bring you to tears and will make you laugh. His beautiful wife and their inspiring and loving relationship will melt your heart.
There were SO many amazing speakers this year that I cannot possibly dive into all of them.
Dinner was on the property like last year. A beautiful and elegant display set up right on the farm.
Vans and I were fortunate enough to sit with Engine 2 Crew/Seven Day Rescue Coach (and all around amazing woman) Ami Mackey (no relation to Whole Foods John 🙂 ), my friend Mike from Molinski Photography (best photographer in Hudson NY) and some friends from home believe it or not that had traveled the 3,000 miles to see Plant Stock for themselves first hand!
Dinner was lovely. We sat talking well into dusk before finally leaving the farm. This place has such a hold on you, that you truly never want to leave and you secretly hope that the Esselstyn family might not notice yet another person added to their clan. 🙂
Sunday also started with a run/walk and yoga but Vans and I decided to take advantage of having NO kids and to sleep in just a little.
Much like Saturday, Sunday was oatmeal and kale and fruit for breakfast before the line up of speakers started. What I haven’t mentioned is that scattered throughout the day are breaks where you can take walks or shop at the on site vendors.
Vans had heard so much about Tank Hill and its views, that he just had to see it for himself, boot and all.
Sunday’s line up of speakers was just as inspiring as the day before. Dr. Irminne Van Dyken was someone who I had never heard of before but had me instantly glued to my seat listening.
I wasn’t the only one. Everyone sat completely still soaking up all that Dr. Van Dyken was explaining. No one got up, no one seemed to move. Which is kind of funny because her talk was about the gut biome, which is a serious and important topic but Dr. Van Dyken made it humorous! When you talk about the gut, you have to talk about bowel movements, which is often an embarrassing subject, but she made it okay and validated a lot of information for me. I really enjoyed her talk.
Jane Esselstyn was next with her: Plant-Based Benefits: Above and Below the Belt talk. This is who I want to be when I grow up. Jane Esselstyn is one of the funniest people you’ll ever meet but she can explain things like it’s no one’s business. Her talk inspired me. Motivated me. She used props that were fantastic and can help you explain to people why eating plant based is better for the body.
Her talk brought tears of laughter to my eyes and to the eyes of all those surrounding me. Jane is also the mastermind behind some of the amazing recipes at both Engine 2 and for her own cookbook The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook along with her mom, Ann Esselstyn.
Josh LaJaunie spoke on Sunday. He is another person that I had met last year, albeit briefly but whose story has touched and changed the lives of many. This year, he was doing it from the stage at Plant-Stock. Josh has lost over 200 lbs and has not only transformed his own life, but that of his family, his community and the many he has touched through social media. His story made us laugh and it made us cry. Josh is the real deal. I saw him talking to every single person that came up to him. His warm smile is welcoming and I think puts people at ease and makes him easy to talk to.
Ann Esselstyn and Jane Esselstyn did their hilariously funny, From the Farm Table: A Lifetime of Plant Strong Living talk.
Other highlights from Sunday were: Ken Lander, Did you have a Heart Transplant; Eric Adams, Turning Pain into Purpose (and the Brooklyn Borough President); Alexis Fox (who I met at dinner and cracked me up – HAMSTER!! – inside joke, sorry) with Susan Benigas, Food + Medicine = A Bright and Bold Future and UFC Fighter, James Wilks.
And just like that, Plant-Stock was over. 🙁 They gave us food to go so that we didn’t leave hungry. Most sat and enjoyed their meals on the property. Vans and I had a long traffic filled drive back to New Jersey to get back to the kiddos.
Next year, there are BIG changes for Plant-Stock. It won’t be on the Esselstyn Family Farm! Instead, the geniuses at Engine 2 have planned, CAMP PLANT STOCK in August of 2018 AND another event called a PERFORMANCE RETREAT scheduled for June in North Carolina!
Both look absolutely amazing but the Performance Retreat is something that definitely has my eye. As a plant-based ultra runner, the number one question that I get is, “What do you eat to run so far and stay healthy?” I would love love love to attend, but I will have to figure out the financial situation to make it happen.
Plant-Stock 2017 was another successful event. The largest Plant-Stock yet for the farm. A lot of the Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue group were in attendance. We were able to grab a quick photo. This is just a small handful of people whose lives have been changed tremendously by a whole foods plant based diet AND the folks at Engine 2 – for FREE! If you haven’t gone to the Engine 2 website, and haven’t signed up for the Seven Day FREE Rescue, do it now. All you have to do is try it for Seven Days! You can do anything for seven days, but can you change your life and your health? Try it and let me know. 😉
So that’s my recap from Plant-Stock. Hopefully next year I’ll have another. I am in no way associated with the Engine 2 group or the Esselstyns (goals right?). If you can attend at least one of the Engine 2 retreats, I highly recommend it. You won’t regret it, I promise.
♥ I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite photos from the weekend. ♥
Live Life. Love Life.