How can it be March already? Time sure does fly when you are having fun and boy am I having FUN! I am not even sure where to begin my excitement is so over the top right now.
So let’s start at the beginning shall we?
Depending on how long you have known me, you might not know that I have been plant-based for almost 23 years. Maybe not entirely 100% whole foods and oil-free plant-based for ALL of those 23 years, but definitely sans meat in anyway shape or form.
With that said, despite my long history of being plant-based, I still seek out information. I don’t have a degree in nutrition. I am not a doctor. If I could do things over in life, I might have gone in a different career route but I don’t regret one single day of my college education.
So despite knowing what I know, I always feel better when I can fully educate myself on the latest science behind the benefits of a plant-based diet. That’s why more often then not, you’ll find my nose in the latest book (just finished The Cheese Trap by Dr. Neal Barnard – a MUST read)…
… as well as attending a conference or taking some kind of certification to further bolster what I know deep down inside is right for the human body. I just feel more confident explaining and advising others, when I can tell them that I know what I know not just from experience, but from thoroughly studying and educating myself on the topic.
I do this because I love it. I do this because I live it. But more importantly, I do this because I want OTHERS to live it and love it too and I want them to have faith in what I am teaching them. Am I an expert? No, of course not but I am living proof that one can fully function as an ultra endurance athlete, a full-time working mom and basically a real person eating a 100% plant-based oil-free diet. I am not weak. I am not wasting away from a protein deficiency.
Way back in September I started the grueling application process. Application, resume, references, videos … followed by phone interviews and back ground checks etc. PCRM only selects 25-30 people a year (globally) to attend (100 or so apply) and this year, I am one of few selected!
This May, I will fly to Washington D.C. for an intensive 3 day training at PCRM. They will teach us everything that we need to know (8 different kinds of curriculum) so that we can come back and in turn, educate others. 🙂
You may wonder, “What does she do for a living? This must be part of her job then.” Well, the answer to that is no and now, yes … stay with me here.
My full-time job is not in wellness. Not one bit. I do all this plant-based stuff (like my cooking demos) because I like to do it and want to do it.
Fast forward to early February wherein my employer’s CEO gave a speech in which he stressed that he wanted to focus on his wellness and the wellness of our company.
His message had great intentions and excited a lot of people but they didn’t sit well with me. So I opened my big plant-based mouth and sent him a long email. Long story short, we had lunch at his request. Just the two of us, in his office and we discussed his wellness, the wellness of our company and the wellness of our country. It was a long lunch.
Just in that discussion alone, he saw my passion. He saw it and he told me, he wanted to utilize it.
So I am going to Washington, D.C. to get certified even further in Plant-Based Nutrition and Education. When I return, I can use my new certification to teach all kinds of classes AND best of all, I can use my certification to help motivate my fellow employees!
I love my company, I do, but for a very long time I have been frustrated by just how unhealthy we really are (in varying degrees). I am excited to be able to share my passion at work with those I interact with on a daily basis.
Of course I have a full plate between now and early May. Races, birthdays, swim team among other things (like further developing my YouTube Channel). Yet, I wouldn’t change a thing. This is who I am. I love being busy and I love helping others heal.
“But where do you get your protein?” Usually a loaded question but one I did not hear for two straight days this past weekend. Why? Because I was in plant-based heaven.
Last year I attended Plant-Stock (you can read that experience here). I had traveled the 3,000 miles from California all by myself to attend this two day conference held on the farm and home of the Esselstyn family. This year, I had a friend.
Sit back and settle in as this may be one of my more “lengthy” posts filled to the brim with photos from a weekend that completely blew me away. It is worth the read though so grab a cup of tea and relax.
Stonegate and I took a red-eye out of California which headed direct to Boston. Our layover in Boston wasn’t terrible. We recovered from our overnight flight and talked about how excited we were for the weekend ahead. Stonegate also made fun of my “folder making” habit … When I travel or do anything that requires planning, I make folders. What can I say? I am a very organized person.
Forty-five minutes and one tiny plane later, we landed in Newark Airport. Stonegate hopped on a train and headed to NYC to visit with some family. I met my dad and headed to my hometown in NJ for a quick visit.
Sad to leave my family, I then drove the 3 hours (usually 2.5 but there was an accident) to upstate New York where I checked into our hotel and scored a gluten and oil free vegan pizza from Baba Louie’s Pizza in Hudson, New York. It is the best vegan pizza I have had ever.
Later that evening, I picked Stonegate up at the train station and brought her back to the hotel. We ate pizza and seriously laughed the night away (I think we were deliriously tired from traveling). We were beyond excited for our weekend to begin.
Saturday morning bright and early we drove to the Esselstyn Family Farm in Claverack, NY. This place is breath-taking. 500 acres of the most amazing fields you have ever seen. It is one of two farms in the entire state that is owned by the same family dating back many centuries.
We checked in and took our seats and were treated to a plant-strong breakfast. Speakers were just wandering around. Attendees were trickling in. I saw people who in “my world,” are celebrities just mingling with everyone.
The format was such that someone would talk and then we’d have a break. This was nice as it helped get us out of our seats and kept us moving.
On one of the breaks, I saw Dr. Garth Davis. He had been surrounded by people since he had arrived but suddenly, he wasn’t. I walked over and introduced myself. We chatted a bit about his book, his blog, his posts on Facebook (follow him if you don’t already) and just how “enthusiastic” he is about a plant-based diet. Stonegate took some photos of us.
He was incredibly genuine and easy to talk to. I admire his drive in promoting plants over meat and I am blown away by his intelligence and ability to prove his point. He was a new addition to the Plant-Stock line up this year and one I truly hope they continue to have. His talk the next day was a hit.
During one of the breaks, I met a super nice guy who was also there taking photos for the event. He was about as local as you could get living just 5 minutes from the farm. We talked quite a bit and he told me that one of his jobs that day was to head to the train station to pick up Rich Roll. WHAT?! He was super chill about it but at the same time, feeling incredibly lucky because he’s a huge fan and I am sure was beyond excited to have the chance to have that 20 minute drive with Rich Roll.
Later, when Rich Roll arrived, we had been on a break. I saw my opening and I took it. I walked up to Rich and introduced myself. He had been talking to Howard Jacobson, Ph.D. (who I had met and talked with earlier) and Josh LaJaunie (another exciting athlete that I follow and had chatted with earlier). I explained to Rich that Vans was a huge fan. So much so that he even read his book (and Vans doesn’t read books often). I explained that his birthday was in a day and he was home with two kids while I was here, meeting him. He laughed. I told him he could potentially save my marriage if he’d do a birthday message video to Vans. He kindly obliged.
Stonegate wasn’t around to see this and was floored when I found her and showed her the video. She got a photo with Rich too.
What a great guy and yes, Vans was totally blown away. Marriage saved! 🙂
We also heard from Adam Sud whose talk brought me to tears quite a few times. Such an inspirational guy and I am so happy he is out spreading his message.
Next we heard from James Wilks who is a retired professional mixed martial artist and winner of The Ultimate Fighter but who is currently a film producer. The work he is doing is super exciting and I cannot wait for it to be released to the public. He was also another incredibly nice person.
James actually ended up sitting with us at dinner and we chatted about his family and his plant-based kids and how he handles certain situations. It truly was a once in a lifetime mind blowing experience.
Dinner was fabulous. The setting was beautiful. The food was outstanding.
It was a five course meal for 420 people and the plates were delivered still hot and right on time. That rarely happens.
After dinner, we heard from Rich Roll, our final speaker of the day. His talk was great. It was filled with humor and inspiration. Rich has a tremendous way with words and it was a great way to end what had been an amazing day.
Stonegate and I left feeling excited, energized and motivated but also pretty darn tired. Our three hour time change was still looming over our heads a bit. We were eager to get to sleep because Sunday was going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity that will forever be etched in our minds.
At least fifty people were interested. There was also a group walking with Jane Esselstyn so you didn’t have to run the full 3 miles. Stonegate and I were bursting with excitement for this. Also joining the run was Dr. Garth Davis, Howard Jacobson, Rip Esselstyn (with his 2 year daughter Hope on his shoulders) and Josh LaJaunie! How freaking cool!? My friend Tara, who works for Forks Over Knives and Engine 2 was also able to run and Michael, my photographer friend also made it! I was smiling from ear to ear the entire time.
The run was not as easy as many would think. When you are not used to humidity as thick as it is on the east coast, it feels like your lungs are running in water. Your breath and your chest feel it first. Pushing any uncomfortable feelings aside, I just ran like I was a child again.
Scott Jurek worked his way back through the group so that he could chat with everyone. He reached us just as we were going up a steep hill. He is a super nice guy who remembered where a lot of people were from which blows my mind. He truly was listening to everyone.
The run ended with the whole group going up this big hill with a picturesque view. Josh LaJaunie was standing at the top and I could hear him cheering as everyone was climbing. I decided I had to run the whole thing and I did and he cheered and gave me a high-five as I reached the top. Nice!
Scott stayed and took photos with EVERYONE. Stonegate and I took photos with him solo and as part of a group.
Talk about an amazing way to begin the day. Seriously, I know my kids would disagree, but this was better than Christmas!
After breakfast we heard from Dr. Esselstyn again. His second talk I think is more mind blowing for the non-scientific folk. Stonegate I know was blown away by some of slides showing the reversal of heart disease.
Sunday was the day we heard from Dr. Garth Davis. His talk was fantastic. Full of energy, humor and some pretty great slides.
We heard from Dr. Richard Oppenlander as well. I have not read his books yet but I plan to. His presentation was focused on our environment and how it will not survive if we continue on the path we are headed. Living in California I see this first hand with our drought. Most of our water is feeding cattle and could, in fact be used in a better more economical and sustainable way that could save our planet and rid the world of hunger.
Dr. Doug Lisle spoke again on Sunday and I absolutely hands down LOVE this talk that he does. He did the same talk last year and I loved it then too. His talk, How to Get Along, Without Going Along is an absolute must at a conference like this. He understands that we will walk away feeling like we have found the “Holy Grail of health” and like the kind people we are, we will want to share it with EVERYONE.WE.MEET. Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t want to hear it. Dr. Lisle provides everyone with the tools and the knowledge to handle certain situations when you leave Plant-Stock.
Stonegate and I had met a lovely Canadian couple at dinner the night before and the wife was discussing this very situation. Her coworkers don’t understand and she doesn’t know how to handle it. I told her to wait and hear Dr. Lisle’s talk. Afterwards, I found her and she was bubbling. She loved it and thought that it hit the nail on the head and felt ready to head home with some additional knowledge.
We also saw a cooking demo (aka comedy show) with Ann and Jane Esselstyn.
These two ladies have my heart. Their energy and laughter are infectious. I would love to be at their house on Thanksgiving morning helping them prepare meals. It must be a hoot.
They also had a plant-strong family discussion with all of Dr. Esselstyn’s kids (Rip, Ted, Zeb and Jane) and their spouses. Between them all, there are a lot of grandkids, who are also all entirely plant-based. This discussion was new and I found it very interesting. Although, I would LOVE for them to meet my picky Peanut someday as I think she could give them a run for their money. 😉
Right before this, Rip’s 9 year old son Cole showed off his plant-strong muscles by climbing the pole of the tent we were sitting under. Insane. I glanced at Rip to see if he was as nervous as I was during this. That kid climbed to the top!
The final talk of the entire day was Scott Jurek. He took the stage with his wife Jenny and 3 month old daughter Raven. They were lovely. His presentation was on his 46 day 2,189 mile journey through the Appalachian Trail. It was engaging to watch. He also saved time at the end for questions from the audience.
And sadly, the weekend had come to a close. We knew it was bound to happen but I just didn’t want it to end. The weather had cooperated for most of it, the speakers were great and I met so many lovely people this year. Stonegate and I said our goodbyes to Michael the photographer and exchanged contact information. I went in search of my friend Tara but unfortunately, she had already left.
The rain had started to fall as we were ending the day. It was almost fitting. Semi pushing us out the door seeking cover ready to move on. We were leaving the comfortable nest of Plant-Stock.
I am not going to lie, the car ride back to New Jersey scared me out of my mind. Torrential, can’t see the road in front of you down pours almost the entire way. I live in California now, we’ve been in a drought for four years. I haven’t driven in rain like that in a VERY long time. Holy cow.
Overall, the weekend was a blast. Despite it being my second year in a row, I did learn quite a few new things I hadn’t before and I met so many more amazing people this time around. From speakers to attendees, the people I met and conversed with over the course of the weekend really touched me. So many stories, so much emotion, Plant-Stock is a place where anyone is welcome and there is no judgment.
I truly hope to attend next year. The cost of travel isn’t easy for my family but they do see how charged and motivated I am when I return. Next year, I would love to bring Vans and I know Stonegate would love to bring her spouse. Let’s just hope they can handle a little east coast run!
SHOUT OUT: Hey upstate New York readers and friends, if you are EVER looking for a photographer for an event, family photos, you name it, please check out Molinski Photography (click here). Their work is stellar and some of the nicest people you will meet. Thank you Michael for all the amazing photos.
DISCLAIMER, I was in no way compensated for writing this post or for attending Plant-Stock. All opinions are my own. I 100% believe in the message they are sending. If you are interested in attending Plant-Stock 2017, please check out this link.
“Some people think the plant-based, whole foods diet is extreme. Half a million people a year will have their chests opened up and a vein taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme.” – Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr.
That has to be one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Esselstyn, (and he has quite a few).
I met so many wonderful people who shared their journey with me. From being on death’s door and miserable to living a vibrant energetic life all the while, thanking Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Campbell, and the Engine 2 and Forks Over Knives crew. It was inspiring.
The speakers last year were phenomenal. I don’t know how, but they’ve seemed to add even more amazing plant-based speakers to the list this year!
Here are a few that I am CRAZY excited to hear talk, meet and learn from next week:
Yup, the one and only Scott Jurek! Not only do we get to hear him talk, we get to go on a RUN with him! Kind of excited to pick his ultra-running plant-based brain!
That’s right! Mr. Rich Roll will be there too. I’ve followed Rich for years listening to his podcast, reading his blog (even his OLD blog) and of course his book and watching his YouTube channel.
This one I am SUPER excited to meet. Dr. Garth Davis, if you follow him on Facebook, has one of the best Facebook pages around . His book, Proteinaholic was a fantastic read – FULL of information. I highly recommend it.
With that said, there are a few repeat speakers that I am really happy are coming back …
Dr. Doug Lisle spoke last year at Plant-Stock and his talk called, How to Get Along without Going Along was one of my absolute favorites of the weekend. He is the co-author of The Pleasure Trap (an amazing book if you haven’t read it) and I really look forward to hearing him again this year.
And of course, Plant-Stock would not be Plant-Stock without a cooking demo by two fabulously funny and engaging women!
Ann and Jane are the authors behind one of my favorite and frequently used plant-based cookbooks, The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook. This dynamic duo are so fun to watch. After watching them last year, I wish I could just follow them around for the day. 🙂 They are so hard working and super personable. You can see how they just touch everyone they meet.
I can’t list all the people who are speaking (this blog would be way too long) but trust me when I say, I am ready for this weekend to blow my mind.
If you have any interest in attending any of the Engine2/Forks Over Knives events then I have good news for you! They’ve issued me a special code that will give you a discount to a few of their upcoming events (Plant-Stock is not included).
If you live near the Cleveland Ohio, Dallas Texas or Pasadena California area then you are in luck!
Visit this link here and use the discount code: TRAILVIP50 to received $50 of the registration fee for one of their weekend long events.
If you want an in-depth full on life-saving immersion into the Plant-Based lifestyle, then their Sedona, Arizona trip may be more suitable. Visit this link here and use the discount code: TRAILVIP150 to receive $150 off the registration fee.
I cannot stress enough how important diet is in one’s life. What you put in your mouth on a daily basis does affect the way you feel whether you want to realize it or not. If you have headaches, constipation, gas, heart palpitations, eczema – WHATEVER – stop and think about what you are consuming. If you lack energy, it most likely has to do with what you are eating.
If you can’t afford the trips I’ve listed above, I COMPLETELY understand. Start small. Maybe buy Dr. Greger or Dr. Davis’s book or check out their websites. Tiny changes still COUNT.
You don’t have to make drastic changes overnight. Start small and build from there. Do what you can on a daily basis and see what happens.
This past Saturday I did something I have always wanted to do, yet always stopped from myself from attempting ….
I hosted a Plant-Based 101 workshop out of my kitchen. For a while now I have had people tell me that I should do this. A few times I attempted to try and pull something together but for some reason or another, it just never happened.
One of the biggest road blocks I guess is that I am not a huge fan of having to talk in front of other people, even if it is something I am passionate about. The other reasons were time, lack of interest or more or less, just never the gusto to get.it.done.
A few months ago I decided that I had to make this happen. I told Stonegate who was immediately supportive and encouraged me 100% to just do it.
Over the past year or so, I have helped Vans’s Debbie the Great Aunt and Uncle transition into an almost meatless diet with great success. My boss at work has been mostly meat free for almost a month now and recently has taken up running after a 30 year hiatus! Stonegate herself transitioned about a year ago and has had stellar running results that she attributes to her plant-based diet. I like to think that in a small way, I helped encouraged their improvement (they did all the hard work though).
So sucking up my fear and seeing if there was an interest for people to learn more about a plant-based diet was something I had to find out for myself.
So I posted something on Facebook asking who would be interested in attending a class. The initial reaction was pretty dismal to be honest. I almost gave up then and there but I stuck with it. A few emails later and I had a date on the calendar and about 9 or 10 people who were planning to show up at my house! EEEK! Game on!
In my head I had already drawn out a rough run down of what I wanted to cover. It involved (gulp) a lot of talking.
So many times I hear that people cannot eat this way because it is too hard to maintain. So I basically tried to teach everyone how someone who is as busy as I am with my full-time job, long commute, two kids, ultra-running hobby and overall life-gets-in-the-way-in-a moment’s- notice lifestyle tackles, conquers and lives a plant-based diet.
First I talked about my background, my certifications and my reason for doing this. Then, I introduced the logical side of things like our body and its inability to digest meat. I brought up science and the fact that meat has been proven to cause Cancer, Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
Next I showed them tips and tricks to make meals happen and to not leave anything to the last minute. And if they do, it’s okay. I showed them a way around those hurdles. That old saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” could not ring truer in the plant-based meal prep world.
In the end, I showed them one of the easiest plant-based meals to prepare that would surprise their taste buds (and I think it did!).
Cooking plant-based doesn’t have to involve 100 steps. I don’t have time for that. I want 30 minutes or less, as few dirty pots and pans as possible and a 100% nutritious whole food meal on the table for my family.
The whole thing lasted just over two hours. I had people ask questions before, during and after. I welcomed the questions especially during the demo because it put me at ease and got my mind off of my set timeline and agenda.
Everyone seemed interested and it seemed like they appreciated the info I had to share. For some, it was not entirely new information as they may already be eating this way so I hoped that some of the cooking tricks I showed them or talked about made the night worth it in their eyes. Others, I think were just curious and are not entirely sure how to even get started. For them, I hoped I gave them motivation.
I told them, much like the Standard American Diet, you’ll repeat some meals and find the ones you like and that’s OK … eventually you will get brave and you will branch out and try new things but if the difference is between the same meal and good health versus starting a downward spiral of bad food and illness, go with the repeat meals every time! Your body will thank you.
Since hosting this, I have heard from a few people on Facebook and on Instagram that they too would love to attend my next one. I have people at work who have said the same. I guess the interest is there after all. Maybe people needed it to happen and materialize as much as I did to get the ball rolling.
I will be forever grateful to my test participants. They were super kind in letting me do this for them and for myself.
I want to say thank you to Vans for all his support, patience and criticisms 🙂 . Thank you to Stonegate and Burning Girl for all their motivation and encouragement – most of the photos in this post are from Burning Girl by the way. Thanks to TiggerT who gave me many pep talks on our runs together over the years and thank you to those who are actually still reading this! 🙂
For you, I leave you with a recipe actually created by me – which is rare. I am great at adapting recipes but not so much at creating them from scratch. 🙂
Enjoy & Happy Trails!
Kitchen Sink Soup
This soup is a great way to use up all the “almost done / never going to survive the week” vegetables in your fridge.
I sautéed (in homemade veggie broth) onions, celery, carrots, bell pepper, garlic and a jalapeño (yup didn’t want to waste it). I added 2 Bay Leaves, Italian Seasonings and a pinch of Cumin while sautéing.
Then I added a frozen precooked bag of homemade chickpeas (about 2 cups) and all the homemade veggie broth I had on hand until it looked soupy enough.
I tested the veggies and beans to make sure they were cooked or on their way and then added some left over pre-cooked rice that I had in the fridge, some Braggs liquid aminos and some nutritional yeast followed by heaping handfuls of spinach (NOTE I would advise removing bay leaves BEFORE adding spinach otherwise you will be searching for them 🙂 trust me).
The Rosemary and Thyme Oat Biscuits
Pre-heat oven to 450
Take 1 cup of #glutenfree oat flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
Some dried Rosemary, Thyme and Nutritional Yeast – whisk together.
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup almond milk
Mix together until a dough ball forms
Drop by spoonfuls onto a pan covered in parchment paper (I was able to get about 6 biscuits) and bake for 10-13 minutes. Voila.
I have been waiting for some time to sit down and write this post. I left you all hanging with my last post and I apologize about that. I also apologize for the length of this one. 🙂
So about a week ago today, I flew back east to attend Engine 2 Diet’s Plant-Stock in upstate New York. My dream come true if you will. Plant-Stock is basically a conference of sorts, for those interested in living, learning and loving a plant-based (including no-oil) lifestyle. That is me 100%.
As some of you may know, I have been plant-based for over 20 years. Early on I avoided oils and the like as I knew in my heart they were not good for you. Over the course of time, I added them back in because of all the coconut oil/hemp oil/namewhateveroil hype going in the news and on the blogosphere.
It took my dad having a heart attack, followed by another blockage and consequently 3 stents for me to really get serious. My mother suddenly passed away when she was 47 of a massive heart attack. My dad was in his 60s when he had his. I have zero grand-parents left. My future was not looking very bright if continued living the same life-style as every other American on the planet (despite my activity level).
Anyway, back to Plant-Stock. I decided that I was going. I had to go. Vans agreed knowing how much this movement and way of life means to me.
During the course of my planning, Engine 2 and Dr. Esselstyn’s group reached out to me and asked me if I would be interested volunteering at their merchandise booth. Would I?! Of course I was stoked.
So, I flew out Thursday evening after work on a red-eye. I flew to Newark, NJ by way of Boston where my dad picked me up. I rented a car, spent a few hours with Jersey Dad and then drove the 2.5 hours to upstate New York.
I booked myself a room at the St. Charles Hotel in Hudson New York. If you recall from my last post, Plant-Stock was being held at the Esselstyn Family Farm in Claverack New York. There isn’t much around Claverack and most of the hotels were 30 minutes away.
I found Hudson and then found The St. Charles. The rates were “ok” the reviews were not but hey, I figured that I was only sleeping there for two nights and I was by myself, I could handle it.
The town was quaint albeit a bit on the older side. The hotel seemed to sit on the side of town that was borderline near the sketchier areas but nothing terrible.
I walked around town a little bit after arriving trying to find a place to eat. I finally ended up at BaBa Louie’s where I ordered a gluten free vegan pizza. When I walked in the door wearing my Engine 2 Kale shirt someone shouted “Engine 2!” and gave me a thumbs up. I knew then that I was in the right place. 🙂
With my pizza in hand, I went back to my room to relax and eat. I was excited to get to sleep and have the next day begin! Plus the time change and flying had really tired me out.
Saturday morning bright and early I woke up and left to find Plant-Stock and the Esselstyn Family Farm. When I spoke to the volunteer co-ordinator the previous week, she told me to arrive about 30 minutes early so that I could also help work the registration table.
I pulled onto the property and was immediately in awe of its beauty. The place was gorgeous. Coming from draught stricken California, the east coast is just so green and lush!
But this farm, this farm was beyond words.
I made my way to the registration table and was introduced to a few really nice volunteers.
Working the registration booth was great because I was able to meet almost everyone that was arriving and get them squared away.
While I was working the booth I saw Dr. Esselstyn driving around on his Kawasaki cart picking up attendees who were struggling to walk or who didn’t want to get their feet wet (the grass was very wet)! It was SO cool and super cute. He would zip back and forth just picking up people and loading up the cart.
How amazing is that?! I mean he is a “celebrity” in the realm of plant-based living and for anyone who has had to suffer with heart disease … and here he is giving you a ride. Class act.
I also was introduced to Rip Esselstyn (author, fire-fighter and pro-triathlete) briefly while working the registration booth.
The only down side of working the booth was that I missed breakfast and I also missed out on getting a super close seat for all the lectures. Still, it was no big deal because it would pay off in many other ways later.
Plant-Stock consisted of full two days, Saturday and Sunday with a dinner on Saturday evening (that cost extra).
The first talk of the day was by Rip Esselstyn. He talked about Strong Food vs Weak Food. He then would introduce T. Colin Campbell who talked about Rethinking the Science of Nutrition.
In between all the talks they would have a break and I would go to the merchandise tent to work. After Dr. Campbell’s talk, they had him come to the booth to sign books.
I have to say, this was an unexpected bonus for me. Working the booth meant that I was able to be near all the speakers and listen to to their discussions and how they answer the questions asked by all the patrons getting their books autographed. It was GREAT!
After Dr. Campbell it was time for Part 1 of Dr. Esselstyn’s talk on Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease.
His talk was great, as was Dr. Campbell’s. Even though I was supposed to work the merchandise booth on the next break, I made sure to grab my book and race to get in line because I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have Dr. Esselstyn sign my book.
Poor guy wore a suit and tie for his talk and it was sweltering outside so when it came time to autograph books and take photos, he was all sweaty. But he was still so present and interested in everyone that came up to him.
Watching Dr. Esselstyn sign books was truly a treat because he really engaged every single person that came up to him. Not only did he answer their questions, he ASKED questions. He truly listened, eyes focused, soaking it all in. This man is truly a gem in this world. He honestly cares 100% about those he affects and the lives of others. It blew me away. I knew he was a great guy from the stories I have heard, but to witness this, just made my heart melt in appreciation.
After Dr. Esselstyn’s talk it was time for Doug Lisle’s The Pleasure Trap. I have read The Pleasure Trap but I have never heard Dr. Lisle talk. He is one heck of a presenter. He is funny, engaging and he really can drive home a point and make you think! His second talk on Sunday truly was my favorite, it was called Getting Along Without Going Along.
Following Dr. Lisle was Neal Barnard, another person who I follow on social media but whose books I have not read nor have I heard him speak. He gave an amazing talk about Power Food for the Brain and also signed books. Now I would like to read one of his many books.
After Dr. Barnard was Dr. Tom Campbell, one of T. Colin Campbell’s sons and co-author of The China Study book. His talk was about The Simple Way to Lose Weight and Reduce Illness. Dr. Tom Campbell is a new father to an adorable little girl and a beautiful wife, both were present at the event.
After Dr. Tom Campbell came Dr. Ron Weiss, MD – a physician in New Jersey and the first physician ever to work with organic farmers and open his medical practice ON a farm prescribing vegetables instead of pharmaceuticals.
Following Dr. Weiss came the surprise of the evening (for me), Howard Lyman. I have never heard him talk nor did I know much about him. He has authored a book called, The Mad Cowboy and his talk was called The Cattle Rancher Who Gave Up Eating the Ranch. His story was amazing and his talk SO motivating. He truly was the perfect way to end the evening because he is so passionate about what cattle ranching is doing to our environment. He is also hilarious in his delivery.
Dinner was next. To have dinner at this event it cost extra but it is 100% worth it because there are no “VIP tables” or sectioned off areas where all the speakers would typically eat. Nope, they ate dinner right along side you.
During dinner it started to rain, hard. It also thundered and we had lightning. It was pretty intense for a while but no one got up and left. We all just sat and ate and talked.
Dinner was lasagna with a side of steamed kale, a salad and bruschetta all plant-based and gluten free if required.
I sat with some very nice people all of whom had different reasons for being there this weekend.
After dinner we watched The Plant-Pure Nation under the big tent (it had stopped raining). Here is where I was so happy that I picked The St. Charles Hotel … because we didn’t leave until almost 9 pm that night.
Sunday morning I was dead set on getting there bright and early so that I could get a spot super close to the stage. However I did re-think this because of the previous day’s events.
Even though first I was bummed I had to sit in the way back on Saturday, it had its bonuses! Like when I turned to my left at one point during Neal Barnard’s talk and realized I was sitting right next to T. Colin Campbell and family as well as Dr. Esselstyn! What!?
Yes he had dozed off. It was hot. He’d probably been up and running around for hours and had given a great talk AND conversed with every single person who came up to him.
But here is what I love most ….
Dr. Esselstyn wears HOKAS! 🙂 As a trail runner, I just love this. They are a pretty cushiony shoe so I don’t blame him one bit. This man works HARD and may I remind you, he is over 80!
No matter where he was, he would give everyone the time that he had to answer questions, hear stories and give his pieces of advice.
Sunday was filled with breakfast and more talks. We heard lectures by Dr. Esselstyn again (part 2 of his Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease).
Dr. E’s wife Ann Esselstyn also gave a talk on What to Eat, Where to Buy It and How to Cook It. I need to stop and talk about Ann Esselstyn for a minute here.
Okay, Ann just turned 80 years old. Not only did I see her running around, she also helped set up all the place setting and center pieces at the dinner tables!
Ann also runs for an hour around the farm property and does yoga. She is in amazing shape and has the energy of my 7 year old! Seriously. She is incredible and she runs on veggies, not caffeine!
After Ann was Dr. Robert Ostfeld who talked about why he prescribes food as medicine. I have heard Dr. Ostfeld on Rich Roll before.
His talk was very good as well. You can tell his life has been impacted by this lifestyle and how much he looks up to Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn.
After him was Dr. Lisle’s second talk (my favorite one mentioned above) and followed by him was a Plant-Strong Cooking Demonstration by Jane Esselstyn (Rip’s sister and Ann and Dr. Esselstyn’s daughter).
The cooking demo was all recipes from their cookbook which is one of my favorites. It was nice to see how they just throw stuff together. It was also really nice to see the interaction between Ann and Jane. They are actually neighbors back in Ohio and they said as they were writing their cook book they’d run across the path that connects their homes and share recipes. They truly are too cute.
I adore Jane because she is feisty. She’s a nurse and she also taught sex-ed to kids in schools for years. Her humor and energy is infectious.
Finally, they closed out the day with a Q&A session with all the speakers who were left. They Q&A lasted almost an HOUR!
It was really neat because a lot of people stood up and shared some of their stories and asked really good questions and the doctors all responded.
After the Q&A was Rip’s final speech on Hope. He also shared some information about an up and coming documentary that will rival the popularity and importance of Forks Over Knives. The audience was even given a sneak peak. It was really good and really exciting. I cannot wait for it to come out.
When they let us go, I had a wave of sadness sort of come over me. I missed my family but I didn’t want to leave. There is just something about this place that warms my heart. Besides being peaceful and gorgeous, just watching this family interact before all to see, was so touching. They are, special.
They just truly opened up their home to 250 random strangers. I mean really opened up their entire property to us, their time, their energy and their dreams and aspirations for what they would love to see in people’s health.
I gathered my things and went in search of Char Nolan, the woman who was the reason behind my volunteering and who is the voice behind a lot of the social media posts for both Engine 2 and Dr. Esselstyn.
I found Char and gave her a quick hug. I missed saying goodbye to some of the other people I had met, some of whom were originally Instagram “friends” which is crazy if you think about it.
I made the long 2.5 hour drive back to New Jersey all by myself with a lot on my mind. I rehashed the weekend over in my head. Tried to remember the pieces that stood out most. Overall, it was a wonderful dream come true kind of weekend for me.
I wish that in some capacity, I could do what they are doing or support them in some way because I love to share the plant-based way of living. A lot of times I wish that maybe I had gone into medicine but I don’t think that is the answer. My passion is definitely health, plant-based health and if I could find a way, I would devote myself 100% to working towards making this my life’s work.
In the meantime, I am content to work on my family’s health. Vans is 90% of the way there (some days) and the girls, well the girls are my struggle. The Peanut knows what is healthy but she is more or less afraid. I keep trying to find ways to make them try things that may be foreign to them or may look weird … I am working on those smaller battles before I try and win the war.
Until then, I hope you stick with me. I will try to be a bit more regular with my posts. I need to start developing some topics to write about. I do have some races ahead so that will be nice.
I am gearing up to start some road running again, something I haven’t done in quite a while. It will be good for me because road running definitely is a mental game that will make you tougher all around.
If you have any questions about Plant-Stock feel free to comment. I know I wrote a lengthy post but it truly was two days of amazing.
Ya, you could say I look a little bit excited in that photo! 🙂