Meet The Esselstyns-They're a Plant-Based Family

Posted by Jessica Meyers Altman on

I just got home from one of the most inspiring, education, and delicious weekends ever! I attended the plant-based Forks Over Knives conference ( where I heard amazing speakers. I'm going to encourage you to attend a Forks Over Knives or Engine 2 Diet conference if they are ever in a city near you.  Dr. Esselstyn, author of How To Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Dr. Doug Lisle, author of The Pleasure Trap, Dr. Joel Kahn, author of Dead Execs Don't Get Bonuses, and Rip Esselstyn, from Engine 2 Diet all spoke about the benefits of a whole-food, plant-based diet.  Dr. Esselstyn was the first speaker, following the introduction of his son, Rip.  He spoke about How To Prevent And Reverse Heart Disease. His words, were so poiniont, given today's recent report from the World Health Organization's report linking both processed and red meat to increased cancer rates.  Dr. Esselstyn also spoke about avoiding oils in the diet , and kept everyone captivated.  If you haven't watched the documentary or read Dr. Esselstyn's book, I highly recommend both. 

Dr. Lisle discussed the main reasons why we have food cravings and how to help others remove themselves from pleasure traps.  His words were brilliant and delivered with humor.  He spoke about how we all seek pleasure and avoid pain, all while conserving energy. These points focussed on why we are so inclined to reach for processed foods. I look forward to reading his book (which I got signed!)! Next came Joel Kahn, who spoke about the links between diabetes and heart disease. Much like Dr. Barnard (from Physicians Committee For Responsible, he linked diabetes to fat in the diet. Both Dr. Lisle and Dr. Kahn reinforced the need to eat foods high in nutritional density, as opposed to how most Americans eat, a high caloric density diet.

Following the speakers, we had amazing cooking demonstrations from Jane, and Ann Esselstyn-authors of the Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, Chef AJ, of eatunproccessed and Chef Darshana Thacker, of DarshanasKitchen, and Chef Del Sroufe. Ann and Jane make plant-based cooking easy, and not threatening for the average person, along with providing hilarious entertainment and chemistry (Ann is Dr. Esselstyn's wife and Jane their daughter)! Chef AJ added additional humor, powerful energy, and super clean recipe ideas (she even made up the Meet The Esselstyn's Song and others). Chef Darshana inspired us all with the beautiful spices from Indian and Mexican cuisine (shown below), and Chef Del Sroufe added his own humor and easily approachable style.  All speakers were very approachable, listening to many share their remarkable stories of healing and transformation. They inspired, gave hugs and so much of their time. Ann and Jane Esselstyn

The lunches were outstanding. Not only was it phenomenal to be in a room to a sold-out crowd of 300+ people, but to be able to eat everything and not worry was beyond awesome! Day one was a massaged kale salad with bean burritos, fresh tomato and mango salsas, and guacamole. The evening's dinner took us to Whole Foods where they made us a bean and rice stew, oil-free slaw, and a chocolate banana pudding. Day 2 included at least 14 samples from the cooking demonstrations. If that wasn't enough-lunch was a different kale salad (eat those greens!!!!), along with sweet potato burgers and all the fixings, and a oil-free potato salad.  The food did not stop coming! I was inspired to make many new oil-free dishes, as well as to up my intake of dark leafy greens. 

If you're new to plant-based living, I highly encourage you to check out the speakers I mentioned above. Links to their books and more resources can be found on the Garden Fresh Foodie resource page. Share with others and spread the love! A huge thank you to all those who made my weekend, and 300+ others, one that inspired me to return home invigorated and ready to share more plant-based love to my community!

Until next week....happy eating!

-Jessica from

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1 comment

  • The conference in Cleveland was great! Loved Chef AJ ‘s songs! Going to use your stuffing recipe but in ONIONS this next week. Trying them for thanksgiving. Also made your BBQ lentil loaf for dinner tonight. Loved it.
    My husband’s brother who we picked up from prison in May when he was paroled weighed 199 then. He is now 147. He eats exactly what we eat. We are OCT wfpb.

    Sonya brower on

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