Introduction: HEAR US ROAR
We are Plant- Based Women Warriors and this is our front line. A call to arms for vitality and uncompromised health.
A rallying cry for booming energy and rejection of disease. Join us as we press onward with plants, love, and each other. Be a Plant- Based Woman Warrior.
The ﬁercest person I know is my mother, Ann— and how lucky that we live next door to each other. Ann’s energy and “hop- to” is my daily dose of “hell yeah.” Try to keep up with her at eighty- six years old— it is exhausting! In a single day, it is not unusual to see her run, lift weights, sweep, rake, do yoga, haul brush, plant gardens, cook, and shop. She does not stop: Activity and engagement are Ann’s perpetual states.
We attend a Wednesday yoga class together, and even though she prefers to be in the back row, she still catches everyone’s eye. There she is, balanced in half- moon on one leg, holding a side plank without shaking, and ﬂipping her downward dog like a gymnast. People always ask me after class, “How old is your mom?!” and hastily add, “I want to be her when I grow up!” Ha, I do, too! She has completely redeﬁned aging and stayed in the game. Sometimes, I’m asked if my mom and I are twins. What a compliment! I can only hope to have Ann’s energy and spunk as I grow older.
While trail running, Ann once impaled her lower leg on a branch. Around this time, she had been reading a book about Genghis Khan’s unruly, violent upbringing, and so she ﬁgured she could handle a branch piercing her calf. She arrived at home looking fresh from a battle on the Mongolian steppes, with blood streaming down her leg. The ensuing IV antibiotics and gaping wound had her bedbound for a day. Point being, it takes a lot to momentarily impede this Plant- Based Woman Warrior.
What is the secret to Ann’s way of life? What stokes her furnace every day? The answer is simple— a plant- based diet. And daily, she feasts on more food than most other humans!
My parents say they eat a plant- based diet because they want to live long and die fast. My father, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., has been researching the link between a plant- based diet and heart disease for decades. His intense interest was our family’s initiation to this way of eating. At ﬁrst, Ann learned to create healthy, simple, plant- based recipes for my father’s heart patients. But soon, her motivation became stronger when patients reported other lifestyle- related diseases falling away. Along with plummeting cholesterol and normalizing blood pressure, eating plant- based leveled their blood sugar, reversed erectile dysfunction and autoimmune disease symptoms, and sent their energy levels skyrocketing.
We should all accept the challenge to live long and die fast! The effect would be staggering: less medication, disease, and long- term care, and more living, activity, and— ﬂat out— more quality time with those you love. You may be thinking, , How can the answerer to the many faces of lifestyle-related diseases and suffering be plants? It seems too simple. But we have seen the power of this way of eating too many times not to share and shout this message over the garden wall and from the mountaintops. There can truly be boundless health and hope ahead with a whole food, plant-based diet.
Ann is fierce! When it comes to plant-based eating, we are three generations strong, due to Ann’s love and delicious persistence. She has charmed every single one in our family of twenty to be plant-based. She is a role model for giving things a go. She’ll challenge grandchildren to eat their sweet potato skins, she’ll harvest tall unknown weeds from the garden when out of greens, or she’ll serve up “witches brew” (as the grandchildren call it) for breakfast (see Ann’s Warrior Oats, page 000) on Christmas morning. Ann is completely unapologetic about sticking with this way of eating. As my husband, Brian, says, “Ann is a bully for good.” Always ready to roar at anyone about eating plants.
These days, Ann’s bright light and humor show up in our books, YouTube videos, and cooking demos. When we began presenting cooking demos decades ago, we had no idea we were working because it felt so natural— mother and daughter chatting, bickering, and laughing side by side. What’s most gratifying is hearing from people who decide to try cooking plant- based because Ann makes them laugh, or because our relationship reminds them of their mother- daughter relationship, or we just make it look easy. It is so simple— and transformative— to embrace the power each of us has in our own kitchens.
My parents feel being plant- based is the greatest gift they will ever give to our family— the beneﬁts of a lifestyle- related disease- free life will extend for generations to come. We hope this book will inspire you to be protect your family’s health, too, and make food choices that also nourish the planet! Be tenacious in your drive to change the world around you, whether it’s by chatting with interested pals, barking behind a bull-horn, or being a silent role model. Set the example and make yourself a resource. Choose to be ﬁerce, and roar for your own health!
Copyright © 2022 by Jane Esselstyn and Ann Crile Esselstyn. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.