Lisa Kemmerer and Caldwell, Ann & Jane Esselstyn


Part I: Lisa Kemmerer, Animals and Social Justice 
lisa_turkeyLisa Kemmerer is a philosopher-activist dedicated to working against oppression, whether on behalf of the environment, nonhuman animals, or disempowered human beings. Her books include In Search of Consistency: Ethics and Animals ; Animals and World Religions; Sister Species: Women, Animals, and Social Justice; Call to Compassion: Reflections on Animal Advocacy; Speaking Up for Animals: An Anthology of Women’s Voices ; and Primate People: Saving Nonhuman Primates through Education, Advocacy, and Sanctuary. Lisa has hiked, biked, kayaked, backpacked, and traveled widely, and is currently associate professor of philosophy and religions at Montana State University Billings.
Part II: Ann, Jane and Caldwell Esselstyn, The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook 
anne-and-jane-esselstynAnn Crile Esselstyn is a relentlessly energetic and creative advocate for the plant-based, whole-food way of life. She has devoted herself to inventing recipes to prevent and reverse heart disease in support of the research of her husband, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. Ann never stops looking for ways to bring that important agenda to delicious life, devising ever more practical and powerful ways to shop, cook, and engage even the most reluctant eaters in the plant-perfect diet.
Ann is the author of the recipe section of Dr. Esselstyn’s bestselling book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, and co-author of The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook with her daughter, Jane Esselstyn. She is a graduate of Smith College and holds a Masters in Education from Wheelock College. Ann taught English and History for 27 years at Laurel School in Cleveland, Ohio, where she received the Hostatler Award for Outstanding Teaching. At the same time, she juggled the raising of four children. When not in the kitchen, Ann counsels patients, lectures around the world on how to prepare and eat plant-based foods, and spends time with her ten plant-based grandchildren.

Jane Esselstyn is a fresh and charismatic voice on the plant-based, whole food diet. She brings her perspective and passion as a long-time health and sexuality educator to creating on-ramps to the plant-based way of life. Jane is an avid and inventive designer of plant-based recipes and the co-author of The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook with her next door neighbor and mom, Ann. She is also the author of the recipe section of her brother Rip Esselstyn’s most recent book, My Beef With Meat.

Jane has worked as a science, outdoor, and health educator for over 25 years. During her years teaching sex ed to middle school kids, she has developed a powerful curriculum around healthy sexuality and development in the digital age. A tireless champion for kids and their health, Jane brings remarkable clarity, compassion, and humor to the most difficult conversations-for kids and parents alike. Jane met her husband and fellow educator, Brian Hart, while working as a field instructor for Outward Bound. They have three plant-based children. Jane graduated from the University of Michigan, where she competed nationally as a recruited swimmer and rower, and earned a B.S in Nursing from Kent State University.

Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., received his B.A. from Yale University and his M.D. from Western Reserve University. In 1956, pulling the No. 6 oar as a member of the victorious United States rowing team, he was awarded a gold medal at the Olympic Games. He was trained as a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and at St. George’s Hospital in London. In 1968, as an Army surgeon in Vietnam, he was awarded the Bronze Star.

Dr. Esselstyn has been associated with the Cleveland Clinic since 1968. During that time, he has served as President of the Staff and as a member of the Board of Governors. He chaired the Clinic’s Breast Cancer Task Force and headed its Section of Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery.

In 1991, Dr. Esselstyn served as President of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, That same year he organized the first National Conference on the Elimination of Coronary Artery Disease, which was held in Tucson, Arizona. In 1997, he chaired a follow-up conference, the Summit on Cholesterol and Coronary Disease, which brought together more than 500 physicians and health-care workers in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. In April, 2005, Dr. Esselstyn became the first recipient of the Benjamin Spock Award for Compassion in Medicine. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Cleveland Clinic Alumni Association in 2009. In September 2010, he received the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame Award. Dr. Esselstyn received the 2013 Deerfield Academy Alumni Association Heritage Award In Recognition of Outstanding Achievement & Service, and the 2013 Yale University GEORGE H.W. BUSH ’48 LIFETIME OF LEADERSHIP AWARD.

His scientific publications number over 150, “The Best Doctors in America” 1994-1995 published by Woodward and White cites Dr. Esselstyn’s surgical expertise in the categories of endocrine and breast disease. In 1995 he published his bench mark long-term nutritional research arresting and reversing coronary artery disease in severely ill patients. That same study was updated at 12 years and reviewed beyond twenty years in his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, making it one of the longest longitudinal studies of its type.

Dr. Esselstyn and his wife, Ann Crile Esselstyn, have followed a plant-based diet for more than 26 years. Dr. Esselstyn presently directs the cardiovascular prevention and reversal program at The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

The Esselstyns have four children and ten grandchildren.


CARYN HARTGLASS: Hello everybody, I’m Caryn Hartglass and its time for another It’s All About Food here on September 2nd, 2014. Did you have a nice Labor Day weekend? What did you do? I labored, I always labor, but I love my work so its ok to just work and work is what I do, right? And gosh I have been just praising the weather here in New York how wonderful it’s been and I think the real New York summer weather has finally arrived. It’s been hot and humid and there’s nothing that will keep my hair from going up vertically. It’s just all over the place with this humidity. I hope you’re staying cool wherever you are. Let’s bring on my first guest. I’m really looking forward to speaking with Lisa Kemmerer. She’s a philosopher activist dedicated to working against oppression, whether on behalf of the environment, nonhuman animals or disempowered human beings. Her books, and there are many, include In Search of Consistency: Ethics and Animals, Animals and World Religions, Sister Species: Women, Animals and Social Justice, Call to Compassion: Reflections on Animal Advocacy, Speaking Up for Animals: An Anthology of Women’s Voices, Primate People: Saving Non-Human Primates through Education, Advocacy and Sanctuary. Lisa has hiked, biked, kyaked, backpacked and traveled widely, and is currently associate professor of philosophy and religions at Montana State University – Billings. Hi Lisa!

LISA KEMMERER: Hi, how are you today?

CARYN HARTGLASS: Good, I’m so glad we finally made this happen.

LISA KEMMERER: Yes, me too, thank you for your patience.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Well, thank you for your time. So let’s talk about you. So my first question is what inspired you to do the work that you do working against oppression?

LISA KEMMERER: Wow, what a question – it’s huge. I think that, from my experience, people who tend to work for social justice have a lot of things of their own past that have made them aware of injustice.

CARYN HARTGLASS: You know, I don’t like to say the ends justify the means, but often something happens that motivates us to – and I don’t know your history – that motivates us to do better so other people don’t have to experience what we’ve experienced or anything like what we’ve experienced.

LISA KEMMERER: Yeah, and you know, we can don’t have to say the ends justify the means because it wasn’t intentional. These are things that happened in our past that we had no say over and the question can become “what will we do with them now to bring a better world?”.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Mhmm, I like that. That’s part of how we manage our past – realizing that we weren’t responsible for some of the things that happened. Now that we are responsible we can make things better.

LISA KEMMERER: Exactly so. And you know you say that – just yesterday I was talking to someone about ends and means and organizations and how some of them do use the idea that the ends can justify the means and it was the idea of insiding among groups trying to bring change. This is one of the things that brings a tremendous amount of fighting is those who think that the ends do justify the means and those who will absolutely not compromise their principles in trying to reach the ends.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Well that just jumps into one of the things we wanted to talk about today which is: the insiding within a certain organization or a certain community of somewhat like-minded people but we disagree on certain things. Something I’ve been bringing up a lot on this program and some of my listeners have been asking me what I think, and it’s a difficult conversation but for those of us that are vegan (although that’s not necessarily part of it but I think its an important part) for those of us that are against that exploitation primarily of animals and we also realize the connection with people and the environment, the way to make change is not the same for all of us. Some believe that small steps will get us to the ultimate end and some believe we must be absolutely black and white and believe that everything we preach has to be exactly what we believe in and we cannot promote small steps on the way.

LISA KEMMERER: Right, yeah. And I tend to be very open to all – I think that the dialogue is healthy. I think the diversity is healthy. So I think that the whole picture is a wonderful thing and if we just approach each other as common cause rather than common enemies, we can really benefit from that dialogue. Rather than fighting with each other we can spend our energy trying to bring change in the world. And yet we can still learn from one another by talking about different approaches and the pros and cons of different approaches. And there are pros and cons, there are sacrifices that some make that others aren’t willing to make. And just putting them on the table, understanding them, I think that’s very important.

CARYN HARTGLASS: I’m with you there. I know what I can do personally and I know what I can promote personally but if someone wants to do it a little differently, I don’t want to condemn them. I don’t think that’s productive.


CARYN HARTGLASS: I’m not a promoter of Facebook, I use it, it’s constantly changing and I don’t know that it’s going in the right direction. There’s so much negativity there and it just upsets me when I see people that I believe have the same goal in the end, are really putting each other down getting there.

LISA KEMMERER: Yes. And spending a lot of time doing it, and that time could be spent – I could really do things with that time! I could write entire books with the time I see people wasting arguing with each other.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Yeah, it looks like that’s what you’re doing.

LISA KEMMERER: Well I don’t go on Facebook. I don’t engage in those kind of lengthy, time-consuming discussions. I know that they’re out there, but that isn’t where I want my energy to go.

CARYN HARTGLASS: I like Facebook for posting family pictures for my family and seeing their pictures. It’s just a fun place to unwind and see some cute pictures, I like posting recipes – friendly, happy things for people who want to unwind and see some nice things like that. But the negativity – it’s not the place for it. I don’t think any place is the place for it.

LISA KEMMERER: It’s also a really good place where people can find you. I am very fortunate, I have a wonderful student who’s graduated and gone on to do wonderful things in social justice. Her name is Morgan Bennett and actually keeps me a page on Facebook so I can be found there but I don’t have to deal with it so I feel very fortunate about that.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Yes, it’s a good place to be found. I think I might have found you there actually, I’m not sure where I found you but I know –

LISA KEMMERER: Thanks Morgan!

CARYN HARTGLASS: Yeah so dialogue is important and how do we do that? When someone is angry and, is there a way to dialogue so that anger is dissipated? Especially when we’re on the same path.

LISA KEMMERER: I’m comparatively old in this movement now, and one thing I’ve learned is: save your energy. There are some people worth talking to and some that you should give a pass. Everybody is not worth talking to. Of course when I was younger, everybody was worth talking to when you have the energy and to some extent you have more time.


LISA KEMMERER: So now I know that if someone is not interested in the dialogue, if you can see that they have a very set way of being or they don’t invite conversation, they have to invite me into a conversation and then I will have the conversation. But if they’re just taking a stand, I will just acknowledge their stand and sometimes won’t even bother to say my own because what is the point if they’re not interested?

CARYN HARTGLASS: Very good, very good. Alright so you let me know that you’re working – you have a bunch of books coming out.

LISA KEMMERER: I do – two anthologies and one that I’ve written called Eating Earth that looks at one of the social justice issues and the environmental aspects of our dietary choice.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Okay we talked a little bit about that on this program, did you make some discoveries in this book?

LISA KEMMERER: What I like best about this book?


LISA KEMMERER: I don’t know if discovery is the combination of things that are in it. It is not just on factory farming and the environment, which there is some coverage on. There is a whole chapter on that and it goes in depth and basically points out very clearly – our diet is the number one contributor to environmental degradation on at least five different areas, everything from the global climate change to deforestation to the water depletion to soil erosion – all of those, it’s the number one contributor. But the book also has a whole chapter on fishing, on fishing and seas and water; another aspect of our dietary choices. And finally, hunting. It really looks closely – some people will quickly turn to fish or to hunting to try to say ‘oh this is the better choice’. The book clearly shows that neither of these are the better choice; the better choice is to quit eating animals. It is the only choice if you actually care about the environment.

CARYN HARTGLASS: That’s good. I look forward to reading that. And when does that come out?


CARYN HARTGLASS: Okay. I didn’t even – well maybe I knew it when I first reached out to you.

LISA KEMMERER: I didn’t even know it so that’s why you didn’t know it. I don’t think I’ve put it out anywhere yet. It’s not even on my current resume.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Does it have a title?

LISA KEMMERER: Yes, Eating Earth.


LISA KEMMERER: After the colon I think it’s Dietary Choices and Planetary Health or something very like that.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Great, well all the best. How do you write three books at a time?

LISA KEMMERER: Well, it’s an excellent choice because I’m also teaching, a full time job. I think it happens that way, well it certainly happens that way unintentionally. I’ll start something, and for instance the other two are anthologies, so while I’m waiting for the essays to come in I can’t seem to contain myself and then the essays will pile in and I’ll send those essays back and I’ll start something else so they kind of slowly crawl along together. One of them I started at least six years ago, maybe seven. It just takes a long time to put them together so, I don’t know, I need different things to work on so I don’t go nuts and sometimes there’s a lull in the activity and sometimes I don’t have a sense about doing something other than my work during those lulls.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Well I think this is where the small steps really make a difference in getting to your goal. There are some big issues that I’d like to see big giant steps immediately like end factory farming – done. But in terms of accomplishing things in our life, small steps, working on everything in small doses is the way to ultimately reach our goals.

LISA KEMMERER: And you know one thing, when you say the conversation, talking to people and bringing changes, dealing with others in the movement – that’s one of the things I always turn back to. One of my good friends who works for HSUS, Alex Buri, brought it up to me initially. She said, “these people who say there’s only one way and it’s the right way, what I want to ask is what are you doing?”. Yes maybe there is only one way and only one right way, good, what are you doing to get us there? So just attacking others in the movement isn’t it. So there’s so many different little ways and little steps but I think it is true that there’s a significant number – I could name a few but will not – who simply spend their time attacking the work of others and frankly don’t seem to be doing anything to actually change the ones who are consuming animals and exploiting them in other ways.

CARYN HARTGLASS: That’s a great question to ask anyone and I use that from time to time on a lot of different issues, not just on animal-related issues because there’s so much violence going on in the world today.

LISA KEMMERER: Absolutely.

CARYN HARTGLASS: What a lot of people do – I get these emails that were forwarded and forwarded and forwarded and then I don’t even have time to read them but occasionally when I glance at one it’s just filled with such vile hatred and I think ‘okay, what are you doing about it?’ Sending an email? That’s not doing anything.

LISA KEMMERER: Yes. And there’s one – I ask it with racism, with sexism, with homophobia, with ageism, with ablism all of those are the same thing. And it’s pretty sketchy when it actually comes to engaging with these, what they’re willing to give up, what they’re willing to admit, it shrinks considerably.

CARYN HARTGLASS: What they’re willing to give up – exactly.

LISA KEMMERER: Yes, that’s right.


LISA KEMMERER: And that’s what it comes down to if you really care about social justice. You have to give up your privelages.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Yes. Not all of them, just a little bit here and there.

LISA KEMMERER: That’s right. And the ones you give up you should never have had and you shouldn’t want them. So at the end of the day it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice it just feels like what’s right.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Gosh, it should feel good, I think.

LISA KEMMERER: Right, like changing our diet.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Now you’re going to the conference in Luxemburg, and I’ve read a little but about that. I actually – I was trying to bring a little bit of that conference here by interviewing a number of different people who are going to that conference.

LISA KEMMERER: Oh wonderful.

CARYN HARTGLASS: I had Friederike Schmitz on the show and Frederike Schmitz.


CARYN HARTGLASS: And so, have you been to their conferences over there before?


CARYN HARTGLASS: And what are they like?

LISA KEMMERER: They’re really fun. First of all, it’s just wonderful to go to Europe actually. I mean our country is so gigantic –


LISA KEMMERER: Yea so it would be nice to have some different languages and different history – very different history. So it’s fun to go for that. But the conferences are wonderful and there’s a different flavor to them. It has been a few years since I went to this particular one but it has a very liberationist feel which I liked. I do a lot of academic conferences and they tend to be less liberationist so I find that very refreshing.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Okay now I haven’t been in Europe for five years and I can’t believe it’s been that long and I used to live in France for four years where I never met another vegetarian in the early 90s and its so exciting now that they’re out of the closet.

LISA KEMMERER: Wow. Yeah. But it’s taken off too. It’s totally taken off, and not just vegetarian but vegan. It’s out there – it’s happening.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Yeah, but I got the impression it was more serious and maybe that’s changed too.

LISA KEMMERER: What an interesting thought. Well you know there are flavors to countries, and the Brits have one of my favorite senses of humor anywhere on the planet. So, having said that, they may be serious in some ways, but they have a great sense of humor. Now France, okay maybe they’re more serious but the dogs can go right into the restaurants so really, who’s a little more lighthearted there? The dogs are everywhere and right in the restaurants, they can go into grocery stores – they can go anywhere. So it depends on what you mean by – what you mean, I guess.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Well I remember going to one of the early Veggie Pride Parades in Paris and we have one here in New York City. It’s very different feeling here in New York – it’s more just fun and festive – and I don’t know if it’s changed over there in Europe but it was all the dark issues. And it is dark; it’s just horrible what humans will do, not only to humans but to animals and they wanted to bring all of that out.

LISA KEMMERER: It’s true, they tend to wear dark clothes there and be much more –


LISA KEMMERER: I don’t know what the word is but much more formal. We’re not very formal, we’re a younger nation that’s a little savage in our ways and you can feel that difference when you’re there, there’s a formality to life that we lack.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Well, I just feel it’s almost like a load has been lifted knowing that this dialogue is going on in Europe and it’s going on all over the world where it didn’t feel like it was before. It just gives me a lot of inspiration.

LISA KEMMERER: Yeah. You know what, it isn’t just a dialogue anymore about animal rights. It truly is, I’m speaking on the juncture with sexism, with the environment and then with the conference in Germany at the end of my trip there it’s on religion. So three different intersections and the on in Bonn, Germany is completely on religion and animals so our scope is so much bigger and what we’re looking at – we have some actually nuance now that is growing and strong.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Well you work against oppression, and to me it’s all the same. And when people get to that point where they see exploitation, just generic exploitation, how we just take advantage of whomever, whatever, we can without any thought about it. When you see that, it makes it, I think, a lot easier to make change in your own life and unfortunately people need to go step by step, they only see it in one area before they see it in another area. But I think now we’re starting to connect more dots.

LISA KEMMERER: Yeah I think we are too. And I think as a Caucasian I need to have some sensitivity when I think about these subjects. I think what would say, a black female lesbian say about that, what is her take on how these fit together? Then looking at the animals themselves, if they were speaking our language to us, what they would say about oppression, where they are systematically killed. So ok, as a female I know I meet up with discrimination. But to compare that with what happens to a pig or say a black feminist lesbian, its just a really different picture of what the experiences are, and I think just trying to be aware of that. I don’t know how much we can understand the experiences of other, but we can certainly listen and try to be sensitive to those differences.

CARYN HARTGLASS: One of the things that’s challenging is language, and I’ve learned the heard way, putting my foot in my mouth from time to time over the decades where I was like ‘Oh, that was not the right thing to say’.

LISA KEMMERER: Oh heavens, yeah.

CARYN HARTGLASS: But you know sometimes you don’t know until you say it and see what the reaction is and then the light goes on and there is so much that’s in our language that’s just normal – I mean normal is not a good word but –

LISA KEMMERER: Oh I hear you though.

CARYN HARTGLASS: You don’t realize what damage you’re doing to someone else by saying certain things that are just so common.

LISA KEMMERER: Everyone does it. We all make mistakes, we cannot have full awareness of the experiences of others and I think we need to apologize and when we’re offended, we need to accept apologies. I think that no one is completely clean and if we’re going to work together we need to be able to accept our mistakes and be forgiving of others.

CARYN HARTGLASS: I sure would like to think about what animals think about what we do to them.


CARYN HARTGLASS: I mean you mentioned you don’t know what they think or what they would say, but I would sure like to know.

LISA KEMMERER: We’ve got some pretty good guesses about a few things they’d say.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Yeah, yeah. Now, animals and religion. Can you give us some idea about what you’ll be talking about or discussing? That part is really fascinating, the whole religious – I’m not a religious person but I respect them as long as they aren’t causing pain and suffering to anyone.

LISA KEMMERER: Right, it’s a great question you ask. The religion side of things is neglected and most of the people in the movement will say they aren’t religious but what makes me sad is that they’re saying therefore that’s why they don’t know anything about it. The reason I write about it is because it is one of the most effective ways to bring change. When I am dealing with someone who doesn’t – who is an atheist let’s say – I tell them all the horrible things that are going on and they can simply say to me ‘oh gosh that’s horrible, now get away from me, I’m trying to buy my groceries’. But, when you say that to someone from any one of the major religious traditions, they cannot say that. If they take their religion seriously, they are bound to what’s in their texts and core teachings and religious studies, they’re tied to that. And when you call them on it, it has a very different effect than on someone who is not committed to some moral code like that that they are tied to. So it is an extremely effective form of the advocacy but to use it, we have to actually know the traditions. So I would say the movement is remiss in not knowing these basic teachings and in not taking them on board so when they meet someone – I have almost never failed to talk to someone who is religious about these issues because, I say I wont talk to people who are closed, they cannot be closed. They cannot tell me that their religion teaches cruelty or their religion believes that causing others suffering is okay. So it is a very important field and I encourage everyone out there to know the basics, know the fundamentals of religions that will call people to a kinder way of life.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Yeah, I like that. I was raised Jewish. One of the things I like to do, I love family gatherings, traditional foods, people getting together – that part of religion or culture or whatever, holidays are great. One of the things that I do is veganize all the recipes. This year I did a vegan gefilte fish and I can’t wait for the Passover holiday to come around again.

LISA KEMMERER: Oh my goodness, good for you! Food advocacy – I love it.

CARYN HARTGLASS: I mean I haven’t seen one of those before except I make it out of almonds and almonds are not very politically correct these days because they are coming from drought lands in California and almonds are getting a rap but –

LISA KEMMERER: That’s okay, almonds have those omega-3’s that we need anyway so –

CARYN HARTGLASS: I’m not down on almonds, it’s just I’m reading so many blog posts about people that are upset about almonds. What do they want us to do, drink milk? Cow’s milk?

LISA KEMMERER: Isn’t it so true that it just so hard, you cannot please everyone. But by golly, that is no excuse not to try to make the changes you’re willing to make against the most horrendous things we’re doing.

CARYN HARTGLASS: So back to religion and that, so the tactic is to speak to religious people and bring up the parts of their religion that have to do with compassion?

LISA KEMMERER: Yeah but that’s all that I do in Animals and World Religions. It goes through each religion and explores the animal-friendly teachings and this isn’t to say I’m looking at some fringe element, these are core teachings. These are foundational teachings. These are teachings that no one in the tradition can ignore. And it also shows, at the end of each chapter I give contemporary activists working in those traditions to bring change for animals because they know it’s part of their tradition.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Now we have the Jewish Vegetarians of North America and we have the Chrtistian Vegetarian Association, do you know of any Muslim Vegetarian Societies?

LISA KEMMERER: Yes, there is!

CARYN HARTGLASS: Oh, good I’ve been looking.

LISA KEMMERER: Islamic Concern, I think what it’s called. And you know, many organizations, I think both PETA and HSUS now have a link where you can click and find out about religious organizations working with animals. Islam is one of the ones I think on both sites, but I also mention them in the book Animals and World Religions. So I’m not real sure but I can certainly look it up so if somebody gets a hold of me and asks or you can also go on the web and find these things but I think it’s Islamic Concern.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Okay I haven’t looked – I looked a few years ago and couldn’t find anything so I think it’s time to look again.

LISA KEMMERER: Yeah and it’s changing. It’s a growing and changing field.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Yeah which is very exciting. We’re moving forward.

LISA KEMMERER: It’s encouraging. And you know, you’ve been in this long enough to know just how discouraging it could be.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Yeah. Yes I do. So you’re in Montana.

LISA KEMMERER: I am. Talk about discouraging.

CARYN HARTGLASS: And there is a vegan restaurant, isn’t there? If not more than one.

LISA KEMMERER: Well there’s certainly not one where I live in Billings, Montana, the biggest city.

CARYN HARTGLASS: There isn’t one.

LISA KEMMERER: There’s not even a vegetarian restaurant.


LISA KEMMERER: Now this is Billings, Montana. Its possible Missoula –

CARYN HARTGLASS: I think it is Missoula. How far is that?

LISA KEMMERER: Yeah they might have a vegetarian one. Five hours drive, six.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Oh yeah it’s a big state.

LISA KEMMERER: Big state. Yeah. Lot of different between buildings and, yeah.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Okay so it’s not very veg-friendly there.

LISA KEMMERER: Well you know it’s changing. It is definitely changing. I’ve now been here more than a decade and I have 35 students per class, I probably have every semester 100-120 students and there is no class where I don’t cover all of these facets of animal exploitation and it’s been long enough – there have been changes. I can see it when I go grocery shopping. There’s a new grocery store downtown and it actually has all of the vegan products – it’s so exciting. It just opened.


LISA KEMMERER: So more and more I’m seeing that there’s sensitivity to the fact that there is a market for these things here in Billings, Montana.

CARYN HARTGLASS: That’s so good. Now do your students know what they’re getting when they sign up for your classes?

LISA KEMMERER: I assume some of them do.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Do you surprise some of them with information that you teach?

LISA KEMMERER: Of course I do. And especially early on before I had a reputation. I had one guy come in and sit down and say ‘I can’t wait to get to the animal part’. He could not wait. He was one of the exploiters. By the time we got to the animal part he knew he had nothing to say because I had built a platform on which he could not, he knew there was no –

CARYN HARTGLASS: Wow. Did he think he was going to have a debate with you?

LISA KEMMERER: Yeah he thought he was going to show me how wrong I was. And he just lost his oomph as time went on.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Wow. This is the power of education and we need it everywhere.

LISA KEMMERER: It is so exciting! The people that have the degrees – there’s actually Animal Studies programs – it’s so exciting! There’s now – the education, yes, just as activists we all need it. There’s now degrees in animal studies and there’s courses so we’ll have more and more teachers out there who know this stuff and their students aren’t going to slip through without hearing it. Yeah, and it’s going to be good for animals but it’s going to be good for the environment and it’s going to be good for people. I continually think you know you mentioned people spending energy, too much energy on Facebook and I think we are capable of so much greatness and we are wasting our time.

LISA KEMMERER: I swear our culture encourages us or wants us to.

CARYN HARTGLASS: To waste our time.

LISA KEMMERER: Yes. Not – we’re not causing trouble when we’re on Facebook.

CARYN HARTGLASS: We could be accomplishing things that aren’t even imaginable because we haven’t gotten to that place. But we could – I mean just thinking of what we’ve done in the last 50 years is amazing and the next 10 are going to be incredible if, well…

LISA KEMMERER: I really want to tell young people put your gadgets down. Be in the real world. Talk to people who are present. And I know that the internet gives us the ability to have lots of information and to connect with others far away and some of my friends say ‘You know it would be easier for you to be in Billings if you connected with vegans all around the world’. And I know it’s true but I’m connecting with people in Billings and it’s how I bring change. And yes sometimes it’s depressing and lonely and I sometimes do need to and will connect with people outside and with my vegan friends elsewhere. But I just think we spend much too much time on just not dealing with real people in our real space having our own real lives and I don’t think that’s helpful to our movement.

CARYN HARTGLASS: I agree and hopefully it’s going to change. But Lisa, thank you for spending this half hour with me. I really enjoyed it and I hope to get to meet you sometime and I’m looking forward to Eating Earth, that’s going to be a great book I know it.

LISA KEMMERER: Thank you and thank you for all the good that you do. And wonderful to talk with you.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Okay and say Guten Tag to everyone in Luxemburg when you get there.

LISA KEMMERER: Shall do. Will do. Take care.

CARYN HARTGLASS: Okay. Thank you.


CARYN HARTGLASS: Bye bye. Well that was great. That was Lisa Kemmerer, and we’re going to take a little break now and be back with the Esselstyn’s, Dr. Esselstyn, Ann Esselstyn and their daughter Jane talking about the Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease cookbook. Stay with me.

Transcribed October 14, 2014 by Alissa Moody


Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody, we’re back. I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food here on September 2nd, 2014. I want to bring on my next guests. We’ve got the Esselstyns, talking about the new The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook. So who have I got there?

Jane Esselstyn: You’ve got Jane and Ann, and I believe my dad’s on the phone as well.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay so you’re Jane?

Jane Esselstyn: I’m Jane.

Ann Esselstyn: And I’m Ann.

Caryn Hartglass: And Ann. I’m trying to differentiate the sound of the different voices. And Dr. Esselstyn?

Dr. Esselstyn: Yes, thank you.

Ann Esselstyn: You can tell it’s him.

Caryn Hartglass: I can and that resonant baritone voice. How are you all doing?

Jane Esselstyn: Well we’re great. We’ve been reading about amazing you.

Caryn Hartglass: Amazing me? Well thanks for reading. You know, Ann and Dr. Esselstyn, I met you about ten years ago when I was Executor Director of EarthSave International. I had you come out and speak to my chapters here in New York, and people are still talking about it. You were both so wonderful and made a big difference in a lot of people’s lives, so thank you for that.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: Thank you.

Caryn Hartglass: And you continue to be amazing, so let’s have an amazing half hour shall we?

Ann Esselstyn: Great!

Caryn Hartglass: Okay so you’ve got this great cookbook with lots of easy ways to get people healthy and it’s a continuation of Dr. Esselstyn’s wonderful book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. This is all good news and more people are getting it but unfortunately not everyone is getting it.

Jane Esselstyn: True.

Caryn Hartglass: And this is the frustrating part. I just want to talk briefly about some of the things going on in the world today and then maybe we can get into the delicious recipes you’ve got going to inspire people to do what is so easy, wonderful and good for us. Number one, Dr. Esselstyn; you were part of President Bill Clinton’s move to a healthier diet. That made a lot of press and that was really exciting. But he’s kind of gone… he’s not following your recipes exactly. Dr. Mark Hyman is recommending fish and eggs, and he can’t get quality protein with plant foods. How do you feel about that?

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: Well I respectively disagree.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh good!

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: I think the data are really quite clear that animal protein adds a dimension of injury so that the life jacket and guardian of our blood vessels, which happens to be that single-layer-thick delicate [2:58] called the endothelium. And the endothelium manufactures that absolutely marvelous molecule and gas called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is our great savior but anybody who has cardiovascular disease, whether that’s a stroke or a heart attack – the reason we have it in the first place is they have so-successfully over the preceding decades progressively trashed and injured the endothelial carpet that they no longer have sufficient nitric oxide to really protect themselves. And also, there’s a remarkable separate venue of research from the Cleveland Clinic by Stan Hazen and his team that clearly shows that in people who are omnivores or eating meat posses the type of intestinal bacteria flora that can metabolize those products into a very aggressive, faster disease causing molecule called TMAO.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh I loved that research when it came out.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: So that’s my comment.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, unfortunately people are always looking for a reason to eat animals. Some doctors give them reasons whether they are justified or not unfortunately. Then the other thing is that you probably know the two articles on salt that just came out in the New England Journal of Medicine that are completely contradictory and it’s driving everybody crazy. One said we need between 3000 mg and 6000 mg of salt, and the other one said we should get under 2000 mg.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: Well actually, the body has a remarkable way of preserving sodium in people’s kidneys. Really, you’re probably going to get all the sodium you need with food. On the other hand, if your food is cooked without salt and you think it’s a little flat with flavor, there’s absolutely no harm in sprinkling, using a salt shaker, for a little added salt. You’re not going to get very much at all from that. I’m really not going to get involved in that wrestling match over sodium because that’s really reducing it to what I call, actually what my good friend Colin Campbell calls it, reductionism, where you focus on one single small item.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: The body, when you come right down to it, is a symphony of really hundreds of thousands of reactions going on at all the same time. When you think about the people like the Okinawans who are documented to have the longest-lived citizens of anywhere else on the planet. You just know that they’re not just sitting there every day counting and wrestling with their sodium. They are just eating it, rather what we call sensibly. If you have something that tastes good and is not overloaded with salt, you are probably going to be quite safe.

Caryn Hartglass: Well I really appreciate the fact that in this cookbook you did not include the calorie breakdown and the nutritional breakdown. It’s all part about what you just said. I don’t know how anybody could sit down and prepare a meal thinking about the numbers of what they’re getting and what they’re not getting.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: Eating has to be an absolutely joyous experience and you don’t want to eat with a calculator.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. Okay so let’s talk about the joyous experience here. Now, when did you all start eating this way?

Jane Esselstyn: I know I was just starting college when they started to eat this way so they were probably…

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: April of 1984.

Caryn Hartglass: This is Jane speaking?

Jane Esselstyn: And my dad.

Caryn Hartglass: Right, obviously. So Jane, what was your reaction when this happened?

Jane Esselstyn: Well I had a phone call. I was talking to my brother who was in high school. There are four of us within four years and my brother who was still home said “Mommy and daddy have changed the way we eat around here. No meat, dairy, sugar, fat, oil or salt.” When they first started it was this big swath. Well I just said what are you guys eating then?

Caryn Hartglass: What are you eating?

Jane Esselstyn: It was sort of befuddling at first like it is for most people.

Ann Esselstyn: The amazing thing, this is Ann, is that they all went off to college and they took our breakfast which was oats just without cooking them. You know, dry oats with alternative milk and whatever, and started spreading that among their friends. Incredibly, all our children, all four and all our ten grandchildren, are all plant based. It’s wonderful. When they were growing up, they were nourished and then they drank water.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. Well that’s the way it should be and that’s the way it’s the most successful. My heart goes out to people who want to change their diet but people in their family, their spouse, their children or parents, give them a hard time and don’t support them. So your whole family as a pact is just a great model.

Ann Esselstyn: Thank you.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes!

Ann Esselstyn: One of our nieces was abroad this summer and she was arguing with a family, a very famous rock star and her family, about eating vegan. Just the more she argued the more she became absolutely focused and convinced. It was so cute to have a fifteen year old just fighting out there with people who are clueless.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, clueless.

Ann Esselstyn: Or they were defending what they thought was true and what works for them.

Caryn Hartglass: So there are many people now that are using the word trend with this kind of eating, that it’s very trendy. We know it’s not trendy, in fact…

Ann Esselstyn: How can this be trendy because it’s the same thing? Nothing has changed. It’s been like this how many years? Thirty, I mean there’s no trend.

Caryn Hartglass: I’ve been doing it for almost thirty years myself.

Jane Esselstyn: Well you know it’s so interesting, last night we were watching a documentary about – do you remember the ice man that was found in the glacier maybe a decade or so ago? They recently did some research on him in Europe. My husband was watching this and he’s like “Jane get over here! Look, they found the iceman had calcification in his arteries and that he was lactose intolerant all from his DNA!” And you know what? We aren’t supposed to drink milk. I mean no one past the age of weaning drinks milk. Lactose intolerance is not a disease; it’s how we’ve always been. So that whole part of the equation is not trendy, it’s pretty much the DNA. That this guy was young, hiking around this glacier for whatever reason with heart disease from his diet seemed quite interesting.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes.

Jane Esselstyn: So I’m trying to debunk the trend by saying that for five thousand years this has been the way.

Caryn Hartglass: And when people talk about the Paleo Diet too, which is just crazy because there’s so many different variations of Paleo and so many different ways you can cheat.

Ann Esselstyn: When you look at Paleo bread…

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: I think the thing that is pushing plant based nutrition is that increasingly now, there is really some hard science coming out in cardiovascular disease and how it can be reversed, diabetes and how it can be reversed, obesity and how it can be reversed, and hypertension and how it can be reversed. Just to name a few of those common chronic killing diseases that in truth, never exist with plant based nutrition.

Caryn Hartglass: What do we do, Dr. Esselstyn, with the doctors that don’t know this or don’t support it?

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: Well the interesting thing is that takes a while. For instance tomorrow, I’m giving a ground rounds in a hospital in Akron. Increasingly in the past year I’ve had an opportunity to get cardiology ground rounds in Boston, in New York City, and over the last several years in 19 different academic institutions. The word is out. I think what really is going to crystallize this rapidly is when you have large insurance situation like Kaiser Permanente on the on the west coast and elsewhere. When they really tumble to this and get their constituents to begin to eat plant based food, to protect them from having all these procedures such as stints, bypasses and angioplasty. And all the drugs that are consumed for this disease; when they find that this disease, which is nothing more than a food borne illness cardiovascular disease can be vanquished, their savings will be enormous. Then they will be able to reduce their premiums hopefully.

Caryn Hartglass: Well that’s the American capitalist ways and when it all comes down to the bottom line, that’s how we’re…

Ann Esselstyn: But another think I think and this is Ann. I think the patients in time are going to begin to show the doctors the magic of eating plant based nutrition. I mean so often we hear from patients that my doctor can’t believe it, “Well what are you doing? I’ve never seen this before.” I think there’s a huge teaching possibility in those patients.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes. Now let’s move to delicious foods. I love the dedication. You mentioned all of my favorites, all the dark leafy green vegetables that make up my life. And I really…

Ann Esselstyn: You need to hear that dedication; he can give you that dedication right now.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, this book is dedicated to bok choy, Swiss chard, kale…

Ann Esselstyn: You got to do it, say it.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh yes, okay.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: Bok choy, Swiss chard, kale, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, Napa cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cilantro, parsley, spinach, arugula and asparagus.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s nice; we need to write some music to that now.

Ann Esselstyn: Well my favorite thing, we have the most wonderful Avery Publishing Company and I just love that they put that idea so perfectly out there in that dedication.

Caryn Hartglass: Well I know dark leafy greens saved my life and they’re just a powerful food. I have learned to just love them in so many ways

Ann Esselstyn: And we have lots and lots of recipes in the book with greens incorporated in things like if you’re making pizza, you can put mixed kale in the pizza sauce before you spread it on the first layer of pizza. You don’t even know it’s there because the pasta sauce dominates.

Caryn Hartglass: You can put kale in everything including cake.

Ann Esselstyn: How about kale cake with blueberry frosting? I wanted that on the cover!

Caryn Hartglass: I think that might take a little while for people to try that one but kale goes with everything and it should, why not? Okay, I’m moving through this book here. So one of my favorites; I really like simplicity and when a little light goes on. So you grill pineapple rings?

Ann Esselstyn: Yes.

Caryn Hartglass: What a great idea that is.

Jane Esselstyn: They’re amazingly sweet and surprisingly delicious.

Caryn Hartglass: And putting that with a burger, so good!

Jane Esselstyn: So good! Not the beef burger, but the beet. The cool thing is in the beet burger that they have got the whole beet and all the beet grains in them. They are just the powerhouse of nutrition. And a little bit of hope behind that recipe is that my parents actually were served that beet burger with a grilled pineapple by three college students who were excited about eating a plant based diet and they had a chance to make a meal for my parents. That’s what they made, isn’t that amazing?

Caryn Hartglass: It is amazing but it just takes a little openness.

Jane Esselstyn: Yes.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: When we have guests, I think it’s important to share with you, one of the favorite meals that I first tumbled too when I was really thinking about all of this. It’s so basically simple and it’s simply rice and beans, then a tremendous variety of toppings that you can put on top of that. Everything from tomatoes, peas, corn, water chestnuts and scallions, and top it off with delicious salsa or tamari and you’ve got an absolute feast.

Ann Esselstyn: One of our favorite recipes in the book is something called sofrito black beans with this incredible mango lime salsa. It’s just gorgeous and delicious.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay this is my favorite subject. I love talking about food, I love eating my food, and I love creating new food and reading cookbooks on plant foods. I don’t think there’s anything better on the planet to do with your time. So many people unfortunately don’t cook and don’t want to cook.

Jane Esselstyn: Well they should cook.

Caryn Hartglass: They should. What are we going to do with them? Do we just try and hope they learn where their kitchen is?

Jane Esselstyn: Well I haven’t pointed out the amount of time they have had to have their nails done or watch the sixteen shows that they’ve been watching or the tattoo of the Last Supper on their back they had just printed up. They have time. The priority sometimes takes a skillet to the head to get you into the kitchen. Something happens or you certainly don’t like the feeling or the shape or the size or the pathology of what’s happening with your body. For some people, it’s like any change – some people are just go off the cliff. Some people make their way there.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, cooking and preparing food does affect your nails and how they look.

Ann Esselstyn: Well you know what I think. I do think that young people today, especially males, are so much more into cooking than when I was young.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes.

Ann Esselstyn: I mean unfortunately my husband isn’t a cook. He’s a fabulous dishwasher which makes up for it but our grandchildren, our older grandchildren, are cooking and that’s cool.

Caryn Hartglass: Well it’s really important to find the kitchen and learn how to make a few meals. Not just because it’s good for you, because it is, but I think it also helps to understand what goes into your food and know what you’re eating. People don’t even know what’s in their food.

Jane Esselstyn: Yes I mean what was Michael Pollan’s recent book… Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation?

Caryn Hartglass: I don’t remember the title.

Jane Esselstyn: Just get in the kitchen. I was like “right on, he’s right!”

Caryn Hartglass: Now what do you do when you are going out to eat.

Ann Hartglass: What makes you think we go out to eat?

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, somebody travels in this family…

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: There are three reasons to go out to eat. One, is you don’t have to do the dishes; two, is the ambiance; and three, is the companionship. But you never ever go out to further destroy your endothelial cells.

Jane Caldwell: No, but let me say that more and more you can get wonderful food when you go out. We also have found that if we’re going somewhere that is a fairly good place, if you call ahead, they will shock you with what they can create. One of our favorite places is just the Currito Burrito at the Cleveland Airport where we can get rice, beans, broccoli, corn and just a whole pile of good things.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s right. As long as you know what to leave out, a burrito is an incredible food.

Jane Caldwell: Well I don’t even get the bread; I just get it in a bowl.

Caryn Hartglass: Well there you go.

Ann Caldwell: It’s just wonderful. I mean I look forward to going to the airport.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay now, one of the things that you’re known for in The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook is the fat. No oils and little or no nuts.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: Well the problem with the oils is that the oils would, there are actually some excellent peer-reviewed scientific publications. Oils have been shown to injure endothelial cells. We’ve seen it with patients when we want to stop the oil, often we will see their chest pain rapidly begin to disappear. So we certainly don’t want to have people consuming something that is going to injure them. Especially when you think about, there is really no mineral in oil, no fiber in oil and maybe a tiny bit of vitamin E but other than that, oil is fat. And the fat is dangerous fats. Now the other thing you mentioned was nuts. Now here I will confess to being guilty. When my patients have so-injured their endothelial cell mass that they can’t make enough nitric oxide to protect themselves, the actual additional saturated fats that comes from nuts, it’s something I certainly don’t want them to have. The problem with that is, how many people do you know will eat one nut? In other words, if I ever said people should have one nut, that’s not what they would hear. It will be Dr.Esselstyn said nuts are fine.

Caryn Hartglass: And it will open the can…

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: So they’re in the glove compartment, the work bench, the bathroom, the bedroom, the kitchen and everywhere. They’re in all kinds of food. I have never felt guilty in asking people not to eat nuts.

Ann Esselstyn: But you know what, in our book, there are no nuts.

Jane Esselstyn: There are no nuts. We are adhering to that guideline. No nuts in any of the sauces or dressings or recipes. We don’t need them.

Ann Esselstyn: I think it really separates our book from everything that’s out there today. I mean that two-thirds a cup of cashews will make a creamy sauce. But we don’t have that and you don’t miss it. We have really amazing things without those nuts.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: It always comes down to what are the outcomes. What are you getting for results? We just published in July our results with some two-hundred patients and the 90% who were adherent to our program. These patients who were ill, with advanced cardiovascular disease, totally vanquished any recurrence of their disease and 99.4% of the patients over the next close to four years.

Jane Esselstyn: And they did so by eating this way. So that’s why we thought we had to write this book. We had to get more recipes out there because honestly, we have gotten better and better with our recipes and our flavor profiles the longer we’ve eaten this way. The only reason we can eat this way, as a family of twenty people now, is because it’s easy, it tastes great and it’s not a burden. Yes, it’s loaded into our hard drives, into our minds and our kitchens but it’s just so simple.

Caryn Hartglass: Well I know that the people, when you tell them not to eat animal foods, that’s like one step, what am I going to eat? I can’t imagine not eating this, that and the other thing. Then when you say no oil, a lot of people just freak out. “What! No oil?” But it’s not hard to do and it’s just all benefits.

Ann Esselstyn: I agree, we have got and I think a truly exciting chapter. I don’t even know how many salad dressings because I think once you’ve figured out a salad dressing that you like that has got no oil in it, you are set. First of all, just imagine the calories that you’re not having if your thinking that way. That is just a triumph I think in this book, just an amazing variety of salad dressings.

Caryn Hartglass: The more I restrict from my diet, the more varied it comes.

Jane Esselstyn: Well said!

Caryn Hartglass: Which seems kind of counterintuitive but it’s so true.

Jane Esselstyn: It can open you wide up to everything that’s out there when you turn yourself the other way.

Caryn Hartglass: Hello herbs, spices and vinegars, and all the fruits and vegetables that are out there.

Jane Esselstyn: Don’t get my mom going on vinegars, oh my goodness. She is like the acid queen; vinegar on everything!

Caryn Hartglass: The acid queen!

Jane Esselstyn: But we discovered the flavored vinegars and they’ve become the salt.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, actually sometimes, aside from ume shiso vinegar which is just loaded with salt, vinegar can taste salty in a way when you are used to not having salt.

Jane Esselstyn: Or sweet. It occupies your tongue. Your tongue is happy when it gets a hit.

Caryn Hartglass: Well we’ve come to the end and I really appreciate having the family here on the show today, you are all wonderful.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: Thank you.

Caryn Hartglass: Thank you so much.

Ann Esselstyn: Well you’ve been wonderful!

Jane Esselstyn: You’re wonderful, thank you.

Caryn Hartglass: We’re all wonderful!

Ann Esselstyn: I think it’s how we eat.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, I totally agree. When you love your food, you’re just full of love. Okay, take care.

Jane Esselstyn: Thanks, bye-bye.

Caryn Hartglass: Thanks. Well that was the Esselstyns; Ann Esselstyn, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and their daughter Jane Esselstyn. I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’ve been listening to It’s All About Food. Join me at, that’s where I live. Send me an email at and remember, have a delicious week.

Transcribed by Stefan Pavlović, 10/17/2014

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