Esselstyn Foundation March Newsletter

What is the COVID-19 Crisis Telling Us?
Brian C. Hart, M.Ed.
Executive Director


Never before has whole food, plant-based nutrition been more important.

Dear Supporters,

These are crazy days, right? Schools closing, kids home from college, businesses shuttered, retirement communities in crisis, store shelves stripped of basics. It is the stuff of dystopian science fiction. COVID-19 seems to be wreaking havoc on the world as I write. Our hearts goes out to any and all suffering in the midst of this pandemic.

However, like all crises, there are lessons to learn, conclusions to draw that can help us in the future.

Simply put, while our governments, rightly so, are focused on containing, testing, and quarantining, I find myself reflecting on the work of Esselstyn Foundation.

Lesson #1: Animal Consumption is Problematic

It is likely that COVID-19 was an animal-based influenza that jumped to humans in what are called “wet markets” in Wuhan, China. According to the United Nations, these poorly regulated markets mix the sale of both legal and illegal species. Disease and animal cruelty tend to thrive in these settings. They provide perfect conditions for outbreaks.

In fact, most public health scares involving food are connected to bacterial contamination from animal agriculture. As well, it is critical to remember that SARS, the Swine Flu/H1N1, and AIDS all have similar origin stories in animal agriculture and/or animal markets.

Never before has avoiding animal products seemed like such a right move.

Lesson #2: We All Need to Age Well

As we now know, COVID 19 seems to be especially dangerous for older adults, especially those with weakened immune systems and compromised health situations. 1.5 million adults live in nursing homes in this country, many of them struggling with lifestyle-related

diseases that weaken the immune system, such as CVD, cancer, and auto-immune conditions. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “Nutrition is a critical determinant of immune responses and malnutrition the most common cause of immunodeficiency worldwide.”

We know plant-based eating allows us to live vibrant and active lives well into our 70s and 80s, but now it appears even more important that we eat this way to make sure our immune systems are operating at full capacity. Eat those greens!

Lesson #3: We Are Interdependent and Interconnected

Choices we make in our daily lives affect the world, like it or not. When I wash my hands in Ohio, I may be sparing a life in New York. The same goes for containment practices: what South Korea does affects health in Europe; cancelling a sporting event in California can save lives in Iowa. We must not only embrace this concept fully, we must act on it.

Times like these are a sobering reminder that we have responsibilities to ALL those around us. Food choice is no different.

One of the Foundation’s slogans is “Change what is on your fork. Change the world.” It is my hope that this global thinking sustains itself well past the COVID-19 crisis. We need to remember our interconnectedness, our shared humanity, if we are to improve the nation’s health, not to mention the health of the entire planet.

Personal choices matter.

These are difficult times. Never before has our mission to spread the good word about plant-based eating seemed more important. Thank you for making this possible with your generous donations and ongoing support.

Stay healthy!

Onward with Plants and Love,


Click here to read the entire newsletter:

Esselstyn Fdn March Newsltr

or here to visit the Esselstyn Family Foundation website


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