Paul Chatlin

Dr. Esselstyn Interview


Paul Chatlin, Founder of Plant-Based Nutrition Support Group (PBNSG)

By:  Char Nolan

Paul Chatlin,  is a true friend and lifesaver to all.  But, it could be that he is just giving back.  His story of chronic, debilitating, chest pain, and the diagnosis of coronary artery disease will stop you in your tracks, just as it did to Paul.

Paul’s story really begins in May of 2013 when his chronic chest pain had reached its peak.  Paul knew that he needed to find out the cause.

Here’s how the story goes, in Paul’s own words:

I knew I was not well. I had to take a break to catch my breath every 10 steps or so. I felt the pressure on my chest every morning.

I started not wanting to wake up because I knew what was next. After a period of time the pain would stop and I would move on with my day, but now I had to make many, many more stops to rest.

I was more sad than depressed and scared to what was going to happen to me. What happened to my family growing up was now happening to me.”

After months and months of angina, chest pain grew in intensity, and duration.  Paul knew that something needed to be done, but fear can often become a detour to reality.  Paul’s instincts, and a caring wife, knew that he needed to get to the hospital.  He was feeling “really bad, the kind of bad when you know something was NOT right.”

Here’s What Paul Did to Turn Things Around:

“With the help of my wife, Tracey,  she spoke to her bosses who were able to get me an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic in just 3 weeks, (miracle #1).

I was then assigned to a cardiologist whose mentor just happened to be Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (how lucky was I?).  With all of the cardiologists working at the Cleveland Clinic, I got assigned to the ONE doctor who understood Plant Based Nutrition and whose mentor was Dr. Esselstyn, ( miracle #2).

Then, just after my heart catheterization (when they finally found out what my problem was), my doctor called Dr. Esselstyn while I was in the recovery room (still on a gurney) and said “Hi Essy, this is Mazen, I think I have a patient for you.”

He handed me the phone, and I heard, “Hi Paul, this is Dr. Esselstyn. I think I can help you. So go on home and I will call you first thing in the morning,( miracle #3).

The next day at 8 a.m., Dr. Esselstyn called, and that’s when I started my deep love and respect for him.”

According to Paul, If you’ve ever had angina,  “ it feels like very heavy pressure on your chest and you are very short of breath.”

Chatlin shares that a cardiac catheterization revealed  he had 100% blocked artery, and two others were blocked at 65%.  Other cardiac conditions also complicated this situation.

His cardiologist gave him two options, by-pass surgery, or try a plant-based diet.  That’s when he met Dr. Esselstyn , and after that meeting, Paul decided to follow the pillars of Dr. Esselstyn’s book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

Paul reported  that after just three short  weeks, his angina disappeared.  Within one year,  his cholesterol levels dropped from 309 to 122, and now at 57, he  has lost 43 pounds and maintained the loss.  He reports his energy is sky rocketing and he feels the picture of vitality and hope

Then Paul decided to do something unique and give back by reaching out to help others and  created the “Plant-Based Nutrition Support Group(PBNSG).”  Michigan-based, and only two years old, PBNSG has nearly 2000 members, and promotes plant-based nutrition through meetings, seminars, and more.  As founder, he has his own posse of followers and they are all getting healthier, one forkful of kale at a time.

We asked Paul “five easy questions” and his responses are heartfelt, warm, and filled with hope.

CN :  What was your “ah-ha” moment to embrace a whole-foods, plant-based, no-oil lifestyle?

PC:  My Ah-ha moment was at the Cleveland Clinic, on that gurney, just after finding out (through a heart catheterization) that I had one artery 100% blocked and 2 others blocked at 65%. That’s when I found out about Dr. Esselstyn and his program at the Wellness Institute.

CN:  What are three benefits of living a plant-based lifestyle?

PC:  1) More energy; 2) Better for both animals and our planet ; 3) Allowed me NOT to have by-pass surgery. You see, all the men in my family have had by-pass surgery when they were in their 50’s.  Some of my uncles were never the same post-operatively.  I watched my father cry in pain for 3-4 days from surgery.

CN:  What would you tell a young Paul Chatlin about following Dr. Esselstyn’s diet?

PC:   If I knew then what I know now, I would tell a young Paul Chatlin to start making the change slowly. I would have added more vegetables, beans, fruits and whole grains into my diet.

CN:  Your vision for PBNSG is amazing, tell us how it started!

PC:   When I started Plant Based Nutrition Support Group, I contacted 150 cardiologists at the three biggest hospitals in my area. I got one call back. Once again,  I knew that something was wrong and decided not to  continue and hope for changes with established physicians. I started giving my attention to future doctors.

My friend Karen Frazier (who was directing our Facebook activities)  told me about a few Wayne State Medical Students that had a real interest in Plant-Based Nutrition. A few weeks later I met with medical students Amanda Martin and Brittany Vanhouten. I saw such a passion for health from them that together we decided to try to update and improve the nutritional curriculum at Wayne State University. To date we have been approved for 2 hours of plant-based nutrition education.

PBNSG offers CME credits to both doctors and nurses.  We are working with fourteen  1st and 2nd year students from five universities, including,  University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, Oakland University and Eastern Michigan.

CN:  You’ve prepared a bountiful and delicious plant-based dinner, you invite four people to dinner, who are they?

PC:     Always first is my mother, who passed away at a young age and suffered far too long.  

2nd– My father- we were not that close- he was from the old-school of working two jobs to provide us with a better life. He was never around me growing up,  so I would like to have a second chance with him.

3rd– Buddha- his teachings were spread peacefully

4th– Dr. Esselstyn-he saved my life and those lives of so many others today and in the future. The world should honor him,  but it may take longer for him to receive his due. 

If I could have a 5th (not whiskey) I would have Robin Williams because he could always make me laugh, which is something I wish I could do more of.

Just very recently, Dr. Esselstyn and Ann Crile Esselstyn traveled to Detroit to participate in a seminar at Wayne State University School of Medicine.  Medical students were eager to learn about the pillars of a plant-based diet and its relevance to the reversal and prevention of heart disease.

Paul’s vision from his experience and recovery from coronary artery disease reminds me of the movie, Field of Dreams.  Those famous words, “build it and they will come” underscore Paul’s insights to create a group that is changing people’s lives and helping all to reach better health outcomes.

But, most of all, we are in admiration of Paul and how he embraced a plant-based diet, not only change his own life, but also to improve the lives of others.

It Is Not Enough!

“The natural healing force in each one of us is the greatest force in getting well!”  

I made a change to a plant-based lifestyle over five years ago and in that time I have been learning, listening and thinking about Plant-Based Nutrition. I would like to share some of my thoughts with you.


1.         It is NOT easy! Sure I know it’s the food that saved me from having bypass surgery. I think about that every day. Yet, even knowing that, temptation and social pressures are everywhere. It is so easy to eat the foods that caused my ill health. They are everywhere. But when it comes down to it, it is a choice I make every day, every hour and sometimes every minute. Free will is what separates us as well as challenges us. What drives me though is how I feel every day. I feel GREAT. And that is how I resist temptation. That thought has given me great peace of mind about crossing the food line. But while it gets me through the day, IT IS NOT ENOUGH!

2.         The world is not set up for universal health change. I think, “What would we have to do to tip the scales?” Human health improvement? Compassion toward animals? Environmental change? Each one by themselves is worthy. Each one by themselves should be enough for change but even as a collective, IT IS NOT ENOUGH!

3.         Our Plant Based leaders and researchers have the science and they share the message that clearly proves Plant-Based Nutrition is the best choice for us. I deeply love each one of them! Yet, for the majority, IT IS NOT ENOUGH!

4.         Hospitals - places of healing - put profits ahead of health. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? We are all thankful for the pills and procedures that can help us. After all, Plant-Based Nutrition can’t set a broken leg. But why not try nutrition as the first line of defense for improved health before ingesting a pill or having surgery? Sounds simple, but there is no profit in it. Change is so slow and while I respect those institutions for slowly acknowledging the benefits of healthier eating, IT IS NOT ENOUGH!

5.         Doctors - I have so much respect to those committed to healing. I have seen firsthand the workload needed to become a doctor. It overwhelmed me! Yet, they are part a system that cares more about profit than people. Not every doctor, or course, but many. Really how is it possible for a doctor to help a patient in less than 10 minutes? How many times have I heard, “I wasn’t taught that in medical school.” Enough already! We all want to think that the major reason doctors became doctors is to help us improve our health. If that is so, then they must be our voice to the world. Nutrition must be their first choice. Take a class, learn, ask questions. IT IS NOT ENOUGH!

6.         Schools - what is wrong with teaching our future generations about proper nutrition? Give them the responsibility and enjoyment that comes from growing a garden. We must protect our planet! It is the only one we have. If we give students the right message early it will never be forgotten. But even if we do this, IT IS NOT ENOUGH!

7.         Who will be the next Dr. Campbell or Dr. Esselstyn? We must continue to show scientifically that this is the way we were meant to eat. To sustain our message, we need a new generation of young leaders. So far, IT IS NOT ENOUGH!

8.         Let’s start to look inside ourselves - It’s interesting that I start every discussion with, “Please raise your hand if you love or know someone who is obese, has heart disease or diabetes.” Everyone raises their hand. The system is broken. What will it take to fix?  There are many great movies and books written about our health. Yet, more and more people are getting sick. Our efforts should be concentrated in building sustainable support groups throughout our nation. Perhaps then, our voices would be heard. Always remember that you must meet people where they are. Encourage small changes if that’s what is needed– big changes if they are up to it. No Judgment! But still,  IT IS NOT ENOUGH!

What is needed to stimulate global health improvement?

1.         Global funding. The great majority of advocates for nutrition before pills or procedures have said to me, “With more funding, so much more could be accomplished.” Why should scientists be held back from proving what is the optimal health plan?  We should never accept that we are dying slower. What is bad about feeling great every day? 

2.         We speak with One voice- let’s spend our time sharing our similarities and not our differences? A backbone organization - duplication of organizations and resources is slowing advancements. It takes time to post educational information. It takes time to coordinate schedules for speakers (live streaming should be our solution.) It takes time to view websites. I can go on and on but a central location is the solution.

3.         One area that MUST be acknowledged and discussed much deeper is behavior. I know this first hand. Why I am still tempted to eat chocolate? Why do I still yearn for pizza? I understand that fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains make me healthy, reduce pain, and keep my weight down, but temptation has never left me. Not for one moment. We must change our behavior.

I dream of a day when all who are committed to a global health change are working together. I will not stop until everyone understands the benefits of nutritional health. TOGETHER AS ONE! WE CHOOSE HEALTH!

_ Paul Chatlin, Founder PBNSG

Maybe I’m Amazed

The song Maybe I’m Amazed by Paul McCartney has meant a lot to me over the years. I cannot say I love the melody, but the lyrics have always held a deeper meaning with me. I know the song is about a man letting his woman know how much he loves her – how lost he would be without her. Hope, love and fear are also a part of the song.

I feel that way about Plant Based Nutrition Support Group. I’m amazed at the growth of PBNSG. Over 2300 members in just over 2 years. People come up and congratulate me, yet it really saddens me that so many kind and caring people are so unhappy with their health. This message of health improvement must be shouted across the country by every doctor who ever practiced, yet we hear just a whisper.  

I do feel afraid of the way I love PBNSG back. But I still do it with hard work, nutritional dedication, and financial investment, knowing that without your love, your time and your financial assistance, this great and much needed group and message may take a different direction –  which would make me feel like a lonely man, a man who’s in the middle of something that he doesn’t really understand. Why don’t more people get it?

I personally ask myself, how did I get so lucky to get into the Cleveland Clinic and be assigned to a doctor whose mentor was Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn? Had this not happened, I would have a 10-inch scar on my chest and more, still be on the same diet that got me sick in the first place. There would be no PBNSG and I would not have met all of the amazing people I have so far. I am amazed at the way I really need you. All of you!

We can all improve our health and save the planet at the same time. Future doctors, nurses, dentists, dietitians and nutritionists can all learn the absolute benefits of Plant Based Nutrition during their 1st and 2nd years in medical school and college. New doctors and medical professionals will be able to help people with nutritional options before resorting to pills and procedures.

You see I need everyone to help me sing this song. To right me when I am wrong. Maybe I’m amazed at the way I really need you.

Please help PBNSG continue their mission by donating, volunteering and spreading our message. Together we must be ONE. Continue to amaze me.

- Paul Chatlin

Driving with the Giants

I recently had the honor of spending 2 full days with Dr. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. The moments and conversations we shared over those two days have provided memories that will last a lifetime. These are truly the pioneers of Plant Based Nutrition in the modern era. They have saved so many lives, educated so many people, are tireless workers, and so darn smart and kind! They are very different from each other, yet both have a passion for truth and healing. They approach life scientifically. Both men have a deep affection for their wives and family and they both hope to see a day when the world understands the benefits of plant based nutrition. I was so fortunate to be among them and I hope they felt the same with our Plant Based Nutrition Support Group. Each one spent time with students in two different medical schools. Combined they reached over 350 future doctors. Their message was similar. Educate your patients on the benefits of a Plant Based Diet. Both Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn spoke to PBNSG from a scientific standpoint and they received many standing ovations because everyone in the attendance understands who they are, what they have accomplished and that they are both treasures in our movement.

PBNSG’s mission is to educate our nation, and beyond, on the benefits of a plant based lifestyle. It is an uphill battle worth fighting. Recently at a PBNSG meeting, we asked the audience to stand if they or someone they knew had heart disease, diabetes or obesity. The entire audience stood up. This must stop! I think the only way to do it is to change our current model. I believe it should start with all future doctors, then our children. Upon sharing this hope for change with both Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn, they both smiled and agreed that this approach could be the answer for humans, as well as animals and the environment. It will take time. We all must work together. Put aside our petty differences and work for a common goal. Many leading nutritionists say “I am hoping physicians include education before pills and procedures”!

I hope to be among these giants again. I am lucky to have had heart disease! It has been 3 years of plant based eating. No surgery and I feel great. I promised our Lord that if I got better I would give back. You all know those type of promises we make. I have made some in the past but did not always hold up my end of the bargain. This time I did. How about you?

“If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants.” 
― Isaac Newton


This is How it Started...

You are on a gurney at Cleveland Clinic, awaiting surgery. You have just completed a heart catherization.  Your doctor asks you, “Would you consider an option other than surgery?”
That was me, only 2 years ago. He didn’t have to ask twice. I decided right then NOT to undergo triple bypass surgery. After all, why would my cardiologist even suggest it if it would hurt me? That decision put me on a path of learning everything I could about Plant Based Nutrition. I started by buying Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and purchased the movie Forks over Knives. I now understood the science behind plant based nutrition. 
My next move was to take most of the food I had in the pantry and give it to charity. Next, I made a list from Ann Esselstyn’s safe food list and went to my local grocery store. I had never read labels before, but here I was, reading every ingredient I was consuming. I could not believe how many names there are for oil and how much oil there is in the foods I had been eating. Before I changed my eating habits, a normal grocery store trip would take about one hour – this one took me three.  My plant based life had started. 
I learned over time to spend more time on the perimeter of grocery stores and skip the middle aisles. I continued to learn more about label reading. I tried to buy the canned goods that had the lowest amount of fat. No salt or sugar whenever possible. It took me about 5 trips to the grocery store to feel comfortable about my food choices. 
One of my goals was to pick a grocery store, introduce myself to the store manager, and share my story to enlist their help to make the store a one stop shop for my Plant Based Needs. I also suggest you find out what days the produce arrives in your local store so you can make sure to get the freshest fruits and vegetables. Soon I would start buying Plant Based Cookbooks and try cooking meals that appealed to me. 
My next goal was to find a breakfast that I could enjoy every day and a big salad to graze on during the day. In my next article I will share with you the ingredients of both my breakfast and lunch. I have also started playing around with spices. This has taken a long time but it’s so worth it. Today we have so many great recipes on  Take the time to check out our Plant Based website for great culinary ideas. This is how it started for me. How about YOU? 


Why Dr. Michael Greger so Important to PBNSG and Me

There are many reasons why Dr. Michael Greger is so important to PBNSG and me. Here are a few:
 1) He is brilliant, funny and a great speaker
2) I have listened more to him than all other Plant Based Nutrition speakers combined
3) Dr. Greger will be the first in a long series of Plant Based Speakers to grace our stage in 2015-2016  
4) He does his homework and is always prepared.

There is more I can say about this wonderful man. I get a sense of kindness about him yet have not met him

What I do know is that in 21 days Dr. Michael Greger will be on stage talking to our Plant Based Nutrition Support Group. I do not,  no I will not miss this opportunity and hope all of us feel that way. When a speaker like Dr. Greger is willing to travel to talk to us then I feel we should thank him with a sellout of seats. I hope that every year he will come to talk to PBNSG. I hope his words change lives make people take pause and start thinking of their own health. We all hope for a  healthier family, friends, and others we care for. This is how life changing Dr. Michael Greger is and you are all invited. Click HERE to find out more and to reserve your seats now.  Thank you for reading this and I hope so see all of you on December 15, 2015 6:30 p.m. Birmingham Groves High School.

Happiest of Plantsgiving to all PBNSG members!
Please say no to oil and give everyone you love hugs!