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Rip Esselstyn

Episode 39, Fighting Disease with a Plant-Strong Diet

There are dragons on dining tables across the country wreaking havoc on human health. “Plant-strong” advocate Rip Esselstyn is intent on slaying them. The former world-class triathlete and firefighter turned food advocate has become an influential voice on the benefits of a plant-based diet. According to Esselstyn, it will not only improve human health and longevity—it may just save the planet.

A Sonic Journey

by Nelda Sue Yaw with Steve Roach | Nelda Live!

Americans are the sickest and most overweight people in the world according to Rip Esselstyn. It’s a crisis that he is working to influence. As a former firefighter and elite professional athlete, Esselstyn has always invested in his health with a vegan diet. His metamorphosis into a health activist and food author all began with a bet at his Austin, Texas fire station. He challenged his Engine 2 Firehouse to follow what he has coined as a “plant-strong” diet for 28 days. The results were so impressive that he documented them in his best-selling book The Engine 2 Diet. Esselstyn’s experiment fueled his desire to show the connection between a plant-based diet and good health.

You’re going to feel the figure in your body, your cholesterol is going to look so sexy, your skin is going to radiate and shine, and you’re going to have a kick in your step.

Since that firehouse challenge, Rip Esselstyn has published three more books, Plant-Strong (2014), The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet (2017), and The Engine 2 Cookbook (2018). He executive produced a documentary film on the topic and founded the organization Engine 2, which develops and implements programs to educate and nurture plant-strong living. Rip Esselstyn also hosts the popular Plant Strong Podcast.

Says Esselstyn, medical professionals don’t get enough nutritional training and consumers don’t get enough information. “The five-headed chronic Western disease dragon is heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and obesity—a whole-food plant-based diet is singularly the silver bullet that can truly help.” Esselstyn adds, “It’s literally all because of what we’re putting into our mouths, the processed refined foods, the animal products, the animal byproducts—these are weak, problematic, and insidiously destructive foods.”

Rip Esselstyn describes his plant-strong diet as “a vegan diet with cajones.” It omits meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and processed foods. It includes “plants as close to fully grown as possible that are minimally processed.”

The benefits go beyond immediate health. According to Esselstyn, research is indicating a positive impact on human longevity and aging. “A whole-food plant-based diet is the only way of eating that has been shown to actually lengthen telomeres that are responsible for our lifespan.” There is also a growing body of evidence that the health of the planet is also at stake. “Animal agriculture is the number one contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions.”

After more than twenty years into his mission to promote plant-based nutrition, Esselstyn isn’t surprised that it is taking time for people to embrace this way of eating. “How many studies had to come out before the American public (realized) smoking isn’t good for them? It took over 7,000 studies and almost 30 years before the medical community got behind that. It’s the same thing with eating this way.”

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What you’ll learn

  • How Esselstyn’s days as a firefighter revealed the health crisis in America (2:15)
  • The difference between being vegan and eating a plant-strong diet (12:15)
  • The firehouse bet that started Rip Esselstyn’s journey as an advocate for plant-strong lifestyles (14:57)
  • Getting your B12 without beef (22:15)
  • Why lean organic chicken is still not a healthy choice (24:13)
  • Getting omega-3 without salmon (25:30)
  • Why you don’t need eggs in your diet (26:24)
  • Why you don’t need milk as a calcium source for healthy bones (27:12)
  • Why cheese is “dairy crack” (28:30)
  • Getting prebiotics and probiotics without yogurt (30:06)
  • Starting children early on a plant-strong diet (34:39)
  • How most American children are not getting adequate daily fiber (34:46)
  • Why Keto diets are unhealthy parlor tricks (42:30)
  • How a plant-based diet is the only way of eating that impacts longevity (44:35)

Resources

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