by Rip Esselstyn
Former professional triathlete turned EMT/fireman, Rip Esselstyn, became famous after his 2009 book titled “The Engine 2 Diet” reached the New York Times Best Seller List. The Engine 2 Diet is a plant-based diet which emphasizes whole foods was created while Rip was working as a fireman. One of Esselstyn’s co-workers discovered that he had a dangerously high cholesterol level of 344 so Esselstyn’s and his whole team agreed to go on a vegan diet for 28 days to help him lower it. The results were so impressive that Esselstyn named the diet and wrote a book about it.
In the four years since “The Engine 2 Diet” was published, Esselstyn has retired from firefighting and joined Whole Foods as a member of their “Healthy Eating Partners” who raise awareness about the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle. His vast knowledge and entertaining style have made him one of the nation’s most well-known speakers on the subject.
In his work as an advocate, Rip obviously encounters a lot of people with concerns and questions. One of the subjects that came up a lot was how to handle detractors when you go vegan. One case in particular influenced him to write “My Beef With Meat” which is, simply put, ammunition for responding to these people. In addition to a lot of valuable information, he also includes a ton of recipes. In fact, the entire second half is all recipes. He says that if someone is just too stubborn to listen to facts, maybe some great food will win them over.
The first half of the book is really condensed. Each and every paragraph seems to be packed with information, stories and startling facts. My family was laughing while I read this book because I kept making “Wow! listen to this…” announcements. Each chapter covers a different point that meat-eaters often bring up in discussions about vegan diets. Before this, I had been reading a LOT about vegan diets but still had a few questions that remained unanswered. One example is “why can you get vitamin B12 from animals but not from plants?”. Sure enough, Esselstyn explained it better than anything else that I have read. Some other examples are “why is grilling meat so unhealthy?”, “what’s wrong with meat from a local, free range farm?”, “aren’t soy products bad for you?” and of course, “I lost 20 lbs. on the Paleo diet and I feel great, why don’t you eat less carbohydrates like me?”. Being a vegan since the 80’s, Rip has heard them all and provides the perfect response to each of these questions.
One of the things that really separates Esselstyn from others is his complete lack of fear when it comes to speaking frankly about anything and everything pertaining to health. Bowl movements, private parts, gas, etc… Nothing is off-limits. By the way, his sister Jane (who is also an RN, vegan and sex-ed instructor) takes over for the women’s side of the discussion.
I haven’t gone through all of the recipes yet but the information portion of this book is less than 140 pages and has so much information that I can’t wait to read it again.