Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March of the Hot Vegan Army - Day #6 - Rip Esselstyn


Rip Esselstyn

Know him from: His part in the ground-breaking documentary Forks over Knives (based on the concept of eating a healthy, disease-preventative diet, rather than undergoing surgery). He's also author of the best-selling book The Engine 2 Diet.

Why he's vegan: Health and performance reasons, just like fellow triathlete Brendan Brazier (check him out on the Hot Vegan Army page). However, Rip actually doesn't like to call himself or his diet "vegetarian" or "vegan." He prefers to refer to his food as "plant-based." The Engine 2 Diet is a whole-foods-based diet, meaning that processed foods have no natural place in it. Whole foods are like clean-burning fuel for the human engine as he sees it.

Why he's awesome: What quickly comes to mind for me in the "awesome," category, aside from the immediate fact that Rip's book could possibly save lives, is a certain scene that was included in the documentary Forks over Knives. In this scene, Rip - henceforth to be nicknamed "Ripped" - climbed up a fire pole chanting "Real men eat plants!" over and over.

This guy is certainly not a newbie to the world of physical exercise though. He was a competitive swimmer at the University of Texas back in the '80s, which is when he decided that he'd go veg' in order to get a competitive edge. After college, he became a professional triathlete, all while maintaining his plants-only diet. In fact, he didn't just compete, but he won the Capital of Texas Triathlon a whopping 8 times! Following his "retirement" from professional sports, this super physically-fit contender decided to train to become a fireman, an extremely taxing job. But through it all, his plants-only diet has served him well for more than 20 years. At almost 50, this "Ripped" silver fox is a testament to the veggie-food-as-fuel hypothesis.

Additional awesomeness: Rip is the son of famous Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a former gold-medal olympian, who is now a clinician and researcher emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Esselstyn was one of the driving forces behind former president Bill Clinton's switch to veganism, as Esselstyn is a global specialist in the field of prevention and reversal of heart disease. Dr. Esselstyn and the rest of his family follow the whole foods vegan diet, and speak about it around the world. For his part, Dr. Esselstyn is now a healthy and active 79-year-old, a shoe-in for the Hot Vegan Army senior edition.

Well Rip, I think you're going to have to be part of the "Covert Ops" division of the Hot Vegan Army. You might not call yourself vegan, but you sure make a darn good case for that style of eating. Sometimes, many different roads can lead you to your ultimate destination, and I'm glad you're in our ranks, and in our corners.

"Hooah!," Mr. Esselstyn. "Hooah!" indeed.

No comments: