Esselstyn speaks at an event in Oakland
February 16, 1963
Upstate New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Health activist and food writer|
|Alma mater||University of Texas, Austin|
|Subject||Low-fat, whole foods, plant-based diet|
|Notable works||The Engine 2 Diet (2009)|
|Relatives||Caldwell Esselstyn (father), Anne Esselstyn (mother), Jane Esselstyn (sister)|
Rip Esselstyn (born 1963), a former firefighter and triathlete, is an American health activist and food writer. He is the author of The Engine 2 Diet (2009), "Plant-Strong" (2016) previously published as My Beef With Meat (2013), and "The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet" (2017).
Esselstyn is known as an advocate of a whole food, plant-based diet, one that omits meat, fish, eggs, dairy and processed foods. He calls it a "plant strong" diet, a term he has trademarked. He appeared in the 2011 documentary about plant-based nutrition, Forks Over Knives, as well as the 2018 documentary The Game Changers.
Background and early career
Esselstyn was born in Upstate New York, named after Rip Van Winkle, and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the great-grandson of George Washington Crile and the grandson of George Crile, Jr. His father, surgeon Caldwell Esselstyn, is one of the early promoters of a whole foods, plant-based diet in the prevention and reversal of heart disease.
Esselstyn attended the University of Texas at Austin on a swimming scholarship from 1982-1986. During that time he was an All-American swimmer. After college, he became a triathlete and competed for approximately ten years. In 1997, he retired as a triathlete and turned his attention towards becoming a firefighter and emergency medical technician, joining Engine 2 of the Austin Fire Department. Esselstyn eventually retired from firefighting to focus on becoming an advocate for plant-based nutrition.
While he grew up eating the standard American diet, Esselstyn switched to a whole-foods plant-based diet in 1987, cutting out meat, fish, eggs and dairy. He was also inspired by Dave Scott, who was a vegetarian. Esselstyn describes his approach as "plant-strong" and has trademarked the term. He says he avoids the word "vegan" in case it discourages people, and believes that "plant strong" sounds healthier and more inclusive.
The Engine 2 Diet (2009)
In 2003, when a co-worker at the Engine 2 fire department discovered that his cholesterol was very high, Esselstyn encouraged the Engine 2 team to switch to a whole foods, plant-based diet to help their colleague. This experience eventually led him to write The Engine 2 Diet, which begins with a foreword by T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study (2005). The Engine 2 Diet appeared on The New York Times Best Seller List and was endorsed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who made a public appearance with Esselstyn in January 2013. In 2010, Whole Foods Market included The Engine 2 Diet as a "Healthy Eating Partner."
My Beef With Meat (2013)
In 2013, Esselstyn released another book, My Beef With Meat. It was a New York Times best seller ("Advice, How-To, & Miscellaneous List") that reached the #1 spot for the week of June 2, 2013.
Forks Over Knives (2011)
Esselstyn appeared, along with his father and T. Colin Campbell, in the 2011 American documentary on whole foods, plant-based eating, Forks Over Knives. He later developed and starred in the follow-up documentary, Forks Over Knives Presents: The Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue with Rip Esselstyn.
- 2001 World Police and Fire Games: First Place
- Capital of Texas triathlon: Eight-time winner
- Escape from Alcatraz (triathlon): Six-time winner
- Esselstyn, Rip (2013-05-14). My Beef with Meat: The Healthiest Argument for Eating a Plant-Strong Diet--Plus 140 New Engine 2 Recipes. Hachette Book Group USA. ISBN 978-1455509362.
- Esselstyn, Rip (2009-02-25). The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter's 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds. Hachette Book Group USA. ISBN 978-0446506694. Foreword by T. Colin Campbell.
- Esselstyn, Rip (2016-12). The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet. Hachette Book Group USA. ISBN 978-1-4555-9117-6. With recipes by Jane Esselstyn.
- Forks Over Knives Presents The Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue with Rip Esselstyn (2011)
- Rip Esselstyn biography Archived 2013-08-19 at the Wayback Machine, engine2diet.com.
- Deborah Blumenthal, "Firefighters Gone Vegan? Even Austin Is Impressed", The New York Times, March 26, 2006: "The five firefighters of Team C at Firehouse 2 — Rip Esselstyn, James Rae, Matt Moore, Derick Zwerneman and Scott Walters — now eat vegan".
- Howard Lyman, Mad Cowboy Interview 07: Rip Esselstyn (Part 1), The Mad Cowboy, undated.
- Kerry Lengel, "Firefighter puts out 'plant-strong' message", Arizona Living, May 12, 2011: "'I like "plant-strong" as opposed to vegan or vegetarian,' he says. 'I think it's much more inclusive and embracing and friendly, and a more accurate description of what it is we're trying to do here, because it's about a whole-food, nutrient-rich, plant-based diet.'"
- Howard Lyman, Mad Cowboy Interview 07: Rip Esselstyn (Part 2), The Mad Cowboy, undated.
- Spector, Kaye. "Great-grandson of Cleveland Clinic founder offers his own advice for healthy living, The Plain Dealer, May 5, 2009.
- Author/Firefighter Rip Esselstyn ’82 Promotes Health, Wellness
- Esselstyn, Rip. The Engine 2 Diet. New York: Wellness Central/Hachette Book Group USA, 2009 :10.
- Former fireman preaches 'plant-strong' gospel in doc. Winnipeg Free Press, June 2, 2011.
- Kirkham R. Hamilton, "Rip Esselstyn Heart Disease Weight Loss And The Engine 2 Diet" (interview), prescription2000.com December 30, 2009: "So in 1987 without looking back I dropped the meat and the dairy and the eggs and the fish and I ate all plant-strong and ... it has given me the edge not only as a human being but as an athlete."
- Black, Rosemary. Texas firefighter Rip Esselstyn aims to save lives - through his new diet book. Daily News (New York), February 25, 2009.
- Going Cold Turkey From Meat, CBS, April 26, 2009.
- The New York Times Best Seller List, March 15, 2009
- The New York Times Best Seller List, May 17, 2009
- Engine 2 Diet gets Mayor Emanuel's endorsement
- Health Starts Here™ launches at Whole Foods Market
- "Words of encouragement: Better health through diet with My Beef with Meat." The Denver Post, May 7, 2013.
- "Vegan firefighter on his 'Beef With Meat'." CBS This Morning, May 14, 2013.
- "CNN SUNDAY MORNING: Winning Powerball Ticket Sold in Florida; More Severe Weather Expected Today; Report: North Korea Fires Another Missile; Digging Through Train Wreck Damage," CNN Sunday Morning, May 19, 2013.
- New York Times Bestseller List, June 2, 2013
- Forks Over Knives Cast
- Forks Over Knives Presents: The Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue: Official Site