Rip Esselstyn And Ashley James
- What inspired Rip to go whole food, plant-based
- How Rip started working with the firefighters
- Impact of eating whole food, plant-based
- How to stay on whole food plant-based while traveling
In this episode, Rip Esselstyn tells his origin story on how he became a healthy eating advocate. He shares how he started helping firefighters and other people to eat whole food, plant-based. He talks about his different ventures, including his Plant-Strong Podcast, his Engine 2—soon to be Plant-Strong—food products, and the events they’re hosting to help people get started and stay on the whole food, plant-based diet.
Hello, true health seeker, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. I know you’re going to love today’s episode. Before we get to it, I got to tell you about a super awesome deal that’s going on right now. As you may know, if you have listened to several episodes, you might have heard me rave about the Sunlighten Sauna company.
It took a long while to research which sauna I wanted to buy. I talked to several Naturopaths that have worked with different companies, interviewed each company, looked at the specs, looked at the wood, the materials they used to build it. Is there any toxic material? Where does it come from? Where is it manufactured? Their track record. The online feedback that I could see that customers had shared, and I finally decided to purchase a Sunlighten Sauna.
This is about three years ago, and I decided to use it because I have been working on detoxing heavy metals, and also supporting my immune system, supporting overall health. I kept learning more and more about the power of using an infrared sauna, especially if it’s a non-toxic, low EMF infrared sauna to support the body’s ability to heal itself. I have been so impressed with Sunlighten. Well, their customer service is great, but their products are fantastic. I’ve been very, very happy with the results that I’ve gotten—the detoxification results. It’s a very gentle detox when we sweat out toxins.
They have a special going on right now with their Solo System. Now, what I like about the Solo System, it’s ultra-low EMF, it’s made of non-toxic material, and you can store it in your closet. It basically becomes the size of a massage table. You can put it in your closet when you’re not using it or under the bed. That’s fantastic for people who don’t have 6×6 space in their house, their condo, or their apartment to dedicate to housing a giant wooden sauna. This isn’t a wooden sauna. This is a Solo System.
They’re having a huge sale right now from now until the 18th, so only the next few days. They’re giving 25% off, and then in addition to that, they’re giving our listeners an additional discount plus free shipping. The link is going to be on the show notes of today’s podcast, so just go to the notes. If you’re using iTunes or wherever you’re listening, go to the notes and you’ll see the link. You can also join the Learn True Health Facebook group because the information is posted there. You want to use the link. The link gives you the 25% off, and then in addition to that, you use this coupon code: TRUEHEALTHSOLO, and that also gives you free shipping and an extra discount on top of it.
I’ve had several doctors on the show of holistic medicine and functional medicine swear by the system, including Dr. Mark Hyman, who lives in a condo. And he says it would be impossible to have a big sauna in his condo, and he loves traveling with the Solo System. I also had Ryan and Teddy Sternagel on the show, and they talked about how they helped their son who had two rounds of cancer.
He had cancer and then it came back. A very young baby. At about a year old, he was diagnosed with cancer. And now, thank God, he is cancer-free. I think he’s about seven years old now, and they used the Solo System. They traveled with it because he had several surgeries at different hospitals throughout the United States. I think he spent months in a hospital at one point, and they would use this system in the hospital with their young son when he was three, four, or five, helping him to get through the cancer treatments.
This is something obviously you’d want to talk to your holistic pediatrician about. But you can use this system with children—responsibly, with adults. It’s a gentle system. It allows you to detox through sweating. If that’s something that interests you, check it out, go to the link, come join the Facebook group and check out the information there, and use the coupon code: TRUEHEALTHSOLO to get the additional discount. This is a quick sale that they’re doing. It is ending on the 18th.
But if you’re interested in getting any kind of sauna, check out Sunlighten. And if you choose to buy Sunlighten, make sure you mention the Learn True Health podcast with Ashley James as they give all my listeners a great discount. I made sure of that when I interviewed the founder, Connie Zack, and you can go back and listen to that interview as well.
Thank you so much for being a listener of the Learn True Health podcast. If you ever want to reach out to me, please, join the Learn True Health Facebook group. We answer holistic health questions there all the time. There’s a lot of questions. People just want to know what you recommend for this, or I’m looking for a good recipe for that, or how you would handle this situation with cleaning products, or dealing with colds and flu. Not only do I help and answer questions, but there are so many other wonderful community members that are in the holistic space that help as well.
You’d really be joining a fantastic community that’s looking to support you in your health success. Just join the Learn True Health Facebook group and definitely check out the Sunlighten Solo System using the coupon code: TRUEHEALTHSOLO, and the link that is provided in the show notes of today’s podcast, or go to the Facebook group. Awesome. Thank you so much for being a listener. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day and enjoy today’s interview.
[00:05:39] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 448. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have with us Rip Esselstyn. I am such a fan of your work. In fact, you don’t know this but we met a few years ago. Of course, you’ve met thousands of people when you tour around the country giving lectures and talking about your books and your products, but I actually met you with my husband, me, and our son. It was at Whole Foods. Actually, I think our son was napping so my husband’s staying in the car. But I ran in and I absolutely loved it. You signed my book, which I gave to one of my friends who also became plant-based, and I love your recipes. What I love about your recipes is they’re so hearty and they’re so kind of manly. They’re really easy to make for men to show them how delicious eating plants can be.
Actually, since then, my husband went 100% vegan. He woke up one day and he said I’m never eating another animal again, and I was shocked because he only ate meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And then he woke up one day and said absolutely never again. About five days into eating just plants, he turns to me and he goes, “If I knew this tastes so good, I would have done this years ago.” So there’s a lot to say about this. For those who haven’t tried it yet—haven’t tried a plant-based day or a plant-based week, get Rip Esselstyn’s books and just go to town.
Now, you also have wonderful products that are sold at Whole Foods. I love everything you do, and I can’t wait to hear more from you and have the listeners learn from you today. Welcome to the show.
[00:07:34] Rip Esselstyn: Thank you, Ashley. Actually, I’m surprised. So you ran into the store to get your book signed, but your husband stayed in the car and napped?
[00:07:47] Ashley James: No, no, our son. I was just remembering. Our son was a baby at the time. He’s 5 ½ now. It might have been about five years ago, and it was in Redmond, Washington. I ran in. I had ordered the book on Amazon because I heard you were coming, and I think we were all planning on going in, but then the kid fell asleep in the car. You just don’t wake a baby up. You’re like, okay, he’s taking a nap. I ended up staying for the whole lecture while our son napped in the car, but it was fantastic. I mean, the stories you told and what I learned from you. Of course, I went home and binge-watched every YouTube video I could get my hands on—all the documentaries you’ve been in.
I had recently had your father on the show. I love telling everyone I’m within about 5’of—I’ll tell them, do you know that there’s a cardiologist that reverses heart disease with food? I think it’s amazing what you and your family do. Of course, I’m like this gushing fan over here. Let’s get to you and learn more from you. Rip, what happened in your life? Obviously, your dad and his work, but what happened to you personally that made you want to, not only go plant-based for yourself but help the world become healthier?
[00:09:07] Rip Esselstyn: For me, it’s been a journey. It all started with my father. I mean, it started with my father’s research at the Cleveland Clinic. You just said something that was a little bit off so I’ll correct you just to get it right. My father has never been a cardiologist, and he often is mistaken as one because he’s done such groundbreaking work in the field of halting, preventing, and reversing heart disease. But he’s a general surgeon, and his specialty was the thyroid, the parathyroid, and the breast.
[00:09:47] Ashley James: Fascinating.
[00:09:48] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. What I find to be so—and I’ll use your word—fascinating, is the fact that you look at Dr. Dean Ornish, you look at Nathan Pritikin back in the ‘70s, you look at my father. None of these people were, per se, in cardiology. It took somebody from outside the field of cardiology to basically shine a light and say, you know what, this is really a food created disease of our own making. If we can just eliminate all of the building blocks that promote heart disease, you know what, we don’t have to go down that path.
My father got there because he wanted to actually try and show in his lifetime that the same thing could be true with breast cancer, and by association prostate cancer, and some of these major cancers. But he knew that he could do it quicker if he tried to do it through heart disease because he’d read some studies where they’d done some research with green monkeys where they were able to actually reverse their heart disease through just the power of a whole food, plant-based diet.
And then we dove into the research, looked at the epidemiological studies, and found swaths of people living on the planet that had 1/100 the incidence of heart disease, 150th the rate of breast cancer and prostate cancer. The common denominator of all these cultures was a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet. And then you look at the work that Dan Buettner has done with the Blue Zones, with Loma Linda; with Ikaria, Greece; with Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy where you have the longest living populations on the planet—the most centenarians. The common denominator there of course is a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet.
I went to the University of Texas at Austin on a swimming scholarship. I ate on the athletic training table with the football players, the basketball players, the tennis players, and the golfers. Every meal was chicken, fried steak, cheese, pepperoni pizzas, and bacon and eggs. We had a soft-serve ice cream machine where we could go to town, but none of us knew any better.
[00:12:39] Ashley James: It sounds like a 12-year-old’s birthday party, not an athletics college.
[00:12:44] Rip Esselstyn: No, you’re right. One of the premier universities in the nation, especially when it comes to the athletic program, right? God, how far we’ve come since I was going to school over 35 years ago now. While I was there at school was when my father was really putting his shoulder up to the grindstone to show what was possible when you initially took this population, this cohort of 22 people that he got from the Cleveland Clinic that was referred to him because they were so bad off that they were not candidates for another bypass, stent, angioplasty, or anything like that. He took these 22—what somebody referred to as the walking dead.
Every other week for five years, they came in and they saw him. He went over their food diary. He also weighed them, did their blood pressure, and did a lipid panel, and checked their total cholesterol—LDL, HDL, triglycerides. He went over their food log, and these guys were compliant. They were not messing it up. Again, it just goes to show the power of when you do this and you implement the program correctly, none of these people had any more events. The men that were in wheelchairs were able to get out of the wheelchairs and start walking. The angina, the chest pain basically went away. These people were dancing again. They were golfing. They were walking the malls. They were playing tennis almost like too good to be true like miracles.
So I heard the stories while I was at the University of Texas of my father and working with these walking dead and how they were basically coming back to life in more ways than one. And I was just so inspired by his ability to try and find this truth, to go against the grain, and do something as novel and important as this. Also, something about it just felt right. When I graduated, I was off the training table, and I was able to cook on my own and all that, I immediately started eating this way. That was back in January 1987. For the most part, I haven’t looked back. It’s now been 33 years that I really embrace this.
It’s just now about finessing it and accumulating more information. One thing has led to another, and the dots have continued to connect. I find myself now, 33 years later, being in a place that I never ever anticipated being in where I’m a healthy eating advocate. I have written four different books. As you mentioned—I’m going to use this word and we can talk about—I had a food line in Whole Foods for almost eight years. We put on seven-day medical immersion programs. We’ve been doing that for 10 years. Because of COVID now we’ve started doing these virtual events with thousands of people. I’ve started my own podcast following in your steps, Ashley, about a year and a half, two years ago. It’s called the Plant-Strong Podcast. It’s become pretty all-encompassing.
[00:16:49] Ashley James: I love it. Watching documentaries, seeing your story in them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen The Game Changers. My friend, my husband, and I went to see it in the theaters for that one-day special. And on the way home, I was calling people non-stop. Oh my gosh, you have to see this. You have to do this right now. And I called a friend who is caring for her friend who was a recent quadriplegic with out-of-control diabetes because they were in the hospital and she was taking care of them as an advocate. I said you’ve got to check this out.
She immediately got the hospital to get him to go plant-based, zero oil. Overnight, his number started to get better. The water retention went away. He actually started gaining muscle. He was fighting bedsores, and he started healing his bedsores so fast they couldn’t believe it. It was a stage four bedsore. They thought he was going to die from it and his healing went through the roof. They could not believe it, and she had to inspect every meal because they kept trying to sneak in things like dairy, oil, and all that. It was just amazing watching people. Their bodies heal so much faster when you remove the foods that are inhibiting the body and you give the body all the nutrients it needs. It’s mind-blowing. Now, can you tell us a bit about your work with firefighters?
[00:18:25] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah, absolutely. Well, this whole thing started because I was a firefighter with the City of Austin. I got on board with the Austin fire department in 1997 after a 10-year career as a professional triathlete where I was swimming, biking, and running for a living fueling myself with the power of a whole food, plant-based diet. It’s funny, for the first five, six years that I was a firefighter in the Austin fire department, I got ridiculed, harassed, and belittled until the cows came home about the way I ate.
Then, we had a bet to see who had the lowest cholesterol level and we drove down to the local laboratory the next morning—me and the other guys on the Station 2 C Shift crew—and we found out that one of my brothers had cholesterol at the age of 33 of 344 milligrams per deciliter, which is phenomenally high. We also found out that he had a horrendous family history of men in his family dying from heart disease before the age of 50. So not only did this firefighting brother of mine have a genetic predisposition for a really elevated cholesterol level, but he also ate—and this is his words not mine—like a third-generation redneck.
The center of the plate was always some sort of meat, typically or favorably deep-fried. When you have a genetic predisposition and you make deep-fried meat at the center of your plate, that’s not a good combination. And then to boot, the firefighting culture is very masculine. It is the food that these firefighters make is very, very toxic. So everything’s deep-fried. Screw half a stick of butter, let’s do one whole stick of butter. Let’s do Crisco on everything. Let’s use a pound of cheese on top of this casserole. For dessert, we’re going to split a tub, and I mean a tub a gallon of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream. And it just goes on and on—Hamburger Helper, Tuna Helper. The food at the firehouse is abysmal.
So the funny thing is you mentioned firefighters. If there’s one culture on this planet that needs us more than anybody else, it’s firefighters. Firefighters, in some ways, they consider themselves superheroes. They are there when we when the sh** hits the fan, and they need saving. They expect a superhero, gold medal decathlete, to come to the rescue. The unfortunate reality is that so many of these firefighters are overweight. They’re pre-diabetic. They’ve had a shot across the bow with cancer.
It’s funny though how many fire departments across the country—at a really slow and steady rate and firefighters—have been reaching out to me for help. Literally, right before I jumped on this interview with you, I got an email from a firefighter who’s telling me he’s battling PTSD. His weight has ballooned back up to almost 300 pounds. The stress of the job, he’s starting to drink again—just all these things—and would I be willing to talk to him once a week? I’ve got fire departments that have reached out to me and asked me to do videos that they can then circulate out throughout their department.
Anyway, the fire service is slowly but surely coming around to this message that the plants really are king when it comes to nutrition. But there’s still a lot of dinosaurs in that firefighting culture, no doubt about it. I’ll give you another example. When I wrote my first book, The Engine 2 Diet, I did a pilot study that was comprised of 62 people for the first round, and we did before and after biometric screenings on everything just like my father did with his patients back in 1984, 1985. I weighed them in, we did blood pressure. I had a relationship with a lab and we did a full biometric screening. I had a medical director. We did a three-minute step test where people did this step test and then we measured their before and after heart rate to see how their heart rate was doing. And then we did all this again four weeks later.
But one of the people that took part in this was a guy, a firefighter that I went through the training academy with. His name was Tim, and Tim was probably 220. He was one of the biggest firefighters when we went through the six-month-long academy together in 1997. And then, when I was looking for people that wanted to participate in this pilot study for my book, he happened to call the station for some reason. I said, “Hey, Tim. How are you doing? He said, “I’m doing good. Put on way too much weight.” I said, “Oh, really? Where are you?” He said, “I’m over 300 pounds.” I’m like, “Oh, Tim. Wow. Well, hey. You know what, I’m doing this pilot study. If you’re willing to eat just whole plants for 28 days, I’d love to have you be one of the participants.” He said, “Sure, I’d love to do it. I got nothing to lose.“
Tim lost 33 pounds in 28 days. And surprisingly, his cholesterol was not that high, to begin with. It was 172, and so for a big boy, that’s not very high. But at the end of 28 days, it came down to 88. So he was below 100 on his total cholesterol. His LDL came down below 40, and it was just miraculous what he was able to do. But the reason why I’m telling you this story is that most firefighters, after they graduate from the fire academy, will typically go out into the fire service and they let their guard down. They get pulled into this toxic food environment where they’re eating the same unhealthy food that everybody else is eating. They’re gaining somewhere between three to five pounds, on average, a year.
You look at Tim, again, he was doing this in 2008. We went through the academy together in 1997. So almost 11 years later, he had gone from 220 to 303 pounds. He put on over 83 pounds in 11 years. Tim, he was the first to admit. He had become a liability to himself, a liability to his crew. If he was to go down in a building or in a house fire, nobody’s going to be able to pick him up and drag him out because think about it, he’s 303 pounds. You add on to that his bunker gear, his boots, his helmet, his air pack that he’s got on, and now you can add on another almost 65 pounds. Somebody’s got to try and haul out 375 pounds.
[00:27:09] Ashley James: In a fire?
[00:27:11] Rip Esselstyn: In a fire where you can’t see. It’s probably 400, 500 degrees depending upon where you are in the structure. That’s a problem.
[00:27:25] Ashley James: Yeah, he’s putting his own health and life at risk, but he’s also putting his fellow brothers at risk. That’s something to consider. If we know that we’re eating a certain way, we’re gaining weight, or we’re not taking care of ourselves, at what point are we actually putting other people’s lives at risk? We could have a heart attack while driving, we could die and our dependents all of a sudden don’t have us to take care of them. If you’re not willing to make the changes for yourself, you’ve got to think about those you love most to get to start making changes.
[00:28:02] Rip Esselstyn: Completely. And to take it a step farther, I mean, if you want to open up this pandora’s box, look at the predicament that we’re in right now—the United States of America. We’ve got COVID-19 that has struck. I believe, and I may be off here by a percent or two, but 98.5% or 99% of the people that are being hospitalized for COVID-19 and are subsequently dying have some sort of underlying comorbidity. Whether it’s high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, or weakened or suppressed immune system. Unfortunately, if you’re obese, the latest figures that I just saw from the CDC show that 42%. A couple of years ago, we were at 35% obesity. We’re at 42% obesity now. I think that 50% of people over the age of 40 are now on some sort of hypertensive medication because their blood pressure is too high.
[00:29:27] Ashley James: And that comes with a list of side effects including those who are on long term for high blood pressure meds have shorter lifespans. So being put on a med doesn’t solve the problem. It masks the symptoms for now, but it makes things worse in the long run because we’re not addressing the root cause. My head spun so fast watching—so I’ve been a health coach for many years. (I watch the blood pressure, the triglycerides, the cholesterol, and blood sugar, especially, come into healthy ranges so fast when people get off of oil salt, sugar, processed food, and get on whole food, plant-based. I cannot believe how quickly people can heal and come back into normal ranges and go back to their doctor and get taken off of meds. It’s mind-blowing.
A friend of mine’s mother, within weeks of going plant-based, said all her arthritis and all arthritis pain was gone. All her pain was gone.
[00:30:32] Rip Esselstyn: Well, it’s such an anti-inflammatory way of eating. Like you just said, the effects happen so quickly. I mean, you look at the seven-day medical immersion programs that we’ve been throwing with Whole Foods’ unhealthiest team members since 2011, and the results that we got were so phenomenal. I was able to track all these different data points literally. It’s now over 2000 people that I had to write a book about, and that’s why my third book is called The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet. And when I say rescue, it’s not me rescuing, it’s you rescuing yourself with the simple power of food.
But let’s go back for a second, Ashley because where I was going with this thing with COVID-19 was that somebody asked. I saw this interview with Dr. Fauci where they asked him, “Why don’t we open society back up?” And he said, “We can’t. We have too many sick citizens.” Again, when you look that we have 42% of the population that’s literally considered obese. When you look at all the numbers of people that are diabetic or pre-diabetic, and I think it’s now over 50% and he says that, it’s like wow. COVID-19 is crippling this society because we’re so unhealthy because we have not embraced, of course, there are so many conflicting messages and there’s so much noise out there with paleo, keto, and all this stuff.
If we could—as a culture, as a society—embrace something as simple as eating a whole food, plant-based diet, we wouldn’t be in the predicament we’re in now. This thing would probably be able to blow over, herd immunity. Sure, some people that are young and healthy are going to get hit pretty hard, but for the most part, like I said, 99% of people that are affected have some sort of underlying comorbidity and are over the age of 70. If you’re in that subset, you just really need to be super, super careful.
But anyway, I’ll throw out one more thing. That is a long time ago Winston Churchill said something very, very profound, and that is, “Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country has.” I mean, again, look at where we are right now, 20 cents out of every dollar goes to healthcare costs. Heart disease, the number one killer of Americans right now. 50% of us will have a brush with cancer in our lifetimes. Like I just mentioned, the fact that almost 50% of this country is considered now either pre-diabetic or type 2 diabetic, these are all lifestyle created diseases. I don’t know at what point we’re going to be able to wake up and confront this.
The Game Changers did a phenomenal job, and the latest that I’ve heard is that this documentary has been seen by more eyeballs. We’re approaching now close to 100 million views of The Game Changers. It’s the most-watched documentary on the planet.
[00:34:27] Ashley James: I love that.
[00:34:28] Rip Esselstyn: But I still have to wonder, what’s it going to take? What is it going to take? You have this phenomenal documentary, the most-watched documentary in the history of the planet. I mean, it’s moved the needle, but it’s not moving it enough, it’s not. And then you look at everything that’s going on right now with climate change, the environment, and sustainability. It’s like come on people. We all got to be pulling in the same direction, and we got to do it fast.
[00:35:08] Ashley James: I really don’t like the phrase climate change because it so removes—did you watch that George Carlin clip? This is years ago where he said in World War One it was called shell shock, and in shell shock, you can feel the emotional impact. Like oh, he came home with shell shock. Through the years, they kept changing the diagnosis’s name to be so sterile that now we call it PTSD, and there is so much humanity removed from what they actually are experiencing.
Climate change feels like something big, out of our control, and not anything that really affects us, but okay, maybe when the weather’s weird. What I like to do is go back to the root, which is pollution. Look at that word. Okay, I don’t want to breathe in pollution. I don’t want to eat pollution. I don’t want it to be in my food. I don’t want it to be in my water. We have to come back to this really strong emotional word. We’re polluting this planet. Our food supply is compromised. Our air is compromised. Our water is compromised with pollution.
When we look at the places in the world that help to clean our water and air like these forests, they are being torn down by the hectare every day. Just unspeakable amounts of acres and acres of these rainforests, which we will never get back, in order to feed cattle. That is just one of the many problems. If everyone just ate more plants. If everyone just chose some meals that had plant-based protein and just tried that and then kept going more and more and more towards plants, we could actually start to heal the rainforest. We could start to stop pollution.
We have to think about the impact that’s happening right now, which is we’re poisoning our bodies by poisoning the planet, and we are voting with our fork. When you go to the grocery store, go online to buy your groceries, your purchases say where you want your money to go. And if you are buying products that require us to tear down forests in order to feed the cattle because they are growing crops to feed cattle, instead buy just crops and eat them. It’s much more complex than, but it can get as simple as vote with your fork. Do some research on the foods that you buy and vote with your fork where you want the earth to heal, you want your body to heal.
That’s my little beef about the word with, and there needs to be a vegan word for beef. That’s my schtick. I have such frustration with the word climate change because it takes the responsibility away from us. Whereas if we can really focus on the fact that—remember in the ‘80s they call it acid rain? It’s like, geez, I don’t want to go outside and get rained on by acid rain. That’s what we’re experiencing now is the pollution in our local environment because of the choices we make, and we can make better choices, which will directly—impact our lifetime—lessening the pollution and reversing it. That’s why it’s so important that your message is for healing our bodies, and it’s for healing the planet because there’s no difference between the two.
[00:38:44] Rip Esselstyn: Bravo, and thank you for bringing that up. I actually like that a lot more. We’re polluting the planet, right?
[00:38:58] Ashley James: Right, and there’s no political like, oh, climate deniers. You can’t deny pollution. It’s right out of your front door. You can test the water, soil, and air. We are polluting this planet. You can’t get political about it. It’s the truth. That way, there’s no denying it, but we can make choices based on all of our consumption. Based on what car we’re going to drive. Based on the clothing we’re going to buy, if it’s used, new, or local, or whether we’re going to buy local groceries or grow our own. Every single choice with our dollar really does go towards making a sustainable and healthier planet for our own health right now. Anyway, that’s my soapbox.
[00:39:45] Rip Esselstyn: No, it’s good.
[00:39:46] Ashley James: Thank you.
[00:39:48] Rip Esselstyn: Let me add to that. You look in the grocery space and what has been growing about 20% year over year? It’s the plant-based meats, it’s the plant-based cheeses, it’s the plant-based milk, it’s the plant-based yogurts. Plant-based is on a tear right now, and people are voting with their dollars, and they’re voting that they want more plants and fewer animals. That’s very, very telling. James Cameron, we were talking about The Game Changers. He was one of the executive producers, but I had the privilege of getting to meet James Cameron several years ago. I also helped get him on board with The Game Changers project.
You said you went to the opening night of The Game Changers. Did you see the 20-minute clip afterward?
[00:40:50] Ashley James: Yes.
[00:40:51] Rip Esselstyn: James was basically the star of that bonus footage. And in it, he says the single most important and powerful thing that you can do starting tomorrow is just to start eating plants. As far as starting to heal the planet and not polluting nearly as much. When you look at some of the data that’s out there, and there’s some from the Worldwatch Institute that’s part of the World Bank that has the global greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by livestock. They wrote a paper. I believe it’s called Livestock’s Long Shadow. That 51 of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture between the supply chain and the life cycle of us as a world having this insatiable diet for animal protein. 70 billion animals, it’s incomprehensible. Anyway, I want to add that to the whole conversation we were just having.
[00:42:20] Ashley James: I really like the visuals in the documentary Cowspiracy. I don’t like watching documentaries that lay down the guilt trip or make you feel like you’re hopeless, and there’s a little bit of that in there. But I just like to urge listeners just to watch it because the visuals are really good. For example, for that one hamburger that you eat, how much water actually needed to be used in terms of the crops and also feeding the cow versus if you just had a bean burger. You can see the environmental impact of that, or how much gas was used and how much CO2 emissions. But also how much fecal matter, right?
[00:43:03] Rip Esselstyn: I was just going to say, how much poop is produced by animals. It’s staggering, right?
[00:43:09] Ashley James: Yeah. In our environment, there are parts of the Carolinas, when there are storms, the water and all of the soil is really so unhealthy for the humans that live in those areas. And it’s documented that the humans that live in those areas have incredibly high rates of cancer, but they’re kind of impoverished, they can’t move away, and they just have to suffer because there’s so much fecal matter. All the waste from the big pig farms out there. But just imagine if there are billions of animals that we’re raising for slaughter, how much waste they create that is going to polluting the planet.
So, yes, there’s a huge environmental, but we have to keep coming back to environmental equals our health. So a healthy environment equals a healthy body, and we can come back to the science which is just eating plants but a whole food meaning not processed or as little process as possible so that we’re eating the whole plant and getting all the nutrients we require from it. And there’s so much science and you’ve mentioned some of the doctors and scientists that have made the published studies. Listeners can go through your books, through your dad’s information. You can go through learntruehealth.com, search whole food, plant-based. and listen to all the other experts that I’ve had on the show about it. You can collect lots of information and see that science is there and the science is sound and proven.
You were in—a while ago—a documentary called the Marshall Plan. It’s on YouTube. I highly recommend listeners watch it. That blew my mind that an entire town took up a challenge to get healthy through the whole food, plant-based diet and that you actually went there. Met with the fire guys there, the firemen there, and that you got all the labs, then you help them with the diet, and then you got the labs afterward. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience with the town of Marshall in Texas?
[00:45:22] Rip Esselstyn: Well, yeah. That was almost nine years ago now if I’m not mistaken. What happened is the mayor of the town of Marshall and his wife—two just phenomenal people—got bit by the whole food, plant-based bug. It’s really a testament to what can happen when one person that has a little bit of power, can try and just spread the wealth. When we went there, there were restaurants that were serving these whole food, plant-based options. We put on a whole weekend-long healthy eating symposium for the citizens of Marshall, Texas. Like you mentioned, I spent some time working with some of the firefighters.
Again, Ashley, and I apologize, I’ve worked with so many different firefighters and fire departments that I can’t specifically remember.
[00:46:46] Ashley James: Oh, yeah. Nine years ago, I want you to remember all of the numbers.
[00:46:50] Rip Esselstyn: But I can’t specifically remember how it went down.
[00:46:53] Ashley James: But they just have to watch the documentary for that.
[00:46:55] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah, and I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t seen the documentary. To this day the Marshall of Texas, I think they continue to hold a weekend-long event. The restaurants are carrying—and I can’t remember what the term is now that they have. They had some sort of special term for Marshall and the whole food, plant-based options there. For a little while, it was Engine 2 approved, but then they changed it. They’ve done something really phenomenal there in Marshall, Texas. Of all the places in the world, who would have thought Marshall, Texas.
[00:47:40] Ashley James: Right, a town in Texas. Anyway, it’s a great documentary. They show how much everyone loves meat and how incredibly unhealthy everyone was, and then the whole transformation of the town. You’re in it, your dad’s in it, and all the stars of the whole food, plant-based world are in it. My favorite, Chef AJ, who I’ve had on the show is in it. The meals look really delicious, and I think it’s a very authentic documentary. It feels very indie, which I love. I’m going to make sure the link to the Marshall Plan documentary is in the show notes of today’s podcast. Even though it’s nine years old, it’s still incredibly relevant. What I liked is having you walk through it with the firefighters. More time was spent on it even in the Game Changers where you got to walk through with the firefighters and show them what your arteries look like.
[00:48:31] Rip Esselstyn: Really.
[00:48:32] Ashley James: They slowed it down and they interviewed the firefighters. You felt the emotion with them. They don’t want to die, they don’t want to drop dead out of a heart attack. It’s very cool how much their lives changed because of it. But there are so many videos out there that you’re in that are like that, which is just wonderful.
You do a lot of traveling, and this has been a question on my mind. What and how do you eat when you’re traveling? Because you’re in airplanes, you’re at hotels. Sometimes you’re in areas of the world where it’s not like Marshall, Texas where there’s a bunch of whole food, plant-based restaurants. How do you stay true to the whole food, plant-based, no processed, no oil diet?
[00:49:24] Rip Esselstyn: Well, that’s a great question, and it’s been really easy the last six months because I haven’t really traveled at all.
[00:49:33] Ashley James: I fell into that one.
[00:49:35] Rip Esselstyn: But you’re right. Before that, for the last 10 years when I was a healthy eating partner with Whole Food market stores, I was on the road probably somewhere between 80-100 days a year. Basically sharing with people the good news about plants. Let me say, the good news is that typically, whenever I went on the road, I always was going to Whole Foods. Literally, I always had the ability for lunch to pick up something if I did a lunch event. I’d fill up my cart and I’d buy some stuff either something that was prepared for dinner, or I could go and they always have a little rice cooker. I could do rice, I could do beans from the salad bar, and then top it off with all kinds of veggie relish.
But, aside from that, I would always go on the airplane with cereal. I always travel everywhere with my commercialized Rip’s Big Bowl cereal. And then at the airport, because you can’t take milk through the detectors with you, I would usually go to a Starbucks and I’d ask them for a plain glass of almond milk. I’d also carry with me typically raisins or bananas, so I make my own bowl because a lot of times, I have to get up early like 4:30 AM, 5:00 AM for some of these early morning flights. I always travel with cereal. I always travel with fruit. Sometimes I’ll travel with a homemade burrito or a sandwich.
I can always go out to dinner and make it work. You just got to be a little bit of a pain in the butt and ask for what you want. You can go to Indian, Thai, Japanese, Korean, or Chinese. Typically, you always get some sort of rice, lentils, vegetables to that effect. In a pinch, I’ll do Chipotle. Obviously, Chipotle’s got a lot more sodium and a lot more oil than I want, but I’m not so perfect that I don’t sometimes do that.
You just figure out a way. I typically get hotels where they’ve got a microwave in it. Sometimes they’ve got a little kitchenette in it. I have the ability to cook a few things. If you really want something bad enough, you’ll figure out a way to make it work. John Mackey who’s become a great and cherished friend, the CEO of Whole Food market stores, travels with a miniature rice cooker and he makes his own steel-cut oatmeal in the morning. He’ll make his own brown rice in the hotel room, and then he’ll add to it the toppings that he wants, the beans, the sliced up vegetables.
I have found out that nothing is as important as your health. If it requires you traveling with a rice cooker if it requires you at the restaurant saying, hey, you know what, I want this cooked and I don’t want it cooked in any oil or any butter, then you deserve the right to make that request, no doubt about it.
[00:53:15] Ashley James: There’s a Mexican restaurant near where my parents-in-law live in Seattle or just north of Seattle, and I get them to do veggie fajitas with no oil. They put every vegetable known to man. I love their veggie fajitas. Some places just do bell peppers. This place does everything. There are broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, and every bell pepper known to man—there’s just everything, and it’s a huge pile of vegetables on a sizzling skillet. They’ll do zero oil for me and then I’ll get their platter with the beans, the corn, tortillas, and the guacamole, and you feel great. You feel full. It’s just wonderful. I love it. And then there’s usually enough to take home.
You just have to ask. You just have to be willing to ask, can you cook that with no oil, or can you steam that? A lot of Thai restaurants will have—in the back of their menu for a few dollars—a side of steamed vegetables and brown rice. You can bring your own sauce. I love the 3-2-1 sauce that Chef AJ teaches, which is three parts balsamic, two parts any kind of mustard, and then one part maple syrup. But that’s too sweet for me so I do half that amount, just put it in a jar, shake it up, and then just bring that wherever you go. You can put it on vegetables. It tastes amazing. It absolutely tastes amazing. You put it on steamed vegetables, put it on rice. You can get creative.
I like to do road trips, and Wendy’s has baked potatoes. I don’t eat the skins. They probably pour oil on it anyway, but you can find a way but you have to get creative. I think some people don’t take the first step into trying even a whole food, plant-based meal because they’re like, well, I’m tired. I’m busy. My mind is spinning, I have bills to pay, and this is just another thing I have to learn how to do. It’s kind of learning a new language. But once you do it, once you jump in, learn, and just try it, then it becomes very easy.
I travel with my Instant Pot. I learned that from Chef AJ. I will not go to a hotel that doesn’t have at least some form of a fridge. I just check in advance, make sure they have a fridge or mini-fridge, and I bring my Instant Pot always, always, always, and then go to the grocery store once we get there. We just do a little cookout in our room. There are even some hotels that have hot plates that they will provide for you if they don’t have a kitchenette. I found that out when we went to Idaho a few months ago. We just get really creative, but sometimes I’m tired, I’m hungry, I just want to like to do take out. This isn’t one of those opportunities to cheat or eat unhealthily. I don’t want to feel bad the next day. I want to feel better and healthier, so we got to get creative.
That’s where probably having some food either do big meal preps. You already have food cooked in the fridge. I can just go grab some cold sweet potatoes and eat them. Or have some meals that you’ve already made that you’ve frozen, so I’ve had to learn because I’m the one that cooks for our family. I’ve had to learn, and what I’m always blown away is how delicious your recipes are. So yummy. No wonder you can convert big firemen that love to eat steak to a whole plant-based diet because your recipes are delicious. I know that you’ve had some of your family members make these recipes as well.
[00:57:04] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. Well, Ashley, let me say that you have really embraced the lifestyle, and you got it going on between doing the bulk cooking for leftovers, and then freezing, but you get into a routine where you learn how to do it and it’s not that difficult and it’s so worthwhile.
[00:57:29] Ashley James: Absolutely.
[00:57:30] Rip Esselstyn: You mentioned the food being good. I mean, there’s no way that I could have gotten a bunch of Texas male firefighters to do this if they thought they were eating a bunch of rabbit food, twigs, berries, and nonsense like that. Literally, from the beginnings of this, it was always hearty—as one person said—mantastic food that fills you up and sticks to your ribs. That’s why, if you look at the Engine 2 cookbook or Plant-Strong, you’ll see that it’s a lot of pizzas, burritos, casseroles, stews, and chilies. It’s just hearty filling food. And of course, we’ve got our fair share of really big muscular salads as well, but it’s very intentional that the food leans towards being more firefighter man-friendly, and that’s not at all a knock on women.
[00:58:56] Ashley James: No, as a woman, I can say that we as all women—I will speak for all women—would be happy to bring home a cookbook for our male counterparts in our lives that they would embrace because it’s so delicious, and we’re secretly also helping them get super healthy. There are not a lot of whole food, plant-based cookbooks out there that would make a man feel like they could do this if they’ve eaten meat every day of their life. That’s what I love about yours is they are super hearty. I love the chilies. Oh my gosh, don’t get me started. I make them all in the Instant Pot by the way so it’s really easy to make.
What’s interesting about the Instant Pot, I don’t know how much you’ve looked into—they call them the anti-nutrients. Some people are really sensitive to—makes them have gas and bloating. But when you cook beans and lentils in the Instant Pot, it destroys the anti-nutrients. People that often go, oh well, I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t eat that way because I’d get gassy. Well, if you use the Instant Pot, the pressure and the heat of the Instant Pot destroy the anti-nutrients and make it so much easier to digest and it doesn’t cause that gas problem. That’s why I love using Instant Pot for all the beans and lentils that I make.
[01:00:26] Rip Esselstyn: Isn’t that interesting?
[01:00:27] Ashley James: It is.
[01:00:28] Rip Esselstyn: Well, we have a rice cooker. I don’t have an Instant Pot, and I probably should get one. I know that Chef AJ would be very happy if I decided to get one.
[01:00:40] Ashley James: You really need to get one, and you guys should do like a little video together where she teaches you how to use the Instant Pot. I actually own three Instant Pots. Last Thanksgiving I made the most delicious—I came up with this recipe for like a shepherd’s pie. I got four huge disposable aluminum tins to bake them in because I got one for us for home. I brought one to the in-laws for Thanksgiving, and I gave two away. One to a funeral who were Seventh-Day Adventists, and they just lost their daughter in a car crash. I donated that to their funeral and they really appreciate that. I mean, it’s the least I could do. And then the fourth one was given to my friend’s family.
My dear friend Naomi went whole food, plant-based to reverse her heart disease, and then everyone else in the family started to. She has three sons and a husband. Now the husband raves about it, and her parents rave about it. But the three boys, they could never like the same thing. They’re all very picky eaters, and this was the first whole food, plant-based dish that all three boys and the entire family liked. The reason why I got three Instant Pots—because I used to only have one—is that when making it, I did the potatoes on one, the lentils on the other, and the vegetables in the third.
I made a layered dish because I was running out of time, so I ended up getting three Instant Pots to make the whole thing. I constantly use three Instant Pots. I’ll make potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes, or yams in one; I’ll make beans or lentils in the other; and then I’ll steam vegetables in the third. I hardly ever use my stove. If I use the Instant Pots, I hardly ever use the stove. It’s actually way quicker to use the Instant Pot, and the food comes out really fresh instead of something that’s been cooked too long. Anyway, I’m a raving fan of the Instant Pot. You should definitely get one and play with it.
[01:02:50] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. Well, it’s interesting you say all that because do you know who Nina and Randa Nelson are and Jeff Nelson and Sabrina Nelson—a VegSource?
[01:02:59] Ashley James: No, I don’t.
[01:03:01] Rip Esselstyn: Well, Nina and Randa, you should have them on your show. They had this awful cystic acne that was almost debilitating, and these guys were actresses and singers out in LA. They’ve been following a vegan diet their whole life, but what happened is they decided to then go off all the peanut butter, the tofu, and all the processed refined vegan stuff. Literally, within a couple of weeks, their acne cleared up. They wrote a book about it called The Clear Skin Diet, and it is phenomenal. But Jeff and Sabrina have been in the space since 1990. They were the first ones to start throwing some of these live in-person plant-based events.
But the reason I bring them up is I stay at their house sometimes when I’m out in LA, and they have three Instant Pots going all at one time. Typically in one, they have one some sort of grain, let’s just call it brown rice. In one they have a bean, so let’s just call it homemade black beans. And then the other one they have steel cut oats or oatmeal. At any point in time during the day, you can go in and take a spoonful of whatever you’re in the mood for and then you put whatever you want on top. It’s brilliant. I’m kicking myself that I still have not bought.
[01:04:30] Ashley James: Oh my gosh. Guess what you’re doing this weekend.
[01:04:32] Rip Esselstyn: I think you might be right.
[01:04:33] Ashley James: You’re going to be playing with your new Instant Pot this weekend. When you call up Chef AJ for some advice, tell her it was me that finally pushed you over the edge.
[01:04:43] Rip Esselstyn: All right, I’ll say that Ashley James—
[01:04:46] Ashley James: Ashley James got you to finally get one. They’re so much fun. I burned a bunch of stuff the first time I used it, and I almost never went back. But then I think it was videos like Chef AJ’s videos that got me to try it again. You have to be willing to experiment and fall on your face in the kitchen. You’ve got to be willing to burn a few things because that’s how we learn, and it’s okay. Some of your meals don’t have to be awesome, but please, learn from those experiences because now I’m like such a passionate chef at home because food is the gateway to our health. You walk into your kitchen, you’re walking into your pharmacy. That’s just one of my favorite tools is the Instant Pot because it saves me so much time, but also it’s actually a health aide because it does break down those anti-nutrients for many of the grains, beans, legumes, and lentils.
Awesome. Now, you’ve got a program coming up. I definitely want to make sure we talk about it. You used to do—with thousands of people—these boot camps where you change their lives and then like you said, you documented it and wrote about it in one of your latest books. I got to see that actually because I met several Whole Foods employees who had been through your program. It’s life-changing, absolutely. I love the stories that came out of that, and then with COVID now you’ve gone digital, which is great because now actually more people can have access to this boot camp.
So you’ve got a program coming up really soon. Tell us all about it. What would we get by joining it? What is the experience like? And when what kind of people is this meant for?
[01:06:31] Rip Esselstyn: This will be our third virtual event of 2020. The first one we did was called the Plant-Strong Primer, and it was just for anybody that needed a little tune-up on all things plant-based for those who were new to the space. We had great attendance, and it was a whole weekend. The second one that we did was—we’ve had our annual Plant-Stock event for nine years now, and typically, it’s happened either at the backyard at the Esselstyn family farm in Upstate New York. And then recently, we moved it to the Black Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina.
But when COVID hit, we had to figure out what to do. We moved it actually back to the Esselstyn Farm, and Plant-Stock is just a celebration of all things plant-based, and we have a wide range of really what we call the brock stars in the plant-based movement come and speak. God, we probably had 22 different speakers, but the backdrop of the whole event was the Esselstyn Family. We got to give people a really nice backstage pass to the farm, which was in Forks Over Knives and it’s been in a lot of different documentaries. It’s a very, very special place for the Esselstyns because it’s been in the family for almost 350 years.
[01:08:09] Ashley James: Geez, wow.
[01:08:11] Rip Esselstyn: Yeah. We’re so grateful. As a family, we know how lucky we are to have this in our lives, this special resource. So we wanted to share it with people. That’s on my father’s side of the family, so my father grew up on this farm in Upstate New York. This next event that we’re doing on October 23 and 24, it’s called the Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue, and it’s actually going to take place in Cleveland, which is where I grew up. It’s where my father spent over 40 years at the Cleveland Clinic. But my father met my mother in Cleveland. He was going to Case Western Reserve Medical School. My mother grew up in Cleveland. Her grandfather was the founder of the Cleveland Clinic, believe it or not. In 1921 he founded the Cleveland clinic.
My mother’s father—we call him Barney—was just an absolutely revolutionary surgeon. He really single-handedly brought to this country instead of doing the radical mastectomy, he believed in the partial lumpectomy, which is not nearly as disfiguring. At the time it was considered a radical approach to treating breast cancer, but it is now the preferred method for breast cancer. I don’t want to get too far off track. My father was going to medical school. His father and my mother’s father both went to Yale and crossed paths because my dad’s father actually played football at Yale and was one of the coaches after he graduated. So he was one of the coaches for my mother’s father while he was going through Yale and on the football team.
It’s a small world, and my dad got invited over to my mother’s place for a meal. They met and they fell in love. This Kitchen Rescue event is going to take place at a place called The Knob. It’s this really phenomenal woodsy location in Northeast Ohio. It’s about 20 miles outside of Cleveland. It’s the second-highest point in Northeast Ohio, and you’ve got all these pine trees. The glaciers came through there and left all these crazy rock formations and white quartz pebbles everywhere.
[01:11:17] Ashley James: The Precambrian shield I think it’s called.
[01:11:19] Rip Esselstyn: Oh, yeah? Say that again. The what?
[01:11:21] Ashley James: I think it’s called the Precambrian shield.
[01:11:24] Rip Esselstyn: Wow.
[01:11:26] Ashley James: Because that’s what created the great lakes and all the terrain in Upstate New York and also Ontario, which is where I’m from, have these beautiful sections of the forest. There’s just exposed rock in granite and just gorgeous rock out of nowhere and these giant rock cliffs. Part of it was these big glaciers kind of scraped away and left behind. I think it’s called the Precambrian shield, but it’s a very unique landscape and just gorgeous, right?
[01:12:03] Rip Esselstyn: Oh, it’s gorgeous. The views, you can see over 7 ½ miles from this point all the way to Lake Erie. You can see the freighters going across on clear days. The cliff where you can get these views, it’s almost a 70-foot drop. There are sandstone formations everywhere, but this is a piece of property that has been in the Crile side of the family—my mother’s side of the family—since 1910. There’s this cool house that my parents built that’s on top of it now that’s made from these huge 5×3 foot sandstone rocks, and these huge Douglas fir beams that came from somewhere in Lake Erie that my father—one of his heart patients was a truck driver. And he got this truck driver to basically load up and go and bring back like 15 of these huge Douglas fir beams that serve as the part of the structure of this house.
But we’re going to have this as the backdrop to the Kitchen Rescue. We’re going to be making all kinds of fantastic meals going into the holiday season. Do you know who Dr. Will Bulsiewicz is?
[01:13:33] Ashley James: The name sounds familiar, but no I don’t.
[01:13:36] Rip Esselstyn: Okay. He wrote a book called Fiber Fueled.
[01:13:38] Ashley James: Oh, okay. Right, right.
[01:13:40] Rip Esselstyn: It’s so hot. Will will be joining us. We’re going to have a couple of amazing transformational stories, but mostly, it’s going to be time in the kitchen. We’re going to send out to all of our attendees all the different recipes, grocery lists that people want to cook along with us. We’re going to teach people how to read labels, pantry clean-out, what to put in place of some of the no-no’s that maybe a lot of us have in our freezers, our refrigerators, and in our pantries. It’s going to really be highlighted by my sister Jane, my mother Ann, my father, myself, and my brother-in-law Brian. Everything will be videoed. It’ll be live. This isn’t something that’s pre-recorded—it’s all going to be live. And then afterward, people will have access to the videos for up to a year. Anyway, in a nutshell—a big nutshell—that’s the extent of it.
[01:14:48] Ashley James: This is cool. Who should attend this? Is this for newbies, is this for people with major health problems? Who would get the most out of attending your upcoming event—October 23 and 24.
[01:15:03] Rip Esselstyn: Well, to me, it’s for anyone that is looking to get their head around some new exciting recipes, some mantastic recipes going into the holiday season. It’s for anyone that wants to be inspired, and it’s for anyone that feels alone out there and wants to feel like they’re really part of a very special family and community. What we discovered after our primer event in the spring and our Plant-Stock event in the summer is that the bonding that happens in the chat room over the course of the weekend is really special. And then afterward, we send everybody—that wants to—to a free community group where we continue on with all the relationships and the bonds that were formed over the course of the virtual weekend
[01:16:10] Ashley James: That’s very cool. I know several very happily married couples who have met in chat rooms much like what you’re describing. Also good for singles who would like to meet other singles who are looking to get healthy together. I always believe in divine intervention, just like how your dad met your mom. That feels a lot like there is some divine guidance going on and how I met my husband. It took a lot of divine intervention to bring us together.
[01:16:46] Rip Esselstyn: It’s funny you say that because there were people in the chat room during Plan-Stock that were like I can’t date anybody anymore that’s a meat-eater. I just can’t do it. I have to find somebody that shares the passion and the values that I have around plants. And then there are people that are divorced that are looking for somebody as well. Luckily, I am happily married and we have a Plant-Strong family. The kids are all on board, everybody’s on board with it. It’s really nice when you can have a united front with your partner, your kids, and your family. But I can tell you if I was starting over again—just like I don’t think I could ever marry a smoker—I don’t think I could ever, ever marry a meat-eater. Just the smell of the meat in the kitchen, cheese in the refrigerator, chicken breast, fish—I just find it all to be, frankly, just so revolting now.
[01:18:01] Ashley James: What’s really interesting about that—so again, my husband who ate beef breakfast, lunch, and dinner, maybe he had pork for breakfast. But that’s all he ate when I met him, and I tried to get him to eat something else other than meat. That was just meat, meat, meat every single day, and we’ve been married for 12 years. He just woke up one morning and said never again, never ever, ever again. Within a matter of weeks, he began to become disgusted by the smell of meat, by the sight of meat. He is actually completely turned off by it, and what a 180 degree just transformation.
But I noticed it in myself too, and I never ever thought. I saw it in him, I never thought it would happen in me. But I also noticed that the more you stay away from it, the more it actually feels unnatural to consume any animal or animal products, and I was very pro-eating animals before this. But it was my health journey that led me, and this podcast and interviewing because I want to interview everyone on all these different points. I want to bring in all the information that I can and to help people to heal because I suffered from many diseases including diabetes and reversed it with nutrition.
Just through my own learning and adapting this way, I noticed that my desires, my cravings changed now. I have a Pavlovian response to kale. I just start salivating when I think about plants. It’s really interesting how our bodies will adapt and change. I think for people who are still primarily meat-eaters, just try a meatless Monday, try just a few meals a week, or just try a seven-day challenge like the one that Rip wrote about in his book and just notice how great you feel. Let that motivate you to use food to heal your body.
Now, I’m very excited about your upcoming event on October 23 and 24—Plant-Strong Primer: Kitchen Rescue. It’s going to be delicious, I just know that. By then, you will have bought yourself an Instant Pot. You and hopefully all the listeners will get themselves an Instant Pot, and then we can all cook along with everyone in your live online event. The links to it are going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com.
It has been such a pleasure having you on the show today, Rip. You are welcome back anytime you want to come and share more stories of success, more information about your future events and books. We would love to have you back on the show.
[01:20:58] Rip Esselstyn: Oh, thank you so much. In closing, let me say one thing because I mentioned it earlier on and we didn’t ever have the opportunity to circle back to it. That is the answer to your food products that have been at Whole Foods for eight years. What’s happened is they have turned the brand back over to me. It was a ten-year contract.
[01:21:23] Ashley James: I didn’t want to ask in case it was really sensitive.
[01:21:28] Rip Esselstyn: No, no, no. It’s really good because now, what we’re doing is we’re revamping the whole look and feel. We’re giving the brand a whole refresh. Instead of being called Engine 2, it’s going to be called Plant-Strong. We are going to have a little Engine 2 in the upper right-hand corner just to give a nod because that’s the whole origin story at a fire station—Engine 2. But the packaging is so beautiful, it’s so colorful, and it’s so wonderful. And we’re going to have a limited variety of products at retail outlets including Whole Foods starting in February 2021.
We’re going to start with some veggie broth, then also some chilies, and some soups. And then online, we’ve started an e-commerce store where people can go right now today. We have the cereals and the granolas, and we have the pizza kits with the pizza crust and the sauce packs. And then we’re slowly, every couple of months, going to be adding more and more products to the e-commerce side of things. But in 2020, as we’re dealing with COVID-19, we’re just trying to figure out how to be smarter and more streamlined with our offerings and what makes sense. The D2C play, e-commerce, people are buying more and more food that way. This way, it allows us to get food to people—these premium products—at a better price point.
[01:23:08] Ashley James: Oh, great. Well, I love that. I just started buying all my groceries online because it just freed me up from so much time, and I used to love going grocery shopping. But with COVID, masks, hand sanitizers, and people looking at you worried like, oh, are you six feet away from me? I just don’t want to cause people to stress or live through that stress. I feel very, very blessed and fortunate to live in an area where I can have my groceries delivered, or I can order stuff online. I just ordered some whole food, plant-based cereal just last night. I normally don’t eat cereal, but I’m pregnant right now with our second child. My cravings, luckily, have been healthy ones.
[01:23:56] Rip Esselstyn: Good for you.
[01:23:58] Ashley James: Absolutely. Rip, it has been such a pleasure. Thank you so much. I can’t wait to attend your event coming up on October 23 and 24, Plant-Strong Primer: Kitchen Rescue. And of course, all the listeners are invited to attend as well. See you all in the chat, especially the singles who want to get healthy together. I just think that’d be so cool to hear some love stories.
[01:24:19] Rip Esselstyn: We’re going to do it. Just so you know, there’ll be several thousand people that will be partaking. This is going to be a big party. It will be a pre-holiday kitchen party where we’re going to get in, roll up our sleeves, and make potatoes, lasagnas, and pizzas together. It’s going to be a blast.
[01:24:41] Ashley James: Sounds great. Can’t wait. Thank you so much, Rip. Please, come back to the show at any time. We’d love to have you.
[01:24:46] Rip Esselstyn: Thank you so much, Ashley.
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