Armed with my matcha green tea latte in hand, I marched towards the Whole Foods Market entrance prepared to be fully attentive and satiated with knowledge at Rip Esselstyn’s book signing for his number one best seller My Beef With Meat.
The surrounding audience was amiable and openly shared their personal health journeys as we waited for the plant-cool man to begin his talk. I became friends with the sweet woman sitting beside me. We discovered that we had both been following a vegan diet for about eight months. As a former omnivore, or 90 percent carnivore as she described it, she developed cholesterol well over 200. While still implementing a full plant-based diet into her lifestyle, she had already lowered her cholesterol to just over 160. The energy from forty seated eager to learn, open-minded individuals was invigorating to say the least. Rarely do I find myself surrounded by like-minded veggie lovers.
A round of applause circulated through the cozy outdoor venue as Rip Esselstyn’s presenter noted that at that very moment, “My Beef With Meet” was listed as The New York Times number one best seller.
Rip began his talk with a list of “Most People Don’t Know’s” regarding many unknown facts and myths about a plant-based diet and the standard American diet.
Some of my favorites included:
- 99% of the food on the planet comes from plants.
- Your average bean is 25% protein, whole grains 12% protein, leafy greens 25% protein ( you can go to nutritiondata.com to search other foods.)
- The complete protein theory is invalid, it was originally written by Frances Moore Lappe who later published an apology stating that she had been incorrect.
- Does the word “kwashiorkor” meaning protein deficiency sound familiar? No? Do you know anyone who has kwashiorkor or has died from kwashiorkor? No? Didn’t think so.
- Fish oil contains oxidative by-products meaning that as soon as the oil is derived from the fish it starts to go rancid. It is also linked to heart disease.
- Meat itself does not give animals vitamin B12-it comes from the dirt attached to the plants animals eat.
- Humans on average have a 3-5 year supply of vitamin B12 supply stored in their liver.
Although I am fairly versed in vegan factoids, I must admit I was presented with a wealth of impressive information that I had not heard before. Rip’s tough love presentation was twirled with a witty undertone and not short of jokes on senseless American concepts.
He ended the evening with quote by Winston Churchill “We can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities.”
The tide is already turning, the plant-based diet is receiving increased media attention, New York recently revealed its first ever vegetarian school, celebrities and famous athletes are encouraging plant based living, and events such as this book signing are becoming more accepted in venues that are not exclusively vegan such as Whole Foods.
A Little Bit About Rip
A competitive world-class triathlete, Rip Esselstyn is best known for his presence in the riveting documentary Forks Over Knives, during which he describes his experience as a fireman in Texas. One of his squad members’ cholesterol was over 300 and therefore at an incredibly high risk of developing heart disease. Rip challenged his squad to adopt a plant-based diet for 28 days and thus his journey and influence began.
Following his segment in Forks Over Knives, Rip wrote The Engine 2 Diet in 2009 and appeared in Forks Over Knives Presents Engine 2 Diet Kitchen Rescue in 2011.
Now all 44 fire stations in Texas have transitioned to plant-based lifestyles. Rip developed a partnership with Whole Foods Market where he sells his own brand of plant based products. His plant based program was inspired by his father, Caldwell Esselstyn, MD., a reputable cardiologist also featured in Forks Over Knives. This very program that Rip advocated today also inspired Bill Clinton to take on a vegan diet after his life threatening heart condition resulted in a quadruple bypass surgery.
“In combating the myth that meat is the only way to get high-quality protein, I reinforced another myth. I gave the impression that in order to get enough protein without mean, considerable care was needed in choosing foods. Actually, it is much easier than I thought.”—Frances Moore Lappe, Best Selling Author of Diet for a Small Planet.