Q&A with Rip Esselstyn on His New Book, “My Beef with Meat”

By Forks Over Knives,


Rip Esselstyn, the former firefighter featured in Forks Over Knives and bestselling author of The Engine 2 Diet, has written a new book, My Beef with Meat. The book arrives in stores on May 14. We had a chance to catch up with Rip to discuss his new book and more.  

Why did you choose the title "My Beef with Meat"? 

I wanted a title that would shake things up a bit, didn’t take itself too seriously, and was representative of the ethos of the book. I could have easily made the title Engine 2.0, Plant-Strong Nation, or Why Plants Rule, but I wanted the book to have a larger reach than vegetarians and vegans.

Why did you write this book?

I’ve discovered that there is a huge disconnect between what people think is healthy and what medical science knows to be healthy. For example, people have been bamboozled into thinking olive oil, Greek yogurt, chicken, and fish are healthy. Many people think the diet of the day is salmon, low fat dairy, and olive oil, washed down with a glass of red wine and a Lipitor pill for good measure. We are confused, distracted, and off course.

This book explains to plant eaters and meat eaters alike why a whole-food, plant-strong diet rocks on a jillion different levels. The primary driving force behind the book was to delve deeper into the major myths that keep surfacing about eating plants, such as “you won’t get enough protein,” “you won’t get enough calcium,” “eating plants is too expensive,” “real men (and women) eat meat,” “olive oil is heart-healthy,” and “moderation in everything.”

The book shows how these myths are so far away from reality. It gives the reader real science, not fad diet talk. And once you armed with the knowledge to improve your health (or to win an argument with a meat eater!), you can start cooking up any one of the 140 lip-smacking, rib-sticking, outrageously good recipes to prove that a plant-strong diet is the best way to go.

How is it different from Engine 2? 

The Engine 2 Diet tells the story of how I was able to help a bunch of Texas firefighters morph themselves from medical time bombs to healthy superheroes. It then challenges readers to eat plant-strong for 28 days by choosing one of two paths that will open their eyes and palates to the power of plant based nutrition.

One of the most popular chapters in the book was “Crazy Myths About Food” -- and people enthusiastically expressed how much they loved it. So in My Beef with Meat, I’ve taken the “Crazy Myths About Food” concept to the next level by giving the reader 36 fun, informative, short and sassy myth-busting chapters that contain all the facts you’ll need to combat the silly claims and misguided tales you’ll hear from the naysayers. So if the first book challenged you to learn about plant-based eating, this second book provides you with all the facts you need to stay on the diet, as well as convince others to join you!

How have you seen the movement change and evolve since Engine 2 and Forks Over Knives?

Man, oh, man, have I seen it change. I’ve seen this movement grow from being considered a fringe or extreme diet to one that is highly regarded by the public and medical professionals alike.

The need to educate America on this movement is so important that four years ago I retired from firefighting to partner with Whole Foods Market so I could spread the word. One of my roles has been traveling around the country speaking with customers and team members about the benefits of eating a plant-strong diet. The first two years I was lucky to get 10 to 20 people to show up for an event. Over the last two years, every event has been packed with 100 to 300 people who are eager to learn the benefits of getting off the standard American diet and jumping on the plant-strong bandwagon.

I can honestly say that between FOK and E2, we have helped hundreds of thousands of people regain their lost health and lose weight. I believe that within ten years we will reach a tipping point where more people than not will understand that a plant-based diet is the best diet in the world!

What are you planning next? 

More books, more events, more food products exclusive to Whole Foods Market, and more living large and saying yes to life and yes to plants!

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