The power of a plant-based lifestyle with Rip Esselstyn of PLANTSTRONG

Feb 2, 2022

Listen to learn what essential nutrient 97% of Americans are deficient in. Rip Esselstyn, a former firefighter and triathlete, shares the profound and scientifically proven benefits of plant-based living and how his company, PLANTSTRONG, simplifies the journey to a whole foods lifestyle.

Show Notes:

Learn More about PLANTSTRONG – https://plantstrong.com/

Purchase his lastest book and recipes – https://amzn.to/3o7mnFP

Read about the Blue Zones, which are areas of the world with unusually high amounts of people living to beyond 100 years. Dan Buettner spent years researching why – https://amzn.to/3r9FNf5

Fiber Fueled (from the stat about people being deficient in fiber – https://amzn.to/3o7mnFP

Pretty ok (not great) transcript:

[00:00:00] Mason: I first met Rick not long after he had signed what I kind of feel like. W can we call it a weird contract with whole foods back in the day when you were a media company, but owned by a grocery store? Yeah, I feel like that was
[00:00:14] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: pretty unusual. Yeah. So was that, was that back in like 2010? Yeah,
[00:00:18] Mason: maybe even a little earlier than that.
Yeah. Oh, 9 20
[00:00:21] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: 10. Yeah. That’s when you were in the midst of a green
[00:00:24] Mason: green line. Yes. And so we even wanted to tell us your products, but we couldn’t because they were exclusive with whole foods. Right. That’s interesting. Yeah.
[00:00:32] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: But, but, so you got really creative and you started doing a different meal kits.
Yes. That were engine to kind of, some of the most iconic engine, two recipes. We had like the sweet potato lasagna and macaroni and not cheese. Uh, and, and you guys it’s such fantastic job, but that was a
[00:00:54] Mason: lot of fun. And it was, so we had to go through full legal approval at whole foods. We were like, we want to work with these guys, but we can’t sell their product.
So we created meal kits kind of like blue apron or plated, um, based on their recipes. So, you know, their, uh, followers could, could make it at home. And so that was a lot of fun. But anyway, as I started to hang out with rip, I started to hear the amazing stories of transformations of the people with significant chronic illness, finding new joy and new life with your guidance.
Ray calls himself an influencer, but I’d put it closer to icon in the plant-based movement, but it literally, and figuratively runs in your blood. You want to tell us a little bit about your family dynasty of plant strong leaders?
[00:01:37] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: Well, sure. I think so. What’s interesting to me is, you know, you need a certain mind.
In order to like, literally go against the grain. And to me, it started with my great grandfather, George Washington, Crile, who founded the Cleveland clinic back in 1921. And in 1898, he performed the first successful blood transfusion from one human being to another. He was one of the co-founders of the American red cross.
Whoa. So this is a man that just kind of like, I mean, this was back in the day when they didn’t have cadavers. And so he would go and he would dig up freshly, dead, buried people and then basically dissect them. Right. Um, and so his, but his son, my grandfather Barney, he was, uh, another, like just pioneer in the medical world.
He basically brought to America the lumpectomy or the partial mastectomy. And at the time the radical mastectomy was considered, like what you do with women that get breast cancer. It’s very disfiguring and it’s just kind of all inclusive. he’s like, nah, this is ridiculous. You can get the same results just by removing basically where the cancer is.
And everybody called him a quack, said he was absolutely crazy.  this is back in the sixties with 50, 60 seventies. now this is like the way they do it.  so I think my father learned from Barney and, um, Barney’s father just like, all right, I’m going to take the path less, you know, less traveled.
And that will make all the difference. so that’s when he started questioning, you know, what he was doing. Uh, his specialty was breast, uh, was the breasts, the thyroid and the parathyroid. he kind of came to the conclusion that no matter how many. Women, he operated on for breast cancer. The line out of his door was getting longer and longer and longer.
So he wasn’t getting to the root causation. And so we started looking at the epidemiological cultural kind of literature and discovered that, wow, there’s different populations on the planet that have like literally one 50th, the breast cancer that we have here in America, they have almost zero heart disease.
And so back to your question, he is the one that just totally, um, captivated me and inspired me to go down my plant-based plant strong route. Uh, his just fearless, um, attitude about trying to do something that had never been done before. And that is showing that you can not only halt and prevent, but you could also reverse heart disease and he was able to show.
By 1987, he started his research in 1984. And now he’s gone on to show this time and time again with what’s called before and after angiographic evidence. He, um, has been written in all kinds of peer reviewed medical literature, including the American journal of cardiology, the journal of, um, family medicine, the list goes on and on and on.
So, you know, he’s very, very well-respected, especially today. But back in the day when he started doing this, he was laughed at, he was sneered at, he was made fun at people. Would mail him envelopes filled with, um, Bark and chips. And just basically saying, you know, this is, you know, what a plant-based diet, you know, tastes like.
I mean, it was, you know, thinking it was funny. Um,
[00:05:31] Mason: but that’s a little funny, that’d be, that’d be upsetting if I received Barney. Oh, it was his
[00:05:37] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: nickname was Dr. Sprouts. It just went on and on that before and after, only in a three-year time span. So that’s pretty quick. Well, so actually many of them were, um, there are some that are actually one year, uh, actually six months, one year, two years.
I can actually share some of those with you and you can post them. Um, but typically what he has been able to show is that a two years when you’re following this and you are your arteries, haven’t calcified. So it’s just basically what the blockage has made up. Uh, fatty lesions, cholesterol that you can metabolize away.
But once you get up into your like sixties, seventies, eighties, and you have calcification, that’s like stone concrete that you’re not reversing, but when you are able to do is you’re able to, um, kind of restore the function of the endothelial cells, which are, is the innermost lining of the 65,000 miles of vessels that we have.
You’re able to restore the ability of the endothelial cells to produce nitric oxide at really wonderful levels. And that allows your vessels that were basically. Had been mutated to where they basically just were, they weren’t, they weren’t able to bow a budge. They weren’t able to, to con uh, to dilate and now they’re able to dilate again.
And so even though you’ve got the blockage in there now, just by dilating now just a little bit, it allows this much more blood to get to the, get to the heart and perfuse it with an oxygen, ate it with everything that you need. Um, so there’s, there’s, there’s something for everybody, right?
[00:07:28] Mason: Yeah.  so that was one of, uh, um, you know, I’m sure everyone you talk with was listening to some of your podcasts and everyone kind of admits how much meat they eat.
I love your nonjudgmental attitude towards us, uh, carnivores. so do a lot of people end up finding this information because of a chronic illness or, you know, how does, how does the community grow?
[00:07:57] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: Well, um, I would say that our community has grown exponentially since 2010 because of books that are, that are, I mean, when I wrote my book in 2009, there were a handful of books about eating plant-based.
It was so out there that the publishing house insisted that I also include little bits of fish and chicken and some of my recipes as an option for people, no way considered so far out there, this is not what it’s about. Yeah. And of course, in subsequent additions of the book we’ve removed the, the fish and the chicken, but I mean, literally I probably gave.
To new plant-based cookbooks that are sent to me every week because they want to come on my podcast and promote it. And I’m like, wow, this is amazing. You have all these amazing documentaries that are coming out. It really started with forks over knives in 2011. And that really moved the needle. And I think got it, got a lot of people around the.
Dinner table talking about, wow. You know, maybe we should consider eating more plants and you had a cameo in that. Correct? I did had a really cool cameo at the firehouse. They came in and they sh they showed us doing, yeah, I watched that. I watched it just a few years ago. And from it, I was so inspired by the transformations of the people who were going plant-based that I decided to be plant-based and I think I stuck it out for about two months or so, but it was while Mason was trying out the keto diet.
So it was just like, yeah, there’s like the two very opposites of the diets we were going for. And I was like, we struggled to cook the same dinners or want to go to the same restaurants and stuff. Um, but we already joked that after this podcast and probably going to become plant-based again, cause I’m such an easily influenced person, especially with speaking with somebody so passionate on a subject, you know, does that
[00:09:57] Mason: make sense to call it plant forward?
Mostly plants.
[00:10:00] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: It won’t be hard for me to go
[00:10:01] Mason: plant-based
[00:10:03] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: I just think. Dietary confusion out there right now there’s so much noise. And I try and tell people, listen, you know, if you don’t want to go on another fool’s errand, then just like, figure out the plant-based thing. You’re going to get everything you need in a better, safer, more absorbable form.
And you’re also going to be kind to the planet, kinder to the animals. You’re eating in a way that you’re now producing the smallest carbon footprint possible and which we need desperately in 2022. Um, so it, it makes sense on so many. But so you had the documentaries forks over knives. Um, you, you know, eat for your health, uh, the game changers that just came out in 2019, you’ve got Instagram now in this hordes and hordes of plant-based PE people that are, you know, sounding the alarm.
You got the millennials, Tik TOK. I mean, I just was talking to a woman today. She’s got 1.6 million followers on tic-tac 820,000 on Instagram, her, um, she’s got a book coming out in a month called plant U and she basically takes all these plant-based scraps. It would just go into the, you know, the compost pile and she teaches you how to actually make delicious things out of them.
Like the broccoli stocks that everybody, you know, probably most people throw away. She actually takes those, slices them up, puts them in. Little, um, nice batter and makes, um, broccoli fries out of them. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Just as an
[00:11:45] Mason: example, which, and your, the engine. So going back to your story, talk about the, becoming a fireman and how you came
[00:11:55] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: about the book.
Yeah. Yeah. So I, um, I’m gonna go back a little bit farther. It just kind of flows. Yeah. But so, uh, I went to the university of Texas at Austin from 1982 to 1986 when I graduated. Um, I was trying to figure out what my next move was going to be after college, looking back, it is such a difficult time of life trying to figure that out.
Um, but I also do agree, uh, well, I got my degree in speech communications, um, but I also swam on a swimming scholarship there and I loved competing. I loved the black and whiteness of it. Um, the, you know, the corporate grind was something that just, I had no interest in. So I spent the next 10 years as a professional triathlete, swimming, biking, running, fueling myself with whole plant based foods.
I became very successful doing that for 10 years.  then I was like, all right, what’s my next move is going to be. Athat’s when, uh, you know, I was talking to different friends and some of them were firefighters. They were, but they were age group triathletes. And they’re like, man, try firefighting.
It’s it’s like, it’s amazing. It’s like, you know, a big, um, a big party every 24 hours. And we go out and we do good deeds. We usually do 10 to 15 where we’re helping people saving lives. Uh, we make all kinds of delicious food and, uh, the teamwork is, is incredible
[00:13:31] Mason: and they encourage training. Right. And
[00:13:33] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: they get to, well, most you’d be surprised how many firefighters.
Unfortunately, they get out of the fire academy, they get there and then they get lazy. But it depends on the house. Some house the culture is, yeah, we’re eating healthy and we’re, you know, we’re working out and we’re S we’re staying fit, but so, um, became a firefighter. And then that’s when I introduced my love for plants to the guys at fire station two at 5 0 6 west MLK in 2003.
Um, we had a health scare with one of my firefighting brothers who at the age of 33, had a cholesterol 3 44. And, um, which
[00:14:13] Mason: it doesn’t go about three 50.
[00:14:14] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: Right. And typically that, well, actually you’d be surprised it does. And there’s certain people that have something called a familial hypercholesterolemia and they have cholesterol is in the like high eight, nine a thousand.
I mean, it’s ridiculousAnd what’s healthy?Well, great question. So I would tell you without medication. We typically like to see people 150 milligrams per deciliter or below. Um, and there are some exceptions with typically women that have an HDL that is between 60 and 110. It’ll be really hard for them to get it down because the way you calculate total cholesterol is you take your HDL, which is your healthy cholesterol, the LDL, which is your lethal cholesterol.
And then your triglycerides, you take one fifth of your triglycerides and you add those three numbers up and that’s how you get total cholesterol. Gotcha. Um, but typically, yeah, 150 or below, there are some exceptions, but what we now know is that 30% of Americans that have heart attacks, it happens with what your cardiologist will tell you as a safe cholesterol, which is between 150 and 180.
Now, most Americans have a total cholesterol between 202 50. And most Americans, well, 51% of us will perish from heart disease or some form of cardiovascular disease, stroke, or heart attack. So I would tell you that when you’re eating the standard American diet and you’re eating basically all the meat and the cheese and the dairy and the process, refined foods, your cholesterol is it, that’s where it’s going to land because you’re eating cholesterol, cholesterol, it’s inherently in the muscle fibers of that cow, that chicken of that fish it’s in the egg.
And typically what doesn’t matter if it’s chicken fish, um, Turkey, uh, red meat, they all have roughly the same amount of cholesterol for three ounces. So there’s really no such thing as like a, a hell of a low cholesterol meat. Or I would even say healthier meat, although people will say, oh, it’s salmon or it’s, you know, it’s white chicken breast.
Um, but I like to say just, you know, meat is meat, you got cholesterol, you got animal cholesterol, animal fat, Problematic animal protein. Um, so anyway, I think that’s the answer on cholesterol. Yeah. One 50 isn’t healthy,
[00:16:44] Mason: but cholesterol in itself isn’t bad.
[00:16:47] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: No, I mean, we, our liver produces cholesterol naturally and we need, we need cholesterol.
It’s absolutely instrumental in so many things that we do, but again, we, we don’t need, uh, when you’re piling it in, uh, you know, one egg yolk has 212 milligrams of dietary cholesterol. One, three ounce piece of skinless, white chicken breast is 70 milligrams. And how many people do you know that are double fisting, white skinless chicken breasts.
Right. And then, you know, your average piece of red meat is 70 milligrams. So again, you pile it on for breakfast, for lunch and for dinner, and then that’s going to have a compounding effect. then, you know, it’s little wonder that at the age of 45, You have your first basically shot across the bow with a heart attack.
And unfortunately the first sign of heart disease, heart disease, uh, 50% of the time is sudden death. Yeah.
[00:17:45] Mason: So you had a sketcher house. Yeah.
[00:17:50] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: Three-year-old at the firehouse. Wow. Yep. And so I said, Hey man, you know what? There’s a smarter way. Look at my father’s research, going back to 1984, look what I was able to do as a world-class triathlete, fueling myself this way.
And you
[00:18:06] Mason: know, and cause the primary objection is you don’t get enough protein.
[00:18:10] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: Right? I would say the primary objection is yeah. Where am I getting my protein? It doesn’t taste good. There’s no variety. It’s too expensive. I’m going to fart my ass off. And, uh, I would tell you, none of those are true. Every, every one of those is an absolute myth, um, that needs to be, you know, needs to be busted.
And that’s why my second book called plan strong. I had 36 chapters in each one busted another myth that’s out there. But, uh, yeah, the protein myth is, you know, th there’s a, uh, there’s a medical term for protein deficiency. It’s Quasha core, and it really doesn’t exist in the United States of America. The reality is as long as you’re consuming enough calories, you’re getting all the protein you need because it is inherent in everything that we eat.
I mean, there’s protein in blueberries, roughly 8% protein there’s protein in, in sweet potatoes, about 9% protein, there’s protein and oats, but 18% obviously protein legumes, right? Beans, peas, lentils about 25. To 40%, depending upon which bean soybeans are 40%, your average green leafy vegetables, 35% protein.
Spinaches 51. So, and according to the world health organization, we as human beings, and this is where the, with a built-in safety margin of 30%, we want to have 10% of our calories coming from protein. So you can’t blow it. The only way you can below it is if you’re not consuming enough calories. And I will also say the other methods out there about protein is that the protein that you’re consuming from plants is somehow inferior.
That it’s not complete. It doesn’t have all nine of the essential amino acids. And that two is complete bunk. We now know that again, it doesn’t matter if it’s blueberries, strawberries, mango. Brown rice sweet potatoes. They have all nine of the essential amino acids in the perfect composition and proportion.
And you don’t have to sweat it, not for one second. So you’re getting a complete protein and you’re also getting all the protein you need. Um, and so I wished that we could like be done with that conversation, right. And move on to like, alright, what are we going to eat?  really I can eat this way. it’s like the most economical way to eat on the planet.
And the answer is
[00:20:37] Mason: yes. Who created that myth? The dairy board.
[00:20:40] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: You mean the protein myth? Yeah. That’s a good question. I, I honestly don’t know the answer to that. I know that, uh, Frances Moore LawPay wrote, um, diet for a small planet back back in the seventies and she erroneously wrote. In order to get it complete protein, you needed to pair like, you know, beans and rice and do all this.
That’s since been completely debunked. And she and her latest, uh, additions has come out and apologized for that. But people seem to have latched onto that. And, and even in really reputable organizations are still absolutely clueless when it comes to this.
[00:21:23] Mason: I feel like I was raised with that. Like got to get protein, got to get protein.
And I remember a talk by rich roll. Um, and he, he said he still to this day cannot get away from people being like, how do you get enough protein? How do you enough protein? And so his, I think, do you shirts have, uh, the rhinos on them? Yeah. Yeah. Right. They’re obviously getting enough protein.
[00:21:49] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: Well, they are.
And that’s a, that’s a good point. I mean, look at. Biggest strongest animals on the planet. And they’re all, you know, herbivores right there. They’re not at a lack for protein or calcium, right. Or anything. I will say that, you know, there is some pretty good data that shows that everyone and not, this is not only, you know, plant based, people should be supplementing with B12, right.
And B12 it’s microorganisms that come from the soil and because our fruits and vegetables and plant-based food is so clean these days, double washed, triple washed. There’s not enough dirt hanging on them any longer. So, uh, there’s no, you’re not going to get those microorganisms and then subsequently the B12.
So that’s the one thing we recommend that you take a B12 supplement in a cost, you like 12 bucks a year. Yeah.
[00:22:45] Mason: Yeah. Okay. That’s that was one of my questions was B12. Cause I know that it can, there, there can be a deficiency in plant-based diets and then it can be exacerbated by genes like the MTHFR gene and such where you’re not metabolizing it or absorbing it as well.
I forget which one that gene.
[00:23:03] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: Yeah, but literally like, um, there’s some very reputable organizations that have come out and said that even if you are a carnivore, right. And you’re over the age of 50, because we stopped producing, uh, or I shouldn’t say stop, but we, we start producing less of these gastrointestinal juices.
this is what’s responsible for basically, um, for mediators kind of cleaving the B12 from the meat. the reason why it’s in the meat is because they’re either getting a fortified B12 in their food, or they’re getting it from the dirt in the soil when they’re eating their food. Um, We, as we age, we lose the ability to kind of take that B12 from the meat.
so they’ve recommended everybody over the age of 50 supplement with B12. Hmm. Interesting. Yeah. So for some of the people who, whether they’ve gotten a recommendation to go plant-based by their diet, by their doctor, or if they want to do it on their own, what are some easy steps or what are your tips for them?
[00:24:07] Mason: First steps.
[00:24:08] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: Yeah. Yeah. Well, this is going to sound a little self promoting, but I would say first thing you should do, because I’ve been doing this a long time and we’ve put everything together, all the resources and everything you need. I’ll go to plant strong.com and I would just like click on, all right.
I want to take the seven day plan, strong challenge. then how do I do it? we give you all kinds of resources, free recipes, uh, grocery lists. I mean, it’s, it’s pretty darn extensive, but I would tell you start by finding a breakfast that you love. So we were just talking before the podcast. You love your oatmeal with blueberries, right?
With some, uh, seeds, which I, I mean, I’ve never had Bazell seeds, but I’m inspired to go get something two times the calcium two times the fiber way better than chia seeds. Apparently everybody should make the switch
[00:25:11] Mason: gets stuck in your teeth though. Oh, well,
[00:25:13] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: I’ve never heard you tell me they’re stuck in my teeth.
You should tell me next time.
Do they like crunch? No, they like cheese. Exactly. I mean, they look exactly like chia seeds.
[00:25:26] Mason: They, um, they’re like black and cheese seeds have a little bit. That’s true. Yeah. Do they,
[00:25:32] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: do they have a certain taste? Like Bazell no, they don’t, it doesn’t taste like baseball. I feel like it it’s almost flavor lists.
It is very similar to cheese he’s I don’t know the term for it, but when they, when you soak it, what’s the term when the chia seed or the Bazell seed grows or
[00:25:50] Mason: fans that just rehydrates, it gets that gel. They get jealous and feel
[00:25:54] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: over it. So it does that. Um, but yeah, no flavor profile, really? Yeah. But I would say start out by just finding one breakfast that you love and adore because most Americans, they rotate through one or two breakfast, their whole entire life.
If they have breakfast. Right. Um, and I don’t anymore. You don’t eat breakfast anymore.
[00:26:14] Mason: Yeah. I do like a, I do coffee with, uh, some coconut milk and MCT oil. And so I get some fats to feed my brain in the morning, but then I skip it. My metabolism has been slowing down. Yeah.
[00:26:28] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: Yeah. Um, and then same thing with lunch.
Like find let’s not get crazy here, but let’s just find two. So I went, let me go back for a sec. You said oatmeal. I think oatmeal is fantastic. That oatmeal’s about 350 calories per pound. It’s super satiating. It’s got a great amount of protein, great amount of fat. I think it’s the, I think it’s the best breakfast that’s out there.
The only way that I think you could improve it is if you went to actually a more unprocessed form of oatmeal, which was either steel cut oats or oh, gross. Right.
[00:27:09] Mason: Never heard of that. I feel
[00:27:10] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: like, um, the reds mill that we have, not the one I have right now. Cause it’s very fine, but they do have steel cutouts as an option breads.
What’s the brand name? Bob treadmill. Yeah. So that’s better. It’s what you’re saying because it’s less processed. Yes. But I mean, we have to balance convenience and all that and you know, O’Groats steel cut oats. Take what? 20, 30 minutes, depending, uh, Oak roads or even longer than that, uh, the oatmeal you’re making is probably 10.
If I’m not mistaken. Yeah. I just put some, uh, boiled water over it and yeah. And it’s pretty quick. Oh, so that’s maybe instant oats. Okay. So, so yeah, so instant oats that’s even lower down. So you got, yeah, you got the instant, instant quick. That’s at the bottom of the totem pole. Then you got the, the, um, let’s just say original roll rolled outs, then you’ve got the steel cut and then you’ve got the oat groats.
All right. I need to upgrade. Let’s let’s do it. Um, and then, so I love that I do, I alternate between that. also I have a commercialized version of a cereal that I’ve been eating since 1987.  that’s why I call it the rifts big bowl cereal.  it’s a blend of four different whole grains, um, ground flaxseed meal and walnuts.
And then I always add fruit and some sort of a plant based milk and I never get sick of it. So that’s what I would recommend lunch. Um, I love just doing leftovers from dinner and I put it on either a bed of rice, green leafy veggies. Like today I had leftover chili from last night and I put it on a bed of baby spinach and some rice.
then the Chile was this great three binge, three bean chili that we made over the weekend. then, um, and then dinner, I would find six meals that you want to rotate around and I would find what are your favorite meals right now?  then just plant strong a fire them. So if it’s burgers and fries fine, you know, I typically would tell you to make your own, because so much of the stuff at the store is just littered with oil and salt and sugar and stuff like that.
And we have, there’s so many great, great oil, free kick ass, uh, burger recipes, but find a pasta recipe, a burger recipe, um, a taco recipe, a lasagna, or a, as we were talking about earlier, Mason, um, the macaroni and nut cheese, maybe a big like muscular salad. That’s got beans in it in three different, you know, Greenleaf, EAs and Del peppers and avocado, and really like enjoy a big old salad that, you know, needs its own zip code one night for dinner.
That’d be fun. And then, um, I’m snacking on fruit during the day. If, uh, if I, if I need any and I still train, I still train typically at least an hour every day.  I like getting it out of the way in the. So I went to swim practice this morning. And, uh, as soon as I’m done with that swim practice, I’m like, I’m ready to knob my arm off.
Um, and so that’s when I go home and have the big bowl of cereal, but don’t, over-complicate this, I like to tell people this really truly is peasant food. It’s rice, it’s beans, it’s potatoes. It’s bananas. If you, if you, you know, if you’re not into organic, uh, then like go do frozen, do conventional. Don’t let conventional or organic get in the way here of you eating this way.
Cause imagine if I’m going to talk to a bunch of firefighters in Florida and I say, listen, guys, this is, I want you to know. Plant-based it’s got to be organic and you know, they’re going to look at me. I’m trying to get these guys off of white bread and processed cheese and ham and salami,
[00:31:10] Mason: right? Yeah.
The pallet is so different at that point. So how, how do you get someone who is used to salt, covered meat, cuts of meat, and then say, now you’re going to eat broccoli.
[00:31:24] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: Well, I, I don’t put it that way. I’m not going to sell anybody like that, but I tell people, listen, the only way I was able to get, you know, the guys that the engine to firehouse to do this back
[00:31:36] Mason: to the firehouse back to
[00:31:37] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: that was because it tastes fantastic.
It filled them up and it made them feel fantastic. And so, um, yes, there’s going to be a transition period and I’ll tell you that nothing is going to be as good as, you know, Burger, that’s got, I dunno, 600 milligrams of sodium in it, and it’s got, you know, all these just, I know the animal protein and stuff and the oils that, that all creates a certain experience that we’re actually having a deep program, you and we got to move away from it.
So we gotta be, we gotta feel satiated in a different way. We got to reclaim our loss palette. That’s been hijacked from big, big food. And so to me, it’s almost like we’ve got to educate you and let you know what to expect. We got to manage expectations, but once you like, you lose five pounds in the first week.
And if you’re checking biometrics in seven days, your cholesterol drops 50 points and you’re sleeping better. you’re pooping, you know, like fantastically well and easily, your acid reflux is starting to disappear. All of a sudden it’s like, you know what? I am gaining so much. Um, I’m okay with this I’m okay.
[00:32:58] Mason: Delayed
[00:32:58] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: gratification. Yeah. I’m okay. Missing out on, you know, that burger or those fries or this or that. And the poll is real. I mean, make no mistake about it. It’s called the pleasure trap. And, um, you know, there’s a whole book written written on it by Alan Goldhammer and Doug Lyle. Um, and it is, it is severe.
I mean, it’s, it’s not as much as, you know, an alcoholic or a drug addict, but it is real right. And having to kind of bring down, regulate all those receptors in our brain, to the salt, the copious amounts of salt, sugar, and fat that we’ve been exposed to and fueling and feeding for 30, 40, 50 years. Yeah.
So it’s, it is, um, I’ll tell you, it is. So the, the solution is so easy, but there’s a lot of things that get in the way. You know, you’ve probably heard this before, but sometimes things are going to get harder before they get easier. there’s, you’re going to have to go through a little bit of a period here.
sometimes it seems like community is what helps you stick to your goals. And so that’s what plant strong offers as well. Right. Sorry. I’ll pause real quick. The AC came on, so he’s trying to turn it off. That’s what he’s doing. Um, you want me to, you want me to repeat the question you want me to just answer or you can just answer.
Oh, okay. So yes, I will tell you that community is essential and nobody wants to feel like they’re alone floundering in the wind here. And we have over the last decade, I’ve created a community of literally tens of thousands of people. Um, you can go to community dot plan, strong.com and join, and we are non-judgment.
Everybody is there to help each other out. Um, and it’s a really beautiful group of like-minded plant strong people that are trying to figure it out. And
[00:35:00] Mason: I think it’s a part of that. An important point that you brought up is acknowledgement and awareness that nothing is going to replace that hamburger, but your overall health and energy and mental state will likely be in a far better place without those burgers
[00:35:19] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: far better place.
And I just. I look at so many people, you know, I’m getting up there now. Right. I’m pushing 60, 58. I’ll be 59 here. It’s like a spring chicken in a month. That’s my saying,
[00:35:36] Mason: Walter, Rob didn’t understand it. He’s like, what’s this spring chicken look like. I’m like,
[00:35:41] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: no, it’s a compliment.
[00:35:43] Mason: They’re fluffy and cute.
[00:35:46] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: Wow. It’s spring chicken, man. You’re ready to like hit the races. That’s right. Um, and, uh, where, where, where are we?
[00:35:57] Mason: The, that nothing is replaced in that bird?
[00:36:01] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: Um, no. And a better mental, but I will tell you this. Like, I, I will like, like maybe, I don’t know, a couple of times a year I’ll have the beyond meat burger and they’ve done a phenomenal job at basically replica. What a burger tastes like, feels like cooks, like smells like all that stuff.
And, um, I can only have like one or two bites and I’m like kind of repulsed by the amount of oil, the mouthfeel and all that stuff. So your palate and your like just your internal senses, they change. Yeah. Right. And so, you know, it, it takes a while to kind of become a little bit more sophisticated in your food selection, but once you’ve gotten there, it’s hard, almost impossible to go back, to go back to the dark side, so to speak.
Um, and there are
[00:36:58] Mason: these stories though, about after a while of being on it, there are some various. Uh, deficiencies that can occur. Is there, do you just, do you recommend monitoring or are there any like central core things that if you do this, you don’t ever have to worry about deficiencies or how do you approach that?
[00:37:20] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: Well, um, can you be a little more specific on the, yeah,
[00:37:24] Mason: probably one of your 36 chapters, like, you know, iron is one that I’ve heard of in calcium, which you mentioned, and then, you know,
[00:37:33] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: B12. Yeah. So on anything. Um, it’s absolutely nice to get, uh, some blood work done like once a year and find out how you’re doing that.
I think the thing that kind of steams my clams for the most part about this question is that so many Americans are running around, out there and they’re deficient in, you know, not even 97% of America. Aren’t getting the requisite amount of fiber a day. And that’s probably the most important thing that we can be getting, especially when you look at now, um, what is, what is needed for a healthy microbiome for a healthy gut and how important that is in everything.
Uh, and us being healthy human beings. And 97% of us are not getting right more than basically 15 grams of fiber a day. You want to be getting upwards of 50 grams of fiber a day and you’re not doing it. If you’re 96% of your diet, which is how most Americans eat is coming from animal products, animal byproducts, dairy products, and processed refined foods, because none of those have any fiber in them.
So most Americans are not eating any. Whole food products whatsoever. And it’s so essential. Um, there’s a great book called fiber field by Dr. Will bullshit’s this gastroenterologist and he does a brilliant job talking about it. Um, but anyway, so, so, so I mean, it’s like, but I look at like, okay, you’re overdosing on the standard American diet on animal protein, animal cholesterol, animal fat.
And the result is we have 50% of this country. That’s basically perishing from heart disease. 50% of us are basically come down with sun, coming down with some sort of major cancer. We’ve got 75% of us that are not considered overweight or obese. We have a pandemic of type two diabetes and pre-diabetes and yet it’s like, nobody’s going, it’s like, I feel.
This is the white elephant in the room. And it’s like, oh, but what about my B12? And, oh, I really, I think I need to go eat meat or, oh, uh, iron it’s like iron. The iron that you get from meat is actually it’s heme iron, and it’s actually acts a dative and your body can actually regulate it. And so a lot of people have hemo CRO, CHRO, chroma, ptosis, and they have to go into for bloodletting bloodletting because their iron levels are too high.
Whereas the brilliance of non-heme iron from plants is your body can regulate it. And if you’re too high, it dumps it. And if it’s not enough, it helps, uh, store it. The exception is you really women that are menstruating. You’re really like athletes that are really putting it out there and that’s kind of it, but for the, so, you know, um,
[00:40:33] Mason: bottle to that is that you’ve got this amazing card and it’s got a little bit of dirt on it and the people are like, look at that dirt.
[00:40:41] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: That’s yes, that’s a good, that’s a good analogy. So, um, yeah. And it’s like, you have the smartest form of iron in plants, the smartest form of protein in plants, the smartest form of unprocessed carbohydrates, the smartest form of fats, the polyunsaturated essential fats that we absolutely need. And the reason why they’re called essential is because we have to get them from food.
Our body can’t produce them on, on its own. Um, and um, I mean the list goes, literally it goes on and on with plants, the fiber, the phytonutrients there’s like not over like 20,000 that have been identified and these are there to fight oxidative stress. Prevent DNA damage, um, and fight Western disease.
[00:41:30] Mason: Yeah. One of the, uh, point that Walter brought up is that we have only actually identified, it was less than 0.1% of the compounds in plants. And so there’s 99.9% of plants that we still don’t even know. You know, what, what those compounds are. I think on a county basis, we know that that it’s mostly water on a volume basis or weight basis is different, but the actual number of nutrients that are in a plant compounds, some of them are not nutrients, but we’ve only begun to discover the, what all is in
[00:42:04] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: plants.
No, the amount of life-giving tremendous substances in plants is. It is gorgeous. It is so beautiful. And
[00:42:17] Mason: so back in my Greenland days, we did, when we won, when we were came to engine two to do some meal kits, we were looking at all the diets out there that we could do and what meal kits we wanted to do to help people eat healthier.
And one of the ones in addition to the engine do kits where whole 30, how much overlap do you have with the whole 30 movement when you think of,
[00:42:43] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: of them? Yeah. You know, um, I know that the whole, the whole 30 has kind of gained some pretty good traction. Um, frankly, I don’t know what the protocol of that program is.
Exactly. I mean, I don’t know what they allow, what they don’t allow, what I think it’s a, she that wrote it, what she advocates for. I think, uh, Is she avoiding grains? Is she basically saying you can have this much dairy or this much meat? I don’t know, but I would imagine, I will tell you this. If she’s advocating for fruits, vegetables, whole intact grains legumes, I’m a huge fan, right?
If she’s also advocating for dairy products that that basically have the same DNA as, as meat, the cholesterol, the saturated fat, um, and the animal protein, then I’m not a fan. I’m not a fan. And, um, I think the less amount of meat and dairy that you can consume the better off that you’re going to be. Yeah.
I think some of the things that they don’t allow are any processed foods, although some have been added to the list. Check some boxes. I don’t think you can have any lagoons. You can’t have any beans. Um, yeah. They’re
[00:43:57] Mason: primarily eliminating processed foods, then there’s this race to get some processed foods, whole 30%
[00:44:04] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: sure, sure.
Yeah. Well, yeah. Approved for her pocketbook, but, but the, um, you know, beans, I mean, I mean, anybody that’s against beans, I got to call BS on because I mean, beans, uh, if you guys know anything about the work of Dan Buettner and the blue zones, um, you know, he, if he had to identify one food that all of the five blue zones share, um, Loma Linda, uh, Caria, Greece, Okinawa, Japan, Nicoya Costa Rica.
And, um, sorry. Italy it’s legumes. It’s beans. That’s like the one, the one common thing, all of them, one common. They won’t come and food thing. I mean, the food thing is predominantly plant-based, but within that, it’s also very, very striking how beans are it? And I just heard him yesterday saying how, you know, he hates the word superfood, like he thinks that’s BS, but if there was one super food, it would be beans, right?
I mean, the they’re associated straight satiating the protein, um, the amount of fiber, um, you know, they’re low fat. I’m not a big bean guy. We’ll have to get.
[00:45:21] Mason: So I, I struggle with beans and I think there it’s one of those. You know, when you there’s, uh, uh, defense mechanism talks and they have in it, whether it’s a lectin or I forget what it is that you can, um, you know, soak out or sometimes you can cook out.
Um, but I can never tell when we go out how they have prepared those beans, and there are particular beans when I eat them. I mean, it just like my body gets inflamed with them. So I have a reaction to, to some beans and some beans I don’t. And so I don’t know that. Yeah. I think it’s
[00:45:54] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: Dr. Gundry that has basically said that, you know, you want to avoid these, these, uh, lectins, right.
That are in, you know, beans and grains and stuff like that. But the reality is with beans, you know, he’s taking a little bit of a truth saying, oh, they’re, they’re, they’re, they’re toxic. Well, it is if you eat them raw, but as soon as you cook them and you get them up to 101 or 50 or 60 degrees for a certain amount of time, you basically now have eliminated, uh, any of those toxins.
Um, And, uh, so again, yeah, but everybody
[00:46:28] Mason: is different. Right? And so I would say
[00:46:30] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: everybody is a little bit different. I would also say, and people may not like this, but I would say that the silver bullet that is going to save humanity when it comes to how we eat as a species, it’s going to be plant-based plant, plant predominant, uh, plant leaning, plant slanting, however you wanna phrase it, but that’s, that’s going to be Shawn.
How about that? Yeah. I like, um, plants. That was a funny, what would you say are some of your, not just your personal favorite, whether it’s fruits or vegetables, but the most nutritious fruits and vegetables, then what do you feel are the most nutritious?
Like what would you recommend people eat in terms of fruits and veggies that are powerhouses? I won’t say the word super. So the one thing that we really recommend people, especially that are suffering from chronic Western diseases, type two diabetes, heart disease know major cancers is Greenleaf fees.
So your green leafy vegetables, your, your bok choy, your spinach, your a rugala, your beet greens, your collard greens, um, kale, all those things they are, I mean, they’re going to give you the biggest bang for their calorie buck and they, they are so loaded with so many amazing as we just were talking about, you know, phytonutrients antioxidants, um, that, yeah.
And my father with his patients, his heart disease patients, he asked them to S to eat six servings. Fist size six fist sized servings a day of green leavings Greenleaf is to try and really get those nitrates that are in those green leafy is working for them because those nitrates, you chew them. And then they get turned into nitrates downstream, and then your body converts those nitrates into nitric oxide that is basically being propelled through, out through your, your endothelial cells.
Uh, and it makes the blood nice and slippery. It makes the wall of your blood vessels like Teflon instead of like Velcro. Um, so it’s just, it’s a beautiful thing. So Greenleaf fees, I would say oats, I love oats. Um, they’re like little scrub brushes that go through you and, and clean you out and, you know, help get rid of toxins.
And they’re also wonderful sources of fiber. Um,
[00:49:11] Mason: do I still get the benefits of the collard greens when I put.
[00:49:16] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: You’re definitely getting some benefit there, but you know, the, the, the problem is, is that I don’t even know if those collard greens can erase the fact that that bacon is a, I think it’s a class one carcinogen.
Oh, wow. The same level with us. Bastos so, um, yeah, I’d be careful with it with, uh, any, any processed meats like that, but that’s true. That’s a little bit troubling. Um, but so, uh, and then, um, B I just love them all. And then, you know, beans, I, I have some sort of being every single day. All right. Uh, obviously today I had the three bean chili, so I had Navy, uh, Navy beans cannellini beans.
[00:49:56] Mason: And that was obvious today and black beans cause it’s called
[00:49:59] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: out pay attention. And then, and then I ever, I could literally, I have such a sweet tooth and that’s why I love fruits. I could be a fruitatarian, I love mangoes;  love blueberries;  love any, any Berry raspberries, blackberries. Um, I could live on bananas.
I could live on bananas and I like them a little bit greener. I don’t like the ones that are spotted in a L you know, overly ripe. Um, but yeah,
[00:50:35] Mason: so let’s, we do want to talk
[00:50:37] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: about your business a little, we forgot about, uh, potatoes. Really? I think potatoes, sweet potatoes should be the cornerstone of this dietary pattern for sure.
Yep. Good to know. Yeah. Potatoes, rock and roll. Yep. I mean, you like your average potato, just, you know, russet potato has as much vitamin C as an orange has as much fiber as a cup of oatmeal. Potassium. Potassium is loaded with. No. I mean, it’s like 10% protein. Um, does don’t cook it in a seed oil. It rocks, you don’t slice it up and yeah.
Do French fried potatoes. Yeah.
[00:51:20] Mason: Um, but so your company, you, you have been espousing as diet for a long time and have a community who have built a treasure trove of recipes and ways to cook it. But now you have a line of products hitting the shelves had hit the shelves last year in, not too long ago, though, right.
About six months
[00:51:41] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: ago. Yeah, actually you’re exactly right. Uh, we, so we hit the shelves of whole food market stores in August of 2021. And we’re slowly going out into the sprouts and the Wegmans and the Raley’s all over the United States. Hopefully be in 50 to 75 other stores here over the next year and a half or so.
And the way
[00:52:04] Mason: you first discussed, um, it was kind of the next level of evolution from engine two and your prior recipes and food. So tell us how this is the apex of your
[00:52:14] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: products. So this, this to me is the nexus I’ll, I’ll follow up apex with next, right? This is kind of the nexus of where health meets taste and, uh, you know, engine two was really all about just being supremely healthy and taste.
We, we didn’t put that much. We didn’t put as much, um, thought into that or effort as we should have. And so plan strong is the new and improved engine to new improved packaging, new improved tastes, new improved, um, line extensions. And so we’ve taken our best selves. Engine two veggie broth, and now we’re doing line extensions on that.
So we’ve got a Shataki mushroom broth with no added sodium. There’s some sodium, but it’s just naturally occurring from the mushrooms and other veggies that are in there. Uh, we’ve got a, that sounds amazing. Mushroom broth. Oh, it’s it’s. It’s great. And it’s right now it’s uh, it’s, it’s, it’s an, a tie with our slow simmered vegetable veggie broth as the number one selling skew.
And then we’ve got a, um, Spanish-style sofrito. This has kind of got a roasted red pepper, roasted red bell pepper flavor and leeks and garlic. And it’s great when you’re. You want to do a stir fry and you don’t want to spend 20 minutes slicing up some of these things, it gives that nice flavor. And then the last is, and this is a kind of a, it sounds crazy, but it’s a sweet corn broth.
And I learned this from, um, Ken Rubin. Who’s an amazing plant-based chef. he’s like any chef that’s worth their salt has a pot of corn broth because it’s makes such a great ingredient in so many different recipe creations. it’s got this sweet corn buttery kind of flavor. I love using that and mixing it up when I’m doing like collard greens or beet greens or, or something like that.
[00:54:17] Mason: It’s so cool. We need to make some corn broth or just buy your corn bread or,
[00:54:20] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: yeah. so, and then one of our best-selling. When I was under engine to at whole foods was our firehouse Chile. And so we’ve taken that, that heritage engine to Chile, and we’ve done a line extensions of that. So we got that one and that we’ve got a creamy white bean chili, Navy beans, cannellini beans, harmony, corn, green hats, chilies.
It’s really nice. all of these are 180 to 280 milligrams of sodium. Most of these like Chili’s and stews are 500 to a thousand milligrams per serving. So these are extraordinary like that.  then we also have a Thai carrot chickpeas stew that sounds delicious. Jasmine rice carrots kind of make that creaminess, galangal lemon grass.
It’s a winner.  then we have a, um, A Indian lentil stew, we call the and this is, it’s kind of like a Indian comfort food and it’s in it’s rice. It is red lentils, yellow lentils, black cumin. so we, I mean, literally every ingredient that we have and every one of our products, there’s a reason for it. we are like, we have tumeric in the Thai carrot chickpeas because we’re going after the curcumin and the kind of health promoting properties that that has. so that’s what we have available on shelf at whole foods, but then online at our go, um, at our plant strong foods, we’ve got our tried and trued serials that we’ve made upgrades on that rips big bowl cereals.

We have our granolas, we have our no oil, no salt, uh, microwaveable popcorn. We’ve got our pizza CROs with no added oils. Just imagine. Of, uh, of maple syrup in there to sweeten it up and, um, low salt. Um, it comes with each one comes with a sauce, pack, a plan, strong approved sauce pack. So you got your crust, you got your, your, your sauce, and then you customize and add the different type of pepperoni and Mason
[00:56:42] Mason: Right, right, right, right. Right. The slice
[00:56:44] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: mushrooms. I actually, yeah, I like the spinach, the mushrooms, the black beans. The pineapple, pineapple pizza. I am the sun dried tomatoes, I love jalapenos.Uh, we do garlic
[00:56:57] Mason: and jalapenos on, on everything. We’ll get the Daya and pizzas and put our own fresh jalapenos and garlic on.
[00:57:05] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: right. Nice, nice. So you’ve
[00:57:07] Mason: been on this journey a long time. You’re clearly still very passionate and excited and you have a devoted community behind you. You know, what’s your motivation to keep growing and pushing this movement.
[00:57:25] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: So that’s easy. It is doing something. And I know this is gonna sound pretty trite, but doing something that is meaningful, um, that makes a difference and can last for a long, long time.
And to me. There’s almost nothing that I could be doing that I know of on this planet at this time, uh, this, this moment in time, that could be as impactful as getting people to eat more plants, to get people, to kind of, you know, shake them up and wake them up and have them realize that, you know, listen, this is the best way that you can eat for personal health.
This is the best way you can eat, uh, to help, uh, eradicate all of the suffering that we have. And the killing of close to 70 billion animals annually is the best way to eat, um, to help contribute to climate change the warming of the planet, which, uh,
It’s crazy to me. How fast is this? This mother earth is, is, um, is spinning out of control and this, and how much
[00:58:55] Mason: is tied to industrial
[00:58:58] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: production. And that’s, you know, this is the thing that, to take a quick break for a sec, you know, there’s been different studies that are out there. There was one in 2009 by the world washed Institute, this part of the world bank.
And it was an article. The article was called, um, livestock’s long shadow. And in it, they basically said that animal agriculture between the life cycle and the supply chain is responsible for 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Now, what you’ll hear in all the documentaries and stuff is, oh, it’s the same as all, all transportation combined.
It’s about 14, 15, 16%. There’s a new study that just came out about six months ago. It’s from Stanford. Um, Celeste Rao is the name of the gentleman that published the article. And it’s showing that animal agriculture between the supply chain, the life cycle, um, tearing down the rain for us, all that stuff.
83% of global greenhouse gas emissions or costs from animal agriculture was 3%. And you know, this is stuff that needs to be making frontline headlines. Um, so again, at this moment in time, I feel like this is what’s driving me. Right. It’s driving me because, um, it feels right. I think it’s the truth. And, um, and, uh, I’m very proud.
Of the message that I’m putting forth. Yeah.
[01:00:35] Mason: Well, that’s beautiful and very eloquently said, and thank you so much for coming on our podcast. Oh man.
[01:00:42] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: I love it. I love it. Thanks for having me. Mason, Jessica
[01:00:47] Mason: and our new executive producer, Ellie.
[01:00:52] Rip Esselstyn of PlantStrong: Yeah. But uh, you know, keep it playing strong. All
[01:00:57] Mason: right.

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