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What we learned this week from Rip Esselstyn during our Wisdom Walk

Wisdom Walks - Wednesday 12 June

Plant Strong 7-Day Turnaround with Rip Esselstyn

NHA Podcast - Hosted by Dr Frank Sabatino

Wisdom Walks are facilitated by Sia Hurst


As a recognized authority on the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, Dr Frank Sabatino has cared for and inspired thousands of people for over 40 years. Dr Sabatino has a PhD in cell biology and neuroendocrinology and has done extensive landmark research on calorie restriction, stress, and aging. He currently is on staff at the TrueNorth Health Foundation in Santa Rosa, CA, and serves as the Director of Health Education at the NHA.


Rip’s journey from a competitive triathlete to a plant-based advocate within the Austin Fire Department is proof that when the body is nourished with a plant-strong diet. Initially stationed at Fire Station One, which epitomized a meat-heavy environment, Rip’s determination led him to Fire Station Two, ultimately inspiring his book, “The Engine Two Diet.”

Transitioning a firehouse to plant-based eating wasn’t an overnight success; it was a dance. Rip describes it as a gradual progression that commenced with shared lunches. Rip is quick to point out that you have to meet people where they are at. Not everyone is ready for a 100% change from meat-centric eating to a plant-based diet. Yet, he could see opportunity to have an impact with his own culinary choices.

Rip Esselstyn’s journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of a whole food, plant-based lifestyle. From a competitive triathlete to a plant-based advocate, his Plant-Strong legacy continues to inspire individuals worldwide to embrace healthier, compassionate living.


We are grateful to the NHA for allowing us to use their podcasts exclusively for all of our Wisdom Walks. Please consider becoming a member of this amazing organization.

NOTE: Although 6D Living is an official affiliate for the virtual conference, all proceeds will be directly donated to the NHA - 6D will receive no funds from your registration - it all goes to help fund the NHA and its amazing work.


As we were walking and learning together yesterday during our Wisdom Walk, I managed to take a few notes and I would like to share a few of the ideas which impacted me in some way. I am paraphrasing what I heard during the interview - filtered by my own mitote of ideas and thoughts.

I took plenty of notes and really enjoyed the listening to Rip Esselstyn share his backstory as well information about his programs and WFPB product line with Dr Sabatino - and us all!

  • Rip was brought up on a SAD diet

  • His family has a history of medical doctors - going back to his great grandfather, who founded the Cleveland Clinic

  • Though he was encouraged to go into medicine, he did not feel it was the right choice for him

  • His brother did go into medicine, though he left when he "got too close to the beast" and began looking for a better way to heal people

  • Rip shifted to eating plants towards the end of his college years, where he trained as an elite athlete and was appalled at the food that was given to his fellow athletes saying it was "the SAD diet on steroids" (not literally, of course)

  • After graduating in 1986 he began an exclusive WFPB lifestyle, following the ideas from his father's research

  • Rip competed as a professional tri-athlete for a decade and was rated Top Ten in the country, sharing that his recovery time was faster and he said he had an “Immune system like a Canadian Moose”

  • He became a fire-fighter and an EMT in Austin, Texas and was working originally at fire station one - where he was the only one eating a plant-based diet

  • He later moved to fire station two, where helped one of his fellow fire fighters to take on a 28 day challenge of plant-based eating to address his cholesterol levels

  • Rip also asked the others in the fire house to 'try' this way of eating as a way to show support for their friend and colleague

  • They began with PB lunches and eventually went to full PB eating with all the meals during their shifts - their station came to known as the Plant Strong station

  • They received a lot of media attention and this helped Rip's focus and dedication to helping people with these challenges grow

  • PETA sent them a poster and awarded them Most Vegan Friendly Fire House of the year after all that publicity and they became very well known in the community for being plant strong

  • "Give yourself 28 days" and see if you feel better - you will!

  • Rip retired from firefighting after twelve years and founded Plant Strong, where he offers twice yearly 7-day programs to those who are in need of help

  • He was surprised to learn that these 7-day programs yielded very similar results as his original 28-day challenge at the fire house

  • "You can do things that you and your doctor never thought possible"

  • Rip also developed a product line of plant strong foods - ensuring that the products were not made from a lot of fractionated ingredients (like Beyond and Impossible) and focused on whole plant ingredients

  • These foods - look for the label Plant Strong - are now available in over 4000 stores across the USA and are also available online at

  • When asked about what comes next Rip replied, "Not just one thing. A nice constellation of things going on ... I love doing a lot of different things"

  • In 2019, Rip won the World Record for the men's 200m back stroke

  • His final words paraphrased Winston Churchill "Never, Never, Never, Never, Never give up"

  • Rip encourages everyone to continue down this path and when we stumble he shared that we can still begin again, it is never to late to get back up and try again

  • Rip's driving force is helping people to understand why this lifestyle makes sense for everybody, for the planet and for the animals

Thoughts from our participants in this week's Wisdom Walk

·        His retreats are most interesting for those who need a boost and could benefit from them; it is a great opportunity for those who are struggling with dis-ease

·        His work in the fire stations was really inspiring; he is inspiring in so many ways

·        I wish more ‘poster boy men’ like him would stand up; those who want to bulk up and big muscles; they would be so inspiring to the youth men and women

·        The Esselstyn’s are great leaders, I admire the entire family and appreciate all of their work to help us get healthier and stronger

·        What struck me was the community that he developed in the fire station and how important it is for us to have community to stay focused and on the right path

·        We need to do more community building for ourselves and others

Thank you to Rip Esselstyn and Dr Sabatino for a wonderful interview and for getting us moving whilst learning. as well as for the joy and knowledge you continue to share with us all - you have our gratitude.


Be well


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