Oh! Those Vegan Firemen!

Right in Austin, Texas, the heart of cattle country, barbecue, and obesity,* have come these five fire guys with their new vegan diet plan. Rip Esselstyn, the author of The Engine 2 Diet, had been a vegan for over twenty years when his co-fire guy James Rae (JR) tested 344 on a routine cholesterol screening.  That news, coupled with a family history of early heart disease for JR, led the  other four men to support his quest for health and go vegan in the firehouse.  In the process, JR lowered his cholesterol 150 points while the rest of the crew lost weight – some as much as 20 pounds! Esselstyn had been a pro tirathlete and swimmer before joining the firefighters; his father, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn of Cleveland, had been doing research for over a decade with heart disease and had noted that a very-low-fat, plant-based diet along with cholesterol-lowering medicine could bring striking improvement in what otherwise would be considered terminally ill patients. Rip is aptly name – he is one ripped, healthy, athletic looking guy.

Specialist Rae tried eating vegan at the firehouse and then flexing to other foods on the outside. This failed to lower his cholesterol, so he expanded his veganism to a global eating plan which lowered his cholesterol under 200.   Matt Moore, Derick Zwerneman and Scott Walters are the other three firemen who go vegan at work.  Check out the  Engine 2 website here, which allows you to register, get diet and exercise tips, and join a community of other health-conscious folks. Rip Esselstyn takes all the hoopla in stride and admits some folks thing he is daft.  ”For compassion reasons and for environmental reasons, it’s the best way to go,” Esselstyn said of eating a vegan diet. The vegan firemen of Austin’s Firehouse 2 won the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA)  Animal-Friendly Firehouse of the Year Award in 2005.  These five men have demonstrated that firemen can indeed be heroes to the entire community, including the four-legged kind!

*   Nearly two-thirds (64.1 percent) of the state’s adult population is overweight (Texas).  See state report for more information.