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Rip Esselstyn is founder of Engine 2, a food and education company dedicated to eliminating chronic disease through a whole food, plant-based diet.

As Engine 2 continues to grow in influence and reach, Rip is stewarding the company to new opportunities. As a food brand associated with Whole Foods and an education provider to their employees, Engine 2 is poised to explode with Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods this past year.

I see Amazon as a potential blessing and curse, both in its current behavior, and its continuing disruption of retail into the future. I wanted to get Rip's take on the opportunities and dangers inherent in a tight relationship with Amazon.

I also had a wonderful time at Plantstock 2017, at the Esselstyn family farm in Claverack, New York, and watched a number of friends, clients, and acquaintances experience profound breakthrough during that weekend. I wanted to explore what I had seen with Rip, and get his take on what Engine 2's vision is for its public events.

As an introduction to the conversation, I had a chat with Doron Avizov, who attended Plantstock, and shared with me the profound influence the event had on him. Doron is a coaching client of mine, and a participant in the Big Change Program, so he's no stranger to plant-based living and skills. And as accomplished and experienced as he is, nevertheless he was touched deeply by the Plantstock experience.

Here are a couple of photos to punctuate Doron's description of his journey. Before was taken May 2015 (in the North Face jacket). And after was taken October 2017.

Back to Rip.

What really struck me about our conversation is how Rip's perceptual filters work. My default mental mode is to watch out for external threats and internal weaknesses, while Rip is just the opposite. He's always looking for the positive; for the opportunity, for the upside, for the good.

And I suspect that attitude has played a large role in the success of the movement he spearheads.

In our conversation, we covered:

  • transitioning to a plant-based diet at the University of Texas based on his dad's research
  • “I didn't have to eat the meat at the athlete's table any more”
  • watching his parents walk their talk and not decline as they aged
  • “my dad is a plant-eating beast”
  • emulating top triathlete Dave Scott's diet
  • the Engine 2 experiment – getting his firefighting brothers on a healthier trajectory
  • “I had no interest in writing a book”
  • writing it anyway
  • from The Engine 2 Diet to the Whole Foods scientific advisory board
  • being a “healthy eating celebrity”
  • the key to success: reach out and help as many people as possible
  • the power of “following your passion”
  • the fortunate decision to get a degree in speech communications decades before it was relevant
  • the magic of Plantstock
  • the future of Engine 2 events (they're coming to North Carolina next summer!)
  • serving their “avatar” participants who watched Forks Over Knives and were inspired to dive deeper
  • the Amazon opportunity: to serve more people (including millions who've never set foot into a Whole Foods store) with healthy Engine 2 products
  • and much more…

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.


Engine 2

Whole Foods Market

Forks Over Knives

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Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons
– Kim Harrison
– Lynn McLellan
– Anthony Dissen
– Brittany Porter
– Dominic Marro
– Barbara Whitney
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– Amy Good
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– Mary Jane Wheeler
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for your generous support of the podcast.

Ready to embark on your Big Change journey?

Are you tired of knowing what to do, and still not doing it consistently? The Big Change Program, led by Josh LaJaunie and myself, will help you take the steps to finally live according to your knowledge and values.

Join the Plant Yourself mailing list (top right of this page) to learn more, and to get notified about the next Bobsled Run of the program.

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The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


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