My Plantcentric Journey

Posts tagged ‘Rip Esselstyn’

This is the BEST Father’s Day Gift You Could Ever Give

Our sons live across the country now, but my gift to my husband, Bill, was us re-watching the movie, Forks Over Knives.

It was about 3 years ago, when we watched it for the first time.  After it was done, my husband turned to me and firmly said, “I’m going vegan.  You don’t have to, but I am.”  I was filled with trepidation.  What would we eat?  But I shakily said with a gulp, “If you’re going to, I will to.”  Bill now says, that inside, he was so scared that he was silently screaming, “No! No!  I didn’t mean it!  I was only kidding!”  But he never shared that.  He said OK.  And from that moment on, we never looked back and changed our lives.

 

 

We got our copy of Forks Over Knives from the library, but you can watch it for a nominal fee on Netflix and YouTube.  Get more info at http://www.forkoverknives.com  There you can sign up for free newsletters with recipes, etc.

Show Dad how much you care.  Watch the movie with him (and Mom)!

Happy Father’s Day.

Interview with Rip Esselstyn – My Beef with Meat & 2 Recipes

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About the book:

For the millions who are following a plant-based diet, as well as those meat-eaters who are considering it, MY BEEF WITH MEAT is the definitive guide to convincing all that it’s truly the best way to eat! New

York Times Bestselling author of The Engine 2 Diet and nutrition lecturer Rip Esselstyn, is back and ready to arm readers with the knowledge they need to win any argument with those who doubt the health benefits of a plant-based diet.

Esselstyn reveals information on the foods that most people believe are healthy, yet that scientific research shows are not. Some foods, in fact, he deems so destructive they deserve a warning label.

Want to prevent heart attacks, stroke, cancer and Alzheimer’s? Then learn the facts and gain the knowledge to convince those skeptics that they are misinformed about plant-base diets, for instance:

 • You don’t need meat and dairy to have strong bones or get enough protein

• You get enough calcium and iron in plants

• The myth of the Mediterranean diet

• There is a serious problem with the Paleo diet

• If you eat plants, you lose weight and feel great

MY BEEF WITH MEAT proves the Engine 2 way of eating can optimize health and ultimately save lives and includes more than 145 delicious recipes to help readers reach that goal.

About Rip:

Rip Esselstyn was born in upstate New York, raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and educated at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a three-time All-American swimmer. After graduation Rip spent a decade as one of the premier triathletes in the world. He then joined the Austin Fire Department where he introduced his passion for a whole-food, plant-based diet to Austin’s Engine 2 Firehouse in order to rescue a firefighting brother’s health. To document his success he wrote the national bestselling book, The Engine 2 Diet, which shows the irrefutable connection between a plant-based diet and good health.

Recently Rip left his job as a firefighter to team up with Whole Foods Market as one of their Healthy Eating Partners to raise awareness for Whole Foods employees, customers, and communities about the benefits of eating a plant-strong diet. He has appeared on hundreds of radio shows as well as national television shows, including the Today show, CBS Sunday Morning Show, Good Morning America, and The Dr. Oz Show.

Rip lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Jill Kolasinski and their two beautiful children, Kole and Sophie.

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 believing that 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. This is how confused, distracted, and off-course we have gotten–because this is

NOT a good diet!

This book explains to plant eaters and meat eaters alike why a whole food, plant-strong diet rocks on a jillion different levels, hence the subtitle: The Healthiest Argument for Eating a Plant-Strong Diet. 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 wrong each of these myths is. It gives the reader real science, not fad-diet talk. One of the titles we thought about was “How to Win an Argument with a Meat-eater” and believe me, after reading this book, you will never lose another argument with a carnivore again.

By the way, once you’ve won the argument, you can start cooking up any one of the 140 lipsmacking, rib-sticking outrageously good recipes to prove your point with food as well as with words.

There are some controversial things you tackle in this book, like The Paleo Diet. Why did you decide to address that specific diet?

The two big dueling diets right now are paleo and planteo. I believe that the paleo diet is just a good gimmick. The paleo people have taken the South Beach/Atkins diets and put a little spin on it. There are some positives with paleo, such as no refined or processed foods, and no dairy products. But any diet that promotes animal products with saturated fats, and animal protein isn’t promoting health. The consensus among the researchers who have studied the diets of humans in paleo times have said that at least 80 percent of their food was plant-based. Yes, they ate some animals, but we’ve evolved since then, we’re smarter; we do not need, want, or get healthy from animal products. Back in the day, you would do anything you could to get calories into your body–it was a matter of survival. But in this day and age, you can go down the street to any grocery store and get all that you need without resorting to animal flesh. An interesting article in US News & World Report in 2011 reviewed many different popular diets and decided that the one people should avoid is the paleo diet.

What about the people who say that they get results from a paleo diet?

That’s because the Standard American Diet (SAD) is such an abomination you will get good results when switching to any diet that is even remotely healthier. If you want to get to the next step, cut out the meat!

There are a couple of chapters that talk about how plant-strong can make you stronger in the bedroom. Why do plants help in that department?

Plants help in a number of ways. When you are eating meat/dairy/processed foods, your arteries clog up. Believe it or not, the smallest artery men have is the artery to the penis, so it’s not surprising that one of the first signs of heart disease is erectile dysfunction (ED). When you start eating a plant-strong diet, you begin to metabolize away some of the fat/cholesterol that you’ve built up, and you start to restore your endothelial lining. As my dad (Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn) likes to say, “Endothelial cells are the life jacket of your vascular system.” They are the inner lining of our 65,000 miles of vessels. When you bring them back to life, they produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide allows those vessels to open up. When that happens, it allows for more blood flow, which is key to a great erection.

Interestingly, the one area that we have more endothelial cells per unit volume is the male penis. It’s amazing how many guys e-mail us and tell us about their ED going away. Likewise, women experience similar success. When they cut out the animal products and processed junk foods, they have increased blood flow to the clitoris and surrounding tissues, which creates lubrication. We’ve also received hundreds of e-mails from women telling us about their new, healthier sex life as a result of going plant-strong.

So remember guys and gals plant-strong makes you pant-strong!

Do your kids like eating this way?

My kids, Kole and Sophie, do not like eating this way–they LOVE eating this way! They have no interest in eating anything from animals. If they find out that cake and ice-cream offered to them has things like eggs, butter or milk they politely decline. Kole and Sophie love mangoes, grapefruit, brown rice, baked tofu, peanut butter on whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, cheese-less whole grain pizza and banana ice-cream. Kole was hungry, and I told him I’d give him anything he wanted. Guess what he asked for…. he asked for broccoli!

What about athletes–can they be plant-strong?

Yes they can and should be plant-strong. It is the absolute dope when it comes to taking your athletic performance to the next level. When I was a full time triathlete, I was guilty of taking performance enhancing…… foods. They are nature’s legal performance enhancing drugs! Plants give you an abundance of protein, water, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals that support your body after training. Plants are loaded with clean, unprocessed carbs that will replace depleted glycogen stores in your muscle and liver–allowing you to train harder, adapt faster, and improve quicker.

Plants give you a dose of alkaline, and anti-inflammatory substances that protect you from the stresses of long training days. Plants give you a clear head that will allow you to focus like a laser beam. Plants give you youthful arteries that will improve blood flow to all of your working muscles for maximum oxygen uptake. Plants strengthen your immune system and keep you healthy and free from illness. Plants give you a lean and muscular body that doesn’t carry excessive weight. When you are eating plant-strong, you are getting unprocessed carbs, healthy fats, plant-proteins, fiber and anti oxidants — all of the things that your body relishes and craves and takes your performance to the next level.

What else do you have a beef with?

The huge disconnect with what people think is healthy and what we actually know to be healthy. This creates confusion and distraction. The answer is so incredibly simple. Eat more whole plantbased foods!

I have a beef with dairy.

I have a beef with processed/refined foods.

I have a beef with the Mediterranean diet.

I have a beef with drinking your calories.

I have a beef with olive oil and ALL other extracted oils.

I have a beef with supplements.

I have a beef with the belief that carbs are the devil.

I have a beef with the myth that soy is evil.

I have a beef with “everything in moderation.”

But — I have no beef with plants!

Bri Guy’s Reuben on Rye

  DSC_4652-L-Ti

Prep time/Cook time: 30 minutes

Makes: 4 sandwiches

Ingredients:

8 oz. tempeh or for lower fat version, use Portobello mushroom slices.

. cup tamari

8 oz. silken tofu

1/3 cup ketchup

1/3 cup pickle relish

1 cup fresh spinach

1 jar sauerkraut, your favorite

Rye bread, one loaf or for gluten free version use brown rice bread or millet bread.

Instructions:

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees

2. Slice tempeh in half vertically and then horizontally, thus making four, thin square patties

3. Pour tamari over tempeh and marinate for a few minutes, time permitting

4. Place tempeh on a no-stick pan or on parchment paper and cook for 15 minutes

5. In a bowl, mix tofu, ketchup and relish until it looks like a tofu-based 1000 Island dressing

6. Toast rye bread until desired crispiness

7. Spread with tofu-based 1000 Island dressing

8. Add a layer of sauerkraut, tempeh, then spinach

9. Cut in half and serve

©Engine2Diet

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas

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Prep time: 10 minutes

Serves: 6-8

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Makes: 4 large quesadillas

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato

1 cup brown rice, cooked

8 oz. vegetarian, no added oil, re-fried beans

1 cup of salsa

1 cup fresh spinach

8 oz. black beans, drained and rinsed

. teaspoon onion powder

. teaspoon chili powder

. teaspoon cumin

1 jalapeño pepper, diced (optional and HOT)

6-8 whole wheat tortillas

©Engine2Diet

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375

2. Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper

3. An hour before you plan to eat, peel and

quarter the sweet potatoes

4. Bake sweet potatoes in the oven for 45

minutes to one hour, until soft

5. In the meantime, prepare rice in a rice

cooker or on stove top as directed

6. Remove sweet potatoes from oven and toss

into a mixing bowl

7. Mash sweet potatoes with the salsa, rice and

fresh spinach

8. Place sweet potato mash in a sauce pan and

mix in black beans and refried beans,

heating mixture thoroughly over medium

heat

9. Add onion powder, chili powder and cumin

to taste and stir

10.Place a tortilla in a frying pan on medium

heat, and slather the side facing up with

sweet potato and bean mixture

11.Add jalapenos if desired

12.Place another whole wheat tortilla on top

13.Press down on top tortilla with spatula with

pan on medium heat for about 3 minutes

14.Flip with spatula and cook for another

three minutes

15.Voila! Cut into desired number of sections

16.Serve topped with salsa.

Tip: also try this with black-eyed peas instead of

the black beans or any other favorite beans.

Five Recipes for You to Try This Weekend!

Here are a bunch more of the recipes I’ve made recently.  There is no need to be bored when you’re eating Plantcentric, that’s for sure!

Fast Food Veg Loaf 

(I call it No-Meat Loaf)

This has really become a staple in my house.  In the old days, my husband was a true meatloaf lover.  He would make a meatloaf and add oil to it!  I had never heard of that.  Oil would come half-way up the loaf pan.  To me, it was gross, and I wouldn’t eat it.  Thank goodness those days are over.  I think this is his favorite entree now.

No-Meat Loaf slice

This is made with kidney beans, brown rice, regular oats.  I add onions, garlic, greens and mushrooms to jazz it up.  Hearty and delicious!

Get the recipe here:  http://engine2diet.com/the-daily-beet/fast-food-thanksgiving-recipes-plus-a-giveaway/

Engine 2 Raise the Roof Sweet Potato-Vegetable Lasagna

This recipe is so good that Rip Esselstyn & his wife Jill chose it to be the main dish at their wedding reception.  It has onion, garlic, corn, mushrooms, carrots, red bell peppers, tofu, whole wheat pasta, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and cashew.    Very filling.  Took some time to make.  Wonderful!

Rip's Raise the Roof Lasagna

Get the recipe here:  http://engine2diet.com/recipe/raise-the-roof-sweet-potato-lasagna/

Ann Esselstyn’s Sweet Potato-Orange Slices

Excellent!  Easy!  Tastes like you’d get in a restaurant.

Sweet Potato Orange Slices

Get the recipe here:  http://engine2diet.com/the-daily-beet/fast-food-thanksgiving-recipes-plus-a-giveaway/

Eat Vegan on $4 Day’s Save-Cash Quinoa Loaf

I jazzed up with garlic, ketchup, etc.  Serve with salad.

Save-Cash Quinoa Loaf  No-Meat Loaf

Get the recipe here:  http://support.pcrm.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=53303.0&dlv_id=56765

Eat Vegan on $4 Day’s Apple Crisp

This has become a staple in our house.  No picture yet.  I guess we eat them too fast!

They are individual stuffed apples.  Delicious! Quick and Easy!

Get recipe here:  http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/recipes/thanksgiving-menu#Apple

It’s Our One Year Plantcentric Anniversary!

I remember it like it was yesterday.  Last Christmas, after a substantial weight loss journey for both of us, I surprised my husband with
Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD’s Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Rip Esselstyn’s The Engine 2 Diet, Julieanna Hever, M.S., R.D., CPT The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition, The Forks Over Knives Companion Book, and Kathy Hester’s The Vegan Slow Cooker.  After reading Dr. Esselstyn’s & Rip Esselstyn’s books, my husband, Bill, turned to me and said, “I’m going vegan.  You don’t have to if you don’t want to, but I am.  I’m starting now.”  I about choked!  We had just “come out” as vegetarian, but this was different. This was really radical.  Go without cheese??  And ice cream and pudding?  I shakily said, “OK.  If you are, I am too.”  Gulp!

Then, we watched Dr. Robert Lustig’s The Bitter Truth About Sugar

We had already been following the Rule of 5 from You on a Diet by Michael F. Roizen, MD and Mehmet C. Oz, MD, one of which was no high fructose corn syrup, but now we cut out any kind of added sugar.

We are also learning about GMO’s and trying to cut them out of our diet.  Pretty hard when there is currently no labeling.  We definitely are supporting legislation to have all food that has GMO’s in them to be labeled.
What a great year it’s been.  It hasn’t been hard.  We just armed ourselves with knowlege about the effects of dairy and used vegan cookbooks.  We discovered great new flavors, spices and ways of cooking.  No meat, no dairy, no added oil and no added sugar.  Our palates have really grown.

jesse                                                      fbpic2

This was taken 3 years ago this Easter                                                                                                 Christmas 2012

 

Now, I daresay, we are actually becoming foodies again!  We love trying all new recipes.  I really love Chloe Coscerelli’s cookbook, Chloe’s Kitchen http://chefchloe.com/.

I hope you are enjoying following our journey.  I’ve been humbled when I hear how we’ve inspired you to make changes in your own life as we continue to make changes in ours.

Let me know how you’re doing and what you like about this blog!

Happy Plantcentric One Year Anniversary!!

Laura

We Met Rip Esselstyn Author of Engine 2 Diet

Rip Esselstyn me bill aaron1

Me, Rip Esselstyn, my husband Bill and son, Aaron

I had the pleasure of meeting Rip Esselstyn at his book signing & meet and greet at my local Whole Foods Market.  As I expected, he was laid-back and very informative.  His Engine 2 Diet book http://engine2diet.com/ is one of the books that really got us rolling in this new plantcentric journey.  The other main book we used was his father’s,  Caldwell B. Esselstyn, M.D. How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.  (For more on our start and the books and documentaries we learned from, see the About section on this blog.)

He touched on how he got interested in eating plant-strong, as he calls it, and how he got his fire department to give up meat and dairy and why it is so healthy to do so.

He has his own line of foods that are just coming out called Engine 2 Foods.  We absolutely LOVE his Engine 2 Organic Crispbreads with some hummus spread on top.  We also love his Rip’s Big Bowl Cereal  Check out his line here http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/engine2.  Only available at Whole Foods Market.

Dr. Esselstyn’s Rules

Here are the rules of my program in their simplest form:

• You may not eat anything with a mother or a face (no meat, poultry, or fish).

• You cannot eat dairy products.

• You must not consume oil of any kind—not a drop. (Yes, you devotees of the Mediterranean Diet, that includes olive oil, as I’ll explain in Chapter 10.)

• Generally, you cannot eat nuts or avocados.

You can eat a wonderful variety of delicious, nutrient-dense foods:

• All vegetables except avocado. Leafy green vegetables, root vegetables, veggies that are red, green, purple, orange, and yellowand everything in between

• All legumes—beans, peas, and lentils of all varieties.

• All whole grains and products, such as bread and pasta, that are made from them—as long as they do not contain added fats.

• All fruits.

-Chapter 1 Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease-

Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr.

Rosie O’Donnell Watches ‘Forks Over Knives’, Contacts Dr. Esselstyn

Forks over Knives logo

BY MICHAEL DESTRIES AUGUST 27, 2012

After suffering a potentially fatal heart attack several weeks ago, Rosie O’Donnell has wasted absolutely no time in giving her diet a dramatic overhaul.

The 50-year-old almost immediately starting cutting animal products out of her life; claiming on Twitter to have lost 10 pounds in the process.

“this crazy summer has taken me into uncharted territory,” she wrote today on her blog. “into mornings that begin at 7. long walks and vegetables.”

Ecorazzi reached out to Rosie over Twitter earlier to ask if she had caught the awesome documentary “Forks Over Knives.” She tweeted back that, yes, she had seen it and also chatted with the esteemed Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.

As those who have seen the doc know, Dr. Esselstyn is world-renowned for his work in showing that a vegan diet can have profound effects on reversing the effects of cardiovascular disease. His recommended lifestyle reboot, as detailed in the book “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease,” has been extremely popular – and is one of the sources former president Bill Clinton relied upon for his own health transformation.

“For them to realize that this is not just the luck of the draw, that this is something that you yourself can control,” Esselstyn told the site FoodNotMeds.com. “You can become the locus of control for this disease that is the leading killer of women and men in Western civilization. It’s truly nothing more than a toothless paper tiger that need never ever exist, and if it does exist, it need never progress. This is a food-borne illness.”

Once again, we give credit to Rosie for listening to her body and making a concerted effort to reach out and educate herself. As someone that commands a cultural spotlight, here’s to hoping she continues to inform on the benefits she’s experiencing as well. Good luck, Rosie!

http://www.ecorazzi.com/2012/08/27/rosie-odonnell-watches-forks-over-knives-contacts-dr-esselstyn/

 

Rosie O’Donnell Now Following Plant-Based Diet After Heart Attack

Welcome Rosie!

(As I always say, why wait until a heart attack? Better late than never!)   Laura

8/25/12 she tweeted:  Rosie O’Donnell ‏@Rosie

Oh my god I lost 10 lbs already eating plant based food !!!pic.twitter.com/LwTJNa43

The comedienne revealed on via Twitter that she is committed to a plant-based diet following her recent health scare.

After her recent heart attack, comedienne and former talk show-host Rosie O’Donnell took to her Twitter last Thursday to share her new commitment to a plant-based diet, tweeting “nine days later—nine pounds lost—eating a plant-based diet #likeBillClinton.” The outspoken comic is re-evaluating her eating habits after the health scare last week, sharing on her blog that instead of heading to the hospital, she simply searched “women’s heart attack symptoms” on the internet and followed instructions provided by an online commercial. After eventually visiting a cardiologist, O’Donnell learned her left anterior descending artery was 99-percent blocked. O’Donnell had previously admitted to Dr. Oz that she did not exercise, was a closet eater, and frequently indulged in wine and diet ice cream.

Photo via premierguidemedia.com

http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=4872&catId=8

Rip Esselstyn – Scene from Forks Over Knives

10 Brawny & Buff Vegan Men (Plus a Bonus!)

Our picks for the brawniest vegan men.

BY CHINA DESPAIN FREEMAN MAY 25, 2012

If you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll hear this question at least once in your life: “But where do you get your protein?!” Despite plenty of scientific evidence to the contrary, there is still a pervasive belief that humans must eat meat — and lots of it — to ingest adequate amounts of protein and build muscle.

Not only that, but there’s also a stigma, particularly for men, that being vegan is somehow less “manly” than following a carnivorous diet. In fact, a recent study found that people tend to describe meat as more “masculine” than vegetables. The study’s authors say that, “To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American food. Soy is not. To eat it, they would have to give up a food they saw as strong and powerful like themselves for a food they saw as weak and wimpy.”

This is clearly a misconception that needs to be addressed, so we’re doing our part to show that there’s nothing wimpy about vegans. In fact, there are plenty of examples of strong, studly, masculine dudes who abstain from animal products, and we’re here to prove it. So, without further ado, we present our choices for the top 10 brawniest vegan men, with a vegetarian bonus.

Robert Cheeke

Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke has been a vegan since age 15.

Robert Cheeke is a bodybuilder whose vegan diet helps him maintain his ripped physique. He grew up on a farm in Oregon, an experience he credits with helping develop his compassion toward animals, and at age 15, he gave up all animal products. Now he gets his protein from legumes, greens and plant-based protein powders, and considers fruits and nutrient-dense burritos his go-to foods. “Yams and potatoes, quinoa, kale and artichokes are some of my other favorite whole foods. Thai and Indian dishes, especially Masaman and Yellow Curry and vegetable samosas and Aloo Matter, are by far my favorite dinner meals. Avocado rolls are another menu item I indulge in regularly,” he says.

VegNews named him one of its 15 most influential vegan athletes, and in 2006, Cheeke released a documentary about vegan fitness. He has also been involved in animal advocacy campaigns for PETA and VegSeattle.
Photo credit: Mikkei

Mac Danzig

The champion fighter embraced a vegan diet after seeing the plight of pigs in a slaughterhouse.

Mac Danzig, an MMA fighter and UFC competitor who has won numerous titles, including King of the Cage Lightweight Champion and Gladiator Challenge Lightweight World Champion, is a strict vegan who has campaigned with PETA for animal rights. ”Animals on factory farms and in slaughterhouses don’t have a fighting chance,” Danzig says in the PETA ad. “I don’t eat animals because I don’t want to contribute to their suffering — it’s that simple. Do yourself a favor, do the planet a favor, and help end animal abuse — go vegetarian. I am a fighter in the best shape of my life.”

In 2008, he was listed as a finalist in Men’s Health magazine’s 25 Fittest Guys in America, and in the profile, he explained how, due to an allergy, dairy was detrimental to his health. “A lot of people don’t realize how hard milk, whey, and other dairy products are on the sinuses and respiratory system, and the dairy industry would like you to believe that you need milk to get calcium. That notion is as oxymoronic as you can get. Although not everybody has as severe an allergy to dairy products as I did, I just wanted to point out that after years of battling with ear and sinus infections, eliminating dairy completely cured my problems. Anyone with similar problems may want to try it for a while,” he said.
Photo credit: PETA

Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson credits his 130-pound weight loss to his vegan diet.

He may have suffered a number of ups and downs in his career, but there’s one thing that can’t be disputed: this brawny guy was a really great boxer. A former heavyweight champion of the world, Mike Tyson holds records as the youngest boxer to ever win the WBC, WBA and IBF titles (he was 20 at the time). Now retired from the sport, Tyson lives a much more peaceful life overall, shunning all animal products from his diet.

He credits the diet overhaul with helping him shed 130 pounds (revealing a sleeker, stronger physique), and explained in 2010 that it was part of an overall plan to revamp his life and improve his mental and physical health. “I wanted a different life. I felt like I was dying. I had an incident in life where I lost my 4-year-old daughter in a tragic accident at home. I don’t know. I didn’t want to live anymore. So I said, that in order to go there, I had to change my life. I am going to change everything I dislike about myself. I changed everything that I was as a human being. I started that journey in October or November…I don’t smoke anymore. I wanted to give up everything. I had to change my life.” Mission accomplished.
Photo Credit: CarlaVanWagoner / Shutterstock.com

Brendan Brazier

Brendan Brazier went vegan at age 15 to improve his sports performance.

This Canadian athlete is proof that a vegan diet is more than enough to fuel an active lifestyle. A former triathlete, Brendan Brazier won 50-kilometer ultramarathons twice: once in 2003, and again in 2006 (If you don’t do metric, that’s about 31 miles. In other words, a really long way to run!). An advocate for a plants-based lifestyle, Brazier is also the man behind the Thrive Diet and the Vega sports nutrition line (fellow brawny dudes Robert Cheeke and Mac Danzig are fans).

Brazier discovered veganism as a teenager, and has never looked back, even though he no longer competes professionally. “I’ve been vegan since I was 15, and I got into it just because I wanted to be a better athlete, I didn’t care what I ate,” he says. “At the time I would’ve eaten anything if I thought it would have made me a better athlete. And I just tried different ways of eating…That’s what brought me to it, it was really selfish reasons. I mean, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it. Then I found that a properly put together, plant-based diet was a real performance advantage, and I started racing professionally.” The rest is triathlon history.
Photo credit: Iknowiknowithink

Jake Shields

Jake Shields is a lifelong vegetarian who made the switch to vegan in 2011.

This MMA and UFC competitor is a lifelong vegetarian and current vegan who cites the SunWarrior brand as his protein powder of choice. A middleweight and welterweight champion, Jake Shields is an animal rights advocate who teamed with PETA to support vegetarianism. The Srikeforce champ denounced the way slaughterhouses treat animals, and cited himself as an example of a successful vegan athlete. ”I’m living proof that you can further, train harder, and pack a meaner punch without eating animals,” reads his PETA ad.

Shields has been advocating for a meat-free diet for years. Back in 2009, he explained, “I’m a life-long vegetarian and the diet obviously works. I also have two brothers that are strong and healthy. But you do have to have a good balanced diet and eat healthy foods. There’s plenty of ways to get protein other than eating meat.” Well said.
Photo Credit: PETA 

Rip Esselstyn

Rip Esselstyn is the creator of the Engine 2 Diet, which is featured in a Forks Over Knives companion film.

The success of vegan documentary “Forks Over Knives” helped make Rip Esselstyn a household name (his father is one of the doctors profiled in the film), and now he has his own documentary touting the benefits of a meat-free diet. A former All American swimmer and top triathlete and current firefighter (and Lance Armstrong workout buddy), Esselstyn’sfitness background is impressive: ”[Esselstyn] took first place in many major events, including the 2001 Police and Fire World Games, the world’s largest athletic competition. He also won the Capital of Texas triathlon eight times and was the leader and top-three finisher at many televised events, including the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, where he was first out of the frigid, shark-infested waters six years in a row. Rip still competes in various events, recently winning the master national championships and setting the national record in the process.”

Esselstyn is also the creator Engine 2 diet and hosts its companion film, “Forks Over Knives Presents: Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue” (it streams on Netflix if you want to check it out), which features him teaching two families basics of a plant-based diet. He initially created the Engine 2 diet to help save the life of one of his firefighter co-workers (it worked!), and now works with Whole Foods to spread the message about the benefits of a vegan diet.
Photo credit: Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue

Georges Laraque

Georges Laraque is an animal-rights activist and vegan restauranteur.

Canadian athlete Georges Laraque may have retired from hockey, but the 6’3″ forward made quite an impression on the ice in his day: in 2003, he was named “Best Fighter” by The Hockey News, and Sports Illustrated crowned him “Best Enforcer” in 2006. Despite his tough on-ice persona, Laraque lives a decidedly more peaceful life outside the rink as a PETA supporter and vegan restauranteurIn a PETA video, Laraque says, “I don’t put up with much, and I certainly don’t want to put up with the cruelty of the meat industry. I’m Georges Laraque, and I’m vegan.”

His decision to abstain from animal products came after watching the documentary “Earthlings.” “After I saw that video…I encouraged people to watch it, because I am sure people, like me, are sensitive to cruelty. And when you see that animals go through so much cruelty, why would you want to encourage that?… I felt better, I have much more energy, and I feel even stronger, so the stereotype that says that big guys cannot be vegan, if you don’t eat meat, you can’t be strong, it’s not true,” he says. And not only did the film lead him to change his diet, but it brought on a whole new level of activism for Laraque,including participation in fur protests. Now that’s a fight we’d like to see him win.
Photo credit: PETA

John Salley

Former NBA star believes a raw vegan diet is optimal for good health.

It takes a lot to fuel 6’11″ of muscle up and down a basketball court, but former NBA starJohn Salley knows the key to a healthy diet is abstaining from animal products. Salley has had a varied entertainment career since he retired from sports, but his real passion is health, and he’s an outspoken raw vegan who has worked with PETA and the PCRM and who has his own line of organic, vegan food products.

Salley’s discipline is both physical and mental; he considers his body a temple, and takes care of it through fitness, diet and spiritual study. And he believes it’s up to adults to spread the message of good health to our children. “As a former athlete, I know that the nutrition of the food I eat has a direct impact on my physical and mental performance on the basketball court. More fruits, vegetables, and other vegetarian foods help you stay healthy, fit, and alert. Adults influence kids’ eating habits. We have to improve kids’ eating habits — and re-educate adults about what is food and what is not food. People can have pizza and pastries without dairy products and eggs. They can have tofu mozzarella cheese or egg substitute and they should use agave in place of high-fructose corn syrup and refined whole sugar,”he said back in 2010. Here’s hoping his suggestions catch on.
Photo credit: Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com

Bryan Danielson

Bryan Danielson credits his meat-free diet with helping him succeed in the WWE ring.

Also known as Daniel Bryan and the Red Dragon, this vegan WWE superstar has a litany of credits to his name, including: “former Ring of Honor World champion, two-time Pro Wrestling Guerrilla World champion, a one-time Westside Xtreme Wrestling Heavyweight champion, a one-time FIP Heavyweight Champion and a one-time World Heavyweight Champion in WWE.” He’s also integrated veganism into his villainous wrestling persona to elicit crowd reactions.

Like many of the athletes on our list, he’s partnered with PETA to promote the benefits of a vegetarian diet. In a video for the animal-rights organization, he says, “As a WWE superstar, staying healthy and having a lot of energy helps me succeed in the ring, and that’s why I choose to be a vegetarian. My vegetarian diet allows me to lead a healthier lifestyle, reduce my carbon footprint, and save the lives of more than 100 animals every year. I’m stronger and healthier than ever, and I feel good about doing something positive for myself, animals, and the planet.”
Photo credit: PETA

Carl Lewis

Carl Lewis's most successful year as an athlete happened when he adopted a vegan diet.

Carl Lewis is one of the United States’ most decorated athletes. Standing tall at 6’3″, this former track and field athlete competed from 1979 to 1996, racking up nine Olympic gold medals, one Olympic silver medal, eight World Championship gold medals, one World Championship silver, one World Championship bronze, and three Pan American Games medals (two golds and a bronze). He was also drafted by both the NBA and the NFL, although he opted not to play in either league. All this and he’s a vegan — now that’s what we call impressive.

So, just how did his meat-free diet enhance his career? Lewis says, “In the spring of 1991 – eight months after beginning to eat vegan…I was drinking 24 to 32 ounces of juice a day. I ate no dairy products. And I had my best year as an athlete ever! You have total control over what you put in your body. No one can force you to eat what you don’t want to eat. I know that many people think that eating a vegetarian diet – and especially a vegan diet – will require sacrifice and denial. Jannequin Bennett demonstrates…that eating vegan does not have to be tasteless and boring. As she says, ‘vegan eating is a truly indulgent way of life, as vegans regularly partake of the very best foods that nature has to offer.’ Your body is your temple. If you nourish it properly, it will be good to you and you will increase its longevity.” Well said, Mr. Lewis.
Photo credit: Manfred Werner

Michael Clarke Duncan

Michael Clarke Duncan says he's stronger as a vegetarian than he was as a meat-eater.

Actor Michael Clarke Duncan is the 11th guy on our list, and we’re including him as a bonus. He’s not a vegan (yet!), but he adopted a vegetarian diet three years ago, and is a prime example that meat is not necessary to maintain a strong, manly physique (according to Wikipedia, he’s 6’5″ and 315 pounds). The star recently teamed up with PETA to advocate his animal-friendly diet, which helped him lose weight and improve his overall health.

In the video for the campaign, he says, “The best thing about being a vegetarian for me, number one, is I know I’m not harming any animals. The number two thing is increased strength. I’m a lot stronger than I was when I was eating meat. Most of your most powerful animals in the wild are vegetarian, so I’m trying to get my strength to that level…Don’t think that you have to have these gigantic steaks to get your protein. The protein you put in from the beans, legumes, fresh fruits, and vegetables will last way longer, and you’ll get more out of it than you will in that 12 ounces of meat.”
Photo credit: PETA

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This pretty much proves it — there’s nothing un-masculine about abstaining from meat. On the contrary, these guys all concur that it’s not possible to be healthy, fit and strong on a vegan diet, it’s actually easier! And not only are they taking care of themselves, they’re also helping to save lives and protect the planet. That level of kindness is just plain hot.

Featured image: Shutterstock.com

About China DeSpain Freeman

China DeSpain Freeman is an Atlanta and San Antonio based writer and blogger. She loves pop culture, animal rights, health and fitness, international travel, books and wigs. You can find more of her work at themodernista.comand writefork.com. Follow China on Twitter: @ChinaDeSpain

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