What started as an Austin Texas firefighter's vision to help people lose weight and save their life has gone national and embraced the godfather of all wellness Whole Foods founder John Mackey.
They aren't just urging you to "go plant strong" with the "Engine 2 Diet" there's a product line to help you.
Triathlete and creator of the Engine 2 Diet Rip Esselstyn says it all started at Fire Station 2 in Austin, Texas.
"It started right here. It stared on that porch right there and we had a bet to see who had a lowest cholesterol level," Esselstyn said.
What they discovered one of their own had cholesterol through the roof and if he followed his family's history he wouldn't make it past 52.
"That was the spark that ignited the culture of wellness at Station 2," Esselstyn said.
It was also the light bulb moment and he needed a book.
"You know what. Maybe as a firefighter I'm in a unique position to reach the population who wouldn't otherwise hear this message," Esselstyn said.
Rip wasn't a rookie firefighter and he wasn't a rookie in nutrition. His father is a well-known Cleveland Clinic Surgeon Researcher, who made his mark by reversing heart disease through diet in patients once written off as done.
"He now has the more profound evidence based research on the planet that you can not only hope but you can reverse and prevent the #1 killer in the US that kills 1 out of 2 of us," Esselstyn said.
The Engine 2 Diet also has promises and urges you to give it at least 28 days.
Just 4 years after launching his book he has his own product line, everything from cereals to hummus to tortillas. So what makes it so different? There are no animal products, low sodium low fat 100% whole wheat and no oil. He calls it the save your life diet plan.
"There is a complete disconnect with what people think is healthy and what actually is healthy. Most people think chicken and fish are healthy… think low fat cheese is healthy. They think olive oil is healthy and the reality is something entirely different," Esselstyn said.
He invited us to the Whole Foods test kitchen to prove it. From the breakfast cereal Engine 2 big bowl with bananas, grapefruit, mangos & blueberries with almond milk to the oil free tahini free Engine 2 hummus and tortilla for lunch. And the best part is the no cheese pizza. We add corn, beans, red onions and mushrooms. So where do you get the cheese flavor?
"This is nutritional yeast and believe it or not 50% of the calories come from protein and it has a nice nutty cheesy flavoring," Esselstyn said. "You can be plant strong and get your protein groove on"
But what about all the protein we have been told to eat? How are we going to build muscle?
"Get over the whole protein thing as long as you are consuming enough calories you are getting all the protein you need" Esselstyn said.
Calories from constructive foods not destructive consisting of only fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts seeds and whole grains. The concept is catching on like wildfire and spreading fast. Firefighters from around the country are joining the fight to be fit.
"What's really cool is now I have fire chiefs from around the country coming up and I have firefighters sharing their success stories with me," Esselstyn said.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel embraced it for his city employees and Whole Foods Founder John Mackey for his and now the rest of the nation.
"We did it here in the most unlikely places in the world a fire station in the land of beef," Esselstyn said.
And if you can do it here Esselstyn says you can do this diet anywhere.