Can Engine 2 improve my health? A 28 day challenge.

How healthy can a group of bloggers get in 28 days? Whole Foods wanted a small group to take up the challenge so they could share first hand what an entirely plant based, whole foods diet could do to improve wellness. With claims like more energy, healthier skin, weight loss, lower cholesterol numbers and just feeling better, how could I refuse? A challenge? Of course I accept.

Tasty kale salad

It won’t be easy though. For the next 28 days I will avoid all processed foods, any food that had a mother or came from something that had a mother. The laundry list of things to avoid is daunting — milk, eggs, cheese, meat of any kind (including fish), and refined sugars. The hardest part? No more diet coke! It’s a big challenge, but I know I can do it.

Rip Esselstyn author of The Engine 2 Diet

Things kicked off Tuesday May 10th with a healthy vegan dinner and a little inspiration. We met the author of The Engine 2 Diet, Rip Esselstyn, who told us that if Austin firefighters could follow this plan, so could we. Dinner was followed by a screening of the new documentary, Forks Over Knives. The movie included seemingly outlandish claims that eating all plants and no meat or dairy can reverse heart disease, diabetes and possibly even cure cancer.

The crazy part is, they seem to have the science to back it up. They showed this graph from a  study of the folks in Norway during the Nazi occupation in WWII. The Nazis took all the  livestock to feed their troops, as a result the rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes nose-dive during the occupation. Once the war was over, the rates of  disease climb again. I heard this same information while on a tour of the Danish Resistance Museum in Copenhagen. The tour guide said that during the war, that was the healthiest the Danes have ever been.

tasty vegan dessert

Forks Over Knives follows the work of Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a nutritional scientist from Cornell, and  Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a surgeon from the Cleveland Clinic, as they look at how nutrition and diet effect  health. Their independent studies suggest that you can reverse damage done to your body by simply changing what you eat. They further claim that due to the way business and government works, their discoveries have gone largely unnoticed. Because agribusiness lobbyists control policy which controls how the government subsidizes corn which is then turned into high fructose corn syrup and goes to feed livestock. These agri-businesses also fund university studies to refute any claims that the corn sugar lifestyle is a bad way to live. According to the film, dissenters are mocked and ridiculed.

Politics aside, the film inspired me to take control of my eating and my health. The folks at Whole Foods Market sent us home with recipes and grocery lists, which will help me to pick the right food and learn how to cook the ones I’ve never eaten before. I have concerns about how much a plant-based diet is going to cost and how much extra time it will take to live within the constraints of the program, but I hope to learn how to shop better as well as eat better. I know I eat way too many convenience foods.

If you’re interested in how I do, I’ll share daily updates on my personal blog. There, you can follow along with the struggles as well as get more detail about the plan and my success with it. Come cheer me on!