Spinach had Popeye and now Kale has Rip


“Mmmm! What smells so good?” my husband asks as he walks in the house with his friend Kevin.
“Vegetarian chili,” I say.
“You know what I think of when you say vegetarian,” Kevin asks? “The skinny, pale guy who gets sand kicked in his face at the beach.”
“So what should I call it?”
“Meatless chili,” he says.
“Oh, so just the word MEAT would make it more manly?” I ask.

Vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based meals have an image problem. I get that. Everyone at college knew who the vegetarians were: those pale, wan, people ghosting around campus.

But, times have changed. Have you heard of Rip Esselstyn, the firefighter who eats a plant-based diet? He’s so fit and muscular, he practically busts out of his clothes. There are recipes on the site, or you can buy his cookbook Engine 2 Diet, which promises to lower your cholesterol and burn away pounds. In fact, his diet worked so well for him that after his coworkers tried it for a few weeks, then they all switched to eating plant-based meals. He just finished a second book called My Beef with Meat.

And, here I thought people didn’t care about the environment* when all along it’s been a veggie image problem – who’d thunk? There is even an ad agency trying to make broccoli look cool by picking a fight with kale (Good luck with that! They’d be better off following Rip’s example.).

So, what are we having for dinner? MEATless chili.

* United Nations Environment Program details global meat production, consumption, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (which include methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O)). Scientists agree that in order to keep GHG emissions to 2000 levels the projected 9 billion inhabitants of the world (in 2050) need to each consume no more than 70-90 grams of meat per day. The USA currently leads consumption with over 322 grams of meat per person per day (120 kg per year).

Worldwatch Institute publication claims that meat creates half of all greenhouse gases – wow!

NY Times article Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies


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5 Responses to Spinach had Popeye and now Kale has Rip

  1. Steve Waller says:

    I have to admit Jane that I am not fantastic when it comes to my fruit and veg. In fact I’m terrible when it comes to fruit – I don’t eat any at all – and never have. It’s not a phobia or anything but no matter what fruits I try (and I’ve tried a lot) I just can’t seem to find one that I like.

    Vegetables I’m a bit better with and I can happily cook vegetarian meals a couple of times a week but going vegan like Rip would be the ultimate challenge for me and I’m not sure I would cope. For now, for certain recipes, I’ll stick with my meat substitutes like Quorn.

    And wow, I didn’t know that UN figure suggesting we eat no more than 70 – 90 grams of meat a day. I’d be interested to calculate what I consumer but it would almost certainly be more than that.

    • Jane Lindley says:

      Hey Steve,

      I know the UN number is low but at least it’s not zero, right? I like using Rip as an example because America is sooo image driven and he made his dietary changes solely to improve his health.

      Eating less meat is no easy task especially if you need to eat out on business or traveling. It’s nearly impossible to eat vegan at restaurants. A couple wks ago I ordered a kale salad and asked for no meat or cheese then found out a wk later that the dressing had eggs in it. So there you have it. All we can do is our best then let the chips fall where they may :-)

      Oh, and I tried Rip’s recipes – they’re good, especially his breakfast bowl (I think that one is on the engine 2 diet website). Most of his recipes have gluten in them however (I could substitute but I find that just leaves me wanting the real thing).

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  3. Deb Rudnick says:

    Hooray for less meat! So many good reasons to do it, carbon footprint being among them. I will totally check out Rip’s recipes, thanks for that! I have tried, and failed, to be a healthy vegetarian, and my husband, like yours, is a fairly dedicated meativore. However, we’e taken steps to reduce our meat consumption: I am trying to make at least 1 meatless meal a week; I try to limit my meat consumption to 1 meal per day; and when we cook with meat, 80% of the time it is not a whole chicken breast, or a huge steak, or any other slab of animal protein: we focus on stir-fries, curries, and soups to which I add a small amount of meat: usually about 0.5 – 1 lbs to a meal that has 5 or 6 servings in it.

    We also focus pretty heavily on locally sourced meats when we can, more for animal welfare and health reasons- we get our pork, beef and lamb from a guy up on Lopez, whose animals are uber happy, grass-fed, absolutely hands down the most delicious critters I’ve had the great fortune to eat.

    • Jane Lindley says:

      Thanks for the comment. Last year a friend of mine in NC said she had watched a movie and it convinced her to go vegan. Did I tell you this? I was shocked, a movie, really? It was Forks Over Knives – have you seen it? You can rent it on NetFlix or Amazon. The documentary makes a really compelling case and it convinced me to go vegan too. Mostly for my health and then secondarily (if I’m honest, which I try to be) for the planet. I’d love to hear what your husband thinks of it.

      The dirty little secret at our house is that my husband and I now cook our meals separately. Or, I should say, I make my dinner and he uses it as a “side” for whatever meat product he’s having. It works OK, but sometimes I wish for the days when he did all the cooking.

      Here’s to a new plant-strong you! :-)