Author/Firefighter Rip Esselstyn ’82 Promotes Health, Wellness

Rip Esselstyn ’82, a former All-America swimmer at Mercersburg and the University of Texas and author of national bestseller The Engine 2 Diet, is in town September 14-15 to discuss health and well-being. Esselstyn will hold sessions on campus both days, and will also appear at area businesses as part of his visit.
He has been a guest on several television programs, including NBC’s Today and Dr. Oz, in support of the book and the wellness initiative.

An Austin, Texas-based firefighter and former professional triathlete, Esselstyn created the Engine 2 Diet in 2003 specifically for a fellow firefighter whose cholesterol level had ballooned to a dangerously high level. Esselstyn’s father, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, is a world-renowned expert on preventing and reversing heart disease.

The community is talking about Esselstyn and his message of having “health by choice, not by chance” by eating a plant-strong diet that is low in calories and high in nutrients.


“Rip relied on numerous studies to form his opinions and support his platforms,” faculty member Cindy Jones said. “I’m impressed with his use of research.”


“Having been on the Engine 2 Diet for a week and a half and losing six pounds, it was nice to meet Rip and get some answers to specific questions I had,” said staff member Will Dupuis.


“I’m committed to trying not to eat meat or dairy for the next 28 days,” faculty member Jenn Flanagan Bradley ’99 said. “Rip makes it sound easy.”


Students weighed in with their opinions as well. “I may try the diet,” said Collin Greene ’11. “Rip makes a lot of good points. It’s cool to have an alum who is an All-American swimmer and a best-selling author.”


“Rip talked about things I’d never thought about,” Leah Selznick ’12 said. “His talk opened my eyes to something new. The results seem to speak for themselves—his diet works.”


“He definitely got me thinking, but I’m pretty lean so maybe his diet is something I’ll consider down the road,” said Kevin Carroll ’11.


Christina Hyrkas ’13 said that she looked at foods in the dining hall with a critical eye after hearing Rip speak. “He inspired me and makes me want to think twice about what I’m eating,” she said.


As for Esselstyn himself, he leaves town knowing that “this conversation of eating plant strong foods can now happen in Mercersburg.” Having canvassed the campus and a variety of local businesses, Esselstyn said that “it’s been awesome dealing with all of the different demographics around Mercersburg.” More importantly, he feels he has accomplished what he came here for.


“My whole point in coming here was to plant the seeds of this diet that has changed my life,” he continued. “I have successfully started to plant the plant-strong message in Mercersburg, which means that conversations will start to shift and change. I think you can start eating this way and you won’t be considered strange.


“If you want to effect change at a cellular or molecular level, it’s got to happen through food. Plant-based is the way to go—the ripple effect is greater than anything you can imagine.”

Click here to read a feature on Esselstyn from the winter 2009-2010 issue of Mercersburg magazine.
Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 435 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $7 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center.
Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance of New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
300 East Seminary Street, Mercersburg, PA 17236
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