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The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Take the Engine 2 Challenge

Take the Engine 2 Challenge!Engine 2 is a plan of action for following — and sticking to — a heart-healthy, mind-healthy, body-healthy, taste-bud-tempting plant-strong® lifestyle, created by former firefighter, Rip Esselstyn. 

Meet Rip, the Engine Behind the Diet

When former tri-athlete turned firefighter Rip Esselstyn discovered that several of his colleagues were in danger due to poor health, he came to the rescue and changed their diets. The results were so dramatic that Rip wrote a best-selling book, The Engine 2 Diet®, to spread the word. If Rip can save an entire Texas fire brigade, imagine what he can do for you and your family!

The Engine 2 Diet Philosophy

The guiding principle is simple: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds give your body the fuel it needs to function at its best. When you fill your belly with these whole, minimally processed plant-based foods, you take charge of your health and become plant-strong®.

The benefits? Healthy blood sugar levels, healthy cholesterol, healthy weight, energy and wellbeing.

Get Fired Up for a Challenge 

Every individual is unique, and there’s no single path to a plant-strong lifestyle. If you want to challenge yourself to try a new way of eating, check out the options below and choose the Engine 2 Challenge that’s right for you.

Rip EsselstynVolunteer Firefighter

Just getting started? It’s easy to explore a plant-strong lifestyle. Simply refocus your meals to eat more plants.

Fire Cadet

Week 1: Eliminate dairy, refined sugar and processed foods.

Week 2: Build on the successes of the previous week! Eliminate meat, poultry, eggs and fish.

Week 3: Keep up the good work! Now it’s time to eliminate extracted oils too.

Week 4: Congratulations! You’ve advanced to Firefighter! Focus on enjoying your plant-strong diet.


Jump right into the 100% plant-strong way of life. Eliminate animal products, processed foods and extracted oils from your diet, and enjoy healthy whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds.

Whichever path you choose, Whole Foods Market stores are ready to support you. Throughout February many of our stores will participate in a national Engine 2 Challenge by holding events such as classes, demos and dinners. Contact your local store to learn more about the Engine 2 events they have planned for February.

If you’re not near a Whole Foods Market store, you can still take the challenge. Get meal plans, shopping lists and inspiration from Rip on the Engine 2 Challenge website.

Engine 2 Plant-Strong Products

One of the ways Whole Foods Market can help is with the Engine 2 plant-strong products, which are exclusive to our stores. They’ll help you eat plant strong, all day long – even when you're short on time – and they strive to meet these healthy guidelines:

  • Zero animal products
  • No added oils
  • 100% whole grains
  • Minimal added sugar, if at all
  • Less than 25% total calories from fat
  • 1:1 ratio of milligrams of sodium to calories, with the exception of condiments

Some of our favorites are:

Rip's Big BowlRip’s Big Bowl

Original, Banana Walnut or Triple Berry

A medley of whole grains mixed with flaxseeds and walnuts.


Sprouted Ancient Grain or Brown Rice

Moist and flavorful for tacos, pizzas and enchiladas.

Tuscan Kale White Bean Plant BurgersPlant Burgers

Curried Lentil, Poblano Black Bean, Thai Basil Edamame or Tuscan Kale White Bean

Easy heat-and-eat patties made with familiar whole food ingredients.

Eat Plant-Strong, All Day Long

Discover how delicious healthy eating can be with these Engine 2 recipes.

Fiesta Blend Stuffed Bell Peppers

These extra-quick stuffed peppers are great as a side or lighter main course. Add a seeded diced jalapeño pepper along with the chopped onion for extra heat. Thanks to Healthy Eating Specialist Traci Barr in our Greenville, South Carolina store for this recipe.

Hearty Arugula Pizzas

Whole grain tortillas make a nutritious base for these easy, plant-based pizzas. We use crumbled plant burgers (also known as veggie burgers) for a tasty topping.

Nottingham Wrap

A delicious spread of garbanzo beans, mustard and celery forms the base of this wrap. The secret ingredient (applesauce!) adds a touch of sweetness. Wondering where the moniker "Nottingham" originates? Repeat the words "not eating ham" a few times, and you’ll understand!

Kale-Almond Bruschetta

Almonds and white beans make a rich and creamy spread for these satisfying kale-topped bruschetta with tomatoes and a balsamic glaze. Serve them as a starter or with soup or salad for a light meal.

Cocoa-Peanut Cookies

Made from healthy ingredients, enjoy these cookies for a special-occasion treat!

There are lots more healthy eating recipes on our website and Engine 2 has plant-strong recipes on their site, too!

Are you fired up to take the challenge? Tell us why in the comments below.

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Myriam Johnson says …

Can I follow this diet if pregnant and diabetic currently taking insulin. Insulin part only during pregnancy. Thanks Myriam

madysen says …

I am signing up for the 28 day challenge but is it possible for you to send me what whole foods has planned in Feb. for this my schedule is very hectic working in the ER.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MYRIAM - I would highly suggest that you reach out to your healthcare professional before you change your diet as they will be the best to answer this for you!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MADYSEN - Most stores will create their own 28 Day Challenge materials and menus so I would suggest reaching out to your local store directly to see if they can get you in the info!

Elizabeth says …

I have been wanting to get away from processed foods and to switch to organic foods from our earth. I have been doing research and when Isaw this I thought this may be the right choice for me! I do have some medical conditions ie: high blood pfressure,gastroparesis (slow emptying of the stomach NOT intestine) , 3 pain diseases 1) chronic reg. pain syndrome 2) fibromyalgia 3) Arthritis , thyroid prob ( with no meds) and bipolar disorder and by the grace of God got a mammogram and caught what could have turned into cancer early! I have many food allergies and med allergies.. I see my primary doctor Monday and I know a lot of people who put diets out their say check with doctor first, well I am here to tell you that when I have mention organic food before he kind of laughed at me.. I have been doing lots and I mean lots of research about a diet of food just from the earth and even juicing. I have watched documentaries where I have seen Westeren doctors just laugh at the fact your body can start healing with organic veges/fruits and juicing. Obviosly I am not just going to just take myself off my meds. but my question is (because I know I am going to be laughed at Monday and I am going to get rid of processed foods and all and go on to eat organic veges and fruits regardless!!!!) will my body when it starts to heal ,well I will go simple here, give some sign I will not need my high blood pressure med?? Ok Thank you for reading I know I went on and on but I know our mainstream Western medicine and I am nervous to say anything Monday bugt all and all this IS my life!!

Kathy McLean says …

Is there literally a sign up sheet or we just participate?

cindy keith says …

Like any info on what you have planned for Engine 2 28 day challenge. I am starting this. I have never gone Vegan before so need assistance

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@KATHY - For the E2 challenge listed above there is not a sign up sheet, mainly the different options. There is also probably a 28 day challenge happening at your local store. There might be a sign up for this option so you can receive emails or recipes along the way!

Lyn says …

I'm limited on certain foods I can eat due to either reflux issues or allergies. Unfortunately-three of the major foods used for flavor-onions, peppers (any color) and mushrooms I can't eat. Is there any substitute that can be used that won't compromise the flavor of a dish. Thank you for your help.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LYN - It really depends on the dish you are trying to make. If you are looking for a particular recipe let us know!

Darla says …

Unfortunately I became (after eating all my life) orally and gi allergic to avocado. I first experienced the symptoms in 2005. That sucks being from So Cal, and still here. With a tree in the backyard, so much part of our food culture, and so many of yours and other healthy recipes. Is there any substitute? Also, I love artichokes. One of the most nutritious vegetables. Did not see it on your andi list though. Thank you

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DARLA - Are you looking for a sub for avocado in a particular recipe?

Bonnie Croley says …

More Engine 2 products at Whole Foods, please.

Janis says …

My husband & I are trying to eat in compliance w/ Caldwell Esselstyn's "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease," which is basically the Engine 2 Diet w/ an effort to avoid high-fat foods such as nuts, seeds, & avocados. Although I've enjoyed making new dishes to fit this eating program & we've been eating wonderful things, I miss easy access to convenience foods. I know Whole Foods has an extensive array of healthy prepared foods. Are there options (Virginia Beach store) that will fit my eating program?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JANIS - I would suggest calling the Virginia Beach store directly to see what dishes they have prepared. Recipes and options can differ daily so they can help you find out what they have in stock!

Char says …

This is kind of a refresher course for me, but I just wanted to post my encouragement for those thinking of trying it. Three years ago I was suffering with arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, IBS, high cholesterol, morbid obesity (over 300 lbs) and needless to say, chronic depression. I was on 11 different medications for all the various ills, I wasn't yet 60, and felt like my life was over. Oh, and on top of all that, I had a 2 PAD cigarette addiction for 40+ years! Pathetic! I had tried everything to quit, but finally, switching to electronic cigarettes was at least harm reduction until I was able to wean off the nicotine. When I got the diabetes diagnosis, it was the final straw. I can't say I was surprised, I knew I was courting disaster, but reality hit hard. I saw the faces of my grandchildren and something snapped. I knew the drugs I had to take were as bad as the disease, so many friends and relatives were on them, and yet I knew there had to be a better way! So I started doing research on the internet. At first it was a battle of popular opinions, so I went to the science sources and read the facts. Over the years I had tried every diet in existence it seems, and none of them were sustainable so I had given up. This diet was to normalize my blood sugars, but happily, the weight melted off. It was very similar to the Engine 2 diet, McDougall's, Esselstyn's, etc. in that it was a whole foods, low fat, plant strong, vegan program, that I can live with. Fast forward to today. I no longer need nor take any meds including the diabetic ones, my blood sugars are normal, cholesterol, BP, etc., all normal! All the pain and inflammation issues have resolved! I've lost over 150 lbs, and now that I can exercise, hope to lose more riding my recumbent trike! Despite some very challenging life issues (the loss of my son, my husband losing his leg), I feel better mentally than I have in ages because I have been working on the WHOLE person, mentally, physically, and spiritually...we aren't just a body! I feel better at 61 than I did 30 years ago, so it's never too late to get started! I got nothing but pills to mask symptoms from the medical profession, with at best an admonition to lose weight via a handout with all the wrong advice. Do NOT count on most doctors to cure your ills, you have to do it yourself! And you CAN! Do it for you! Please, just give it one month and see how you do...it takes longer for real change but it is doable! We get so used to our fat filled, salt and sugar packed, chemical laden, un-food, it takes a while to really appreciate true food flavors again, so don't get discouraged. Some people do a water fast to detox their bodies and clear out their taste-buds, but I didn't, I just jumped in with both feet! Even if you aren't sick, but eat a SAD (Standard American Diet), get on this program BEFORE you start having problems! It's a life saver! Be a life savor! Take the challenge!!!

Amanda Dunn says …

I took the 28 day challange just to see if I could stick it out for the 28 days. I did and it didn' t seem like a challange at all because I was not a big meat eatter and the dairt was only cheese and eggs. I didn't do the three week program it I was going to do it then full force was the way to go for me. Two weeks into the progam my doctor needed blood work and to my suprise everything came back normal. This really made me want to complete the challange. At the end of the challange I had loss a total of 18 lbs. I plane to continue with this life style maybe adding back oil every now and then. I haven't eaten out yet and I know that will be a challange. I found it hard to find foods without oil in them. I finally decided to get chips with 1 gram of fat. Thanks for the jump start to a new me. I will post again in a couple of months.

Flavio Silva says …

I will do it for sure.

Lou Gravelin says …

I want to do the Engine 2 Challenge, but I now have Celiac Disease. How can I do this vegan diet?

Suzie Collinson says …

Can't wait. I work at the Torrance, CA store. Go Torrance!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LOU - Most of the E2 dishes will not contain gluten. If they do, you can more than likely sub gluten free items as needed.

Mark says …

Your burgers are great, and most importantly low in sodium, which most plant--based food products are not. Keep up the good work.