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What I Learned from the The Engine 2 Diet

Three years ago, Eddie Fine picked up a copy of Rip Esselstyn’s The Engine 2® Diet at a used bookstore. At the time, the 40-year-old Chattanooga resident subsisted on fast food burgers and pizza. He was, in his own words, “afraid of the kitchen.”

Today, Eddie is a triathlete who recently exceeded his goal of running 3,500 miles in a single year. He doesn’t eat meat, dairy or processed sugars, and he’s become an adventurous and accomplished cook to boot.

Since the new year is upon us, and many of us are re-evaluating our eating habits, we asked Eddie (who happens to be a cashier at Whole Foods Market in Chattanooga) to share some tips from his experiences with eating a plant-strong® diet. What he says might just inspire you to sign up for the Engine 2® Challenge newsletter in 2015 and check with your local Whole Foods Market for Engine 2 activities.

What was the biggest challenge you encountered?

It took my friends and family a while to adjust. My wife’s family—they have big cookouts and Thanksgiving and Christmas. At first they were like “he’s being stuck up,” but now they see how much better I feel. They get it.

What’s the best advice you could give to someone who’s about to take the Engine 2 Challenge?

You don’t have to get rid of the things that you love, you just have to find an alternative. If you like meat, try a black bean burger. One of the hardest things for me to give up was cheesecake. Now I make raw cheesecakes from cashews.

You have two daughters at home. Presumably it was a big change when you started eating a plant-strong diet. How did you deal with family meal times?

It was hard at first. We created a system where we switch off: Sometimes they prepare their food first, and then I go in and prepare mine, or vice versa. Also, I’ve also created a lot of recipes that they like, but they don’t necessarily know how I make them. At Thanksgiving I made a raw, vegan pumpkin pie. They had no clue that it was raw.

Okay, any final advice for folks who may be about to embark on the Engine 2 Challenge?

First, don’t be scared of spices. The more clean you eat, the more your taste buds are going to rejuvenate. Things will start to taste different to you. Don’t be afraid to try anything—you may find that you like foods you didn’t think you’d like.

Second, get a buddy. Start doing Engine 2 together. I meet other people who eat Engine 2 all the time, or else people ask me to teach them how to cook this way. Now we have kitchen parties where we all get together and cook. It really helps to have someone to cook with.

Have you taken the Engine 2 Challenge? Do you have a tip to add to Eddie’s advice? Leave a comment.

*Eddie's results are not typical. But who wants to be typical?