Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Meeting Rip Esselstyn

Michael and I traveled to Austin last Thursday to attend a Yellowcard concert. For those that are thinking, "I've never heard of Yellowcard," you may remember them from about 15 years ago -- one of their most popular songs was Ocean Avenue. Well, they have continued making music over the years and recently released a new album. Our favorite song on this new album is called MSK:

My parents took care of EVY for us so that we could stay overnight in Austin. For dinner we decided to walk to the nearby Whole Foods in downtown Austin. We had a delicious plant-based dinner and relaxed at a neat park on the rooftop of the market.

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Then we walked to the Belmont for the Yellowcard concert. After a LONG wait in line for the doors to open, we finally got inside and picked our ideal spot -- up on the 2nd level balcony. No mosh pit for us, thank you very much!

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There were two opening bands, one of which we had heard of before, Finch.

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The unique thing about Yellowcard is that it's a rock band with a violinist. It was fun seeing them perform live.

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What does this post have to do with Rip Esselstyn? Well, we also knew that Rip now works for Whole Foods, and were pretty sure he works at the one in downtown Austin. So when we ate there for dinner, we decided to try asking his receptionist if he was available and willing to come talk to some of his fans. We unfortunately had already missed him for the day, hence we killed time on the rooftop park.

But the next morning, Michael suggested that we swing by Whole Foods again on our way out of town just in case he might be available. So we went up and spoke to his receptionist again. She was so kind and recognized us immediately, and said, "Oh, y'all are back, let me call and ask him if he can come speak to you." After calling him she told us that he would be out in a few minutes.

We were so excited because we were about to meet yet another one of our plant-based celebrities!

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So Rip came out and we introduced ourselves and said we were big fans. After some introductory talk, he said, "I tell you what, I need to eat something, so how about you guys come down to the store with me so I can get some food and then I'll take you back to my office while I eat and we can talk some more."

But that's not all, then he said, "And I happened to leave my wallet and keys at the AT&T Center, so if you're willing to give me a ride to pick that stuff up, I'll give you some Engine 2 gear."

I think our jaws hit the floor by that point because we probably would have paid HIM for the privilege of driving him around and hanging out with us, lol. Of course we agreed!

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So next thing we knew, we were walking through Whole Foods with Rip Esselstyn himself, getting the inside scoop on where to get yummy plant-based food. Then we went back to his office and he gave us a copy of his new book My Beef With Meat and signed it for us. He also gave us some Plant Strong T-shirts and other goodies. As a side note, Whole Foods seems like an awesome place to work!

Then we drove him to get his keys and wallet. On the way back to Whole Foods, we happened to drive by Engine 2, where it all started for him. He saw one of his former firemen outside, so he asked if we were willing to stop and go in.

Again, jaws dropped...of course! Who wouldn't want to see inside Engine 2 with Rip Esselstyn?!

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We saw the garage, the pole the firemen slide down (and the one Rip climbed up in Forks Over Knives), their gym, and kitchen. So surreal!

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Lots of veggies - looks like the other firemen are continuing to eat well after Rip retired!

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Rip was so friendly. It was such a blast to talk to him and get to know him a bit. We shared about our children and family, work, and plant-based musings. We just couldn't believe our luck at having that opportunity to hang out with him! He was even kind enough to indulge Michael's request to take a "manly" picture. He definitely made our trip a memorable one!

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