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12 Jun 2006

In The News

AFD Firefighters Shun Meat To Go Vegan
KVUE HealthVue Austin Texas June 2, 2006

ERIN OCHOA reports:
The word 'firefighter' usually conjures up images of brawny men scarfing down hearty meals between calls, but that's not the case for a handful of firefighters in Austin.

After a recent health scare, an entire shift has gone vegan! Ground beef, cheeseburgers... that's what you might expect to find in the fridge at any given firefighter station.

"It's Texas and we're firefighters, so the stigma is meat and lots of it," said Firefighter Matt Moore, AFD.

But at Station 2, "Team C," as they're called, follows a much different diet. They only eat vegan foods.

"Nothing that flaps a wing, wiggles a fin, paws a hoof, closes a clam -- nothing or anything related - no milk, no dairy, no butter, no cheese," said Firefighter Rip Esselstyn, AFD.

Their health kick started about a few years ago during a routine cholesterol check when a fellow firefighter (who's no longer at this station) tested well above 240. That's the range considered 'high risk.'

"I was 152, Josh was like 162, James Rae was 344..." said Esselstyn. So the guys took a united stand. All the guys on the C-shift went vegan. They now take turns preparing and serving vegan dishes during their 24-hour shifts.

"Sometimes you bomb big time, and sometimes you create something that's great," Esselstyn said. While their diet has definitely helped lower their cholesterol levels significantly, the idea is
still just a little hard to swallow for some of the other firefighters.

"In the fire department, we call it worming, so it's to be expected -- but to call the beef council and have then send posters and bumper stickers and then have it inundated on the whole inside the station was really, really -- I mean you've got to take that with a grain of salt. It was a good worm," Moore said.

The C-shift is even working on publishing a cookbook. It's expected to be out in about a year.
You can learn more on their Web site at www.engine2.org

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Dairy Free Soft Cheese Substitute
from Recipes4us

Makes approx 450g/1lb

450g/1lb Firm Tofu
1/2 Teasp Grated Nutmeg
1/2 Teasp Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
90ml/3fl.oz. Olive Oil

Place 3/4 of the tofu in large mixing bowl together with the remaining ingredients and mash until smooth.
Add sufficient of the remaining tofu to achieve the desired consistency.

Use to replace soft cheeses, such as Ricotta, in pasta dishes.


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