City of Pittsburgh Encourages Employees to Eat Plant-Based
The first U.S. city ever to do so, Pittsburgh launched a cardiovascular health challenge for its employees called the “Heart of a Hero Campaign.” The city collaborated with plant-based nutrition company Engine 2, a top health insurance provider, and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine to encourage its employees to eat more vegan food for one month.
Dexter Shurney, president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, stated:
We have abundant evidence that consuming a whole-food, plant-based diet is the best way to reduce and, in some cases, reverse symptoms of chronic disease, including obesity, hypertension, high blood sugar and elevated cholesterol. This challenge is an excellent on-ramp for individuals to learn what’s possible by changing their lifestyle and how their fork drives day-to-day wellbeing.
The event kicked off on September 4 with a cooking demonstration by health ambassador and best-selling author Rip Esselstyn. Formerly a firefighter in Austin, Texas, Esselstyn said:
Heart attacks are the number one cause of in-the-line-of-duty deaths for firefighters and it ranks fifth for police officers. If our men and women on the front lines are at the highest risk for coronary disease, we want to equip them with the tools—and the delicious foods—needed to reduce their risk and help them be not only fit for duty, but fit for LIFE.
The campaign encourages city employees and their families to eat a heart-healthy plant-based diet for one week and provides recipes, online coaching, and other resources. To show that even one week on a plant-based diet can make a positive difference, participants in this challenge underwent before-and-after biometric screenings to track their weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
After the initial seven days, the Engine 2 team began coaching participants in adapting their previous lifestyles and provided necessary assistance. Mayor William Peduto responded, “We applaud our city’s employees for taking steps to improve their health while reducing their consumption of animal products.”
As part of the challenge, participants were invited to attend the world premiere screening of The Game Changers. Directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Louie Psihoyos and executive produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic, and Chris Paul, this star-studded documentary explores the power of plant-based eating.