On June 30, vegan activist Rip Esselstyn set a new record during the 2019 Summer Sizzler LC Masters Meet in Houston, TX. At 56-years-old, Esselstyn swam the 200-meter backstroke in the time of 2:21.72, setting a new national and world record in the men’s 55 to 59 age group. The former firefighter and triathlete—founder of the plant-based brand Engine 2 Diet and host of podcast “Plant-Strong”—credits his plant-based diet for his record-setting swim. “Eating a vegan diet based on plants is crucial for my athletic performance,” Esselstyn told VegNews. “Plants propelled me to my world record in the 200-meter backstroke for a number of reasons.” The longtime athlete believes that a plant-based diet is a veritable “fountain of youth” that helps to keep him at his optimal racing weight and allows him to train harder and recover faster. “Plants allow the 65,000 miles of my vessels to bind with nitric oxide, one of the best vasodilators,” Esselstyn said. “This equates to more blood flow to all my working muscles when I am putting forth maximum effort. Plants are a smart, clean, and strong fuel.” In January, Esselstyn set off on a tour to promote plant-based living in-store at 25 Whole Foods Markets in Florida, Texas, California, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana, with more stops in the works. In addition to inspiring countless firefighters and others to eschew animal products throughout his career, Esselstyn was added as an executive producer—alongside martial arts master Jackie Chan, iconic director James Cameron, and world race car champion Lewis Hamilton—of upcoming vegan documentary The Game Changers which is set to premiere at more than 1,000 theaters globally on September 16.