1,300 school district employees in the Finger Lakes region are now undertaking a whole foods, plant-based diet challenge for the next ten days.
The challenge is an effort spearheaded by Doug Schmidt, a Victor school teacher who had a heart attack at 49 - but regained his health with the help of a plant-based diet.
Nine-and-a-half years later, Schmidt is 60 pounds leaner and has gone off all medication.
He follows a whole food plant-based diet that excludes oils and added sugar, based on Rip Esselstyn's book Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue Diet.
"It took me eight years to get where I am right now," Schmidt told outlet wxxi News.
"It doesn't need to take that long; it can be a lot shorter.
"That's what I'm hoping to give these people, to give them a window of what's possible, and then they can make their own journey to where they want to go with this."
'Results speak for themselves'
A select number of people will get before and after blood tests to see how much their health improved in 10 days.
Schmidt has led other groups through similar challenges in the past two years, and mentioned that medical professionals say that wasn't enough time to make a difference - but he says the results speak for themselves.
"We've had people drop their total cholesterol by 25 points; we've had people go from the danger zone in their blood sugar levels down to into the normal range in 10 days.
"We've seen people lose a pound a day on this for a total loss of 10 pounds in 10 days."
The challenge group includes employees of 36 different school districts and Finger Lakes Community College.