Ending a few months of speculation and uncertainty, former president Bill Clinton announced that he’s a vegan on CNN. This is a story of transformation and turnaround if there ever was one. When he first began his presidency, Bill was known for his love of beef steaks, chicken enchiladas, and the somewhat less presidential McDonald’s hamburger. Word is he wasn’t picky and would go after most meat items often with a certain amount of enthusiasm. In short, he loved meat. The problem is these foods didn’t love him back.
In 2004, less than four years after leaving office, the 58-year-old Clinton felt what he described as a tightness in his chest as he returned home from New Orleans, where he was promoting his memoir, “My Life.” Days later, he underwent quadruple bypass surgery to restore blood flow to his heart. “I was lucky I did not die of a heart attack” Clinton said.
The problem is that bypasses tend to clog pretty quickly if the patient doesn’t mend their ways. Last year, the former president went to Haiti to support the relief efforts but he felt weak. When he returned home, he learned he needed another heart procedure: two stents to open one of the veins from his bypass surgery, which had become, in Clinton’s words, “pretty bent and ugly.”
Enter his new nutritional advisors: Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, both famous for showing how plant based diets can reverse heart disease. The results couldn’t be better. The former president lost 20 pounds so far and says “All my blood tests are good, and my vital signs are good, and I feel good, and I also have, believe it or not, more energy”. The good news, of course, is that you don’t have to have Clinton’s presidential clout and connections to get the same results.
While Clinton may be the first former president to go vegan he’s certainly not the first significant White House worker to take up the plant based way. We may mention with, bipartisan spirit, that chief Bush speech writer and author of the influential animal rights book, Dominion, Matthew Scully has long been recognized as an enthusiastic vegan. Let’s hope the trend continues!