Bill Clinton's transition from Vegetarianism to Veganism

Bill Clinton is a vegan -- or is, at least, very close to being one.

The former U.S. president told CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta this week that he doesn't eat any dairy, eggs or meat, and consumes very little oil. He first opened up about his new plant-based diet last year to CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Clinton has turned to eating solely plants in order to keep weight off and his heart healthy.

Clinton -- who used to be a huge fan of hamburgers, steaks and other foods of the like -- underwent the diet overhaul to reverse the heart disease he's been plagued with in the past. He underwent a quadruple bypass surgery in 2004 because blood flow was blocked to his heart, and just last year he had to have two stents put into his heart to "open up veins from his bypass surgery," according to CNN. Since his diet change, Clinton has lost more than 20 pounds, CNN reported.

There have been numerous studies linking a veggie-heavy diet with good heart health. For example, research shows that fewer vegetarians than meat-eaters have metabolic syndrome, a condition where you possess three of five heart-risk factors, Everyday Health reported. The factors include high blood pressure, triglycerides and blood sugar, low "good" cholesterol and a large waist size.  In addition, research shows that a nutrient-dense, vegetarian-based diet can lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol.

Clinton joins the company of other vegan politicians and celebrities, including Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, "Biggest Loser" trainer Bob Harper, actress Olivia Wilde and even Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. Colorado Congressman Jared Polis -- while not a strict vegan or vegetarian -- keeps a meat product-free home with his vegan partner, Marlon Reis, Politico reported. And former Indiana Congressman Andrew Jacobs Jr. is a vegetarian, according to Vegetarian Times magazine.  Elizabeth Kucinich, wife of Rep. Dennis Kucinich, told Eating Well that her and her husband's vegan lifestyle is inspired by compassion for living things, sustainability and health. "We're constantly traveling through different time zones. The vegan diet just gives us energy," Elizabeth Kucinich told Eating Well. "We're not trying to convert anyone, but we do talk about the benefits of the choices we've made."

While Clinton's diet change is rooted in health reasons, there are many other power-players who are turning to the vegan lifestyle for other reasons, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

From Businessweek:

It shouldn't be surprising that so many CEOs are shunning meat, dairy, and eggs: It's an exclusive club. Only 1 percent of the U.S. population is vegan, partly because veganism isn't cheap: The cost comes from the value of specialty products made by speciality companies with cloying names (tofurkey, anyone?). Vegans also have to be powerful enough to even know what veganism is.

Article courtesy of The Huffington Post, originally posted 8/22/11, and found here.

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