How Bill Clinton Became a Vegan

Chelsea and Bill Clinton applauding

Since discovering how much being vegan improved his health, former president Bill Clinton has been belting out praise for plants like he belts out jazz on the saxophone. A new CNN article traces his progression from hamburger-and-fry guy to commander-in-leaf.

Not long after he left office, Clinton’s penchant for hamburgers, steaks, and other high-fat foods, coupled with a family history of heart problems, left the ex-president in need of quadruple-bypass surgery, followed by two stents three years later. “I was lucky I did not die of a heart attack,” he told CNN.

After Clinton’s second surgery, PETA sent him a vegan care package. Then, in spring 2007, PETA Vice President Dan Mathews was seated next to the former President at a dinner party in Las Vegas, and the two spoke at length about the health benefits and ethics of a vegan diet, which Clinton told Mathews had always intrigued him since his daughter Chelsea had been such an articulate vegetarian since she was 10. Mathews followed up by sending Clinton Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. After consulting with Dr. Esselstyn as well as Dr. Dean Ornish and Chelsea, Clinton decided to make the switch to a plant-based diet: “I essentially concluded that I had played Russian roulette .… So that’s when I made a decision to really change.”

So began the era of Bill Clinton, vegan advocate and heart disease survivor. “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,” he says.

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