In a recent interview on CNN Piers Morgan Tonight, Former President Bill Clinton discussed his vegan diet with guest host, film producer Harvey Weinstein.
While the majority of the wide ranging interview was devoted to politics and the economy, Weinstein also posed the question to the former President, in a notably admiring manner — “Now you’re a vegan. How did you get there, and how do I get there?” — which, as we know is not always the case with interviewers even in this era of a greater mainstream exposure and acceptance of vegan diets, or whole foods plant-based diets. I found the respectfulness refreshing. Clinton proceeded to give a short overview of why and how he has spent two years as a vegan after having famously been fond of fried foods and fast foods. He said:
“Well, what I did was — first of all, when I had my second heart incident and I had to put the stents put in, I had passed all my physicals, I was doing great, I was still building up plaque in my arteries. So I decided that I wanted to see if I could live to be a grandfather. So I just went all the way. Now, I try to eat some salmon once a week, but I don’t miss any of that. Getting rid of the dairy was great, getting rid of the meat was — I just don’t miss it. Not everybody is as vulnerable to this as I am. All of us produce a certain amount of enzymes that destroys our own bad cholesterol. However much extra we produce determines how much we can ingest. And unfortunately, we can’t measure it. So I just said, “I don’t want to take any chances,” and I feel great, lost a bunch of weight.”
Video is below.
You can see the transcript of the full interview here.
He went on to lament about the state of health in America and the plight of this generation of children whose life expectancy, he noted, may be shorter than that of their parents. Through his foundation he has done advocacy work to intervene in school lunch programs to make them healthier. An intertwining topic as it is tragic indeed to see the youngest generation becoming hooked on high fat, high sugar and heavily salted processed foods that studies show are contributing to obesity and giving them diabetes and even the beginnings of cardiovascular disease at such a young age.
He continues to set a personal example as one who has been committed to restoring his health. His story reveals that even with decades of a poor diet and heart disease, there is a way out, for anyone who is committed to change and thus avoid the physical and emotional toll — to say nothing of risks — of further surgery; frankly that seems drastic, relying on the scalpel when dietary changes can do so much more. He was initially persuaded by Dean Ornish, M.D. who is among the pioneering doctors who for decades has been involved in the well-documented reversal of heart disease with a low fat plant-based diet. Other such pioneers include John McDougall, M.D. and Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D. ( Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure who was featured in the landmark documentary Forks Over Knives as well as Sanjay Gupta, M.D.’s CNN documentary The Last Heart Attack (which also featured Clinton in interviews about his diet).
UPDATE: You can also see the full CNN documentary, ‘The Last Heart Attack’ below.
He also lets us know the pitfalls of the “everything in moderation” rationalization that is so pervasive. Moderation is what puts us at risk. No one expects or hopes to be a former smoker and to smoke cigarettes “in moderation” and despite whatever pleasure there might be in a bad diet, the question is always, is it really worth the risk? Clearly, former President Clinton thinks not and remains committed to his vegan diet.
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