Congratulations Bill! You made it to grandfatherhood!
Bill Clinton’s true and most touching reason for becoming vegan in 2010 was to live to see his cherished daughter, Chelsea, walk down the aisle and to see his future grandchildren come into this world and grow up. In only 4 years, that goal has become a wonderful reality as he celebrates the euphoria of becoming a grandfather. Through diet and exercise, Bill (can I call you Bill?) has literally saved his own life to enjoy every father’s dream!
When the average American makes the personal choice to go vegan, it isn’t necessarily media-alerting news. It doesn’t ripple throughout one’s family and social circles, hitting computer screens all over the world. At least, it wasn’t that way for me! But when Bill Clinton went vegan in 2010, the world watched, eating up every fascinating morsel and detail of his transition. Now, three years later, the news that his vegan lifestyle is still going strong is a testament to his world-class example of health, wellness and commitment.
In February of 2010, around the same time that Bill Clinton woke up feeling unusually unwell and was rushed into emergency surgery to insert stents, I was having a routine cholesterol screening. Being thin and relatively fit, I was shocked and dismayed to learn that my numbers were far from stellar. I was 50 years old, had high cholesterol and heart disease runs in my family—my swirling risk factors were whipping up the perfect storm for me to think about giving veganism a go, just as news of Bill Clinton’s decision to do the same was all over the news.
After Bill’s stent procedure, Dr. Dean Ornish, the renowned diet and heart disease expert sent him a “blistering” email saying “…fools like you don’t eat like you should.” At this turning point in his life, Bill read and reread three essential books for everyone who finds themselves on the brink of making a dramatic change in their lifestyle:
The logical question, though, is, why wait until you’re recovering from a quadruple by-pass and stent surgery to take the most obviously preventive measures that virtually promise positive results? Bill Clinton was 30 pounds heavier and on the road to disaster only three years ago. Now he’s the poster president for health and veganism! He says, “I wanted to live to be a grandfather. So I decided to pick the diet that I thought would maximize my chances of long-term survival.”
Even though, high cholesterol was my call to action, my transition to veganism was actually a slow process, in the same way that I tiptoe into the cold ocean from the edge of the water at the beach. For my entire life, I have always had a strong empathy for animals and concern for their feelings. But in order to remain omnivorous in this world of meat-eaters, I had experienced countless moments of consciously disconnecting from what I was eating. If you don’t think about what’s really on your plate, you can put it out of your mind, on some level. Intermittent months of eating vegetarian or pescetarian or flexitarian over the course of many years gave me a taste of the herbivore lifestyle but I wasn’t running to take the plunge. Unable to commit, I always fell back into eating meat, fish, dairy and processed foods. Bill made the vegan choice around the same time and it seems that neither of us ever looked back.
Bill Clinton’s typical daily meals consist of:
Breakfast: almond-milk smoothie with blended with fresh berries, non-dairy protein powder and a chunk of ice
Lunch: a combination of green salad and greens
Snack: nuts and hummus with raw vegetables
Dinner: quinoa or veggie burger
My typical day of meals is very similar to Bill’s, although I can get very creative with trying new recipes, veganizing old favorites and creating new vegan combinations. When recently interviewed by Joe Conason, for AARP magazine, Bill served a veritable vegan feast catered at a private room in Rockefeller Center including dishes:
•roasted cauliflower and cherry tomatoes
•spiced and herbed quinoa with green onions
•shredded beets in vinaigrette
•garlicky hummus with raw vegetable batons
•Asian-inspired snow pea salad
•rich, toothsome gigante beans tossed with onions in extra-virgin olive oil
•an assortment of fresh roasted nuts
•plates of sliced melon and strawberries
If everyone had easy access to wonderfully prepared vegan dishes, I bet more people would start leaning into veganism more and more! All of these beautifully colorful, nutrition-packed dishes sound basic and simple to make at home. Bill does admit to having organic salmon or an omelet once a week or so “to maintain iron, zinc and muscle mass.” We hope that he’ll soon incorporate the plant-based foods providing these vitamins and minerals into his diet so he can completely eliminate fish and eggs. Vegan American Princess could proudly provide Bill and Hillary, who vowed to start eating healthier, with more palate-exciting plant-based recipes!
Bill Clinton is now not only motivated by his desire to live a healthy life but to help and inspire others. As a visionary vegan, his message is clear, “The way we consume food and what we consume” impacts healthcare spending in America. In order to effect positive change, “we have to demand it by changing the way we live. You have to make a conscious decision to change for your own well-being and that of your family and your country.” The Clinton Foundation is dedicated to creating an awareness of the benefits of plant-based nutrition and the negative impact of our country’s meat production industry and how it affects American’s health, their quality of life and the environment.
People become curious about veganism for different reasons, but mainly either because they want to improve their own health or because of their concern for animals and the environment. In many instances, it starts with one reason and then eventually blossoms and encompasses the others. Bill Clinton is a wonderful example of someone who was already traveling on the road to declining health and turned it around for himself and his family. But as a charismatic world leader, Bill Clinton, the vegan, is so much more than just someone who loves quinoa and likes to talk about it. His power as a role model can really sway the multitudes of people living unhealthy lifestyles to effect major changes.
I’d like to challenge Barack and Michelle Obama to follow in Bill Clinton’s footsteps and go even further in their quest for a healthier America by promoting a commitment to plant-based nutrition on a national level! Show Malia and Sasha how delicious and important it is to eat only 100% healthy and whole plant-based foods and set the example for the nation’s children at the same time. If the Obama’s would give veganism a try for even one full month, I’m sure they would soon understand and embrace the important impact it could have in great numbers in our country and all over the planet. The inspiration they would instill in people who need to make dramatic changes in their lives and the potential positive consequences for the environment are immeasurable.
For more on Vegan American Princess about Caldwell Esselstyn, MD, Click Here
For more about The China Study and various medical opinions, Click Here
If Bill would like to try a delicious, simple recipe of his favorite dish, quinoa,
Thank you to Joe Conason of AARP Magazine for your inspiring article!