A reader sent me a link to a rah-rah article about former president Bill Clinton’s vegan diet that appeared on the AARP site. Let’s look at some quotes:
The former president is now a devoted vegan, meaning no meat, fish or dairy products, and he has pursued a healthier way of life for more than three years. While I figured our lunch menu might be bland, that would be a small price to pay for private time with a world leader who is anything but.
As we enter a private room overlooking Manhattan’s busy Rockefeller Center, I’m struck with a dazzling kaleidoscope of a dozen delicious dishes: including roasted cauliflower and cherry tomatoes, spiced and herbed quinoa with green onions, shredded red beets in vinaigrette, garlicky hummus with raw vegetable batons, Asian-inspired snow pea salad, an assortment of fresh roasted nuts, plates of sliced melon and strawberries, and rich, toothsome gigante beans tossed with onions in extra-virgin olive oil.
Hmmm … toss in some salmon or grass-fed beef, that would almost be a whole-foods paleo diet. I think we’re getting a clue here as to why Clinton’s diet has improved his health – and it isn’t because he gave up meat.
Clinton traces his decision to change back to the morning in February 2010 when he woke up looking pale and feeling tired. His cardiologist quickly brought him into New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery to insert a pair of stents. One of his veins had given out, a frequent complication following the quadruple-bypass surgery he had undergone in 2004.
Prodded into action, Clinton started by rereading Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease, which urges a strict, low-fat, plant-based regimen, along with two books that were, if possible, even more militantly vegan: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, by Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., and The China Study, by Cornell biochemist T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. (When I suffered a heart attack in late November 2010, Clinton sent me all three books.)
As Denise Minger pointed out her AHS 2011 speech, what do Ornish, McDougall, Esselstyn and other big-name doctors promoting veganism as the cure for heart disease have in common? They have their patients give up sugar, white flour (and most other refined carbohydrates), processed vegetable oils, processed foods, smoking and alcohol. Oh, and meat and dairy products, too. They also prescribe lots and lots of fresh vegetables.
Then when their patients get better, they declare that they’ve proved meat causes heart disease. It’s not the meat, of course. It’s all the other junk the vegan doctors have their patients stop eating. Let’s keep reading:
He no longer craves steaks, but bread is a potential pitfall. “Heavily processed carbs, you really have to control that,” he says. When Caldwell Esselstyn spotted a picture of him on the Internet, eating a dinner roll at a banquet, the renowned doctor dispatched a sharply worded email message: “I’ll remind you one more time, I’ve treated a lot of vegans for heart disease.”
Excuse me?! Did I read that correctly? Let me copy and paste that last bit again and see if it was just my computer playing tricks on me.
When Caldwell Esselstyn spotted a picture of him on the Internet, eating a dinner roll at a banquet, the renowned doctor dispatched a sharply worded email message: “I’ll remind you one more time, I’ve treated a lot of vegans for heart disease.”
That can’t be right. Vegans don’t get heart disease. Just ask them. Meat and dairy products cause heart disease, and vegans don’t eat that stuff. Maybe if I just copy and paste the last sentence …
“I’ll remind you one more time, I’ve treated a lot of vegans for heart disease.”
Well, well, well … the famous vegan doctor doesn’t want Bill Clinton to eat a white-flour dinner roll because he’s treated a lot of vegans for heart disease. I can only conclude that the famous vegan doctor believes white flour can promote heart disease. But surely other heavy starches are fine. Let’s see how many of those Bill Clinton is consuming:
The former president has a tip for those who crave starchy food: “You can make whipped cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes, and it’s great.”
Uh … um … why would a vegan need to find a substitute for mashed potatoes? Potatoes are vegan, and it’s those evil non-vegan foods that cause weight gain and heart disease. Just ask the vegans. Thank goodness Clinton doesn’t eat, say, eggs or fish.
Once a week or so, he will have a helping of organic salmon or an omelet made with omega-3-fortified eggs, to maintain iron, zinc and muscle mass.
Uh … um … isn’t a vegan who eats salmon and eggs to maintain his muscle mass not actually a vegan? And why would anyone need to consume animal foods to maintain muscle mass? There are lots of muscled-up vegans in the world. Just ask the vegans. They can all name the same two or three vegan bodybuilders.
So what we’ve got is a formerly overweight president who eats a lot of vegetables, fruit, nuts and legumes, doesn’t consume white flour, recommends whipped cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, and eats salmon and eggs now and then to maintain his muscle mass.
And it’s giving up meat and dairy that made him healthier? I don’t think so.
Speaking of vegans, my buddy Dave Jaffe wrote a parody news story about animal-rights zealots on his Write Good! blog. Here’s a taste:
An animal welfare group responsible for spilling red paint on a butter cow sculpture at the Iowa State Fair is threatening to intensify their attacks until a fearful public shakes its head in annoyance and mutters, “Well, I never!”
“You have forced our hand and now butter must suffer!” read a news release from the Iowans for Animal Liberation that claimed responsibility for the vandalism. “Sorry! Enjoy the rest of the fair.”
You can read the rest of the piece here.