Bill Clinton on His Diet: ‘I Might Not Be Around If I Hadn’t Become a Vegan’

02/19/2016 at 05:10 PM ET

Bill Clinton
Michelle Rindels/AP

No greasy fast food, here: Even when Bill Clinton is on the road he adheres to his plant-based diet.

While campaigning in Las Vegas for his wife, Hillary, the former president popped into vegan cafe Simply Pure. Clinton was in great spirits, reports Politico, chatting with patrons and owner and chef Stacey Dougan.

While scanning the menu, Clinton told Dougan, “I’d weigh 50 pounds more if I lived here because this looks so good. This is great. A lot better than what I eat,” he told Dougan. When she asked with he ate in particular, Clinton replied, “I like all the Italian stuff. Lasagna, I like the chili enchiladas, they nailed the meat substitute stuff. It used to be when I started this, it was inedible. It’s so much better now.”

RELATED: Get All the Details on Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Trail Diet — Ice Cream and Pork Chops Included!

Clinton, who was accompanied by Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, finally settled on the green chili enchiladas, which he took to-go along with a nacho sampler. “This is unbelievable,” he said of cashew cheese sauce and textured vegetable protein that covered the nachos.

The former president famously committed to a mostly plant-based diet in recent years in the wake of his heart problems, and he credits the change to his very existence. “I might not be around if I hadn’t become a vegan,” he said.

RELATED: Hillary Clinton Was ‘Just Another Lady’ During Her Lunch Stop at Chipotle

As he was leaving the cafe, he clarified some details of his diet: “[My doctor] asked me to eat organic salmon once a week. I do, but I’d just as soon be without it. The vegan diet is what I like the best … I have more energy, I never clog. For me the no dairy thing, because I had an allergy, has really helped a lot. And I feel good.”

No word yet on whether the cafe will name a symbolic dish after him following the visit — certainly not unprecedented an election cycle with Donald Trump burgers and Bernie Sanders ice cream.

–Michelle Ward Trainor


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Emnem on

Q:How do you find a vegan in a crowded room?
A: Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

A vegan, an atheist and a crossfitter walk into a bar.

How do I know?

They told everyone within two minutes if being there.

cds on

No matter what — I still like him!

Tara on

Vegan diets help prevent so many health problems. Bill Clinton was a great president and he looks like such a nice man in that photo. I am disapointed Bernie is catching up in the polls against Hillary.

Vamanos on

Eating less meat does help you live longer. It’s been proven.

Marsha on

That kind of diet takes a LOT of discipline – he should be proud of accomplishing his health shift.

Lala on

Lol I never clog.

Sarah H. on

Lol ‘organic’ salmon? No such thing. Wild caught is the correct term. Also, the true culprit of heart disease is inflammation, and the primary cause for inflammation diet wise are the big three….refined grains, refined sugars(corn syrup, white sugar), hydrogenated oils, not meat.

cat on

well sarah – if you look at the china study (run by a non chinese scientist) it shows meat and dairy eaters are at least 4 times as likely to get any disease including heart disease and cancer

cat on

meat and dairy cause inflammation of the body – besides being inherently cruel

Anonymous on

emnem – probably because peopel question their choices when they choose from a menu and try to bait them into arguement or offer them meat and think it’s funny – harassment can make people react – how’s your health anyway – indigestion? constipation? high blood pressure? pre- diabetic? cholesterol issues? all signs of a human who is a flesh eater

cat on

emnem – probably because people question their choices when they choose from a menu and try to bait them into arguement or offer them meat and think it’s funny – harassment can make people react – how’s your health anyway – indigestion? constipation? high blood pressure? pre- diabetic? cholesterol issues? all signs of a human who is a flesh eater

Sarah H on

Ha! Lol the incredibly flawed China Study. I’m very familiar and have read it several times. I’m not speaking of meat and dairy from CAFO like the China Study refers to, I’m speaking of sustainably raised meat and dairy that is grass fed, raised without antibiotics or growth hormones which is anti inflammatory. Meat from CAFO that are GMO soy and corn fed, pumped with growth hormones and antibiotics(highly inflammatory)is ENTIRELY different nutritionally. The two cannot be compared. If meat itself was the culprit of disease we would have been seeing entire cultures of people who’s diet is over 80% meat dying off for centuries, but that’s not the case. That did not happen. Heart disease was extremely rare to non existent in tribes and cultures of people who’s diet consisted primarily of meat and dairy. It’s what we’ve done to the meat and dairy over the years that has demonized it as unhealthy, but this is simple untrue, as our history proves it.

Sarah H on

*correction. History proves meat itself is not the problem. It’s what we’ve done to the meat and dairy over the decades that has made it unhealthy.

steve t on

Sarah H. Although certain meat containing natural diets are not inherently unhealthy to imply the “Eskimo” diet (the only one with 80% meat) is relatively healthy is a myth. “The notion that coronary artery disease (CAD) is rare among Greenland Eskimos… gained acceptance in the 1970s. Since then, thousands of reports on the cardioprotective
effects of the “Eskimo diet” have been published. We conducted a literature review to assess whether there was sufficient evidence to support the “Eskimo diet and low CAD” hypothesis.
Our conclusion is that this hypothesis lacked a solid foundation.!/httpFile/file.pdf

Christine on

Sarah H – there are no “sustainably raised” cows. In fact grass fed cattle give off much higher GHG emissions, produce similar waste, and have similar water needs than do grain fed cattle (although the nutritional profile of the meat is slightly better). Check out Cowspiracy on Netflix for more info on this, or check out the UN report Livestock’s Long Shadow.

Sarah H on

steve t, wrong. There are many others, not just Eskimos as you claim. The Masai of Tankanika, Chewya of Kenya, Muhima of Uganda, Watusi of Ruanda and the Neurs tribes on the western side of the Nile in the Sudan were all cattle-keeping people. Their diets consisted largely of milk, blood and meat, especially organ means, supplemented in some cases with fish and with small amounts of grains, fruits and vegetables . These tribes were all very healthy and known for their fine physiques and great height-in some groups the women averaged over 6 feet tall, and many men reached almost seven feet. In most tribes there was also zero dental decay found. The Eskimos you speak about are the ones who have adopted a western diet, which explains failed health. It’s a known fact that traditional Inuits’ diet was over 80% whale blubber, and didn’t have epidemics of heart disease.

runningbacongirl on

I laughed at I never clog. That is so true. I have been doing a vegan/whole food based way of life for the last three months and I have to say that I do have more energy, weigh less, and I don’t clog. lol I don’t talk about it with others except my cousin, who is doing it with me, because I think that’s obnoxious. I do believe in moderation but every time I read a story about hormones in meat, genetically modified salmon, pigs, chicken, etc. it makes want to not eat anything and live in a bubble. lol

mark on

sarah h The World Health Organsation even says that meat increases your risk of cancer so don’t try and tell us that its healthy, its not part of our natural diet our physiological make up tells us that. our teeth can’t rip through flesh, we can’t catch an animal with our hands, we don’t have claws, our intenstines are too long to digest meat, our jaws move side to side like a herbivores, there are too many to for me to list

Sarah H on

Mark- It is a natural part of our diet, and has been for over 2 million years. This is not my opinion, it’s fact. Our history proves it.

sarah r. on

Mark- Our jaws move up and down not side to side. We aren’t cows. We’re omnivores not herbivores. Our teeth are made for eating meat and veggies. And meat is perfectly safe to eat, we’ve been eating it for millions of years.

sarah r. on

Mark-our teeth move up and down, not side to side. We’re omnivores not herbivores. And there’s nothing wrong with meat, we’ve been eating it for millions of years.

amylynniebug on

It makes me sad that you who left ugly remarks understood that every person who is vegan is different. I live with omnivores and while I wish so much (I live with them because my Dad had a heart attack! I want him to more than survive. I want him to thrive!!) that my parents would cut out things that are bad for their hearts and could change my Mom’s digestive problems, we do not fight about it. I make plant-based meals for them, they love it. Then they eat what they want. It has to be their choice and I will continue to ask them to watch Forks Over Knives and Cowspiracy with me, and often we do watch together.
I am sad if you feel the need to judge me even though you have never met me. But I feel sad for all people who pre-judge anyone. I am so grateful to have been raised to be kind and not assume anything about a person that I don’t know – I could miss out on a wonderful friend of relationship.
This saved Bill’s life, which is fabulous!! It has done wonderful things for me, completely resolved one issue that I went to FIVE different doctors about (That resolved within the first week! It was so great!!) . None of those things have made me hate my parents or any of you. It is not easy to always just sit here at my desk and let people mock me and all who eat a plant-based diet and choose to not take from animals; waste water and grains fed to animals that could be used for humans, and just be kind across the board…. which of these things make you hate me?

amylynniebug on


That was part of my “resolved issue” 🙂 I was in severe digestive pain for years and years (and was, er, clogged. Big time!) and it still makes me giggle at how happy that change in my life makes me :0) The first probably month or so after I was vegan, I saw a lapel button that something like “I poop. Every day”. So true and so funny and such a good thing!!:0)

fallingleaves on

Sarah, you are mistaken on so many issues. Yes, the true culprit of heart disease is inflammation; however, consumption of animal protein increases inflammation by several means, including by raising cortisol and C-reactive protein, both of which are correlated with heart disease. Meat from grass-fed cattle is no panacea, either for health or the environment. Grass-fed has even MORE of the dangerous l-carnitine, which the gut bacteria of meat eaters converts to atherosclerosis-promoting TMAO. And they produce more methane than grain-fed cattle. Using the Masai, Watusi, etc., as examples of excellent health is ridiculous. Their life expectancy is very low, generally in the 40s, before people would even be expected to develop and die from heart disease. Their height is not a sign of good health; it’s a matter of genetics. In contrast, the healthiest, most long-lived communities on earth, the “Blue Zones,” eat traditional diets high in grains and beans and low or lacking in meat.

Sarah H on

fallingleaves, absolutely not. Frankly, you have no idea what you are talking about. I have all my patients on 75% vegetables, 25% animal protein per meal, along with snacks in between and other healthy fats. In 99% of patients, their crp goes down, ALWAYS. High grain?? Lol that’s the worst advice ever ever ever. By nature, we are NOT supposed to consume a high grain diet. That’s a huge no no. No one is saying to be purely carnivore. We are omnivores by nature. I was using those tribes as example of meat and dairy NOT being the culprit of heart disease. You need to educate yourself of nutrition. You won’t find a good nutritionist who would ever recommend a high grain diet.

Sarah H on

Also, it’s far from ridiculous to share that those tribes ate a diet in high saturated fat and didn’t die from heart disease. Who cares of their life expectancy was 110 or 30. Point being(stay in topic now), is the fact despite their high meat and dairy diet, they were NOT dying from heart disease.

Sarah H on

Guess my first comment didn’t post. High grain diet?? lol. Any good nutritionist would NEVER EVER recommend that. By nature, we are not to consume a large portion of grains. Was that the old 80’s food guide pyramid way of thinking when saturated fats were demonized, yes. There’s been leaps and bounds made in nutrition since then. You must be very ill educated in nutrition. No one is saying to be pure carnivore. The mentioned tribes were just to in fact prove that meat and dairy consumption is NOT a factor in causing heart disease. I have my patients on 75% vegetables, 25% animal protein per meal, with snacks in between and incorporating other healthy fats. In 99.9% of patients, their crp goes down, always. That’s because they are cutting out the true inflammatory foods, refined sugars, refined grains, trans fats. Don’t try to talk nutrition when clearly you are far from educated on the subject.

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