Kevin Gray, author of the wonderful article, "The Rise of the Power Vegan," in the October issue of Men's Journal, must be kicking himself about his timing. He sites super athletes such as Tony Gonzalez, Scott Jurek and Mike Tyson, and business leaders such as Mort Zuckerman, Twitter Co-founder Biz Stone, and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. Little did he know that former US President Bill Clinton was about to come out of the pantry -- as an almost vegan!
In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Clinton tells us that the 24 pounds he has lost on his new diet are an added bonus. He adopted what he calls "essentially a plant based diet" -- no meat, chicken, fish or dairy -- because he had learned that 82% of people studied on such diets had been able to reverse heart disease, and that we now have 25 years of evidence of this. (Unfortunately he is still eating "very little fish, once in a while" -- bad for the fish and the oceans and for Clinton's mercury and PCB levels.)
Please watch this video of the segment and forward it to all of your friends:
And please send a note to Wolf Blitzer thanking him for the coverage and asking for more. Clinton sited a list of doctors who cure heart disease on plant based diets. Please ask Blitzer to have them on the show. Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and his son Rip Esselstyn, author of "The Engine 2 Diet" and famous for having persuaded his Austin firehouse to go vegan, are both informative and charismatic spokespersons who would make great guests. Please send your notes to
My thanks go to Andrew Umphries and Alfredo Kuba for making sure we saw that segment.
Now to "The Rise of the Power Vegan," written by Kevin Gray, on page 97 of the October issue of Men's Journal.
"For years the gospel of the vegan convert centered on Teva wearers fighting for animal rights or on righteous punks sticking it to their parents at the dinner table. It did not include $7-million-a-year freight trains like Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, hockey brawlers like former Montreal Canadiens winger Georges Laraque, or seven-time Western States Endurance Run champ Scott Jurek. But vegan athletes - who eschew all animal products for a plant-based diet - and their vegetarian cousins, who may or may not eat eggs and dairy, are challenging meat eaters on every field. Even former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson ditched the burgers and went vegan several months ago and, as a result, is looking a lot like the old lean-and-mean Mike (except for that face tattoo, which is still just bizarre).
"No one is saying that eating vegan will make you stronger, but the rap that you cannot build muscle or get enough protein for competitive strength training, or have the stamina for endurance training, turns out to be a myth. Even more compelling, though, is new evidence that eating vegan can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. 'People can bulk up and knock other people around with animal-based proteins - that we know,' says T. Colin Campbell, a retired Cornell University professor and author of The China Study, which outlines the link between animal-based proteins and disease. 'But it comes at a cost. Your life span is much shorter. Cancer and diabetes risk goes up. You pay a big price.' In his 2005 bestseller, Campbell says he first discovered a relationship between protein and cancer while working in the Philippines, where children were getting liver cancer because of high levels of animal protein in their diets. A study on rats showed that those given
a diet of 20 percent protein got the cancer. Those given only 5 percent protein did not."
Having read the China Study I am going to note that the last sentences in the paragraph directly above should say "animal protein" -- specifically casein, the protein found in cows milk. The addition and subtraction of it turned cancer tumor growth on and off like flicking a switch. When the diet was 20 percent plant protein there was no such ill effect.
And please note that my correction of the details of an animal experiment does not mean I condone such experiments. On the contrary: the evidence from human studies of diet and disease, conducted with thousands of human subjects in many countries, is so powerfully persuasive it is a shame that animal tests seeking the same results were deemed necessary and ethical.
You can read a few more paragraphs of the Men's Journal article, really delightful reading, on line at:
Unfortunately at the very end of the article, in the print edition, we learn that Tony Gonzalez was persuaded by the co-author of his new book to start eating meat as side dishes. But the bulk of the article is still overwhelmingly positive, filled with examples of athletically and financially successful people flourishing on entirely plant-based diets.
The article opens the door for letters to the editor singing the praises of plant-based eating. As DawnWatch is an animal advocacy list I know many of my readers are vegan for ethical reasons, with fantastic health effects being a fringe benefit. (If you are vegetarian but not yet vegan for ethical reasons, please remember that cows must have babies to give milk, and that those babies, who are removed and confined in veal crates, are the waste product of the dairy industry. The dairy industry is the foundation of the veal industry.) We also have an opportunity to give the animals a voice by reminding Men's Journal readers that compassion is another reason to avoid consuming the products of animal suffering.
Men's Journal takes letters at firstname.lastname@example.org
People who have read The Tipping Point are familiar with the idea that massive societal change happens not when every person in society is individually persuaded to behave differently, but when an idea, powered by a few with the ability to influence in various ways, reaches a critical mass or threshold. The renowned doctors, the supreme athletes, the successful businessmen have helped us creep toward the threshold that will eventually make plant-based eating the norm. With a spokesperson like Bill Clinton talking persuasively about his plant-based diet on a forum such as CNN, we have taken a giant leap towards that threshold. I hope DawnWatch readers are excited as I am by this development. Today is a good day to uncork some plant-based champagne.
Yours and the animals',
(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts only if you do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line.)
Please go to http://tinyurl.com/254ulkx to check out Karen Dawn's book, "Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way we Treat Animals," which was chosen last year by the Washington Post as one of the "Best Books of The Year!"