by China DeSpain
Categories: Vegan
Tags: .

Former president Bill Clinton made headlines last month when he announced that he’d adopted a vegan lifestyle. And although it seemed at the time that he had completely removed animal products from his diet, it turns out that that’s not exactly the case.

During an interview with talk show host and Food Network star Rachael Ray, Clinton confessed that he’s mostly vegan.

“I’m very careful, because strict vegans not only don’t eat any meat or fish or dairy products, but they don’t ever eat any processed breads and they’re very careful what kind of oil goes into their food. So I, you know, I can’t quite make that. My daughter, who was a vegetarian most of her life, beats up on me to eat more fish so I maybe have fish a little bit, once or twice a month, but I sort of lost the taste for all of it,” he said.

Despite his occasional sampling (and a not-so-supportive daughter!), it sounds as though Clinton is closer than ever to adopting a fully animal-free lifestyle. When Ray asked him which non-vegan foods he missed the most, he responded, “You know, last year at Thanksgiving…I had, literally, I had one bite of turkey and one bite of ham. A bite. And I didn’t want it. And about once a year I have one bite of steak, and I don’t want it anymore.”

Ray isn’t the only interviewer to grill the former president about his eating habits. Just yesterday, Today Show host Matt Lauer asked him whether being a vegan “sucks.” Clinton’s response? A definite no. “You know, when you get older your appetites change and abate, and you’re more interested in having another good day. So I’d like to have as many good days as possible, and this seems to be the best way to get it.”

So, although it sounds like he’s on the meat-free bandwagon for health reasons as opposed to animal-rights ones, at least he’s putting the lifestyle in a positive light. Most of the time, anyway. Apparently, despite having “lost the taste for” fish, some old habits are hard to break.

“I do miss omelets,” he told Ray. “And I get a protein hunger so I, you know, I do eat fish from time to time, a little fish. I’ll eat uh, you know, a couple bites of fish or a little tuna fish if I get hungry.”

For more, catch his interview on the Rachael Ray Show this afternoon.



About China DeSpain

China DeSpain is a San Antonio-based writer and blogger. She loves pop culture, animal rights, health and fitness, international travel, books and wigs. Follow China on Twitter: @ChinaDeSpain

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  • Hina

    Um, so now Chelsea isn’t a vegetarian (I thought she had turned vegan) either? I hate it when people talk about “strict” vegans, as if we’re begrudgingly abiding by some rigid code of conduct. Next time Bill gets a hankering for protein, he should just eat a couple of Clif Builder Bars. There’s 20g of protein each right there!

  • herwin

    we all love you, Clinton, for ditching the meat for inteligent reasons (listening to ones doctor is VERY inteligent !). and not trying to be “vegan” for fashionable reasons but just for being “yourself” and for being respectful in using the “vegan” word.

    Going veg for health reasons is a very good reason, and i bet 30.000 us$ that soon you will have enough space in your heart to also embrace the compassionate reason.

    Obama failed, maybe next time we should vote for Hilary Clinton, at least her husband is a 99% vegan ! ;-)

  • Eat Plants and Run

    I highly respect Clinton, for his politics and for how he has tackled his health. But, I hope this doesn’t feed into the “vegans don’t get enough protein and end up protein deficient and starving” argument. We get plenty of protein in other ways! I also don’t quite understand the vegans don’t eat processed bread bit…I’m able to find vegan bread in stores.
    Also nice to see Matt Lauer asking a question that is leading/shows his own bias about veganism “sucking”.

  • justvegan

    “…strict vegans…don’t ever eat any processed breads and they’re very careful what kind of oil goes into their food.” No they’re not! He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. You’re either vegan or you’re not, there’s no “strict”. He’s talking about “health conscious eaters” who may or may not be vegan. And he’s eating fish on advice from 2 non-vegans, his daughter & Dr. Dean Ornish. He follows Ornish over the other low-fat plant-based diet gurus he’s mentioned who are actually vegan, Esselstyn & Campbell.


    Clinton is not a vegan. Last I checked eating Fish is neither vegan, nor vegetarian. The Vegan community needs to STOP acting so desperate by trying to claim non-vegans as vegans. These are just lies, and it gives the impression that vegans are desperate to gain followers through false notions. If Clinton ever completely cuts fish out of his diet, and if he embraces veganism for compassionate reasons, then he can finally be called a vegan – until then, let’s be honest. Don’t forget, eating a plant-based diet is not enough merit to consider a person as a Vegan. Veganism is about not consuming animal byproducts from food, clothes, cosmetics, entertainment, medicine, etc. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, does not consider himself to be a Vegan, as he practices vivisection, the experimentation on animals. Campbell says he does medical experiments on mice, and rats. “Google” it if you don’t believe me, and you’ll find several links.

  • DMac

    He follows a vegan diet 99% of the time, nitpicking about the occasional fish intake once in awhile doesn’t do any good. I would consider him a vegan.

    • Stacy

      I think for someone as prominent as Bill Clinton is, to have gone as far as he has towards a vegan diet, is a good thing and appropriate example. I, myself, had been a vegetarian, then watched, The Witness. I went immediately into a vegan diet and never looked back, not once, ever. I am only wearing my synthetic boots this winter and hoping they keep my feet warm in a very snowy and very wet and cold climate. The next action will be replacing purses, clothes, cosmetics etc. It takes a lot to make the total change and it takes time. I see myself as a work in progress and perhaps he is, too. Perhaps our compassion should extend to him as well.


    So if someone goes hunting once a year, I guess that’s ok, as long as it’s only once.

    There’s no such thing as nitpicking.

    Facts are facts. If he eats fish, just once a year, it still disregards him as a vegan.

    There’s no such thing as 50%, 75%, or even 99% vegan. You’re either a vegan or not.