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Bill Clinton Should Stop Calling Himself a Vegan

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Former President Bill Clinton is a fish eating vegan, apparently.

In a dizzying article shared by The Hill, Clinton credits being “vegan” for preserving his health. The 69 year old is excited to share the transformation he’s made to his diet, forgetting that eating salmon and avoiding most animals food products does not make you a vegan, it means you eat less animal products.

Even if Clinton had focused on a more appropriate “plant-based” label for the way he chooses to sometimes eat, he would have been off. Although he credits vegans for “nailing the meat substitute stuff,” and is happy to chow down on cashew cheese topped nachos, I wish he wouldn’t add to the media propagated confusion.

“The vegan diet is what I like the best,” Clinton told Politico. “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.” So while it’s great for Bill to focus on what makes him feel good, it’s clearly not a move focused on ethics.

Until we read about him denouncing animal products from more than just most of his meals, we’re not going to celebrate his “veganism.” I hope my aunts don’t refer back to asking me if fish is vegan.

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  • daniel

    Who cares, he can call himself whatever he wants

  • MJ Jam

    OMG, Ecorazzi, you gotta stop. I get it, you feel strongly about the “purity” of the vegan label, but you have to get people into the fold here. You do that by welcoming EVERYONE (especially big names like Bill Clinton and Beyonce) and promoting positive articles about going plant-based — or even just cutting back on animal products. Articles like this is what makes people say stupid shit like “Found the vegan.” There are bigger fights than this. Embrace celebrity endorsements of plant-based diets (and who cares WHY they’re doing it as long as they’re doing it! Environmental, health, ethics — it all achieves the same goal!) — and stop nit-picking the details. If people are interested enough to learn about the diet because a former president or a superstar say they are vegan, that’s a GOOD THING. Trust me, one article about Bill Clinton loving his new diet in a big-name publication is gonna do WAAAY more for veganism than you writing an article about how he’s NOT actually vegan and how the media is confusing everyone. Positive articles on veganism in mainstream media are hard enough to find. This is good coverage. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    P.S. And also, not that I’m defending this, as I’m not sure WHY his doctor would say this, but The Hill article does clarify the fish thing: “[My doctor] asked me to eat organic salmon once a week,” Clinton said. “I do, but I’d just as soon be without it.”

    • poppie_field

      Bravo. Because going vegan or mostly vegan for health reasons is as good as any reason. I was just about to say “found the holier than thou vegan” when I read your comment. It’s about inclusion, and health is a good reason and place to start.

  • AlpineDan

    Keep keeping it real, Ecorazzi.

    There are some words that have clear, specific definitions. Other words have vague “family resemblance” type meanings. The word “vegan” has a clear, specific definition that was set forth and/or agreed upon by Donald Watson, the person who coined it back in the 1940s. By contrast, the word “libertarian” has a vague “family resemblance” type meaning. If Bill Clinton wants to call himself a plant-based pescatarian, pseudo-vegan, a quasi-vegan, an almost-vegan, a wanna-be vegan, or a “guy on a mostly plant-based diet,” fine; but the fact is, he is clearly and obviously not a vegan, by definition.

  • vegan truth seeker

    for those of you who are very concerned and upset that Ecorazzi and ethical vegans want to clarify the meaning of ‘veganism’ you don’t care much about language itself do you?

    So, for instance, chair/stool/sofa, car/truck/bus, house/apartment/palace, and so forth, it all means the same thing to you?

    Words exist for a reason, not because they’re nice to say out loud or because it’s funny to write them down… they exist to label and define things!

    Veganism, vegetarianism, plant-based diet, are different things and should be used in the right context to define different things!

    That’s why so many people are confused when we tell them we’re vegan.

    • AllVegan

      That’s right and eating a Vegan diet is not same as being an “Ethical Vegan”. One is a way of eating and the other is a personal Identity. I understand that there are people out there who want to capture the word Vegan as a pseudonym for “radical animal rights activist”. However that was not the original intent of the word when it was created and going forward people are going to continue to use the word Vegan in ways other than what some people think it should, get over it.

  • Marissa Deangelis

    I think it would benefit the vegan cause more if they encouraged people to be vegans and vegetarians some of the time or most of the time first, and recognizing that a lot of people won’t be vegans all of the time. But if someone eats a vegan diet 2/3s of the day or most of the week and feels it benefits their health, and it’s the diet they adhere to more than any other, than I say it’s valid. A lot of people get turned off to this all or nothing attitude and it ends up harming more animals. Think of how many less animals would suffer if people ate and used 20-40% less animal products just because they thought it was healthier, or just because they wanted to make a dent in animal cruelty?

    • Mac Duff

      Yes, sometime back I went ‘vegan’ except for a very modest amount of fish (mainly because my diet also is grain-free) – of which there are weeks where I won’t even have fish. I did it for a health reasons specifically. A side benefit though is I don’t consume a daily amount of chicken, dairy, pork and beef and my family including spouse and kids also have drastically reduced overall meat consumption. I encourage people to move in the ‘right direction’ while at the same time being aware that a person has to use kindness and compassion to make a point rather than what I have observed out of nearly all true vegans and that is over-zealousness.

  • AllVegan

    Ya, I get it, A Vegetarian is someone who eats Plants but also may eat some dairy as well. A Pure Vegetarian is someone who eats strictly Plant based. A Lacto Ovo Vegetarian is someone who eats Eggs and Cheese with their Plants. A Pesco Vegetarian is someone who eats some fish. An Ethical Vegan is someone who is horrified by Animal slaughter and cruelty. Then some people eat a whole foods plant based diet, and sometimes that is referred to as a Vegan diet. But really do the labels really mean that much? I am pleased that President Clinton eats plant based and I don’t care if he calls that a Vegan Diet, I am mostly just grateful that he seems to have stopped listening to Dr Hyman.

  • Joan Kennedy

    What I don’t understand is why some animal rights vegans think they’re entitled to bogart the “ethical” descriptor. Ethics encompass so much more than animal rights, and so do food ethics. Clinton publicizing a healthier way of eating is a highly ethical action, in this country filled with diabetes, cancer and heart disease. It doesn’t help him, it helps them. And if animals aren’t his real concern, so what? Animals benefit when large numbers of people stop eating them.

    I get that a man who ever eats fish is no vegan. Mostly it’s others who call him one, and it would eat precious air time to correct them on a fine point that takes the conversation off-message. Eating precious air time and going off-message are two mistakes he stopped making decades ago.

  • What a joke

    Shut up. Just shut the f*ck up. Shut. Up.

  • live and let live


    You, not him.

  • Mark

    So how killing plants more ethical than killing animals?

  • Mark

    If you want to go the ethical route check out the Jain diet, only seeds and fruits that fall off the plant naturally without killing it. But then we get into when does plant life begin? At pollination, directly after the pollen tube grows to meet thr ovary? The only ethical arguement that i think holds water is that we don’t have the resources for everyone on earth to eat the typical first world diet. But that gets us into wealth distribution and over population. All said and done, there are bigger soy fish substitutes to fry here people

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