Former President Bill Clinton won rave reviews for losing 24 pounds in time for his daughter Chelsea's recent wedding, and he credited it to his new vegetarian diet. He told Wolf Blitzer in an interview that although he does eat fish (rarely), he otherwise eats a vegan diet and feels great.
Clinton's high praise for veganism was all over the news and tabloid shows, and his remarks seemed to lend a little prestige to the idea of losing weight by eating as the vegans do.
Not merely a diet
Of course, many vegans have deep spiritual reasons for eating as they do, and I certainly don't wish to recommend it solely as a dieting aid. Nor would I ever relegate veganism to the status of a fad diet.
Adults in the U.S. follow many forms of vegetarian diets, but according to a 2009 Harris poll, only 1 percent consider themselves vegan (1 more percentage point of these adults follow a vegan diet in every way except for consuming honey). According to the Vegan Society, veganism is a way of living that seeks to eliminate, as much as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, and any other purpose. Vegans exclude flesh, fish, fowl, dairy products (including animal milk, butter, cheese, and yogurt), eggs, honey, and animal gelatin, as well as anything else of animal origin.
Why people become vegans
Reasons for choosing to follow a vegan diet may include the diet's health and ecological benefits, one's religious and spiritual beliefs, a non-violent worldview, the desire to avoid hormones and contaminants, and a deep love for animals.
Health benefits of the vegan diet
Nutrients to pay extra attention to
Some key nutrients, however, are missing in the vegan diet or in short supply, so that vegans must always make sure they are getting enough of the following:
Not everyone can adopt the vegan diet, but more and more people (even Bill Clinton!) seem to be including more vegetarian meals in their diets, or getting interested in becoming "flexitarians."
What are your thoughts on vegan diets, readers? If you are vegan, please share your thoughts and perhaps your reasons for following that path.