Bill Clinton Goes…Flexitarian

Vegan advocates spread the news Bill Clinton goes vegan and I sigh yet again. This bit of news actually made a surprisingly big splash on the internet the past weeks but when I first heard, my immediate reaction was “So fucking what.”. As more media reported on this I became even more confused as to why this is big news within the vegan circles. I mean, I can understand why the general population[1] might be interested with their penchant for fad diets and quick weight loss scams but why is the vegan community passing this around as any sort of endorsement for veganism? Erik Marcus was SO overjoyed by this news that he said:

This video is one of the most exciting things I’ve seen in all my time as a vegan advocate.

Really…really?! That is really one sad state of affairs for veganism. Why? Ok, let’s take it from the top:

Bill Clinton:
I live on beans, legumes, vegetables, fruit. I drink a protein supplement every morning—no dairy—I drink almond milk mixed in with fruit and a protein powder so I get the protein for the day when I start the day up.

The first question every vegan gets when somebody new finds out they’re vegan is “Where do you get your protein.” While vegans require about 10% more protein than non-vegetarians and it’s nice to err on the side caution to supplement with protein I think this perpetuates the myth that vegans are health nuts who have dramatic diets full of concoctions and potions. It’s quite possible to slightly alter one’s diet to eat the protein needed but this I admit, is a minor quibble with Clinton’s testimony.

Bill Clinton:
And it changed my whole metabolism and I lost 24 pounds and I got back to basically what I weighed in high school.

But I did it for a different reason, I mean I wanted to lose a little weight but I didn’t dream this would happen.

I’m not even sure what “changed my whole metabolism” means but I suspect it relates to the next sentence that talks about the “little weight” he lost. All people hear when he says that is “veganism slows your metabolism and you will lose weight and fulfill all your dreams!”. Weight loss is a nutrition myth surrounding veganism that is often played up to embarrassing extremes. Your body doesn’t care what the source is. Calories in, calories out.

Bill Clinton:
So I did all this research and I saw that 82 percent of the people since 1986 who have gone on a plant-based, no dairy or meat of any kind, no chicken, turkey—I eat very little fish, once in a while I’ll have a little fish; not often—if you can do it, 82 percent of the people who have done that have begun to heal themselves.

I often tell people that unless you are particularly skilled and educated in science or nutrition it would be best to just seek a reputable professional. Shouldn’t Clinton have sought the advice of a dietitian instead? What did he do when he was president? Did he do all the “research” himself? *shudder*

Oh and BTW, eating fish is not vegan. It’s not even vegetarian. Ok, and here’s the rub folks. Veganism means: no animal products. If you don’t like that strictness then GTFO for reals. I’ll be the first to fess up that veganism seems pretty extreme and irrational especially when it’s a near impossibility to do 100%. When you think of it from an “animal rights” point of view though it makes a lot more sense. If you want to strive for “more inclusiveness” then don’t leverage the “vegan” word and stop watering it down to a meaningless glob of a word.

What he is doing here is more akin to flexitarian. My own dietitian is the author of The Flexitarian Diet but also very supportive of my animal free diet. Whenever a vegan hears that though, they are apt to get quite agitated that I should fraternize with the enemy so. I should be getting my nutrition information on the internet like everybody else! It’s funny that when I even mention flexitarian in the company of vegans they bristle but when you erroneously slap on the “vegan” label all-a-sudden it’s “one of the most exciting things”.

To top it all off, celebrity endorsements of anything really don’t sway me one bit. How many times have we seen celebrities go from being in a PeTA advertisement to eating chicken or wearing fur? I would go dig up a bunch of examples if I weren’t so bored of the subject. Celebrity endorsement is one big fat fucking appeal to authority and this case is no exception. When Bill Clinton starts chowing down on teh BigMacs once again will vegans update their reports? No, because all they’re really interested in is reinforcing their own bias and endorsing their culture. It’s really not about the animals at all.

[1] Even Boing Boing for chrissakes.

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