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The Vegan US President: Guess Who?

Bill Clinton suffered a heart attack, two surgeries, and decided to change his diet radically in 2010. He was warned that it wouldn’t work. The detractors were wrong.

Interviewed by CNN in September 2010, he was asked, “How did you lose so much weight? What kind of diet did you go on?”

Clinton replied: “The short answer is I live on beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits.” No meat. No oils. No fish. No dairy. None. The former president is now a devoted vegan. What does that mean? No meat, no fish or dairy products. Since 2010, former President Clinton has pursued a healthier way of life. He adopted the heart disease reversal program developed by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.

Bill Clinton travels and works at a pace that completely exhausts staffers who are two or three decades younger. Yet, while coping with the usual complaints of aging, he has managed to change his diet drastically, lose more than 30 pounds and keep the weight off. If he can do all that, he believes that maybe there's hope for the rest of us baby boomers — and Americans of all ages — whose eating and exercise habits, along with their medical expenses, worry him a lot.

Shortly after starting his new diet plan, Clinton said, "I've stopped eating meat, cheese, milk, even fish. No dairy at all. I've lost more than 20 pounds so far, aiming for about 30 before Chelsea's wedding (which happened in July of 2010). And I have so much more energy now! I feel great." He achieved his ideal weight in time for his daughter's marriage to Marc Mezvinsky.

Clinton traces his decision to change back to February 2010 when he woke up looking pale and feeling tired. His cardiologist quickly brought him into New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery to insert a pair of stents. One of his veins had given out, a frequent complication following the quadruple bypass surgery he had undergone in 2004.

At a subsequent press conference, Clinton recalls, his doctors tried "to reassure the public that I wasn't on the verge of death, and so they said, you know, this is actually fairly normal." Soon after, he received a "blistering" email from Dean Ornish, MD, the renowned diet and heart disease expert.

"Yeah, it's normal," wrote Dr. Ornish, an old friend, "because fools like you don't eat like you should."

Prodded into action, Clinton started by rereading Dr. Dean Ornish's “Program for Reversing Heart Disease,” which urges a strict, low-fat, plant-based regimen, along with two books that were, if possible, even more militantly vegan: “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease,” by Caldwell Esselstyn, MD, and “The China Study,” by Cornell biochemist T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.

"I just decided that I was a high-risk person, and I didn't want to fool with this anymore. And I wanted to live to be a grandfather," says Clinton. "So I decided to pick the diet that I thought would maximize my chances of long-term survival."

To learn more about Clinton’s remarkable dietary change, go to

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