Former president Bill Clinton switched to a mostly vegan diet in 2010 because he wants to ensure he lives long enough to see his future grandchildren.
Clinton made the revelations to Dr. Dean Ornish, a medical advisor to Bill and Hillary Clinton for two decades. In 1993, Mrs. Clinton asked Dr. Ornish to train the chefs at the White House, Camp David, and
Air Force One to cook more healthfully for them.
"If it's meaningful, it's sustainable," Ornish told the Huffington Post. "I asked him, 'Why do you want to live longer?' and he said, 'I want to live long enough to walk my daughter down the aisle and to see my grandkids born and grow up.' "
Dr. Ornish, author of The Spectrum, added that he respects the former president's privacy immensely, and only disclosed this information since Clinton had already discussed his vegan diet in an AARP interview.
Under the guidance of Dr. Ornish, Clinton, 67, adopted a plant-based diet in 2010 and became vegan in 2011. Bill, who has a family history of cardiovascular disease, underwent quadruple heart-bypass surgery in 2004. In 2010, he underwent another surgery and had two stents placed in his coronary artery.
The surgeries led to a dietary epiphany when Clinton realized that his poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle had ruined his health. Clinton isn't a strict vegan because he has organic salmon and eggs weekly, but his daily diet is largely plant-based.
Plant-Based Diet Fueled 30-Pound Weight Loss
After changing his diet, he also began exercising daily, and now walks two or three miles a day, lifts weights and plays golf. The 6-foot-2 Clinton said his mostly vegan diet is responsible for his 30-pound weight loss and his boundless energy.
Clinton's improved heart health on a vegan diet is not surprising to medical experts like Dr. David Katz, author of Disease-Proof. “If you shift to a diet more about plant-based foods, you are likelier to live healthier and experience less chronic disease," said Dr. Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of The End of Dieting, agrees. “The more greens you eat, the more weight you will lose,” said Dr. Fuhrman.
Clinton Eliminated Sugar From His Diet
Obesity obesity expert Dr. Mark Hyman recently advised the former president to go off his strict vegan diet and start eating some animal proteins like fish and eggs.
Dr. Hyman, a dietary consultant to Bill and Hillary Clinton, was concerned that Clinton wasn't eating enough protein to maintain muscle mass. However, many vegan-diet experts feel you can get sufficient protein from a plant-based diet and that eating animal protein hampers the reversal of heart disease.
Hyman also prescribed for both Hillary and Bill a sugar-free diet of unprocessed foods and plenty of non-starchy vegetables. Avoiding sugar is the one thing that will make the biggest difference in your health, said Hyman, author of "The 10-Day Detox Diet."
Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, said her dad's heart health is better than it was a decade ago, thanks to his weight loss and mostly vegan diet. “His doctor told him that his heart today is much younger than it was even 10 years ago,” said Chelsea, who's now pregnant with her first child.