Former U.S. president Bill Clinton celebrated his 66th birthday on Aug. 19, 2012, and is leaner and healthier than ever, thanks to a vegan diet.
Clinton switched to a plant-based diet in 2011 and lost 24 pounds several months later. The previous year, he had two stents placed in his coronary artery after having undergone a quadruple heart-bypass surgery in 2004.
Bill, who has a family history of heart disease and struggled with weight for years, credited his new diet for saving his life.
"I was lucky I did not die of a heart attack [in 2004]," Clinton told CNN. After his first surgery, the former president cut back on calories and reduced his dietary cholesterol intake but continued to eat the hamburgers, steaks, chicken enchiladas, barbecue and french fries he so loved.
"When I had my second heart incident [in 2010] and I had the stents put in, I had passed all my physicals, I was doing great, but I was still building up plaque in my arteries," he recounted. "So I decided that I wanted to see if I could live to be a grandfather, so I just went all the way.
"Now, I try to eat some salmon once a week, but I don't miss any of that. Getting rid of the dairy was great, getting rid of the meat was -- I just don't miss it. Not everybody is as vulnerable to [heart disease] as I am.
"All of us produce a certain amount of enzymes that destroys our own bad cholesterol. However much extra we produce determines how much we can ingest. And unfortunately, we can't measure it. So I just said, 'I don't want to take any chances,' and I feel great."
The former president says he really enjoys what he eats now, and doesn't miss the fast food at all. "I like the vegetables, the fruits, the beans, the stuff I eat now," said Clinton, whose weight hovers at around 185 pounds -- his weight at age 13!
"All my blood tests are good, and my vital signs are good, and I feel good. I also have more energy."
While he's thrilled with his weight loss, Bill's health-consciousness is primarily motivated by a desire to live to see his future grandchildren.
"Hillary and I, we are happy, we love our son-in-law," said Clinton, whose daughter Chelsea got married in July 2010. "And we would like to be around if there are grandkids, we would like to do our part."