Matt Lauer Asks Bill Clinton If Being A Vegan ‘Sucks’

When we think of Bill Clinton, “the picture of perfect health” is probably not the first description that comes to mind. But after decades of an unhealthy lifestyle (complete with jogging to McDonald’s with reporters during his stint at the White House) we have to give him props for trying to turn things around with his newly-adopted vegan diet. And even though many people wondered if he would stick to it, he told Matt Lauer this morning exactly why he is.

Lauer asked:

When you were president, you were known for your appetite. Man, you loved the doughnuts, the junk food, anything southern fried. Now we sit here, and you just turned 65, had a quadruple bypass and you’re a vegan. Does that suck?

To which Clinton replied with a laugh:

No, no. You know, when you get older your appetites change and abate, and you’re more interested in having another good day. So I’d like to have as many good days as possible, and this seems to be the best way to get it.

Why would anyone assume being a vegan “sucks”? Because doing so has been associated with lowering your risk of cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, hypertension and arthritis? Or because other studies have shown that those who eat red and processed meat were more likely to die prematurely? Yeah, that would suck. While we may not always agreed with Clinton when it comes to politics (and other indiscretions), we are 100% behind his decision to take control of his health in order to have more “good days”, no matter what Lauer implies.




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    • Barbara Saunders

      I agree with your sentiment, but there’s a bit of a logical flaw there: a person who eats animal products once a month – or once a year – is not a vegan, and non-vegans eat a wide variety of diets, from meat at every meal to ovo-lacto vegetarianism to low-fat diets that allow but limit meat and dairy. Vegans may have substantially reduced risk of disease as compared to the extreme carnivore or the “average American,” not necessarily when compared to people who follow non-typical nutrient-dense diets.

    • carrie

      For the record? I think it’s amazing that Bill Clinton is so committed to his health. Seriously!

      But per usual, y’all missed the point of the question. And you presented a very very one-sided article. Being a vegan is difficult. It requires making lots of hard choices, asking questions that some find annoying and really? It’s a lot of WORK. And that part? It kind of sucks in the way that any “non-traditional” diet sucks.

      Blisstree, I really wish you’d be a little more objective. I’m seriously considering unsubscribing because I find your articles so one-sided. If you’d just acknowledge the reality in a statement– that, for instance, having a quadruple bypass could suck, and then that maybe making all those life choices were difficult, but then emphasize that they are also super beneficial…well…then I’d get it. but now? yeesh.

    • sharon

      Being vegan is hard! Anyone who says otherwise isn’t being truthful or may not be all that into food. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that vegan options can be tasty AND healthy. But, there are still things I miss and no vegan substitute will ever be the same. It’s also very difficult to be vegan in some parts of the country if you don’t have access to healthy and vegan options. I agree that there are many health benefits to being vegan, but to ignore the reasons why Matt would imply that “it sucks” is disrespectful to the people who are trying to adopt it as a lifestyle.

    • M.

      I was a vegan for two years and it did suck. I had digestive problems up the wazoo. I was always gassy and bloated and I tried many different variations of the diet. I tried raw foods, I tried low-soy, I tried high protein, I tried eliminating all processed vegan foods, and I tried gluten-free. I eventually put fish back into my diet and eat it once a week or every other week. I still refuse dairy and rarely eat eggs. My current diet is very healthy and has eliminated my digestive issues. Going strictly vegan isn’t for everyone. Plus, I didn’t like being stuck with the stigma that I was an animal rights activist/and/or a-hole. I was in a lot of vegan forums to discuss veganism and get tips but I found a lot of the vegans I spoke to were elitest and incredibly rude and judgemental. A word for those kinds of vegans: be kind to your fellow man and if you want to be “accepted” don’t be a jerk. For the last year of veganism, I shut other vegans out because honestly, some of you can be really mean. For the rest of the vegans I know who are sweet, accepting, intelligent and continue sharing fun and easy tasty recipes: keep being awesome.

    • mudturtle

      I have tried talking to vegans on facebook. 1 woman cussed me out & went on about how I had an “agenda” because I take prescription meds for health problems, some which are genetic. I explained I was not going to try herbal/ natural methods for healing as I had severe allergies & had tried some natural methods & had severe allergic reactions. (hives over my entire body, rapid swelling of my mouth tissues, tongue, & my throat) Because of this I wasn’t going to risk alternative meds. So I was cussed out about that. I have posted 3 times on fb that I wished to discuss vegitarian/ vegan diets, changes I could make, products that could be used to replace items such as cheese, eggs, butter, etc. I requested non verbally abusive, no cussing, no insulting, mature discussions. Not 1 person has come forwards. They love to cuss me out & slam me for eating meat but aren’t willing to talk possitively about this choice (and it is a choice) with folks. I am the horrible one because I use prescription meds & eat meat. There was no understanding about the allergic reaction & the fact some of the conditions are genetic. You cann’t change your genes. So, I still am eating meat, still wanting info, but I don’t want to risk anymore cussing & verbally abusive slamming.

      • D. D.

        hi there! I’m sorry you have had a bad facebook experience : all the vegans I know are really nice! if you are looking to get information on vegan eating there are SO many amazing blogs out there, and forums where you can talk with people. I recommend the Post Punk Kitchen, Vegansaurus, Dr. Furhman’s book Eat To Live, Colleen Patrick Goudreau’s blog that has lots of good recipes. If you post your FB name I am happy to friend you and answer any questions you have — I’ve been vegan for 5 years and it’s great. And even if for whatever reason you can’t / don’t feel comfortable eliminating all animal products for your diet, there are still so many delicious and healthy ways to include more plant based meals into your life and that can positively affect your health issues. :-)

      • Paula

        Wow, how disheartening.. Sometimes people are so focused on their emotional ties to an issue that they forget to think about how they’re coming off to others, or that others can (and very often do) have differing opinions that can provide a learning opportunity. I’ve been vegetarian for almost 2 years now, and vegan for a little over 2 months. I doubt I’ll go back to regularly eating meat or other animal products (though I do slip-up from time to time, with a little cheese and chocolate here and there). You’re right, it is a choice to change your diet. But, it’s a choice that can be extremely beneficial to your health (and the environment!) if you make the “right” choices. I originally chose to stop eating meat because of a book I read by Jonathan Safran Foer, “Eating Meat” (I’m sure you’ve probably heard of it). I’m sticking to my “diet” for health reasons and because of the way it makes me feel. Plus, I’ve noticed it expanding into other parts of my life, such as the products I use to clean my house (more natural without harsh chemicals), the clothes I wear, and even the way I speak with people (with more compassion and understanding). I’m not going to say it’s easy and I don’t crave the things I used to eat – it is a challenge and every day, with every meal and every snack, I make the conscious decision to avoid foods that I know now will make me feel sluggish, lazy, guilty, and fat. And I have to pay more attention to my food to make sure I’m getting the nutrients my body needs. But, I’ve loved the changes I’ve seen and I look forward to what other benefits this lifestyle provides.

        Like D.D. said, if you’re willing to share your Facebook name, I’d be more than happy to *respectfully* discuss vegetarianism and veganism with you. And, again like D.D. said, you don’t have to eliminate animal products to find the benefits of a plant-based diet – add more and varied vegetables, add more whole grains, and eat smaller portions of meat, dairy, or eggs. Even with that you’ll notice a change (and may even be propelled forward for greater changes!). I’m sorry for your previous interactions with passionate (and, it sounds, angry and overbearing) vegans and vegetarians. We’re not all like that, I promise! One “explanation” I’ve heard in the past is that, for vegans and vegetarians, the farming, slaughtering, and eating of animals and animal products is akin to murder, and they feel as strongly about it as someone else would about crimes committed against innocent children. That doesn’t make their inappropriate vehemence acceptable, but maybe it’ll provide you some better understanding if you come across them again in the future.

    • James Midnight Rambler

      Seriously, being vegan is easy , good eating, and very satisfying. And eating vegan is not more problematic for food allergies.
      Mudturtle, happy to discuss this. On facebook, James MidnightRambler

    • Laura

      I eat a vegetarian diet (no eggs, dairy, meat, or other animal bi-products). I hear a lot of talk about vegans being righteous and annoying, but I have experienced the polar opposite of this. Before I cut out animal products and was just looking into going vegetarian, I encountered 1 or 2 vegans who were let me say, “in your face”, about animal rights, and it was probably not the best way for them to go about opening peoples eyes up. However, the majority of vegans and vegetarians were lovely, helpful, intelligent, informed people. Now that I am on the vegetarian side of things it is is pretty crazy how annoying “omnivores” are! As soon as most people find out I don’t eat animals/animal products, they bristle up and make all sorts of snarky comments. I find most of my friends extremely non supportive and judgmental. God forbid I bring up one of the health benefits I have experienced after going vegetarian. What I DON’T eat is a big concern for the general public, it seems. Although I did go vegetarian primarily for ethics, I am not an activist, except in the sense that I do not support any industries that harm animals. I am also tired of vegans/vegetarians who only do it for the health reasons, and acting like people who do it for ethical reasons are the “crazy” ones. I have compassion for both my fellow man and animals – anybody who is being harmed. I think the world in general could benefit with more compassion and education.