Bill Clinton, Weight Loss and Vegetarianism

Is he or isn’t he?

Folks are still talking about Bill Clinton’s vegetarian turn. For me, it’s Week 6, and the barbecue chicken wings I made for the fam last night were calling my name. Still, not enough to want to take a bit.


However, the Red Lobster commercials are wearing me down, emphasis on “lobster.” Last week was the season finale of the SyFy Channel series Haven, set in a small lobster fishing town in Maine. I actually fantasize about flying up to Maine on a day trip, just to see how cheap I can have lobster meals.

Tuesday I watched the premiere of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, which I had taped from Sunday. What were they feasting on? Lobster.


According to far too many reports, President Clinton switched to a mostly vegetarian diet at the request of Chelsea, who wanted him in better shape for her wedding. She wanted him to lose 15 pounds. He lost 24 – by ditching junk food and switching to a plant-based diet. He’s also quoted as saying he wanted to stay in shape for his grandchildren.

He says he wants to try it for a few more months. You may recall Clinton has always been good at quoting numbers and facts. Here’s what he said in one interview:

“I'm trying to be one of those experimenters. Since 1986, several hundred people who have tried essentially a plant-based diet — not ingesting any cholesterol from any source — have seen their bodies start to heal themselves; break up the arterial blockage, break up the calcium deposits around the heart. Eighty-two percent of people who have done this have had the result, so I want to see if I can be one of them.”

I have no idea how much cholesterol I’m taking in on this vegetarian diet, but I imagine I’m not getting much. I’ve cut way back on eggs, which have always gotten a bad rap about cholesterol. Clinton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he eats some fish, but stays away from meat and dairy. (Wonder if he knows lobster’s fairly high in cholesterol?)

I cannot honestly say being vegetarian has helped me lose weight, so no incentive there. However, I do want to know what effect it’s had on my overall health, and that’s why I’m (trying to) hang in there until the end of October or so, when I go back to my doctor for an update.


For me, I only lose when I exercise with some consistency – and that’s what I’ve been doing all this month, especially with the summer doldrums in the rearview mirror. I’ve been jogging more, still in spurts. Clinton jogs, and I’m willing to bet the dietary change combined with his running habit is what sped up his weight loss.

So really, going veg isn’t a good idea if you want to lose weight, but it’s a good idea if you want to be healthier, stronger and live long enough to enjoy the occasional lobster feast with your grandkids.


 Sometimes I feel like a fire hydrant looking at a pack of dogs. ~  Bill Clinton

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Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.

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