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Bill Clinton among world’s most popular vegans

What it means to be a vegan.

From Ashley Judd, Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Clinton to Ozzie Ozbourne, Mike Tyson and Russell Simmons, vegans have a newfound popularity and the diet is taking to the masses with a mainstream resurgence.

The former POTUS adopted the plant-based diet in 2010 after a physician and friend sent Clinton a detailed email warning him on the health hazards of a meat diet after his heart problems in 2004.

But what does it mean to be a vegan? According to The Happy Cow, a vegan is a person living on a 100 percent vegetarian diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, herbs, spices and grains. A vegan, unlike a carnist, does not consume any animal or animal-derived products whatsoever.

Bill Clinton says he lives on a meat, egg and dairy-free diet, has lost over 20 pounds, and feels better than ever. Even though his decision to go vegan was health based, the animal activism group PEETA named Clinton their Person of the Year in 2010.

The majority of vegans say veganism is an ethical lifestyle that consciously avoids animal exploitation. The core philosophy behind veganism is that while some animals must consume others to survive, humans do not require meats or animals for survival.

Animal consumption is therefore a “choice” people are making, whether they are conscious of it or not.

Strictly ethical vegans will also avoid wearing animal-based clothing like leather, wool or silk. Vegan societies promote their choices as being environmentally and ethically sound in addition to being healthier and increasing longevity.

Jamaica is host to a large population of Ital vegetarians, where the vegan society stems from the Rastafari movement and consists of a fruit, grain and vegetable diet with the exception of an occasional fish meal and the allowance of honey.

The former President has also been known to enjoy an occasional shrimp or fish dish in certain restaurants, but his traveling diet is usually prepared by his staff and rotates between miso barley soup, black bean burritos, cauliflower dishes and potato curry. However, he has fallen off the diet during his travels overseas a few times.

Being vegan definitely takes effort, and changing over from a meat and animal-based diet to a vegetarian one is tough. But the health benefits are undeniable, and BC Talk encourages the President to maintain his healthy eating and lifestyle habits so he can continue living a quality life as long as possible.