According to The Global Vegan Survey of 2019, the second most predominant reason people are turning vegan today is because of the lifestyle’s links to climate change. As concerns for the planet’s crisis are now topping political agendas across the globe, veganism is also starting to take a central role in politics.
While some politicians turned vegan a while back, many predominant figures are less than supportive.
Although Prime Minister Boris Johnson has expressed a strong interest in losing weight, he is reluctant to go plant-based, finding it difficult to give up cheese. In an interview with the BBC, he said that while he does want to get healthier and respects vegans, “it requires so much concentration”, and if he were to cut it all out, it would be a “crime to cheese lovers”.
US President Donald Trump was the most recent target of Million Dollar Vegan, a campaign that challenges celebrities to turn plant-based for Veganuary, and, in return, the foundation donates $1 million to a special cause. In Trump’s case, 9-year-old ‘Vegan Evan’ offered to donate this money to US veterans if the president successfully followed through.
However, all that followed this challenge was silence. Trump, notorious for his high consumption of animal products and fast food, did not reply to Evan, or any of Million Dollar Vegan’s members.
However, two politicians who have already taken the vegan vow are Bill Clinton and Jeremy Corbyn.
Claiming that he was a “heart attack waiting to happen”, the 42nd President of the US explains that he now lives on “beans” and has replaced all dairy products with “almond milk and protein powder”. Clinton has now “lost 24 pounds”, proudly adding that he weighs the same as he did in high school.
A vegetarian from the age of 20, Labour party leader Corbyn has spent his entire adult life expressing his dislike for fur farming, hunting and wild animals in circuses. He says he has used his position in parliament to an advantage, by advocating “for greater animal welfare protection”.
Other significant figures in politics that stand by the vegan lifestyle are Al Gore, who served as Clinton’s vice president, and US democrat Cory Booker.
Al Gore started out in 2014, telling MedScape that he transitioned to “see what it was like”, and never looked back. The former vice president is known for his strong views on the environment and believes veganism is a solution for the climate and general human health.
Booker was a vegetarian for 20 years before he went fully plant-based. In 2014, he shared his reasons with Daily Beast, stating: “Being vegan for me is a cleaner way of not participating in practices that don’t align with my values.”
While President Trump and Prime Minister Johnson hold much of the world’s political power, studies show that people, especially the youth, are more politically active than ever before. As veganism continues to spread amongst the public, we could be on the brink of a very similar boom in vegan politicians over the next decade too.