The decision to give up entire food groups can be a radical attempt to reform an unhealthy diet, as former President Bill Clinton demonstrated when he revealed in 2011 that he'd gone vegan, after heart bypass surgery.
But more often in this day and age, eschewing animal products is political.
And so that's why we were interested to read that former Vice President Al Gore, one of the world's most famous environmentalists, had — like his former boss — gone vegan, too.
The news appeared as a side note in an article published in Forbes about Hampton Creek, a San Francisco company that's trying to hawk its plant-based mayonnaise as a tasty alternative to the ubiquitous condiment typically made with eggs. (You can read our own Allison Aubrey's story on the same company here.)
As reporter Ryan Mac noted, Hampton Creek has attracted significant investment from venture capital firms, and "newly turned vegan Al Gore is also circling." (We tried to verify the newfound veganism with Gore himself, but his Carthage Group family company did not respond to our request for comment.)
Gore is, of course, free to eat whatever his heart desires. But since he has previously said that he has been slowly reducing his meat consumption over the past few years because of his concern about climate change, we can only assume that he's gotten more serious (and perhaps guilt-ridden) about how his purchases of meat and dairy products are hurting the planet.
In an interview in 2009, Gore said:
"It's absolutely correct that the growing meat intensity of diets around the world is one of the issues connected to this global crisis, not only because of the CO2 involved but also because of the water consumed in the process."
Gore has been beating the drum about climate change for decades, but his concern seems to be growing ever deeper. Earlier this week, the public editor of The New York Times quoted Gore as saying, "The news media should be making this existential crisis the No. 1 topic they cover."
While veganism probably seems extreme to bacon-and-cheese lovers, Gore is one of many consumers who are seeing the link between their food choices and the destruction of the planet and taking action. There are indicators everywhere, but we've noticed the Meatless Monday movement is getting ever greater traction in the U.S., and even Germany's Oktoberfest now caters to vegans.