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Al Gore goes vegan, with little fanfare

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore speaks during the Skybridge Alternatives (SALT) Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada May, 9, 2012. SALT brings together public policy officials, capital allocators, and hedge fund managers to discuss financial markets. (REUTERS/Steve Marcus) Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore speaks during the Skybridge Alternatives (SALT) Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada May, 9, 2012. SALT brings together public policy officials, capital allocators, and hedge fund managers to discuss financial markets. (REUTERS/Steve Marcus)

Maybe it was something about what they served in the White House mess in the 1990s. Or perhaps it's what happens to baby boomer  Democrats more than a decade after leaving office. For whatever the reason former vice president Al Gore has gone vegan, just like the president with whom he once served.

Gore's recent decision to forgo animal products surfaced as an offhand reference in a Forbes magazine piece about Hampton Creek Foods, an upscale vegan product line carried in Whole Foods. Ryan Mac's article, which posted Saturday, chronicled how wealthy investors including Bill Gates, Tom Steyer and Vinod Khosla have poured money into the company, which hopes to take down the U.S. egg industry with offerings such as a plant-base mayonnaise.

"Newly turned vegan Al Gore is also circling," Mac writes.

An individual familiar with Gore's decision, who asked not to be identified because it involved a personal matter, confirmed that Gore opted a couple of months ago to become vegan. Gore's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It is unclear why Gore, one of the nation's most visible climate activists, has given up dairy, poultry and meat products. People usually become vegan for environmental, health or ethical reasons, or a combination of these three factors.

Bill Clinton explained in a 2011 interview with CNN’s Sanjay Gupta that he adopted a vegan diet primarily for health considerations. Known for consuming a high-fat cuisine while in office, Clinton -- who was 65 at the time -- said he realized he had “played Russian roulette” with his health for too long, and that since making the switch, “I feel good, and I also have, believe it or not, more energy.”

The Humane Society of the United States food policy director Matthew Prescott noted in an e-mail that industrial farm operations are major sources of nutrient pollution, and contribute significantly to the nation's greenhouse gas emissions.

"Overconsumption and overproduction of meat has given rise to the factory farm, which has put huge threats on the planet and our health," Prescott wrote. "Whether it’s the whole Clinton/Gore ticket being vegan now, Oprah promoting meat-free eating, Bill Gates backing plant-based foods or the rise of Meatless Mondays, it’s clear that the way we farm and eat is shifting toward a better model."

GALLERY: Eat like the Obamas

 

Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post's White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.

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