What do Bill Clinton, former President George W. Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully, and the Rev. Al Sharpton have in common? They’re all political animals who don’t eat meat. Sharpton first got an idea of what happens to animals on factory farms when he appeared in PETA’s video exposing cruelty in slaughterhouses that supply KFC and called on the black community to join PETA’s boycott of the fast-food chain. His message to KFC? “That’s foul!”
We caught up with Sharpton, who now hosts MSNBC’s show PoliticsNation, to ask him what inspired him to change his eating habits, how his new diet makes him feel, and what his favorite foods are.
“I overhauled my diet after a 40-day hunger strike when I was in jail for the Vieques [military bombing practice] protest,” Sharpton told us. “I dabbled with weight loss ideas, wanting to keep off the pounds I lost. First, I gave up red meat, then chicken. I ran into Bill Clinton, who told me how he has more energy, needs less sleep, and can think more clearly since going vegan, and I can tell you the same thing happened to me. I also kept in mind the words of another vegetarian friend—Coretta Scott King—who always spoke of the ethical reasons to give up meat.”
Sharpton dedicated his PETA Humanitarian Award to King when he accepted it at PETA’s awards gala in New York City in 2006.
Avoiding meat is the way to eat for anyone with a highly charged life,” Sharpton says. “A vegetarian diet has a way of absorbing the stress and gives you greater endurance. I don’t eat many starches or [refined] sugars. I just love greens and grains. I eat a lot of salad and fruits. I feel like a new, improved me.
To date, the reverend has lost more than 120 pounds. To read more about Sharpton’s triumphs and tribulations, check out his essay in PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk’s book One Can Make a Difference.
If you want to be a champion for animals, take the pledge to go vegan. Not only will you enjoy reduced stress and more energy, you’ll also be less likely to suffer from obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Written by Monica Alexander