Barack Obama Urges World to Eat Less Meat (but Isn’t Vegan—Yet!)

Published by Zachary Toliver.

In his first foreign appearance since leaving the Oval Office, former President Barack Obama spoke at the Global Food Innovation Summit in Milan, where he addressed, among other things, the undeniable connection between animal agriculture and climate change.

“I think people naturally understand that big smokestacks have pollution in them and they understand air pollution, so they can easily make the connection between energy production and the idea of greenhouse gases,” he said. “People aren’t as familiar with the impact of cows and methane, unless you’re a farmer.”

He told attendees that societies around the world should explore ways to reduce meat consumption and find more efficient means to produce protein. He also discussed informing people about the reasons why reducing flesh consumption can improve their health.

The former commander in chief was on a roll, until he said this: “What is true is I am not a vegetarian. I respect vegetarians, but I am not one of them.” And with that line, he broke our hearts.

Barack works to tackle climate change, and his favorite food is broccoli. For years, Michelle Obama’s focus has been improving people’s health and, especially, eliminating childhood obesity. But neither is vegan. Are we missing something?

Health care may be the defining topic of the Obamas’ legacy, but both could lead by example and adopt a vegan diet—which can help lower body mass index and help prevent diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and numerous cancers. And according to the United Nations, a global shift toward a vegan diet is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change.

If Barack—whom many folks call “the first climate president”—were to choose a more compassionate diet, he’d be aligning himself with some highly respected colleagues. Prominent climate change warrior Al Gore went vegan, while former President Bill Clinton changed his diet for health reasons. America’s sexiest congressional member (sorry, Mitch McConnell) Cory Booker is also a notable vegan advocate and has even criticized Barack in the past for the lack of plant-based options at his parties.

We haven’t given up on Barack and Michelle just yet.

We’re sending the Obamas a vegan care package with a DVD copy of Cowspiracy and the book Meatonomics, by David Robinson Simon, to help encourage them to go vegan for the sake of their health, animals, and the environment.

What You Can Do

We all have the power to be the commander in chief of our own health by deciding what goes on our plates every day. Adopt a vegan diet, and encourage your friends and family to do so as well!

Note: PETA supports animal rights, opposes all forms of animal exploitation, and educates the public on those issues. It does not directly or indirectly participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office or any political party.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind