Why are you a vegan?
Dennis Kucinich is a Democratic congressman and presidential also-ran. Kucinich graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 1973 with a BA and an MA in speech and communication. He began his political career early: he was elected to the Cleveland City Council at 23, and became mayor in 1977 at the age of 31. After spending much of the 1980's out of government, Kucinich was elected to Congress in 1996; he is currently in his sixth term. In Congress, Kucinich has a staunchly liberal and anti-war record. He is a strong advocate of national health care, clean energy, and an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. Kucinich even brought articles of impeachment against Vice-President Dick Cheney, though the bill was killed before it could reach the House floor. Kucinich first ran for president in 2004; he ran again in 2008. In 2003, he received the Gandhi Peace Award, bestowed by the Quaker organization Promoting Enduring Peace. Kucinich is the author of a memoir, The Courage to Survive, as well as a collection of speeches, A Prayer for America.
Question: Why are you a vegan?
Dennis Kucinich: First of all it started with love, as all stories do. I met someone years ago, fell in love, and found out she was a vegan. Now I didn’t know what a vegan was. And for those of you who are tuning in and you don’t know what a vegan is, I’ll make it simple. It starts with your approach to what you eat. It means that I don’t eat any meats, poultry, fish. I don’t eat any dairy products. You know there goes Iowa, right? In the book that I mentioned earlier, “Courage to Survive”, I talk about a bout with Crone’s disease that I had since I was a little kid. I didn’t know until years later in life that dairy products had something to do with irritating that condition. And so when I switched diets – this was in 1995 – I started to achieve a level of health that I didn’t have before. I lost a little bit of weight to be sure, and it became an adventure to find out what’s appropriate substitutes – beans, grains, tofu. There’s a lot of different substitutes that you can have in moving towards a vegan diet. But I had a level of health that I hadn’t experienced before. So I’m not gonna tell anyone, “Well this is the way you have to eat.” I can share with people what I’ve discovered by changing my diet. And I have enormous amounts of energy . . . and clarity, by the way. So I don’t feel like I’m dragging. And I have more energy than people half my age. I’m 61 years old, and you know I . . . I have a very young wife. And you know if you’re gonna be in a relationship, you better be in good shape because, you know, you’ve got to be able to have a lot of vitality. And I have enormous vitality because of my diet.
Recorded on: 10/19/07
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