- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bill Clinton has stepped off his 100 percent vegan diet — though he’s still going to call himself a vegan, his doctor told The New York Times.

And he can get away with it; two leading vegan and vegetarian groups said they’re going to give the former president a pass and allow himself to self-describe as a vegan, since he sticks with most of the diet restrictions, ABC News reported.

“There is some latitude,” said Len Torine, executive director of the American Vegetarian Association, in ABC News. “He is primarily a vegan. Whatever amount of vegan you are, I support it. I support him. He’s bringing enlightenment to a huge population because of his popularity.”

Mr. Clinton’s doctor, Mark Hyman, told The Times that he suggested Mr. Clinton “occasionally eat fish and lean protein. It’s hard being a vegan to eat enough good, quality protein and not have too much starch. I know a lot of fat vegans.”

But abiding the doctor’s advice would mean that Mr. Clinton would no longer be a vegan by normal definitions. Vegans abstain from animal products — meat, cheese, milk, etc.

“According to strict definitions,” Mr. Clinton’s not a true vegan, said American Vegan Society President Freya Dinshah, in ABC News. “[But] people want to aspire to something … we applaud everyone doing the best they can.”

It was only a month ago that Mr. Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, called her former hamburger-chowing dad the “world’s most famous vegan” and explained that his adherence to the diet was “not even really discipline now because it’s just part of his life,” ABC News reported.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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