Vegan Diets Gaining Popularity - MyFox Atlanta

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Updated: Friday, 16 Sep 2011, 6:21 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 16 Sep 2011, 6:14 PM EDT

ATLANTA - For years former President Bill Clinton almost seemed like a poster child for heart disease. He was open about his weakness for junk food - and over-indulging. But in the last 18 months, the 65-year-old has changed his tune.

President Clinton says he started cutting back on meat in 2004, after he underwent a quadruple bypass. Then last year, he had another procedure to put in two stents. That's when he decided to become a vegan to try to help his heart

Vegan is kind of like a more hard-core vegetarian.

This strict vegetarian diet isn't just meat-free. It eliminates all animal based products including fish, milk, butter and eggs.

Irene Goldman went vegan 10 years ago. She says it's surprisingly easy, especially as more restaurants offer vegan options.

"I have energy. I feel healthy. My cholestrol is very good. My blood pressure is very good," Goldman said.

Nutritionist Sue Moores says a plant-based diet reduces cholesterol and the chance for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke.

"Truly pick just about any disease condition or health issue...and eating a more plant-based diet is a good thing," Moores said.

The goal of veganism is to eat foods like whole grains, fruit and vegetables in their most natural, unprocessed state.

It takes work to make sure you're getting the nutrients you need. You don't want to overload on carbs like pasta and white rice.

Vegan doesn't automatically mean healthy.

"Somebody wants to follow a plant-based diet or a vegan diet, they have to know nutrients they might be missing and how to get them in," said Moores.

Moores says if you're going to give up meat and seafood, you need to replace the vitamins and nutrients you would be getting from those foods. Beans and legumes are a good substitute, because they're high in protein.

Beans and legumes are a good substitute, because they're high in protein.

The vegetarian resource group says about three percent of Americans consider themselves vegetarians and 1 percent are vegans.

With Bill Clinton down 24 pounds, and looking healthier than he has in years, the popularity is expected to grow.

17 Sep, 2011

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