Former US President Bill Clinton was named PETA’s person of the year for promoting vegan and vegetarian eating, after he changed his diet for health reasons.
Earlier this year Clinton said that he was following an almost-vegan diet but that he does eat a small amount of fish.
“Because he uses his influence to promote the benefits of following a vegan diet, PETA is pleased to name Bill Clinton its 2010 Person of the Year,” the animal rights organization stated on its website.
Clinton, 64, who had a heart attack and coronary bypass, still had problems with cholesterol after stents were inserted into clogged arteries.
He said that 82 per cent of those who eliminate diary products and meat from their diet have arterial blockages and calcium deposits around their heart break up. He also wanted to lose weight for his daughter Chelsea’s wedding, so he decided to make the change.
When he walked Chelsea, who has been vegan for years, down the aisle on July 31, it was obvious that he weighed less than he had in the spring.
PETA reported that the meat industry contributes to destruction of the environment and contributes to world hunger, and that studies have proved vegetarians and vegans live an average of six to 10 years longer than meat-eaters.
The organization had a gift basket to be delivered to Clinton’s Harlem office, in the shape of a giant saxophone filled with vegan treats.
Some people are unsure about how appropriate the choice of Clinton is for person of the year, as he changed his fare for health reasons instead of animal welfare concerns.
Victoria’s Secret was also named as an award winner by PETA. The company - a division of Limited Brands - won the Proggy Award for Progressive Retailer of the Year for implementing a policy banning apparel made from the skins of exotic animals.
"The company—known for its risqué image—knows that there's nothing sexy about skinning snakes and lizards alive in the name of fashion,” said PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk in a press release.
Limited Brands already had a policy in place banning fur and Australian merino wool (because much of it is obtained from animals who are subjected to mulesing, which involves removing chunks of flesh from their hindquarters in an attempt to prevent maggot infestations).