Former White House Press Secretary and Communications Director Stephanie Grisham writes in her upcoming book I’ll take your questions now that “a young boy started publicly challenging Trump to go vegan in TV ads and on highway billboards” around the new year leading up to 2020.
“If the president agreed, the boy said, the charity he represented would donate $1m to veterans. I was communications director at the time and I playfully asked the president if he would ever consider doing that, since the challenge would raise a lot of money for a good cause. I knew he loved his steaks and cheeseburgers, but one month didn’t seem that long,” she writes in an excerpt published by Politico.
Ms Grisham adds that the then-president’s answer was “swift, and his tone was suddenly very serious”.
“No, no. It messes with your body chemistry, your brain,” Mr Trump said. “And if I lose even one brain cell, we’re f***ed.”
The challenge came from Vegan Evan, a nine-year-old vegan activist who challenged Mr Trump to go vegan for 30 days as part of the campaign to “Make America Healthy Again”.
The deadline for Mr Trump to accept the challenge was 31 December 2019. A non-profit called Million Dollar Vegan said they would pay a million dollars to a charity if Mr Trump accepted and completed the challenge.
Vegan Evan, from Melborne, Florida, said that he decided to go vegan at the age of five when his mother, a vegetarian, told him that she was making the move to veganism. Evan later decided to join her.
“I told her, ‘If the animals are being hurt and I don’t need it, I don’t want it,’” he told Insider.
“I think that veganism is a gift and it’s great to give that gift to people so they can be healthier and feel better, not hurt animals, and not destroy the planet,” he added.
About his hopes to get Mr Trump to join the campaign, Evan said: “He has a lot of reach to people, if they see him doing this, they might want to do it too.”
Mr Trump is known for his love of fast food and for reportedly having a button on the desk in the Oval Office during his tenure to alert an aide that he wanted a Diet Coke. In 2017, it was reported that Mr Trump drank 12 cans of Diet Coke a day.
The White House physician at one point said that Mr Trump “would benefit from a diet that is lower in fat and carbohydrates”.
He’s been reported to enjoy McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and pizza. He’s also chosen to serve fast food at White House receptions.
Former Trump aide Corey Lewandowski has said that Mr Trump would go between 14 and 16 hours without eating and then have two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, and a small chocolate milkshake from McDonald’s – 2,430 calories in one sitting.
But in 2018, Bloomberg reported that Mr Trump switched up his diet to include salads and soup in an effort to be healthier.
In August 2019, Scientific American wrote that “observational data suggest that lifelong vegetarians and vegans actually have a lower risk of dementia than meat-eaters” and that “there’s little evidence to suggest that a vegetarian or vegan diet impairs brain function or increases the risk of cognitive decline”.
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