The man most responsible for raising worldwide awareness about the dangers of greenhouse gas emissions has finally turned away from one of the most significant contributors. That's right — Al Gore has gone vegan.

The Washington Post confirmed through an anonymous source close to the former vice president that Gore quietly made the decision months ago. It was only brought to light after a Forbes piece on vegan producer Hampton Creek Foods mentioned a "newly turned vegan Al Gore" as a possible investor. 

While the reasons for the transition are unclear, the move will certainly quiet the many critics in the environmental movement who for years have urged Gore to lead by example and drop meat from his diet. A 2012 United Nations report found that that industrial livestock (read: cheap meat) contributes heavily to methane, ammonia, and other dangerous emissions. The industry is also a massive drain on water supplies and plays a significant role in deforestation and desertification stresses. 

As recently as 2009, Gore was publicly referencing meat production as a contributor to the climate crisis

”I’m not a vegetarian, but I have cut back sharply on the meat that I eat,” he told ABC. “It’s absolutely correct that the growing meat intensity of diets around the world is one of the issues connected to this global crisis — not only because of the CO2 involved, but also because of the water consumed in the process. You could add in the health consequences as well.”

In his 2009 book "Our Choice," Gore brought up industrial livestock as a major player in the climate crisis, but stopped short of recommending a plant-based diet. 

"There is a serious issue about the connection between the growing meat intensity of diets around the world and damage to the environment," he writes. "And like a lot of people, I eat less meat now than I used to. I’m not a vegetarian, don’t plan to become one, but it’s a healthy choice to eat more vegetables and fruits. So it’s not a laughable issue.”

Whatever the reason for dropping the animal products, Gore, 65, can certainly look forward to the immediate health benefits of the shift. Just ask his former running mate, Bill Clinton. Since making the change some three years ago, Clinton has dropped more than 30 pounds and has experienced renewed energy. 

"I'm trying to be one of those experimenters," Clinton said after making his new diet public. "Since 1986, several hundred people who have tried essentially a plant-based diet, not ingesting any cholesterol from any source, has seen their bodies start to heal themselves — break up the arterial blockage, break up the calcium deposits around the heart. 82 percent of the people who have done this have had this result, so I want to see if I can be one of them."

Congrats to Gore, and good luck. May we suggest one of these delicious vegan Thanksgiving recipes to grace your animal-free table this holiday? 

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Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Al Gore finally drops meat, goes vegan
Former vice president reportedly made the healthy shift several months ago.