Many people have become familiar with Cory Booker during his 2020 Presidential Run. The New Jersey Senator, and former Newark Mayor has been making a name for himself in the political area for years. One little-known fact is that Senator Booker is a vegan. A longtime vegetarian in more recent years Booker shifted to being vegan.
Booker first became an animal advocate in 1992 from reading The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Gandhi. He started to investigate the impacts on the environment from meat consumption. From there the former Stanford football player decided to cut meat from his diet and has not looked back since then. Senator Booker has been an integral part in the discussion of shifting the country to more plant-based diets. Someone as high profile as Booker can provide individuals a known example of how to make the transition.
On a personal note, there is a significance in this coming from African American man. In 2016, I switched to being a vegetarian. I made the switch primarily because I was looking to reduce my carbon footprint, and wanted to help lead others in organizations I was a part of in this transition. Coming back to Georgia, I received many questions regarding becoming a vegetarian. Many people had not known or seen someone in my demographics as a vegetarian. Questions were raised regarding whether I would receive enough protein and be able to healthily live. Years later being vegetarian has been great for my health and wellbeing. I thank having a vegetarian lifestyle as one of the main reasons I have been able to run two marathons.
With increasing marketing and availability of plant-based options from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, many people are starting to get exposed to more and more plant-based options. Restaurants and cookbooks that are exclusively dedicated to vegan and vegetarian food are increasing ease of access.
Cory Booker can serve as a key leader in creating adequate agriculture policies and nutritional standards. Having a long background in studying agricultural impacts and focus on nutrition can be integral in shaping policy in Washington. In 2020, he introduced the Farm System Reform Act, which would work to ban large-scale concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) by 2040. He also joined the Senate Committee for Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry in 2021 in an effort to restore balance in our broken food system.
“Our food system is deeply broken. Family farmers are struggling and their farms are disappearing, while big agriculture conglomerates get bigger and enjoy greater profits. Meanwhile, healthy, fresh food is hard to find and even harder to afford in rural and urban communities alike. In the richest country on the planet, over 35 million Americans from every walk of life are facing food insecurity” - Cory Booker
Booker also stated that “We know that injustices in our food system affect our health justice, our environmental justice, our economic justice, and our racial justice.” Previously he introduced the Climate Stewardship Act, which included provisions that would grant money to farmers to reduce carbon emissions through various areas. The United States needs a nutritional overhaul to shift away from high emitting processed animal products to environmentally conscious vegetable and fruit options. If we are able to accomplish this, the U.S. can help lead the way in promoting healthy and sustainable living. Senator Booker has been a champion for this over the years and will continue to serve as we move into the future.
Kids In Nutrition's nutrition and food sustainability curricula introduce the basics of healthy eating and how our dietary choices relate to the health of our environment. Uprooting the current culture and foundation of our food system requires a systematic multifaceted intervention, beginning with proper early education and improved food access for all communities. Politicians such as Cory Booker play fundamental roles in making a lasting cultural and policy change in how we think about and produce food within the United States.