Since the 2020 race to the White House first began several months ago, we've seen a swarm of politicians, former athletes, and businessmen alike throw their hats in the ring for a shot at holding the highest office in the land. In the Republican corner, things are pretty light; only two conservatives, William Weld and Mark Sanford, have the guts to directly challenge the current incumbent Donald Trump. However, to the left are 17 (down a few hopefuls since the race started) different candidates from a colorful medley of professional, cultural, and political backgrounds clamoring for the Democratic nomination.
With so many people crowding the election, it can feel difficult to distinguish the candidates from one another. There are so many important issues being discussed within the political space right now—healthcare for all, immigration, and the economy have been the focus of many of the recent Democratic debates—and many of the candidates have similar, if not identical stances on the issues that matter the most. However, few candidates have spoken up with thorough plans to address the often-ignored topic of animal rights. Cory Booker has been among the most vocal of his peers. During the third Democratic debate earlier this month, moderator Jorge Ramos pointedly asked if Booker believed that Americans should follow his plant-based diet, to which the former mayor cheerfully responded, "No." But don't take that to mean that he doesn't think that eating less meat is a good idea; the 50-year-old's veganism is closely tied to his personal politics.
Booker's passion for animal advocacy began in 1992; after reading Gandhi's autobiography The Story of My Experiments with Truth as a college student attending Oxford University, he decided to try cutting meat out of his diet just to see how his body would be affected by the change. Pleased with the results, Booker stuck with his vegetarian diet until he started doing more research about the ways in which the environment and its inhabitants were impacted by animal consumption. "My veganism started then," he told VegNews earlier this year. "It was almost like my conditioning had changed." His very last time eating a non-vegan meal was on November 4, 2014—Election Day.
Now fully vegan, the former Newark mayor's bid for president stands out from that of his opponents in that his proposed policies as POTUS will include measures to create a more sustainable environment for both humans and animals. Those measures will focus on pushing back against the corporate big wigs behind the factory farming system and forcing smaller family farms out of business. Booker's policies will also make illegal the "ag-gag laws" that allow these corporations to hide the animal abuse that goes on at the farms from the American people.
A photo posted by on
"Legislatively, I want to continue to be a part of a movement of folk who are fighting against corporate interests that are undermining the public good and the public welfare," said Booker in his interview with VegNews. "I believe that Americans do care about the cruelty to animals...so, I think there’s a lot of legislation we could be doing to stop sort of corporate power from reigning over the power of individuals to have freedom of choice, to see more compassion, to see a focus on public health."
The only other current candidate on the Democratic side to come up with a fully fleshed out plan to address animal welfare in the United States is Julián Castro, the former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama. Castro's proposal, appropriately named the PAW (Protecting Animals and Wildlife) Plan, promises to reinforce the Endangered Species Act by appointing an Interior Secretary with a background in conservation science, creating a $2 billion National Wildlife Recovery Fund to combat extinction, and doubling the Multinational Species Conservation Fund. And like Booker, Castro also wants to regulate the animal farming industry so that animal cruelty on corporate farms no longer goes unseen and unpunished.
Whether you identify with veganism or personally enjoy a medium-rare steak every now and again, animal welfare is a pressing environmental issue that can't be ignored by anyone who wants to be President of the Unites States. In the future, you can bet that more of the candidates, at least on the Democratic end, will take began to roll out their own policies regarding animal rights.
For more stories like this, including celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.
What Draper James Designer, Kathryn Sukey, Wears to Work
Reese Witherspoon's design partner thinks about fashion before falling asleep.
By Sara Holzman •
Join #ReadWithMC: Marie Claire's Virtual Monthly Book Club
Never feel guilty about skipping book club again.
By The Editors •
Don't Sleep on e.l.f. Cosmetics' Magical Cyber Monday Sale
I think I need...everything?
By Michelle Rostamian •
Cory Booker and Rosario Dawson's Relationship Is No More
After three years of dating, the power couple have decided they're better off as friends.
By Marie Claire Editors •
Education for Women and Girls Is Crucial for Climate Justice
In an excerpt from her new book, 'A Bigger Picture,' Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate discusses the impact educated African women and girls can have on solving the climate crisis.
By Vanessa Nakate •
It’s Time to End Equal Pay Days and Pass the Equal Rights Amendment
The passage of the ERA is a chance for our country to prove it truly values women.
By Hala Ayala •
In Conversation: Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Emily Tisch Sussman
“It’s ridiculous that we’re the only advanced nation on the planet that doesn’t help families with childcare.”
By Emily Tisch Sussman •
EMILY's List President Laphonza Butler Has Big Plans for the Organization
Under Butler's leadership, the largest resource for women in politics aims to expand Black political power and become more accessible for candidates across the nation.
By Rachel Epstein •
Anita Hill Believes We Can End Gender Violence
Three decades after her landmark testimony in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, the esteemed professor and lawyer has a message for leaders: The time is now to prioritize anti-gender violence policies.
By Rachel Epstein •
For Teachers, Going to Work Can Mean Life or Death
Stefanie Minguell, a COVID survivor and second grade teacher in Florida's Broward County, almost died of COVID-19 and is immunocomprised. When she teaches in the classroom, she’s forced to choose between her health and her students.
By Megan DiTrolio •
Periods Don’t Stop for Pandemics—And Neither Have Our Nation’s Moms
Policies touted in the $3.5 trillion budget plan and other Congressional bills are missing a core component of maternal well-being: menstrual access and health.
By Christy Turlington Burns •