Published on: November 8, 2010Bloomberg Business Week has a fascinating piece about how a number of “America’s most powerful bosses” - people who Tom Wolfe referred to as “Masters of the Universe” - have converted to veganism. The names include Steve Wynn, Mort Zuckerman, Russell Simmons, Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, venture capitalist Joi Ito, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey and Bill Clinton.
The story makes clear that it has been easier for these moguls to make the conversion because a) they can afford it, and b) they have personal chefs who can meet their demands. But many of them also have become evangelists for the vegan lifestyle, urging and even incentivizing their employees to make a similar move, reasoning that in the long run, it will save them money on insurance.
Is this likely to make veganism mainstream anytime soon? Unlikely, since at the present time, only one percent of Americans are vegan. But it certainly is a mini-trend worth tracking, if only because so many heavyweights have become true believers.
Like some other true believers, of course, some of them seem to be convinced that non-believers are either deluding themselves or are simply ignorant. Tom Freston, the former CEO of Viacom, has a comment that, while it may be accurate, borders on being callous, and certainly seems to reflect a certain superiority complex: “It’s probably a good thing in a CEO,” he says. “At least they won’t be toppling over like those McDonald’s CEOs.”
Then again, there’s no reason that the incivility and intolerance that seems to find its way into so much of current discourse should’t also find a home in some of the discussions between carnivores, pescetarians, vegetarians, vegans and all the other gastronomic persuasions.
I do have to say, though, that I loved the article’s somewhat snarky opening passage:
It used to be easy for moguls to flaunt their power, all they had to do was renovate the chalet in St. Moritz, buy the latest Gulfstream jet, fire 5,000 employees or marry a much younger woman.
By now, though, they’ve used up all the easy ways to distinguish themselves from the rest of us -- which may be why a growing number of America’s most powerful bosses ... are now using tempeh to assert their superiority.
(Now, if I were a mogul, and I needed to find ways to flaunt my power and establish my superiority, of the ones mentioned becoming vegan would probably rank fourth ... )
That’s my Monday Eye-Opener.
- Kevin Coupe
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