May 4, 2007 — -- Pork is very popular in Washington. Whether it's the literal kind served up at $1,000 a plate fundraisers or the ever-present special projects tucked into million or even billion dollar spending bills coming out of Congress, pork is a part of politics.
But, two-time Democratic presidential contender Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, doesn't like pork. That is to say, he and his wife, Elizabeth, don't eat meat.
In fact, the self-proclaimed peace candidate doesn't eat any kind of animal by-product; Kucinich and his wife are both vegans, presenting what could be a formidable challenge in the meaty world of high stakes politics en route to the White House.
In harmony with their diet, don't expect to see the Kuciniches at any high-priced fundraisers featuring rubbery chicken or even fish. They plan on bringin' home the bacon through vegan potlucks and brunches.
Elizabeth Kucinich hosted two vegan fundraising events this week in Phoenix, Ariz., bringing in under $1,000 in contributions.
The couple will host a more exclusive vegan feast featuring celebrity hosts this weekend in Los Angeles and plan on raising over $8,000 in contributions.
Many big name vegan and vegetarian celebrities have signed on to the Kucinich campaign according to former actress/vegan/Kucinich volunteer Marr Nealon.
"Celebrities Danny Glover, Sean Penn, Willie Nelson, Ed Begley Jr, James Cromwell, Paul Haggis (writer/director of "Crash"), Alexandra Paul ("Baywatch"), and Paul Winner (creator of the garden burger) have all endorsed Kucinich," Nealon told ABC News.
No Bologna Voters
There is more to voters' appetites at these down-home affairs than just veganism.
"Dennis has compassion for animals and the environment, and he also feels the pain of what's going on in the war," Nealon said.
Vegan restaurant owner and chef Dave Anderson agrees with Nealon.
"His politics are very much in line with our beliefs and not just because he's vegan. But his world view is in line with mine. It's hard to find a candidate with your same world views," Anderson said.
Anderson will be hosting the Kuciniches at his restaurant Madeleine Bistro for an exclusive brunch this Sunday in Los Angeles. The event is $150 per person, $125 going to the Kucinich campaign. The restaurant can only hold 65 people, and according to the campaign, the event is close to selling out.
On the menu: cinnamon veignet, asparagus and wild mushroom tofu omelet (no eggs), strawberry-rhubarb crepes, and fresh orange juice.
But the menu -- at least to vegan novices -- raised a few questions: how do you make an omelet without eggs? And, if so, how does it taste?
"The omelet is soy and tofu-based. Most of the egg stuff that we do is soy-based. We make cheeses that actually melt and whipped cream that actually whips," Anderson explained.
Anderson has been a vegetarian for over 20 years and vegan for seven years. His restaurant is the first upscale 100 percent vegan restaurant in the Los Angeles area and he says it has a lot to do with his philosophy: "Eating is one of the great pleasures in life. You shouldn't have to give up what you like to be vegan."
The vegan presidential candidate and supporters don't eat much meat, but they're finding innovative ways to enjoy bringing home the bacon.