Capitol Hill staffers gathered Monday to hear about the benefits of a plant-based diet also heard about the potential fallout of unhealthy eating.
"The average child is drinking over 50 gallons of soda pop a year... and every time you eat or you drink sugar it destroys B vitamins... which are for brain function," vegan celebrity trainer John Pierre told staffers as they munched on a spread of kale chips, grape leaves and vegan cupcakes in the Capitol Visitor Center. "Now you couple that with violent video games, pornography, violent cartoons, violent music. And then is it any wonder that children are going berserk? And going into schools and shooting one another?"
In December, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot 20 children and six adults at a school in Newtown, Conn.
"We're breeding it into them. It's impossible not to," said Pierre.
Pierre, who trains talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, told staffers that certain laws needed to be changed but that they could start by looking at their own diets — and making plants a big part of them. Staffers from the offices of the House Democratic Caucus, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, were in attendance. The lunch was hosted by a newly formed Congressional Vegetarian Caucus and the vegan nonprofit the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
Elizabeth Kucinich, who runs government affairs for the Physicians Committee, told Whispers she was thrilled with the number of staffers who attended. The more than 100 veggie meals provided disappeared within 10 minutes after the event began.
"I'm really interested in the population on Capitol Hill. I know the pressures of a member of Congress and his staff, and everything that is associated with that," said Kucinich, who is married to former Democratic Ohio congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. "I know the amazing amount of energy we got from food. I would love to see that translated into some kind of policy understanding."
Kucinich has thrown her support behind the new Congressional Vegetarian Caucus, which a small group of staffers formed in response to the lack of vegan and vegetarian food in the Capitol's cafeteria.
"No one has ever done anything about the working conditions [for vegetarians] on the Hill," says Adam Sarvana, who is a staffer for Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz and helped form the Veggie Caucus. "Our goal to make it easier to be a vegetarian working on the Hill. A lot of us can't eat 90 percent of the food there.