Talking Tofurky With Newly Vegan Cory Booker

Fire-fighting, hunger-striking, snow-shoveling U.S. Senator Cory Booker is up to something new this holiday season: veganism.
Vlad Chituc
The Daily Beast

In the uncomfortable and often impractical space between politics and folklore, Cory Booker presides. Few politicians garner the celebrity that Senator Booker does, and fewer still seem so earnest and human while doing it. Booker has mastered a recipe for success and magnetism that few else have: mix small but principled actions with a huge talent for motivational public speaking, and even massive problems start to seem tractable.

From poverty to bipartisanship, Booker is most effective when he can focus on the minor and human details, like pledging to get dinner with every one of his Republican colleagues or inviting victims of Hurricane Sandy over to his house. Half of his accomplishments on this front almost read like satire: he’ll save you from a burning building, he’ll live on food stamps or go on a hunger strike, he’ll even shovel you out of your house if you’re snowed in. Just use the @CoryBookerBat-Signal and he’s there.

There’s a storybook trajectory to Booker’s mythos, and it practically embodies Americana: from Stanford college football to a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford; from Yale Law School to the city council in Newark; from Newark’s mayor’s office to the U.S. Senate. Each step of the way, Booker has thrived on the philosophy that your actions matter more than what you preach.

Most recently, Booker announced on Twitter that he would be going vegan, at least until the end of the year. This isn’t a sudden change in Booker’s principles—he’s been a vegetarian for more than two decades, personally rescued a dog in crisis on several occasions, and campaigned to establish a no-kill animal shelter in Newark (unfortunately, it fell through). Instead, Booker is trying to do a better job of living out the principles he already has. There’s an almost Christ-like quality at play: living in a mobile home on one of Newark’s worst drug corners and tweeting with a stripper (NSFW!) are only a few steps removed from washing the feet of the poor and accepting perfume from a prostitute.

“I want to try to live my own values as consciously and purposefully as I can,” Booker told me in a phone interview. “Being vegan for me is a cleaner way of not participating in practices that don’t align with my values.”

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