One of the good things about Chicago, that draws people, keeps us on the map, and brings in lots of tax revenue, is our food scene. One of the bad things is that we shoot each other a lot. So to distract us from the latter, which he hasn’t exactly turned around just yet, Mayor Emanuel seems to think it would be a good idea to attack the former. That at least is the lesson we take from his appearance last week on WGN with the author of The Engine 2 Diet, a vegan diet plan which apparently involves eating a lot of sweet potatoes, in which he calls the diet part of a “whole wellness plan for the city in lowering our health care costs and extending our life expectancy.”
Nothing bad about extending life expectancy, nothing bad about a vegan diet being one possibility for people to consider, but there are also drawbacks to veganism that the diet’s creator, one Rip Esselstyn, glosses over as he explains that sweet potato lasagna is JUST LIKE your regular lasagna (except that instead of cheese, it has… what?). In short, there are a million diet plans out there, all with varying levels of hard science and soft kookiness attached to them, and for a mayor to come out and announce that one currently trendy one is the health answer for an entire city forever sounds more like runaway personal enthusiasm than any sort of well-thought-out policy with a clear plan for success. Plus, keep up the attacks on dairy and he may inflame border tensions with Wisconsin (and so far nobody who’s tangled with Governor Walker has come out ahead). Anyway, see the mayor, Rip, and a whole lot of sweet potatoes and almond milk here.