NEW YORK — Mayor Eric Adams, a self-described devotee of a “plant-based” diet, was defensive Monday when asked to explain a POLITICO report that found he also eats fish.
“Here’s my message: The more plant-based meals you have, the healthier you are going to be,” Adams said at an event about lifestyle medicine at Kings County Hospital.
“New Yorkers, don’t beat yourself up. No one is perfect in this city,” Adams said.
POLITICO reported Friday that Adams has been spotted ordering fish at two high-end Manhattan restaurants, despite his insistence that he eats a plant-based diet and even penned a 224-page book about his supposedly strict food regimen. On Monday, he seemed to acknowledge his lack of adherence to a diet that eliminates processed food, animal byproducts and “healthy” fats like olive oil.
“I’m the mayor of New York and I’m perfectly imperfect,” he said.
Still, he pushed back on a straightforward question from a reporter: Do you eat fish?
“I eat a plant-based-centered life,” he said six times. “Those who have questions on what I am eating, I’m over 18 and I know how to take care of myself.”
In addition to pointing out inconsistencies about his diet, POLITICO has previously reported on questions about where the mayor lives.
Over his first few weeks in office, Adams has begun rolling out key programs related to veganism. The city education department launched “Vegan Fridays” last week, and on Monday Adams announced the expansion of a lifestyle medicine program that aims to help people with hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and prediabetes reverse their symptoms through a plant-based diet. He also floated the idea of cooking vegan meals on $10 a day.
“Don’t worry about what’s on Mayor Adams’ plate,” Adams said, after boasting that his “go-to meal” is kidney bean stew. “Put these items on your plate, because I’m living a healthier lifestyle, and I’m encouraging New Yorkers to have as many plant-based meals as possible.”
Adams says he went green five years ago after he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Since then, he reversed vision loss and nerve damage, shed 35 pounds and anointed himself a spokesperson for a plant-based lifestyle.
Unprompted, a spokesperson for the mayor later sent POLITICO a statement clarifying Adams’ earlier answer at the press conference.
“Let me be clear: Changing to a plant-based diet saved my life, and I aspire to be plant-based 100 percent of the time. I want to be a role model for people who are following or aspire to follow a plant-based diet, but, as I said, I am perfectly imperfect, and have occasionally eaten fish,” Adams said in the statement.
But one mayoral critic said Adams’ flip-flopping on his food choices is evidence of a larger, concerning pattern about truthfulness and transparency.
“I don’t give a damn if he eats fish,” said Bill Neidhardt, co-founder of the progressive political consulting firm Left Flank Strategies. “I care a lot about that he’s a congenital liar that surrounds himself with corrupt people.”