85-year-old Jonathan Maxwell ran for president in 1948 as the candidate of the American Vegetarian Party. He was the owner of a vegetarian restaurant in Chicago and claimed not to have tasted any meat in 45 years. He also said that he loved every vegetable, "except okra."
As the leader of the Vegetarian Party, Maxwell demanded the abolition of slaughterhouses and cattle cultivation. He advocated the use of pasture lands for growing foodstuffs, saying this would solve the world's food problems. He also proposed building "garden cities" in underdeveloped areas. Finally, he wanted to ban liquor, tobacco, and medicine.
Maxwell estimated there were at least 3,000,000 vegetarians in the U.S. and hoped to get all their votes. Just one problem. He was born in England and was therefore ineligible to be President. His running mate, Symon Gould, conceded "Of course, we don't expect to be elected."
During the election, he suddenly realized the impossibility of being elected and decided he "wanted to accomplish something during the campaign" (according to the statement of his running mate). Therefore, he married a woman forty-years younger than himself.
He didn't run for president again. In fact, he fell on hard times during the 1950s and had to work as a door-to-door salesman (in his 90s!). Nevertheless, the vegetarian lifestyle and young bride must have been good for his health, because he lived to be 101 years old, spending his final days on a utopian commune with members of the American Vegan Society in southern California.
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