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Doctor Challenges Mayor Parker to Become Vegan, As If She's Not Busy With Anything Else (UPDATED)

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UPDATE: Janice Evans, Communications Director for the Mayor, has confirmed that Mayor Parker is not going vegan. Hey, Mayor Parker! Drop those bacon-wrapped Cheetos. In fact, drop everything, and become a vegan. You're not doing anything else, are you?

So supposes Dr. Neal Barnard, a nutritionist who's coming all the way from D.C. to fix Houston's lardy lifestyle with legumes.

As part of an effort to plug his new book, 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart, Dr. Barnard requested that Parker and her staff put themselves on his vegan diet. "I would suggest that we start by asking you and those who work with you in the Mayor's office to 'test drive' this sort of menu change for a three-week period," Barnard wrote in a letter to the Mayor.

A Parker spokesperson says she doesn't recall the office getting the letter, but she's checking on any response they might have.

Barnard, who has proven to be secretive about his close ties to PETA, is on his 15th health book. Not that there's anything wrong with trying to convert Houston's meat-mawers into veggieholics. The press release from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), of which Barnard is the board president, describes Houston as a "city with a serious obesity problem."

More lamentable stats: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 37 percent of Houston residents are overweight and 27 percent are obese. More than two million of us Texans are diabetic.

According to PCRM spokeswoman Jessica Frost, Barnard has also challenged the mayors of Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. No Texan mayors have accepted the challenge so far. But the mayor of Toledo, Ohio, did. "They had really great results," Frost said.

It's not Barnard's first time soliciting the attention of a Texas mayor. Last year, the doctor wrote a letter to Irving Mayor Herbert Gears asking them to drop Kraft as the official sponsor of Texas Stadium's demolition -- branded as the Cheddar Explosion. Instead, Barnard suggested the city drape the stadium with a banner that says "Cheese really blows you up" with an illustration of an obese man stuffing his face full of cheese.

But as Homer Simpson once said, you don't win friends with salad. The stadium went down in a deluge of cheese sauce.

If you want a taste of Dr. Barnard's vegan recipes for free, check out a plan tailor-made for your overindulgent Texas self: his "Texas Kickstart" plan. Or, cavort with the man himself when he takes Houston on July 1 to sign books at the Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center.

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