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The Physicians Committee

‘Sit Next to a Vegan’ Commercial Targets American Airlines

Ad on Dallas TV Pushes Policy to Help Passengers Avoid Being Squeezed by Overweight Seatmates

WASHINGTON—Want some extra room next time you fly? A new commercial airing this week on Dallas-area TV stations and nationally on the CNN Airport Network portrays the new “Sit Next to a Vegan” option recently proposed to American Airlines. Developed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the initiative allows passengers to reserve the seat next to them for a trim and fit vegan for a small fee. The commercial airs March 29 and is also on YouTube.

The ad shows two passengers in the aisle seats of a plane. One chose the “Sit Next to a Vegan” option for a small fee and gets a slim, trim seatmate—no elbow-jousting here. The other, who didn’t, gets squeezed by a more ample neighbor. A narrator explains, “For a small $10 charge, we’ll save you a seat next to a vegan. You’ll have all the room that you want.”

PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., has written to cash-strapped American Airlines president Thomas W. Horton, asking the Fort Worth-based airline to launch the “Sit Next to a Vegan” option. Many airlines already ask some obese passengers to pay for a second seat. Now, passengers wary about their space being encroached upon in tiny airline seats would be able to pay a $10 surcharge to reserve the seat next to them for a person following a vegan diet.

“People who skip the meat and cheese tend to be much slimmer,” says Dr. Barnard. “We’re taking a tongue-in-cheek approach to getting the word out, but the epidemic of obesity is no joke. It has brought diabetes and other health problems to a dangerous new level.”

Studies have found that vegan diets reduce body fat. A study of nearly 60,903 Americans, published by the American Diabetes Association, showed that people following typical American diets had a mean body mass index of 28.8 kg/m2 (a healthy BMI is below 25 kg/m2), while people following vegan diets had an average BMI of 23.6 kg/m2—a dramatically healthier number.

A 2011 report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranked Texas seventh in the United States for childhood obesity and 12th for adult obesity. One in three adults and one in five children in the state is obese. Obesity can also lead to life-threatening diseases, including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and many types of cancer.

Would you like a copy of the commercial or to speak with Dr. Barnard? Please contact Vaishali Honawar at 202-527-7339 or


Media Contact:
Vaishali Honawar

Neal Barnard, M.D.

Neal Barnard, M.D.

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