KUCINICH: To create communities. To create dialogue to bring people together in town hall meetings and in universities and to have great discussions and great debates in a society. To recreate the commons, to recreate the public sphere and the commonwealth.

BELIEFNET: What sort of policies?

KUCINICH: That's reflected in everything. It's reflected in the way we build the architecture of cities. It's reflected in our mass transit policies. It's reflected in our health and education systems. Talking about something that's holistic.

BELIEFNET: You are vegan. Why do you follow that path?

KUCINICH: Well, I met someone who I fell in love with, and, basically, as a way of exploring the relationship, I changed my diet. It worked for me. It gave me a sense of connection and energy and clarity and health that I could never have imagined. That's how it started as with many of us, and we meet someone and creates a shift in our lives.

BELIEFNET: Most of those are reasons of physical well-being. At this point, do you view there as being an ethical dimension?

KUCINICH: Look, there's an ethical dimension to everything we do! Not just our choice of food. The choice of interviews I do. There's an ethical dimension to my life and all of our lives, from the time we get up in the morning to the time we sleep including what we sleep on. So I don't separate my choices from ethical choices at any time

It's consistent with a desire to help participate in sustaining the planet which I think this diet does. And it also sustains my health, which creates a reciprocal relationship between self and world.

BELIEFNET: For some vegans it implies or is part of a view about a continuum of life...

KUCINICH: There is an ethical basis for a choice of foods and for people who pursue the diet I enjoy, the ethical dimension is important . It's important to me. I don't want to be construed as saying someone who does another diet is lacking in ethics.

BELIEFNET: There are number of controversial issues about how government approaches life--whether its abortion, stem cell research, or euthanasia. Is there a connection between your holistic approach about diet and how you would approach those public policy issues related to life?

KUCINICH: Yes, I don't insist that anyone follow the diet that I follow. Because there has to be an element of freedom in a democratic society.

BELIEFNET: And so, in the case of abortion you might be personally opposed to abortion but pro-choice?

KUCINICH: I didn't say that. What I said was that in a democratic society, people must be permitted to make their choices and that the choices of women should not be subordinate to the choices of men, otherwise women are less than equal, are second-class citizens. Let women choose, and they will choose wisely. And at the same time with respect to abortion we can create a society where we can all work together to make abortions less necessary which is I think is an important and praiseworthy goal through birth control and sex education.

BELIEFNET: Why do you think it's an important goal to make abortion more rare?

KUCINICH: I think it's self-explanatory. I don't think there needs to be any elaboration on that.

BELIEFNET: I'm not sure it will be necessarily self-evident. Clinton used to use the line that he thought abortions should be legal, safe, and rare, but other politicians have not used the last part of the formulation which tells me...

KUCINICH: I don't think there's any woman out there who wakes up and says, "Gee, I think I'll have an abortion."

BELIEFNET: [The Catholic Church] says that politicians who don't adopt the anti-abortion line are not good Catholics.

KUCINICH: Well, you know when we start to define that, when you get into defining, it begins to establish a latitude that could become problematic.

BELIEFNET: Could you elaborate on that? I'm not sure I understand.

KUCINICH: No. I don't need to.

BELIEFNET: You had interesting comments about the Founding Fathers and separation of church and state. "Our founders wanted a separation of church and state, but never intended that America would become separated from the spiritual principles which animated the founding of this country." What do you think the spiritual principles that animated the founding of the country?

KUCINICH: An understanding of the role of divine providence. An understanding of the connection between God and nature. An appreciation for the possibility that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness flowed from a transcendent source. Things like that.