When asked about vegetarianism and veganism, it might be fun to tell people about stars and celebrities, especially the most well-known of them, and why they ended up choosing this lifestyle. Along with all the social justice, environmental and animal-friendly benefits to being vegetarian or vegan, we can add that some famous people enjoy this. Since we know the marketing bonus of having a celebrity promote a product, maybe some people will listen more if they find out that their favourite actor or singer supports this cause. Here is a short list that I compiled. For complete listings, follow these links:
**Please note that I did not fully verify every name on these lists, and some are actually wrong... such as Bruce Lee, for example. He is only vegan when in search of spirituality, not all the time. I may have made a couple of mistakes on my list, too, but most of these I've verified in depth.
1- Sarah McLachlin
She admits to having fallen off the wagon, unfortunately, but is still an avid supporter of animal welfare and eats a mostly vegetarian diet, with fish being the main meat she consumes. She is the face of the ASPCA in Canada with a few ads supporting the adoption of a shelter animal and, although this is not animal-related, is the creator of Lilith Fair, an all-women's music show to help promote more women in show business.
Well, even though he is not quite 100% vegan, I honour this man for no longer biting off the heads of little creatures during shows. I don't understand a word he says, nor does he even know the name of the documentary that changed his mind about his food (he calls it 'the Forks and Knives' movie), but I applaud Ozzy. Thank you for chosing to be a good role model!
3- Bryan Adams
I almost fell off my chair when I saw this. My teenage-years idol has been vegan for over 20 years already, mainly for health reasons. He boasts that he is over the hill, and yet still thin and full of energy, as opposed to 'having his gut hanging out like others of his age'. Although some may be offended by this, I say, good for you, Bryan!
4- Michael Jackson
How many people know that the King of Pop was vegetarian? His slim figure should've been a clue, though, and although he did quite a lot to himself physically that I don't like, this choice is one I support. There are some people who claim that he wasn't vegetarian because he adored KFC, but I would like to know when was the last time he ate at that restaurant and when he became a vegetarian, and whether he lapsed or not. (And please note that some locations sell a vegan burger.) One thing is for sure: he did give it a go for at least 7 years. Some sites state that he died as an omnivore, others that he was a full vegetarian at the time of death, adoring tofu with chili sauce, vegetarian lasagna and steamed brocoli over anything else, and that he survived on one vegetarian meal per day during the rehearsals of that last tour he was preparing at the time of his death - he had to be physically fed by one of his employees or else he wouldn't eat - that's how focused he was on rehearsing before his tour.
5- Alanis Morissette
This famous Ottawa-born alternative rock star chose to be vegan to lose some weight. Even though this is the reason and not for animal support, I still encourage it since health-care costs and general health problems are issues that I find absurd nowadays. She loves this lifestyle because it gives her an incredible amount of energy.
6- Carl Lewis
Remember in the late 80s how we saw that funny controversy over who was the world's fastest human? Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis were both incredibly fast, but during the 1988 Olympics, one won the 100 meters and the other, the 200 meter race. Lewis became vegan in 1990 and at that point, noticed an incredible difference in his performance, and said that the most important advantage of this diet is that he can eat as much as he wants without hindering his training or results.
7- Bruce and Brandon Lee
Bruce Lee's late son, Brandon - star of the movie The Crow - was vegetarian. Bruce believed that eating a nutritious diet was part of the overall health needed to be excellent in martial arts. Those who study this artform need to learn how to focus, and cutting out meat was the way Bruce chose to enhance his performance. So, he ate a vegan diet for spiritual reasons for periods of time. And, he didn't really like dairy and consumed very little. His son, however, was fully vegetarian.
Due to their health, these stars needed to stop eating all animal by-products. It was quite urgent for them - as well as several other stars - but they feel far better now and admit to liking what they are eating.
9- Ellen DeGeneres
This lady is vegan for the ethical reasons. She is well-informed on factory farming and the problems related to the treatment of animals, whether they are killed to produce food or not, and has her chef come on her show to let the audience taste vegan meals. Portia is also vegan, of course.
10- Joaquin Phoenix, Alec Baldwin, Tobey Maguire, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Betty White
These stars are all, in some way or other, animal activists. Tobey Maguire sent back a car that was lent to him during the filming of The Great Gatsby because of its leather seats. Others are spokespeople for PETA or do their own thing. But, all of them strongly believe that animals need our help, even at the late age of 90.
11- The Beattles
Apparently, all of them were vegetarians for at least a period of time. Most of us know about Paul McCartney and his animal-rights activism - especially me, because of the seal hunt in the northeastern part of my country - but what about the others? George was definitely a vegetarian due to his religion: he is an Hare Krishna follower. As for Ringo and John, well - John seemingly fell off the wagon sometimes, but got back on afterwards. Ringo may have been a full vegetarian in the end, but some say that this information is not verified.
12- Olivia Newton John
This starlet was a vegetarian for quite some time, but to the disappointment of her fully-vegetarian daughter, fell off the wagon recently and started to eat fish and grilled chicken. She is still a strong advocate of this lifestyle and has published a cookbook, but has decided to let her anemia coax her into eating meat again.
13- Kirk Hammett, lead guitarist, Metallica
To the surprise of several Metallica fans, the lead guitarist does not eat meat! According to Happy Cow, he was upset because some fans started throwing ham sandwiches in his direction during a show!
14- Billy Idol Billy Idol chose to be a vegetarian due to stomach upsets. His wild schedule making it hard for him to have meals at regular times, he stopped eating meat. OK, he loves his leather pants. Maybe we can send him a letter asking him to stop buying any new ones.
15- Sinead O'Connor
She's known for her controversial personality, and being vegan, although surely not purely out of intent to shock people, was part of her lifestyle. She was also an activist.
16- Janet Jackson
While she was sliding between vegetarianism and eating fish for a very long time - since childhood - Janet finally embraced full veganism recently and works with PETA. However, I read a personal blog that states that she accepted doing a shoot for a fur coat company. More letters, perhaps? Just to keep stars on track, and not letting a downtime in their career scare them into forgetting their values?
17- Michael Clarke Duncan
The late Michael Clarke Duncan, star of The Green Line, is seen here in PETA magazine. Despite becoming vegetarian a year ago, he died due to complications that resulted from his heart attack in July. Surely a fully plant-based diet is what he needed. Let this be a lesson for those who need the health boost but don't go all the way.
18- Marina Sirtis
Know any Star Trek fans? Marina Sirtis, aka Counsellor Troy, is vegan and supports animal-rights causes.
19- Leonardo di Caprio
This young man is a well-known environmental, social and animal rights activists. Some say he is vegetarian, perhaps vegan, but there are rumours that he will at times eat meat. He may let himself get tempted once in a while, but even if his diet is not 100% plant-based, I give him a thumbs-up - for all the work he does outside of his acting career. I admit I didn't like him at first, but he has grown on me over the years after seeing him promote global warming alongside Al Gore and some of the movie choices he makes for work.
20- Zooey Deschanel and her sister, Emily
Both vegetarians and perhaps vegan, these two young ladies are actually quite quiet about the reasons for their food choices.
21- Alicia Silverstone
Some of you have already mentioned something about reading her book. Well, this lady is a full vegan - and uses every opportunity she can get to promote healthy and cruelty-free eating!
22- Michelle Pfeiffer
After seeing 'The Last Heart Attack', this famous celebrity chose to stop eating any animal by-products. She does admit that vanity played a large role in her decision, but as she later says, there are several other reasons for this. We approve, Michelle.
23- Thomas Edison
An avid promoter of non-violence, he extended his philosophy to animal welfare as well. Although he stopped eating meat due to illness, he claimed to feel so much better that he chose to continue even after recuperating. He later went on to say: "Nonviolence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages."
24- Brad Pitt
How many of you knew that Brad Pitt is vegan? Apparently, this is an ongoing fight between him and his wife-to-be, Angie: whether or not the kids can eat meat. We do need to consider the fact that Angelina tried going vegan years ago and failed due to lack of information, nearly dying from it. But, the question that raises for me is - how does she stay so thin (almost too thin, if you ask me) while eating animal by-products? Surely she must eat several vegan meals per week...
25- Tina Turner, Prince, Shania Twain, Gwyneth Paltrow, Penelope Cruz, Pamela Anderson, Alyssa Milano
These stars are all vegetarians mostly for health reasons - to keep their bodies hot and for the energy. Here, some are listed as the hottest actors ever. I'm not surprised!
26- Albert Einstein
No, he did not become incredibly intelligent because of his vegetarianism because he only embraced this lifestyle at the end of his life. However, he had always supported a plant-based diet over eating meat for the longest time, so he surely ate vegan meals often. He believed that mankind, as a whole, could greatly benefit from being vegan due to moral reasons - he was probably referring to a lower level of anger and depression when he stated this, and meant that there would be less wars across the world.
27- Bob Barker
Let's not forget long-time shelter-animal adoption promoter, Bob Barker. Remember how he often had shelter pets come on the stage, with one of his 'belles' showing it off? This man ate a vegan diet for most of his life, but only sported a vegan fashion because his wife was against fur. This, thankfully, rubbed off on him and he stopped wearing leather altogether. He also claims that this diet is what helped him work for so long.
28- An 'E' for effort goes out to: Ryan Gosling
He's become a bit of a laughing stock because he supports animal rights, yet has not made a step towards even reducing his meat consumption. However, I decided to mention him here because he is doing some things right - he is at least conscious of the fact that factory farming is wrong. It's a start.
This list could go on for a very long time. I am very happy to have done this search and found so many people who support a cruelty-free, environmentally-friendly and socially-just way of eating.
Do you know any other stars you are happy to know are vegan, vegetarian, or promote animal welfare? Comment!
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Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)