• Bryan Dennstedt

FAMOUS PLANT-BASERS | You're in Good Company

Updated: Jul 15

There is a surge of people turning to a plant-based diet that is growing every day.

More and more people are awakening to the benefits of vegetable-based food, both for themselves and the environment, and also realizing their ethical responsibilities. Veganism has expanded steadily, with a 600% increase between 2014 and 2017, according to Forbes magazine [1], and the average per capita percentage is between 5 and 10 percent and rising in most developed nations.

“The number of U.S. consumers identifying as vegan grew from 1% to 6% between 2014 and 2017, a 600% increase, according to GlobalData.” [1]

Added to that, those moving away from meat and dairy and opting for plant-based products, if not subscribing to a dietary mandate, are escalating rapidly, for medical, health, and ethical reasons. What’s more, numerous celebrities are committing to the lifestyle change, expanding the knowledge, awareness, and - dare I say it - trendiness of plant-based choices.

Here is my Top 10 of famous vegans and plant-basers, individuals who have been outspoken about their decisions and who I continue to find hugely inspiring, as I hope you do too:

Joaquin Phoenix

@joaquinlphoenix (fan account - Joaquin does not have social media)

2019 Oscar winner for his lead role as The Joker, Joaquin Phoenix is the poster boy for the vegan movement. Narrating Earthlings and taking to the front line at numerous animal rights demonstrations, he walks his talk. In fact, he used the platform to sell the vegan message to the 29.6 million viewers of the 91st annual Academy Awards. The younger brother of the late, great activist River Phoenix even took to the streets to lead an animal equality protest in central London ahead of his appearance at the UK’s BAFTA Awards.

“It takes nothing away from a human to be kind to an animal.” - Joaquin Phoenix

Woody Harrelson

@woodyharrelson

@WoodyHarrelson

Another Hollywood award winner, Woody Harrelson won PETA’s Sexiest Vegan of 2012. He also subscribes to a raw vegan diet, not eating anything that has been heated to over 104–118°F (40–48°C), to preserve the food’s natural nutritional value.

After blowing his nose on the bus one day, the spotty, snotty 24-year-old Harrelson was told by a girl that he was obviously lactose-intolerant. Ditching dairy (and seeing the benefits immediately), it wasn’t long before he took the next step and has been vegan ever since.

“In this world that is spinning madly out of control, we have to realize that we’re all related. We have to try to live harmoniously.” - Woody Harrelson

Venus Williams

@venuswilliams

@Venuseswilliams

Former world number one tennis star, Venus Williams, attributed her initial switch to a plant-based diet to an auto-immune diagnosis. However, though the decision vastly improved the disease, she also found herself feeling cleaner, more energetic, and healthier in all areas of her life. Since making the change, again to a raw vegan diet, she has continued to win medals, including Olympic golds and Wimbledon titles, proving that the change has not only not hindered her performance levels, it has actually improved her fitness through helping her overcome Sjögren's autoimmune syndrome.

"Once I started, I fell in love with the concept of fuelling your body in the best way possible," - Venus Williams

Moby

@moby

@thelittleidiot

One of my close friends attributes Moby’s Everything Is Wrong [2] essay with being his sole inspiration for ceasing to eat meat. A staunch, unabashed vegan for over 30 years, his beliefs are often subtly reflected in his music. He is frequently and boldly outspoken on social media and in public about the atrocities of the meat and dairy industries, and our responsibility to be far more conscious in our dietary choices. Moby wears his heart on his sleeve - or message on his skin, as the case may be - with “VEGAN FOR LIFE” and “protect the innocent, defend the vulnerable” inked on either side of his neck and the less-than-subtle “ANIMAL” and “RIGHTS” tattooed on his arms. He has also opened his own plant-based restaurant - Little Pine - in LA.

“I'm vegan because I love animals, and I can't in good conscience be involved in anything that causes or contributes to the suffering of animals." - Moby

RZA

@rza

@RZA

Moby is among many other vegan musicians, from Sir Paul McCartney and Morrissey to Miley Cyrus and Mya. To me, RZA stands out of this plant-based collective as someone who has not allowed his beliefs to be fettered by his social position.

The Wu Tang Clansman, producer, filmmaker, actor, and author may induce a gangsta tough-guy reputation, but his compassion inspired him to ditch meat in 1995 and has since raised his two sons, now aged 19 and 22, vegan.

“to be honest with you bro, I’ll just hit you with this right here, the reality of how I feel. No animal needs to die for me to live, ok?” - RZA, to Joe Rogan

TRAVIS BARKER

@travisbarker

@travisbarker

Covered in tattoos and 33 percent of the second-wave SoCal punk band Blink-182, just like RZA, Travis Barker is all about a badass reputation and public image. Touring with the likes of NOFX, My Chemical Romance, Rancid, and Pennywise, Blink-182 is inseparable from the modern hardcore punk scene, which often kicks back against the system in numerous ways.

Barker was vegetarian from an early age, but a near-fatal plane crash that took the lives of two of his colleagues and left him with PTSD and severe injuries inspired him to make the full transition to veganism. His hospital recovery forced him to eat meat, but this instigated his reactionary rebellion when discharged to give up meat for life.

He eventually also opened Crossroads Kitchen on Melrose Ave. LA - another musician-owned plant-based eatery.

"I feel great after every meal and I know that no animals are getting hurt in the process; that's a win/win" - Travis Barker

JAMES CAMERON

@jamescameronofficial

@JimCameron

Director of Avatar, Titanic, the Terminator series, Aliens and Piranha II: The Spawning(!) among many of his award-winning film credits, James Cameron moved away from meat and dairy only a few years ago after researching, documenting and witnessing first-hand the environmental impacts of the mate and dairy industries.

Since then, he has poured much energy into promoting and assisting the movement. In 2018, Cameron executively produced The Game Changers to bring the concept of living plant-based and improving health to the mainstream.

Last year, he partnered with fellow director (New Zealander, Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings series among other films) to launch a vegan protein business to support New Zealand’s struggling farming industry and help clean up the pristine environment for which the country is known. Cameron saw that animal agriculture was hugely detrimental to the landscape and endeavors to redirect the farm industry to more sustainable practices.

“The great thing about this as a solution for climate change — one of a number of solutions that we need — is that it’s a win-win. You’re going to be healthier, you’re going to live longer...you’re going to have a better sex drive. That’s what shifting away from meat and dairy does.” - James Cameron [3]

BILL CLINTON

@BillClinton

In 2010, the former president opted for a vegan diet to save his health. A long struggle with heart disease made him reassess his food options and he ditched red meat for red cabbage once and for all. Though he does admit to rarely eating fish and eggs, he remains predominantly plant-based and is an outspoken advocate of a diet that doesn’t include animal products.

He attributes the switch essentially for saving his life and losing over 24lbs, with health being his primary motivation. “I wanted to live to be a grandfather,” he stated in an interview with AARP.

“[It] changed my life. I might not be around if I hadn’t become a vegan. It’s great." - Bill Clinton [4]

LEWIS HAMILTON

@lewishamilton

@LewisHamilton

With 84 wins, 151 podium finishes, and a current World No. 1 ranking, Lewis Hamilton is leading the grid in Formula One. He’s also inspiring the world to go vegan. In his home country of England, Hamilton is launching a chain of plant-based fast-food restaurants called Neat Burger. As a more sustainable, healthy, and ethical alternative to the familiar fast-food names, Neat Burger will provide quick, convenient, and comparable cruelty-free alternatives.

Some have pointed out the hypocrisy of his being involved in a wasteful and polluting arena such as Formula One, but the impact of an animal-based diet far outweighs the racing industry.

"Go vegan, it is the only way to truly save our planet today. It can be done so quickly, all you have to do is put your mind to it." - Lewis Hamilton

KEVIN & HARLEY QUINN SMITH

@thatkevinsmith / @harleyquinnsmith

Director of movies such as Mallrats, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back and the Clerks duo, Kevin Smith, more commonly recognized as his vocally-challenged on-screen persona of Silent Bob, decided to take his daughter’s lead after suffering obesity, heart disease and finally, a massive heart attack. Losing over 50lbs after switching his diet, he also reversed his heart condition, thanks to the longstanding veganism and activism of daughter Harley Quinn.

Harley highlights how the influence of family and friends can be incredibly inspiring, while Kevin proves categorically that a plant-based diet can quite literally save your life...snootchie-bootchies!

"Do not let veganism scare you. It seems daunting, but it's really not. It's a wonderful way to live." - Harley Quinn Smith

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/janetforgrieve/2018/11/02/picturing-a-kindler-gentler-world-vegan-month/

[2] http://arcanegel.com/main/moby/eiw/

[3] https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/james-cameron-why-i-eat-a-vegan-diet-20150915/

[4] https://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/bill-clinton-las-vegas-meals-219484#ixzz41CzRHAYo

Bryan is a 'self-taught' plant-based activist, discovering the benefits of eliminating animal products from his diet over 10 years ago. Since that time, he has advocated not only for a social shift in dietary and environmental awareness but also to reverse the construct that meat consumption is somehow tied to manliness and machismo.

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