By Roberto Guerra
Contrary to popular belief, there is no single “type” of vegan, at least not in 2022, where the number of individuals of all walks of life continue to embrace, if not fully adopt, veganism as a lifestyle.
Meanwhile, the list of vegan celebrities continues to grow across the globe, from vegan actors to rockstars to rapstars and athletes, and everything in between, veganism is no longer a fringe movement, as it may have been perceived once upon a time.
Whether for ethical, health or environmental reasons, or a mixture of all three, vegan superstars are letting the world know about their lifestyle and using their influence to inspire others to do the same.
Here is a list of some of the most prominent vegan celebrities of today, along with a few you may not be as familiar with, but you will be now.
Best known for his Oscar winning performance in the 2019 motion picture “Joker”, Phoenix has been a vegan since childhood, ever since he and his siblings reportedly witnessed a fish being violently killed. Among his lesser-known roles, he narrated the 2018 documentary Dominion, a graphic film showing the cruelty that takes place on factory farms across the globe.
In February 2020, the vegan movie star made headlines during his unforgettable Oscar acceptance speech where he passionately lashed out against the cruelty of the dairy industry to a global audience.
“Many of us are guilty of an egocentric worldview, the belief that we’re the center of the universe,” he exclaimed.
“We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth we steal her baby…even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable.”
Raised vegetarian before going vegan, the American vegan singer Billie Eilish, who gained public attention in 2015 with the release of her first single, “Ocean Eyes”, frequently uses her platform to tell her fans about the animal agriculture industry. In 2018, the pop music star showed her legion of followers videos of the cruelty taking place on a dairy farm in Indiana, while asking how anyone “can watch the videos that I just posted and not give a f-k.”
In 2019 Eilish won a PETA “Best Voice for Animals” award for her activism online. The same organization named her “Person of the Year” in 2021.
Vegan since 2017, Lewis Hamilton, a five-time Formula 1 champion, adopted a plant-based diet to boost his athletic performance, although he also says the environment and animals were a motivation for his lifestyle change.
His desire to change the world drove him to go a step further and open his very own chain of vegan burgers, called Neat Burger, which initially opened its doors in 2020 in London. Hamilton has since then opened a second location of the vegan fast-food joint.
Regarding animal agriculture, the race car legend told BBC that “the cruelty is horrible and I don’t necessarily want to support that and I want to live a healthier life.”
A veteran vegan of Hollywood, Harrelson stopped consuming animal products 30 years ago. The Hunger Games star has hired the famous vegan cook Chad Sarno as a personal chef on numerous occasions. In Zombieland, where he plays a character who happens to love Twinkies, the vegan movie star demanded the Twinkies be replaced with a vegan version made from cornmeal.
In 2011, Woody Harrelson appeared on a postage stamp as one of PETA’s 20 famous vegetarians, and in 2012 was named PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian in 2012.
The renowned singer, rapper and songwriter went plant-based in 2020 after having followed a vegetarian diet for seven years. Revealing her lifestyle shift via TikTok video, Lizzo expressed to her fans that “as a new vegan I’m enjoying exploring flavors from plants & plant-based proteins! Every journey is personal and deserves to be celebrated.”
Lizzo became a mainstream entertainer with the success of her third studio album Cuz I Love You in 2019, which made it into the top five of the US Billboard 200, and includes the hit singles “Juice” and “tempo.”
Australian singer and songwriter Sia, well-known for maintaining such a high level of privacy despite her fame, has been vegan since 2014, a move she revealed to her fans by way of a tweet.
A long-time advocate for animal rights, the plant-based pop music icon has participated in campaigns to protest against large-scale pet breeding while encouraging people to spay and neuter their pets. In 2015, she wrote the song “Free the Animal” for public service announcements that support cruelty free fashion. The vegan singer was also a narrator of the animal rights documentary Dominion alongside Joaquin Phoenix.
A former mixed martial artist, combat expert and film producer, James Wilks is also a passionate plant-based activist whose leading role in the 2018 documentary The Game Changers, produced by James Cameron, turned heads by debunking the myths associating meat consumption with masculinity, and explaining why a plant-based diet is a better choice for high-endurance athletes, including bodybuilders, mix martial artists and boxers.
The vegan athlete and educator competed as a professional fighter from 2003 to 2012 for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), King of the Cage. James Wilks was also the winner of The Ultimate Fighter: The United States vs United Kingdom.
Another fully plant-based athlete, Lawrence Okolie is a professional boxer. Okolie says he hasn’t eaten meat since becoming a professional boxer, and in an interview with GQ magazine he said when training for fights his diet consists of lots of vegetables, beans and pulses, and when not in training he enjoys plant-based burgers and vegan pizza.
In early 2021, Okolie became the first vegan boxer to win the cruiserweight title after knocking out Krzysztof Glowacki in the sixth round, and he successfully defended his title in September of last year with another knockout victory.
Lawrence Okolie will again defend his title against Michal Cieslak on February 27, 2022 at the O2 Arena in London.
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