With the increased pressures of climate change, there’s no denying that the interest in veganism has been on a steady rise, including amongst the world's most famous. Several celebrities have been using their platforms to give a voice to animals and talk about how going vegan has drastically changed their lives for the better. Ranging from veterans to newer vegans, here are 10 famous people who swear by the lifestyle, citing ethical, health and environmental reasons to stop consuming meat.
Both Joaquin Phoenix and his wife, Rooney Mara, follow a vegan lifestyle. The vocal animal rights activist and award-winning actor stood clad in a custom-made, cruelty-free Stella McCartney tux at the 2020 Oscar Awards and unapologetically shed light on the injustices against farmed animals. “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,” Phoenix said during his acceptance speech. The days and weeks following, resulted in a flood of news headlines, prompting a conversation that has merely been whispered about.
The Joker (2019) star openly criticised the dairy industry, urging audiences to adopt a greener lifestyle, support animal rights and reduce animal suffering. During an interview with VegNews, the actor explained that veganism is a way of life—from our eating habits to our choice in fashion. “Veganism is a lifestyle—it means not using animals in any way. I think it is important to learn about our shoes, purses, and where we get leather from, and just educate ourselves as much as possible.”
American actor and film producer Jessica Chastain is a vegan mommy who initially turned to a plant-based lifestyle for health reasons in 2005. The animal lover was vegetarian for 15 years before going vegan and is known for advocating for worthy causes such as animal adoption, feminism, and veganism. Chastain has also raved about plant-based food, sharing recipes with her Instagram followers. Chastain told W Magazine: “I found myself going to veganism because a friend of mine had a two-week vegan food delivery program she wasn’t going to use so I used it, and immediately I just had more energy than I’ve ever had in my life."
Teen musical sensation Billie Eilish was raised vegetarian before going full vegan about seven years ago. Since, she has frequently used her platforms to raise awareness about the impact of using animals for fashion and food, managing to convince fashion designer Oscar de la Renta to stop using fur earlier this year. Eilish’s mother—actor Maggie Baird—is the visionary behind Support and Feed and a long-time vegan who is passionate about alleviating climate change and helping people in need. Together, they have introduced a new vegan chocolate bar called the Happier Than Ever Chocolate Bar.
Canadian-American actress Pamela Anderson, famed for starring in the hit TV show Baywatch, is a longtime and deeply passionate animal advocate. She has been vegetarian since she was a teen and is now an outspoken vegan. From collaborating with PETA to voicing her opposition to the annual Canadian seal slaughter, Pam is a poster girl for the vegan lifestyle and regularly tweets about animal protection issues. Her impact on the fur industry has made Anderson a force to be reckoned with. She once wrote this quote, which was later published by The Guardian: “As for thinking you’ve done something because you’ve worn a slogan T-shirt or used a hashtag? You still have to take action."
British singer Leona Lewis has been a vegetarian since she was 12 years old and turned to veganism in September 2012. Her immense love for animals was the main reason for quitting the animal diet as she explains in a magazine interview: “I would go to farms lot with my mum when I was younger to look at the animals—chickens and pigs—and I began to realise that I was eating those same farm animals I loved to go to feed and to be around all the time. I remember saying to my mum I just would not eat it anymore. I stopped when I was about six or seven.”
Along with not eating an animal-based diet, Lewis only uses ethical beauty products.
Travis Barker has been a vegetarian since he was 13, but the Blink 182 rock star didn't fully commit to going vegan until he survived a plane crash in 2008. Today, Barker prioritizes staying fit by running and boxing and keeping up with a cruelty-free diet. He told Men’s Journal: “Honestly, ever since I found this way of eating I have had endless amounts of energy. I can go all day, and after it all I never find myself getting tired. No matter what kind of shows I have done, or workouts I do on top of it, I still have to force myself to sleep at night.”
Best known for her lead roles in films like Clueless, Alicia Silverstone is an outspoken environmentalist and vegan. The actress has been a vegetarian since the age of eight and became vegan in 1998 at 22. In 2007, PETA named her the “Sexiest Vegetarian” and she has since participated in numerous campaigns advocating for veganism as well as published a vegan cookbook titled The Kind Diet in 2009. In a 2014 interview with Food and Wine, Silverstone said: “I adopted this diet for the animals, but the biggest surprise was how amazing I felt. I ditched my asthma inhaler, stopped my weekly allergy shots, lost weight, and had a new glow from my skin and hair. I felt incredible from having more energy and balanced out moods. This way of eating transformed me. Since then I have not needed caffeine, aspirin, or antibiotics. My body healed itself by being plant-based.”
Legendary British rock star and lead guitarist of Queen, Brian May, has been vegan for two years. May told NME that he adopted a plant-based lifestyle as a decision, saying “now that we’ve seen more of the effects of how eating animals has brought us to our knees as a species, I think it’s time to re-examine our world in a way that doesn’t abuse other species.” The iconic guitarist believes that veganism is the way forward and recently slammed the meat industry for the ongoing crisis. May joins a host of other celebrities who have spoken about the standards of veganism and how reducing human-wildlife contact plays an essential role in diseases like SARS and MERS.