Remember last when Jay-Z and Beyonce embarked on a 22-day vegan challenge as a “spiritual and physical cleanse?” Because the duo is insanely famous, the story spread quickly. It’s great that the couple tried challenging themselves to a cruelty-free diet, even though they ultimately didn’t stick with it.
The spotlight has focused so much on the music power duo, but there are other celebrities who have been maintaining cruelty-free lifestyles every day, not just for one challenge. Below are 10 compassionate celebrities who are the real deal.
1. Joaquin Phoenix
Last year, Joaquin starred in a PETA commercial that urged people to relate to the suffering we cause fish when they’re taken from the water and die by suffocation. The actor simulated drowning underwater to draw comparison to ask us to relate to how fish feel. It was a fishing incident that drew the actor to becoming vegan when he was only three years old. “My family and I were on a boat catching fish,” he told an interviewer in 1996. “As one fish was caught, he was writhing. Then he was thrown against the side of the boat. You couldn’t disguise what it was. This was what we did to animals to eat them. The animal went from a living, vibrant creature fighting for life to a violent death.”
2. Alicia Silverstone
Alicia Silverstone is an avid animal lover and became vegetarian when she was 12 years old. At age 18, when she was battling severe asthma, insomnia, acne, and constipation, she started the switch to a vegan diet. She now talks openly to the media about how veganism has transformed her health for the better. Her passion and discovery led her to create a vegan cookbook called The Kind Diet. She also has a lifestyle website called The Kind Life.
3. Russell Brand
After watching the informative documentary, Forks Over Knives, a few years ago, Russell Brand became a vegan. “I’m now vegan, goodbye eggs, hello Ellen,” he formerly tweeted. He had been a vegetarian since age 14 and was named one of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrities in 2011. When asked why people should go vegetarian, Brand has proved it’s his love for animals that is the major factor. “You shouldn’t eat animals, it’s mean to them,” he said after receiving the PETA honor.
4. Olivia Wilde
Olivia Wilde is not shy about her lifestyle choice. Her website, Wilde Things, features a page about her veganism. Though she briefly abandoned her vegan lifestyle for health reasons during her pregnancy, she has stated that she will resume her vegan diet again when the baby is delivered. Her rawness and honesty is one reason that makes the star a great vegan role model. “[Being vegan] is not always easy and accessible. But it’s a way of life and makes me as a person feel really good and physically look better,” she told contactmusic.com. The star was named PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian celebrity in 2010.
5. Woody Harrelson
Woody Harrelson is a long-time vegan and raw food/medicinal herb enthusiast. He recently announced that he would stop plugging his vegan diet constantly, and instead let his healthy physique speak for him. In an interview for Metro UK, he said, “I try not to preach about diet any more. I used to do that because I see so many people eating s***. Now I just let people see my energy and how strong I stay.” The actor also uses only solar power at his house, making him a bona fide eco-celeb. “We’re on a collision course with some tremendous ecological disasters,” he told the Metro.
6. Ellen DeGeneres
Ellen DeGeneres is another compassionate celebrity who uses her influence to spread the joy of cooking and living eating plant-based. She went vegan in 2008 after consuming books and documentaries about diet and health, such as Eating Animals and Meet your Meat. Her website features a page called “Going Vegan with Ellen” and her wife, actress Portia de Rossi, is also committed to a cruelty-free lifestyle.
Steve-O wrote a blog post for The Huffington Post about how watching a Youtube video scared him into veganism. “Initially, my decision to stop eating meat was motivated by fear of spiritual consequences, but right away I found that not eating meat made me feel good about myself. It increased my self-esteem, which I found so rewarding.” He progressed with the lifestyle and continued to look and feel better. He uses his lifestyle to convince others to make his choice, too; recently, he narrated a video called “What Came Before” for Farm Sanctuary, an organization that promotes compassion for farm animals.
8. Emily Deschanel
Emily Deschanel is a supporter of Farm Sanctuary, PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), and HSUS (Humane Society of the United States). She’s stated in interviews that farm animals are her main concern, so she hosts events, gives money, and writes letters of support as an activist. She wrote a letter of support for the Great Ape Protection Act, which calls for releasing apes from federally-owned or controlled laboratories. “Going vegetarian or vegan is certainly a way to lessen your footprint on the Earth,” she said in an interview with Vegetarian Times. It’s upsetting to me that so many people think of themselves as environmentalists and still eat meat and dairy products. I think it’s something people should be considering given the emergency situation we’re in regarding water supplies, global warming, and the destruction of ecosystems. There’s a lot of overlap between animal rights and the environment.”
9. Russell Simmons
Russell Simmons is another celebrity who appears in advertisements for PETA. The recent ads, which are on display on Metro buses in Washington, D.C., encourage people to “get on board – go vegan!” Simmons told Ecorazzi that he is “particularly saddened that in poor urban communities the cheapest, most accessible food is fast food, which is also the most likely to increase the risk of developing various diseases and illnesses. That is why, whenever I can, I use my voice to speak out for healthier food options.” Simmons was named PETA’s 2011 Person of the Year.
10. James Cromwell
James Cromwell has been a vegetarian since 1975 and became a vegan in 1995 while filming on the set of Babe. He then subsequently began working with PETA and Farm Sanctuary. He has advocated for animal welfare ever since, such as narrating the short film, Farm to Fridge. He holds strong views on domesticated animals and is apologetically truthful in media interviews. He told TakePart that animals “are not pets. ‘Pets’ has the connotation that we’re a superior species and they are an inferior species…they are companion animals, hopefully, if they choose to be. We certainly do not own them.”
To quote Cromwell, we should all use veganism “as a way of trying to raise the level of conscious awareness about the system that is in place that is so inimitable to our survival and the survival of this planet.” The ten celebrities on this list are applauded for their part in helping the Earth.
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