Along with adopting babies and embracing Scientology, veganism has become a popular calling card of celebrities trying to shed pounds for a role, balance their hard-partying lifestyle, or simply rustle up a little tabloid attention in between projects.
But being vegan—meaning, in the strictest sense, that you do not eat or use any animal products—isn’t a trend to be bandied about like the latest Dries Van Noten jacket. Some celebrities, like Russell Simmons and Jared Leto, have been committed for decades. Others tend to focus more on wearing cool “Kale” sweatshirts and putting out branded cleanses (looking at you, Beyoncé).
Here, we take a look at 14 high-profile “vegans” and determine whether they’re really about that life.
The Man vs. Food star recently told The Independent that he has adopted a vegan lifestyle to prepare for Soccer Aid, a UNICEF event to raise money for children’s charities. “Now does that mean I’m not going to have a steak? No, I absolutely will when I want to, but it’s just about picking and choosing my spots, and when I want to have that cow and I want to have that bacon, I’m going to make it count, I’m going to make it great quality,” he told the paper. When the tabloids ran wild with the story and started harping on the irony of a man best known for carnivorous gluttony swearing off meat, Richman noted that they “greatly exaggerated” his veganism and chowed down on some Animal-style In-N-Out to prove his point.
Vegan for: 22 days
Cred level: Über-hypebeast
Hov and Bey started a 22-day vegan challenge in December 2013. Why 22 days, you ask? Jay quoted the old adage saying that it takes 21 days to break a habit, so by the 22nd, you’re golden. The pair is back to an omnivorous diet, but they are often spotted at hip veg restaurants. And hey, at least the vegan experiment spawned this.
The actor told The Guardian that he hasn’t had a mind-altering substance since he was 19 years old, including alcohol, and that he adheres to a strict vegan diet. “Maybe I eat a little too much sugar and wheat, but I’m trying constantly to refine,” Maguire said.
Leto credits his vegan diet (and lack of alcohol) for his ageless, otherworldly good looks. “If you travel long haul a lot or don’t sleep much, it’s not going to last very long, that’s for sure. I’m pretty healthy so I think that helps a lot. I’ve been that way for a long time—20 solid years of eating vegetarian/vegan and taking care of myself. That probably helps the preservation process,” Leto told British GQ. The phrase “preservation process” further confirms reports that Leto is, in fact, an alien sent to steal our vegetables and supporting actor roles.
A PETA supporter and PSA regular, Phoenix said his siblings all became vegan on a fishing trip with their parents. “You know, when I was a kid growing up, people thought vegans were f*cking cults that had some bizarre rituals and sh*t and there were like some rules and we had to dress a certain way or something. Part of it is to say that there is an alternative, and this is the reality of other things and I wasn’t aware of that and thank you for making me aware of it,” Phoenix told Cover Media.
Not only is Harrelson a hemp enthusiast, but he’s also the owner of Sage, the world’s first organic vegan beer garden, in Culver City. Harrelson says a woman approached him as a young actor and told him he was lactose intolerant.”I was like, no way. But three days later: gone,” Harrelson told Esquire. The photo above represents Harrelson’s understated enthusiasm for the dank salad he’s about to devour. (Photo via Riotranch)
Meditation-enthusiast and long-time vegan Russell Simmons founded clothing brands Phat Farm and Argyleculture (named with veganism in mind?). He thinks vegetarian and vegan diets breed compassion and oneness with the body. “People work out and treat themselves well for the most part, and think that their steak is OK—but when they find out that it’s equal to 20 cigarettes a day, they won’t eat it,” Simmons told Vegetarian Times.
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi
Ellen and Portia visited Rachael Ray’s show with their personal chef Roberto Martin to talk about the benefits of being vegan. Ellen said she loves pizza, sans cheese: “Once you have it with just tomato sauce and just vegetables and just things there’s more room for cocktails. You can drink more,” Ellen joked to Ray via Skype. But the vegan community was in uproar when Ellen revealed in 2012 that she eats eggs from the chickens raised in her own backyard.
President Bill Clinton
Clinton, after shedding 30 pounds, visited Jimmy Kimmel last year and confessed his biggest struggle with his vegan diet: “One of the few things I miss about this diet is I loved hard cheese. I miss that. But I feel a lot better.” Clinton’s doctor told the New York Times that the ex-president cheats on his diet with fish and eggs occasionally for iron and zinc (and a slice of turkey on Thanksgiving because #patriotism), but the vegan community still applauds his efforts. (Photo via Living Green Magazine)
If you haven’t heard of Yo-Landi Visser yet, you need to educate yourself. She’s the vocalist for the South African rap-rave group Die Antwoord. Not much is known about her veganism, but she does reference it lyrically. On “Cookie Thumper!”, Visser says, “I smell lovely ’cause I don’t eat meat,” referencing the common claim that vegans and vegetarians taste and smell less acidic than their meat-eating counterparts.
In a 2014 interview with Esquire, half of the duo Outkast said he was vegan for 15 years but eventually stopped. “I was a hardcore vegan for 15 years. I’ve even done raw. But socially it became horrible. I was kind of just sitting at home eating a salad. You become mean. That’s not good for you,” André said.
The Roots drummer and Jimmy Fallon bandleader started a self-coined “vegan experiment” in 2012. “I want to be the first member of the hip-hop generation to live past 60,” Quest told New York Magazine. Given that he has launched a fried-chicken restaurant, eaten at Jiro, and Instagrammed a non-stop torrent of tasty non-vegan eats since then, it’s clear the the experiment was short-lived.
Common, who phased meat out of his diet in the ’90s, is a PETA activist and animal-rights supporter. The rapper (and Selma actor) now identifies as a pescetarian, mainly eating fish and vegetables to fuel himself for his four to five high-intensity workouts a week, according to Men’s Fitness.
Badu is the realest. She and ex-boyfriend Common were in the documentary Hollistic Wellness for the Hip-Hop Generation to explain the danger of consuming low-quality food. Badu told Origin Magazine that maintaining a plant-based diet keeps her centered, along with regularly drinking water to cleanse the body. “The lifestyle that vegetarians lead automatically draws people’s attention to the vitality of the person. My vitality speaks for itself,” Badu said. Read up on her Three Steps to Holistic Healing. (Photo via Vegan Rap Nerd)