For better or worse, celebrities have long been spokespeople for this and that diet. To some, it’s a fad. But to others, it’s a lifestyle.
June 12 marks World Meat Free Day, where people around the world are encouraged to give up meat for 24 hours. The aim is “to raise awareness of the benefits of eating less meat for a healthier, balanced diet that’s better for our planet and fairer to our food systems.” According to their website, one day without meat reduces carbon emissions, water usage and up to 11 grams of fat/90 calories.
We take a look at the famous faces who have given up meat for life, speaking out about their veganism, vegetarianism and plant-based eating.
Former Beatle Paul McCartney doesn’t miss meat. He went vegetarian with his late wife Linda in 1975, which led to the creation of the vegetarian and vegan speciality brand Linda McCartney Foods in 1991.
“People say to me, ‘Don’t you miss a traditional sausage?’” said Paul. “I say, ‘No way.’ I would never go back. I enjoy being vegetarian. It’s a thrill, and I can walk past a field of animals with a clear conscience.”
Jenna Dewan Tatum
Jenna Dewan Tatum’s vegan journey began at age 10, when she watched a television programme on slaughterhouses that left her “traumatised”. The dancer and actress swore off meat ever since.
“I think most people would be surprised how many proteins and amino acids a person gets in vegetables,” said Tatum. According to Tatum, her husband Channing doesn’t follow the same diet, but their daughter is a vegetarian.
Comedian Russell Brand has been a vegetarian since age 14, but he dropped dairy to become a vegan in 2011 after watching a documentary titled Forks over Knives with his then wife Katy Perry.
In his memoir My Booky Wooky, he quipped that “even as a junkie, I stayed true [to my vegetarianism] — ‘I shall have heroin, but I shan’t have a hamburger.’ What a sexy little paradox.”
Daytime television host Ellen DeGeneres was vegan for nearly ten years, but admitted recently that she reintroduced fish into her diet. She went meat-free after learning about factory farming and animal cruelty. “I suddenly realised that what was on my plate were living things with feelings. I just couldn’t disconnect myself from it any longer,” she said.
Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L Jackson, who plays Nick Fury in Marvel’s Captain America, told reporters in 2014 that his healthy physique came down to a “new vegan diet” and that he was “trying to live forever, trying to finish out my Marvel deal.”
But the actor claimed to break his vegan diet when bosses threatened to fire him from the Tarzan movie if he didn’t gain weight. Jackson later appeared in the 2016 vegan documentary Eating You Alive.
Actor Kal Penn is a strict vegetarian in real life, despite his meat-loving character in the Harold and Kumar comedy flicks.
“I think fast food is disgusting,” admitted Penn. “The producers and the studio went way out of their way to make sure they brought in veggie patties and had them cut up. They were very delicious, so props to them for that.”
In late 2013, singer Ariana Grande took to Twitter to announce her first day as a “100 per cent vegan.”
“I love animals more than I love most people. Not kidding. But I am a firm believer in eating a full plant-based, whole food diet that can expand your life length and make you an all-around happier person,” she later said.
“It is tricky dining out, but I just stick to what I know — veggies, fruit and salad — then when I get home I’ll have something else.”
Despite the abundance of meat he has to eat on TV, Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage is a vegetarian. In fact, his feasting scenes are more likely to include fake meat and tofu.
The actor, who did a spot for Peta titled Face Your Food, became a vegetarian in his teens.
“At the time I was doing it because of my love for animals, but also for a girl. Of course. I have continued to stay with it out of my great respect for animals, though. Any form of animal abuse is pretty upsetting to me,” he said.
“As a New Yorker it’s hard to see horse drawn carriages every day, and I hope we can make more progress towards solving that issue.”
Though Prince described himself as a “complete vegan” in 1997, the late singer changed his diet to become a vegetarian in his older years. Prince’s chefs have said that the peculiar star hated mushrooms, feta cheese and onions — unless they chopped them finely enough for his liking. He also had a major sweet tooth, and could have an entire meal made out of desserts.
Suicide Squad actor and 30 Seconds to Mars frontman Jared Leto has been meat-free for decades. The 45-year-old, known for his lean physique, has credited his youthful looks in part to plant-based eating.
“It’s probably just down to sleep and diet,” he said. “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.”
The I’m Yours singer Jason Mraz is big on clean eating and vegan living, even going as far as claiming he’s a better lover because of it. When one of his bandmates was diagnosed with type two diabetes and had to switch to a raw diet, Mraz followed suit.
“I got hooked,” he admitted. “The thing about my diet is I don’t put a lot of stress on it. I eat raw probably 75 per cent of the time. I just can’t deny myself warm food, like soup or roasted vegetables, from time to time.”
Waka Flocka Flame
If you want to find out how to cook vegan blueberry muffins, all you have to do is search Waka Flocka Flame on Youtube. The rapper has a cooking demo online where he talked through his reasons for choosing a plant-based diet.
“I just didn’t want to be fat,” he said. “I got tired of breathing hard. I got tired of my joints hurting. I just got tired of being lied to.”
And to the people who poke fun of his diet, he said, “When I eat, I get energy. When they eat, they be sleeping. So it’s a big difference for artists.”