Lately it may seem that veganism is nothing more than a fad, lumped together with the recent gluten-free craze or sugar-free diet. But veganism is more than a superficial weight loss scheme. Veganism is a philosophy, a belief, and way of life. Not all of us have the same wealth and time to put into curating a well-balanced and delicious vegan diet as the following vegan celebrities – but we can still get inspired by their story, favourite recipes and health tips.
US-Israeli Star Wars actress and environmentalist Natalie Portman became a vegan in 2009. She’d already been a vegetarian from a young age, making the transition somewhat easier. She refuses to eat animal products or to wear leather, feathers or fur. “All of my shoes are from Target or Stella McCartney,” she once told reporters. In fact, Portman is so serious about vegan fashion that she even launched her own brand of vegan footwear.
Portman put her vegan diet on hold during her pregnancy in 2011, citing a craving for dairy and eggs, but returned to it shortly afterwards. She enjoys veggie burgers and pancakes, and is particularly fond of tofu and black beans. The actress reportedly also likes to bake vegan versions of her favourite cakes.
Although once slated by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) for wearing fur, the age-defying 53-year-old star of Ghost and Striptease keeps her shape lean and conscious clean by following a raw vegan diet consisting almost solely of raw fruits, smoothies, soups and vegetables.
“I’m never hungry, and my body is nourished. Because raw food is so nutritionally dense, it’ll feed your body. A healthy diet is everything,” she says.
After watching the film Blackfish in 2013 the young American singer urged her fans to stop supporting SeaWorld and to become vegans. “I love animals more than I love most people, not kidding. 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 told the Mirror. Grande creates her meals from core staples such as sweet potato, peppers, carrots, raw vegetables and plenty of tofu. She loves lotus, daikon and adzuki beans and has a special fondness for blueberries, which she snacks on all the time.
The world’s highest earning poker player is known for many things; his record-breaking and history making poker career, a tendency to invoke fiery debate on Twitter, and his passion for veganism. After his twenties, Negreanu noticed he was growing increasingly fatigued which hindered his performance at the card table. In poker, concentration and alertness are vital – so the card player knew he had to do something, which took the form of changing his diet. First he tried vegetarianism, but found that he was still turning to fast foods, like cheese pizza, which didn’t help cure him of lethargy.
Negreanu wondered whether taking it to the next level would be any different, and started eating vegan. Within days, the poker player found he had more energy and felt revitalized. Since then, he has conducted a wealth of research on the meat industry and the vegan lifestyle – adamant in exposing the cruelty of slaughterhouses and debunking myths that vegans are frail or weak. Currently, he is teaming with James Cameron and a number of world famous vegan bodybuilders in producing a documentary about the diet and lifestyle.
Actor, TV presenter, writer, stand-up comedian and outspoken celebrity campaigner Russell Brand has been a vegetarian since he was fourteen years old. He won PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity award in 2011 before turning vegan later that year after having watched the documentary Forks Over Knives. Brand has admitted that he sometimes struggles with strictly adhering to veganism, so will occasionally revert to vegetarianism for a short period of time.
Serena and Venus Williams
Sisters, exceptional tennis players and both vegans – we’ll group the Williams together in this example of how veganism has made life-fulfilling changes for celebrities. When in 2011 Venus Williams was diagnosed with Sjögrens Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue and muscle pain, she was advised by doctors to adopt a raw vegan diet.
To make it easier for her to do so her sister Serena loyally made the same commitment in solidarity. Although both admit that they occasionally cheat, during tennis season animal products are off the menu and they sustain and fuel themselves on a nutritious and protein-rich diet of smoothies, green juices, kale, quinoa, beans, nuts, lentils and plenty of protein powder.
The Williams sisters are not the only examples of vegans who defy the frail, undernourished stereotype vegans are often the victim of. Champion British heavyweight boxer David Haye turned vegan in 2014 citing a television feature as his inspiration for having done so. “I watched a TV documentary about how animals are farmed, killed and prepared for us to eat,” he said. “I saw all those cows and pigs and realised I couldn’t be a part of it any more. It was horrible. I did some research to make sure I could still obtain enough protein to fight and, once satisfied that I could, I stopped. I’ll never go back.”
Incredibly Haye has gained almost a stone of lean muscle mass since ditching the four tins of sardines and 24 egg whites that he used to consume each day. Instead he has developed his own plant-based powders from quinoa, brown rice and yellow pea which provide him with most of his required 200g daily protein. He follows a diet known as Sirt, involving certain foods like chillies, walnuts, turmeric and celery which protect cells and activate proteins.
The former US president from Little Rock is a vegan – although not, in his own words, a 100% vegan. “My doctor asked me to eat organic salmon once a week. I do, but I’d just as soon be without it,” he explains. Clinton turned vegan in 2010 after undergoing emergency surgery following chest pains.
Already having an allergy to dairy, he decided to follow a plant-based diet, a decision he claims may have saved his life. He eats lots of meat substitutes, which allow him to continue to indulge in his love of lasagne, chili enchiladas and other Mediterranean and Latin foods. Each day he consumes a lot of beans, legumes, vegetables and fruit along with a protein supplement which he takes daily to maintain nutritional balance.