This month we remember Martin Luther King, and the black vegetarians who have contributed so much to the civil rights movement. Let’s also remember other great vegetarians who have contributed to civil rights, or the development of a better life for us all, throughout American history.
Cesar Chavez poster image
Many people are surprised to learn that Cesar Chavez, who led a movement for Latino worker rights, was a vegetarian, motivated by his compassion for animals. He said, “I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry and unhappy like we do. I feel very deeply about vegetarianism and the animal kingdom.”
Similarly, founding father, Benjamin Franklin, Susan B. Anthony, who played such a prominent role in women’s suffrage, and Clara Barton, the great humanitarian and founder of the American Red Cross, were all vegetarians.
Spike Mendelsohn, a celebrity chef who’s an alum of the popular series Top Chef, is going vegan for Veganuary and urges everyone to do the same. He’s been promoting vegan diets for over a year, through his vegan fast-food chain, PLNT Burger, which he started in 2019 in Silver Spring, MD. He has now expanded to 7 locations inside Whole Foods Markets and in 2021, he plans to open several stand-alone restaurants. His menu features Beyond Burgers topped with Follow Your Heart vegan cheese , mushroom bacon and guacamole.
He talked about the popular Veganuary campaign, saying “Veganuary is the perfect opportunity for anyone looking to move towards a healthier diet or reduce their carbon footprint to enjoy more amazing plant-based food this year. I’m joining my vegan wife Cody and millions of others around the world this month to show people how delicious, easy and fun a vegan diet can be.”
“Veganuary is here to encourage and support anyone who wants to try vegan,” Veganuary’s US Director Wendy Matthews said. “We are grateful to work with restaurants like PLNT Burger who make our mission significantly easier for the growing number of conscious consumers in the US by offering delicious, satisfying, sustainable options.”
Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex who is married to Prince Harry, has followed a mostly plant-based diet for several years. She recently announced that she will invest an undisclosed amount in a vegan start up Clevr Blends, which is selling instant SuperLattes made with oat milk. Clevr is a woman-led company focused on offering specialized wellness products that contribute to a healthier planet and a more just society. They offer a number of different flavors of instant lattes, where you just add water. In addition to oat milk powder, they use coconut milk powder, monk fruit (a natural, no-calorie sweetener) and various spices. They use only organic or non-gmo ingredients and are working diligently on improving the sustainability of their packaging.
Markle said “This investment is in support of a passionate female entrepreneur who prioritizes building community alongside her business. I’m proud to invest in Hannah’s [the owner’s] commitment to sourcing ethical ingredients and creating a product that I personally love and [that] has a holistic approach to wellness. I believe in her and I believe in her company.”
Anya Taylor-Joy, the 24-year old actress who is a chess champion star in the popular Netflix mini-series, The Queen’s Gambit, has been vegetarian since childhood. She was born in Florida, but grew up in Argentina and London. At age 16, she was spotted as a potential model by a talent scout while walking outside Harrods, a department store in London, and through her modelling work she met and signed on with an acting agent. By 2015 she was rising to prominence as an actress and since then has taken lead roles in several movies and TV series.
Anya recently told Harper’s Bazaar magazine that she’d been vegetarian since she was 8 years old. She has dipped in and out of being vegan, which she got into because she says it’s the most ecologically-conscious choice you can make.
Eric Adams grew up extremely poor, living in a 4-storey tenement building in a family with 6 children. After a 22-year career in the NY City police department, he moved into politics and is currently Brooklyn Borough president of New York City and running for City mayor in 2021.
Eric noticed that he was starting to lose his sight in 2016. A visit to the doctors determined that he had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a stomach ulcer, and late stage Type 2 Diabetes. He was told that he would be on medication for the rest of his life, that he would likely lose his sight and possibly some fingers and toes from nerve damage. This was a very emotional time for him, facing the possibility of not being able to continue to be involved in politics. But then he learned about the benefits of a plant-based diet. Changing his diet saved his life. He learned about the power of a whole food plant-based diet to treat his condition.
Within 3 weeks of changing his diet, his vision improved. Within 3 months, the nerve damage recovered and he’s never needed to take medications after the first week. He now uses the power of his position to share the importance of eating healthy and the benefits of a plant-based diet as widely as possible. He has supported local schools switching their lunches to all vegetarian, and encouraged prisons to provide healthier food. If he had his way there would be more meatless options in every city entity. He encourages everyone to be “a thriver instead of a survivor.” If elected, he will become the first vegan NY City mayor.
Lenny Kravitz is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and actor. He won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance four years in a row from 1999 to 2002. In his career, Kravitz has sold over 40 million albums worldwide, and he also played Cinna in the Hunger Games film series. Kravitz has lived in an Airstream trailer in the Bahamas for the last six months where he grows most of his own food in an adjacent garden and spends time working out in nature. In his refrigerator, Kravitz stocks mostly green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, and cucumbers, and keeps garden-fresh fruit, including local soursop, on his counter.
“A great blessing of living here in the Bahamas is that I get to grow my own food,” Kravitz added, “So I have a garden where most of this food comes from. As you can see, I’m vegan and primarily raw.”
In a recent interview, Kravitz, 56, shared, “My best shape is not behind me. It’s in front of me right now. We keep moving that bar as we get older,” adding that he is “very careful about what I put into my body and how I take care of my body.”
The 32-year-old Grammy Award winning musician, Lizzo, is an American singer, rapper, songwriter, and flutist. Born in Detroit, Michigan, she moved to Houston, Texas, where she began performing, before moving to Minneapolis, where she began her recording career. Lizzo’s first major-label EP, Coconut Oil, was released in 2016, and She attained mainstream success with the release of her third studio album, Cuz I Love You (2019), which peaked inside the top five of the US Billboard 200.
Lizzo just reached her six-month anniversary of going vegan. She had been vegetarian for seven years, but had resumed eating animal products following a year of touring. This summer, she took the decision to go totally vegan, and throughout the summer, Lizzo shared a variety of vegan recipes with her millions of social media followers, including her spicy vegan take on McDonald’s McChicken sandwich, Jamaican patties, and vegan ice cream bread made with Ben & Jerry’s new non-dairy ice cream flavor. She advocates for body positivity by encouraging her fans to love themselves as they are.
Bethenny Frankel, best known for her multi-season appearance on the reality show Real Housewives of New York, has vowed to stop eating meat to support her 10 year old daughter Bryn Hoppy, who wants to be a vegetarian. “Bryn wants to be a vegetarian because she loves animals, so she’s asking me to do it with her,” Frankel shared.
Frankel starred in the popular Bravo reality series Bethenny Getting Married, later retitled Bethenny Ever After, which documented her engagement and marriage to Jason Hoppy, and the birth of her daughter Bryn. While the couple subsequently split, Bethenny and Jason are raising Bryn jointly. Bryn has disliked meat for most of her life, and Frankel has supported her by replacing the meat in dishes with meat-less substitutes.
While Frankel has not publicly vowed to avoid all animal products, she has been sharing vegan foods that she’s enjoyed with her social media followers. In 2018, Frankel embarked on a summer-long vegan food adventure, which included vegan mushroom tacos at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Beverly Hills. Her decision to completely stop eating meat seems to be another step on this journey. As we always say, proceed at your own pace and do the best you can, Bethenny!
Kelly Osbourne is a British actress, singer and model, who is the daughter of Ozzy Osbourne (70s heavy metal rock star). She has appeared in the reality TV show “The Osbournes”, had various acting and judging roles in TV shows, and won 3rd place in Dancing with the Stars.
She struggled with her weight after recovering from a drug addiction, saying: “I replaced the drugs with food and just got fatter and fatter. I’m an emotional eater. When I get upset, my diet goes out the window.”
While she lost 30lb after appearing on Dancing with the Stars in 2009, it wasn’t until she went plant-based in 2012 that she lost the majority of her weight. She credits her plant-based diet with enabling her to lose 84lbs and maintain a healthy weight since then.
Speaking about her new lifestyle, she said, “Once I learned how to work out right and eat right, it’s one of those things that you just have to commit to a life change rather than being on a diet.” Keep up the good work, Kelly!
The American sprinter, Elijah Hall, says: “Changing my diet was the best decision I could have made.” The athlete made this decision to ditch meat and dairy from his diet a few months ago because “he’s on a mission” to win. Hall adds, “the effects that it’s having on my body is amazing. Becoming a plant-based athlete has opened many doors to my health and my training.”
Hall holds records in the indoor 200 meters and was training for the Tokyo Olympics that were scheduled to take place this month, but was postponed a year due to the pandemic. Last year, Hall said he took the entire summer off to train, “Took the summer off to get it right… Let’s get to it !!” When it comes to track and field, a plant food diet means getting it right!