As Hollywood steps up efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, the Oscars’ big Governor’s Ball event will be going greener with an (almost) vegan menu. The chef, Wolfgang Puck, says the menu will be 70% plant-based this year, including the desserts. The organizers are pushing for a largely vegan menu at the post-Oscars party, which will cater for around 1500 people, although there will still be caviar, smoked salmon and Japanese beef for the non-vegans.
“We want everybody to be happy,” Puck told journalists during a tour of his kitchen where he was prepping for the extravaganza. “At the end of the day you can make vegan food taste really good and you won’t miss meat or fish.”
Renowned animal lover and chimpanzee scientist Jane Goodall recently published her first plant-based cookbook, EatMeatless – Good for Animals, the Earth and All. Along with the Jane Goodall Institute, she decided to create this collection of 80 plant-based recipes because, she said,
“It’s becoming more and more clear that the obsession with eating meat and dairy products and eggs is totally destroying the environment. It’s creating methane, it’s wasting water, and it’s bad for our health.”
Jane wrote the cookbook’s foreword and many nuggets of wisdom throughout the book.
A lifelong animal lover, Goodall became a vegetarian in the 1970s. “For me, the starting point was ethical,” she says.“It all began when I read Peter Singer’s Book.” Singer is an Australian moral philosopher. His book, Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals, was first published in 1975. In it, Singer explores non-human animals’ ability to experience suffering, particularly within factory farming.
“I didn’t know about factory farms up until that point, I was out in Gombe and I had no idea that they existed,” continues Goodall. “The next time I saw meat on my plate I thought ‘ah, that symbolizes fear, pain, death.’ And I didn’t eat anymore ever again.”
Though her initial reasons, she says, were “ethical and purely about animals,” they are now also about the environment. She is particularly concerned with the raising of animals on factory farms, which requires the clearing of huge swaths of habitat and the use of pesticides, fertilizer and lots of fossil fuels.
She also recognizes the health benefits, and the growing research that links meat to human antibiotic resistance and the emergence of superbugs. She has published many different books, including Harvest for Hope, a guide to mindful eating.
For those of any age, Goodall stresses it’s never too late to tweak your diet. She offers a simple suggestion for meat eaters: Start by going meatless one day a week. Her cookbook (or ours) is a great place to start.
While Kate Mara has received numerous acting awards in primetime television (House of Cards for example) and blockbuster movies (such as Fantastic Four), in January she was recognized for her animal advocacy efforts off the screen. The Animal Legal Defense Fund selected Kate as one of the honorees at its Justice for Animals Fundraiser.
Kate Mara grew up in Bedford NY, where she developed a deep love for animals. During her teens she observed several trucks carting chickens to slaughter and realized that this animal cruelty was just to allow us to feed ourselves in a certain way. She adopted a vegetarian diet soon after. It was a health argument, from reading a book called The Beauty Detox, that convinced her to go vegan. Her younger sister Rooney Mara had adopted a vegan lifestyle about two years earlier, so she had plenty of support in her decision.
Her first act of animal advocacy was sparked by the 2013 documentary, Blackfish, which revealed the animal abuse and tragic human accidents that were covered up by SeaWorld. She reached out to the filmmaker and offered her support. Since then she has chosen to get involved with several different projects. She makes an effort to keep up to date by surrounding herself with people who do a lot for animals. She credits the attorneys at the Animal Legal Defense Fund for giving her and other advocates the support needed to have the greatest impact.
Kate shares that being a mom of three young children has fueled her work as a defender of animals.
“I find it empowering to choose the stories we tell them and how to make them aware [of what’s on their plate]. I wasn’t aware of what was put on my plate. It excites me to be able to raise my children in a way that is more honest,” she said.
As more and more people learn about the benefits of a vegan diet, they often make the switch. Well-known celebrities can inspire a lot of fans to go vegan themselves, but sometimes they slip under our radar. Here are some well-known celebrities who you might not have known are vegan.
Best known as Dwight Schrute from “The Office”, Rainn Wilson revealed in 2017 that he was vegan. A Seattle native, Rainn began acting at the University of Washington in the 1980s, and later on the stage in New York. His first film role was in 1999, and after several movies, he was cast as Dwight for “The Office” in 2005. He earned three consecutive Emmy awards for the role which continued until the series ended in 2013. He has continued to act in various roles since then.
He was inspired to go vegan when he realized that he cared more about his two rescue pigs than he did about eating bacon. Wilson shared the positive health benefits he had enjoyed since going vegan. He told his 2.5 million fans: “I noticed that I had more energy! I was sleeping better and deeper.”
In 2022, Wilson changed his name on his social media accounts to “Rainnfall Heatwave Extreme Winter Wilson” in an effort to raise awareness for climate change. “This is not a joke, I’m as serious as the melting Arctic, which amplifies global risks including extreme weather events around the globe,” said Wilson. He is a board member of the group Arctic Basecamp, which is bringing the risks of the arctic melting to the world stage. Knowing that his vegan diet will reduce greenhouse gases must also be a motivation for him.
Legendary musician, Stevie Wonder, first went vegetarian and later vegan for his spirituality, health and for the environment. Blind since shortly after his birth, Stevland Hardaway Morris was a child prodigy who signed with Motown at the age of 11, where he was given the professional name Little Stevie Wonder. He became one of the best-selling music artists of all time and has won 25 Grammy Awards.
He first sang about being vegan in 2015 in a Carpool Karaoke video in the Late, Late Show with James Corden. He was introduced to Transcendental Meditation through his wife Syreeta Wright, who encouraged his change of diet for spiritual reasons, but he also discovered the health benefits and environmental benefit of his diet.
In an interview in 2016, he joked “I’ve been a vegan for two years, so that’s helped my already good-looking self,” and added “I think that eating healthy is important.”
“We have to be about making our planet more greener, the urban areas more sustainable for the children,” said Wonder. “We can’t just talk about it, we have to be about it.” Adopting a vegan lifestyle definitely has contributed to his cause of saving the environment and he motivates others to follow suit.
Actress and singer Danielle Brooks, best known for her role as Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson in the series “Orange is the New Black”, went vegan in 2017. She realized that she needed to make a change from living to eat to eating to live, in order to become more aware of what goes into her body. She shared that she’d been raised on Southern comfort food, and she wanted to enjoy a more balanced and “proper” diet.
“I like to eat. I’m from the South. You know, big mama’s mac and cheese, greens, chicken and all of that stuff,” she said. “But I was never taught how to eat properly, how food is fuel. So this is my way of teaching myself how to eat properly, how to eat to live I guess.”
She’s experimented with new recipes, including vegan versions of foods she loves, and balancing her healthy eating with consistent workouts.
Actress Alicia Silverstone first went vegetarian at the age of eight, when she learned about baby cows being taken from their mothers on an English farm. While her chosen diet was off and on for a while, by the age of 21 she was fully vegan.
Alicia started modelling at the age of six, and her film debut came at the age of 16 with a role in the thriller The Crush. She went on to start as Cher Horowitz in the teen comedy film Clueless, and in numerous movies, TV shows and stage performances since.
Her fame gave her a platform to promote animal rights and she has been an outspoken advocate in the vegan movement for many years. Alicia has written two books on veganism. The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight and Saving the Planet became a New York Times bestseller after its release in 2009. The Kind Mama focuses on pregnancy and fertility.
Many veg celebs give the veg world a big boost. When they talk about vegan food many people listen and are inspired to try it, when they visit a restaurant people want to go there, and this can influence a restaurant to start offering vegan options.
So when a vegan celebrity, Lizzo, announced that she’s going to visit a meat and dairy-heavy restaurant, FoodChasers Kitchen in Philadelphia, the owners took on the challenge of making a vegan meal for the star and her guests. They opened the restaurant on a Wednesday, when they are typically closed, and tasked the chef with creating a delicious vegan menu.
According to local outlet The Philadelphia Inquirer, the five-item, mushroom-focused menu featured vegan versions of FoodChaser classics such as plant-based cheesy grits topped with seasoned mushrooms; tacos stuffed with fried mushrooms, avocado, and pico de gallo; a meatball grinder made with portobello mushrooms and smothered in vegan cheese; a cheesesteak sandwich with mushrooms; and mushroom ravioli in vegan butter sauce.
Lizzo enjoyed the food, while playing Uno with her guests, and you can be sure she talked about it on social media. As a result the eatery has started serving some of the vegan dishes that were created alongside its regular menu.
Many celebrities are choosing a vegan lifestyle these days. Some do it for ethical reasons, for the animals and the planet; others do it for their own personal health or their athletic performance.
In Lizzo’s case, she chooses a vegan lifestyle for her health. “I just feel better when I eat plants” she said.
Whatever their reasons, celebrities talking about their vegan food choices, and requesting vegan options when they visit a restaurant, has an outsized influence on restaurants and their desire to include vegan offerings, which benefits all of us.
Stella McCartney, daughter of the famous Beatle Paul McCartney, has been a vegetarian all her life. As a fashion designer, she is well-known for using mostly plant-based materials. She has been using various leather-alternatives, including one made from grapes and another that is mushroom based. She recently launched a $200 million investment fund for eco-friendly businesses and vegan leather brand, Bolt Threads, was one of the recipients.
Her latest quest is to find a plant-based alternative to using the ordinary silk produced by silkworms. The worms are killed in the production process, when they are dropped into boiling water so that they unravel the silk they have formed into a cocoon. The silk can then be collected, but the worms die before they are able to transform into moths.
A team of 28 vegan athletes just participated in this year’s Mr America competition in Atlantic City, NJ, to show the world that vegans can be just as strong, muscular and fit at meat-eaters, if not better.
The Mr America contest includes 4 different challenges for both men and for women:
Bodybuilding, where the judges score each athlete based on muscular development, proportion, conditioning, posing and general appearance,
Olympic weightlifting, where the athlete lifts a 400-600 pound barbell from the floor to an overhead position,
Kettlebell sport, where athletes have to repeat a certain movement with a designated weight in a certain amount of time.
Crossfit, which is designed to test the athlete’s level of physical fitness, measuring strength, speed, agility and overall fitness.
Sia has always loved animals, and as a young artist struggling to survive, she vowed that if she ever found success, she would make it her mission to spend the rest of her life trying to help and protect animals. She loved her dogs and became vegetarian when she realized that chickens and cows could feel, care and empathize just like her dogs could.
Sia, full name Sia Kate Isobelle Furler, is an Australian singer and songwriter, who started her career in the acid jazz band Crisp in the mid 1990s in Adelaide. She released her first solo studio album in 1997, and then moved to London, and subsequently New York. By 2014, she broke through as a solo recording artist, when her sixth studio album, 1000 Forms of Fear, debuted at No 1 in the US Billboard 200, and has continued to produce albums and to write many songs for film.
Justin Fields, the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears, has discovered that following a plant-based diet makes him lighter and faster. He first tried it in May 2020 while he was quarantined with his family, and they all decided to do a one-month plant-based challenge. During that month, Fields noticed how his body felt better, and so at the end of the month, he continued with the diet, while the rest of his family went back to eating meat and dairy products.
Fields was drafted as the Bears’ number one choice in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, after playing college football at Ohio State university. He continued with the Bears into the 2022 season. Of his vegan diet, he says:
“It’s changed the way I feel and the way I perform dramatically. I just feel so much lighter and faster. Football as a sport is so hard on your body so I just want to do anything I can to have the longest career possible.”