Category Archives: Veg Celebrities

NYC elects vegan mayor

NYC Mayor Eric Adams

New York City has just elected its first vegan mayor.  Eric Adams, a former police captain, ran on a campaign to restore New York to its former glory after being ravaged by the pandemic, but the fact that he’s vegan could have a big impact.  We’ve previously written about how Adams went vegan 5 years ago, while suffering from Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and he was losing his eye-sight.  Within 3 weeks of changing his diet, his vision improved.  Within 3 months, his nerve damage recovered and he has not needed to take any more medications.  With such a dramatic improvement, he has become passionate about the importance of a healthy diet.

He has previously been able to use the power of his position to share the importance of eating healthy and the benefits of a plant-based diet as widely as possible.  As the Borough of Brooklyn president, he was able to ban processed meat from schools in 2019.  In addition, in June he provided a discretionary grant of $10,000 to State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate College of Medicine, so that medical school students there could study the benefits of a plant-based diet. The money will help fund a new initiative entitled “Food as Medicine.” It will act as a supplemental program to the college’s existing nutrition courses. 

While he has many other challenges on his plate as the mayor of New York City, we look forward to watching what other changes he is able to make to encourage more plant-based eating in New York.

Celebrities invest in vegan chicken

Naomi Osaka

Tennis star Naomi Osaka and renowned American DJ and record producer Steve Aoki, along with NFL quarterback Cameron Newton, have made high-profile investments in a vegan chicken startup business called Daring Foods.  Los Angeles-based Daring Foods was founded in 2018, with meat alternatives made from a very simple list of ingredients.  They have seen 900% growth over the last year, so they’ve been seeking additional funding for the expansion and development of new products.  They have recently launched their product line in more than 3000 Walmart stores across the country.  Their products can also be found in Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Kroger stores (Fred Meyer and QFC are both part of the Kroger family, so you may find their products locally in those stores).

While not vegetarian herself yet, Naomi is an elite athlete having won several tennis grand slams who needs to keep her body in tiptop shape, so she’s very interested in food. She aims to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day to get the fiber and other nutrition she needs, with plenty of smoothies and other drinks to keep her hydrated.  In May of this year, she became an ambassador to the healthy food chain Sweetgreen, where she reportedly dines several times a week while training.  As part of the partnership, Sweetgreen took her regular order and put it in their menu. Let’s hope that this investment indicates an interest in moving toward a plant-based diet herself.

Steve Aoki

In 2012, Steve Aoki was designated the highest grossing electronic dance music artist in North America from tours. He has spent a good majority of his life as either a vegetarian or a vegan.  In 2015 he needed surgery on his vocal chords, as he was told that he was at risk of losing his voice, so health and nutrition have taken on a more important role in his life since then, which he sees as something of a blessing in disguise.  “It’s still not 100 percent but the road to recovery and the road to strength has been very life affirming. It’s more about maintaining and having a healthy environment for my voice to be strong again,” Aoki adds.  Hopefully his investment in Daring Foods indicates a continued dedication to healthy vegan food.

Another NFL star goes vegan

Lineman Lawrence Guy

New England Patriots lineman Lawrence Guy is a 6’4″, 315-pound vegan. In fact, Guy is one of the biggest vegans in sports.

Guy switched to a vegan diet a couple of years ago and said it made his body feel better. His new vegan diet has helped him maintain his weight, feel energized, and stay fit despite the physical toll of football.

How did he make the switch? Guy and his wife decided to gradually remove meat products from their diet a few years ago, and they’ve reaped the physical benefits of the switch ever since. He explains, “My wife and I started taking out heavy red meat products and my body felt better, my joints felt better. I never really drank milk. Then we started taking out chicken. Then you go to the fish.” Now, they no longer feel groggy when they wake up in the morning, they don’t get bloated. Guy says he also no longer feels pain in his knees and joints.

The lineman incorporates vegan food into his training. For instance, after workouts, he’ll have a green smoothie or an acai bowl. His smoothies and acai bowls are made up of flax seeds, carrots, kale, spinach, mango. Throughout the day, he’ll snack on sweet potatoes, and apples to keep up his energy. Cauliflower is also a key ingredient in the meals Guy and his wife eat. They include cauliflower rice in a lot of their meals, and use it to make pizza crust with hummus topped with grilled veggies.

Lawrence Guy joins the growing list of professional athletes going vegan and being glad they did.

Stella McCartney – an ethical and compassionate fashion designer

Stella McCartney

Lifelong vegetarian and fashion designer Stella McCartney, daughter of the famous Beatle Paul McCartney and his first wife Linda, has always looked to use ethical products in her clothing designs.  She avoids using fur or leather, and innovatively experiments with new fabrics to reduce the impact of her clothing on the planet.  This week her latest fashion accessory, the Stella McCartney Frayme, the world’s first bag made from a vegan mushroom leather substitute called Mylo, debuted on the fashion runway.

Mylo is made from mycelium, the network of fungal threads which grow underground to help plants decompose and support the growth of mushrooms.  It is considered essential to the ecosystem, but it is also infinitely renewable.  It was developed by material development company Bolt Threads, by reproducing mycelium in a lab using mulch, water, air and 100% renewable energy.  The process takes days, rather than the years it takes to produce animal leather.  The resulting material is soft, supple, and has the appearance of animal-derived leather.

“Our long-time partners at Bolt Threads and I have a shared passion for material innovation and launching a luxury handbag made from Mylo mycelium leather is a landmark moment not only for us, but the world. What you see on the runway today is the conscious fashion industry of tomorrow,” said Stella.

This innovation follows her launch of Reclypse sneakers in August, made from ECONYL regenerated nylon, which is sourced from pre- and post-consumer waste like fishing nets and carpet.  In April, she launched a capsule collection of t-shirts and sweatshirts made from organic cotton, in coalition with Greenpeace’s campaign to stop deforestation in the Amazon.  A famous fashion designer like Stella McCartney has a ripple effect on the whole fashion industry.  We look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Animal Rights activist wins prize

Peter Singer

Animal rights activist and philosopher Peter Singer has won a well deserved prize of $1 million. The 2021 Berggruen Prize for Philosophy & Culture was awarded to Professor Singer for being an influential thinker whose practical ethics provided a framework for animal rights, effective altruism, and the global eradication of poverty.

Singer became one of the most influential people in the growth of the compassion for animals movement when he wrote the book, Animal Liberation in 1975. Since then he has been a proponent of animal rights and vegetarianism not only amongst the public but in academic circles as well.

In Animal Liberation, Singer argued that the pain and suffering inflicted by the current treatment of animals in food production and research is morally indefensible. Singer went beyond argument to direct action. He co-founded the Australian Federation of Animal Societies, now Animals Australia, the country’s largest and most effective advocate for animals. Working globally, he became a major intellectual force in the modern animal rights movement and related campaigns against factory farming and in favor of vegetarianism.

Singer explains that ”More than 50 years ago, I learned that many of the animals whose flesh I was then eating were condemned to miserable lives crowded into the dim sheds of factory farms. I became a vegetarian and wrote Animal Liberation, which in turn contributed to the rise of the modern animal rights movement. Factory farming remains a horror, ruthlessly exploiting tens of billions of land animals every year, and vast numbers of fish, too. Animal production is also a major contributor to climate change, and adds to the risk of pandemics. So I plan to donate more than a third of the money to organizations combating factory farming.”

We are glad that Singer has been given this recognition. We should all also be mindful that the younger animal rights activists stand on the shoulders of those who went before them. We hope his work continues to serve as an inspiration in the years to come.

Olympic cyclist powered by plant-based foods

Dotsie Bausch wins silver medal at 2012 Olympics

Dotsie Bausch credits her plant based diet with her gaining a spot on Team USA and subsequently winning a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics . 

At the age of 26, Dotsie Bausch was in therapy for eating disorders and drug addiction. Her therapist suggested that she find a sport she loved, so that she could spend more time exercising. She chose cycling and found a new passion.  Within a few years she was a professional cyclist, going on to win eight US National Championships and two Pan American Gold medals.

While training for the 2012 Olympics, she switched to a plant-based diet, after learning about the abuses of animal agriculture. Within the first 10 days of going plant-based, she noticed that she woke up feeling lighter and more energized, ready to get on the bike within an hour of getting up! She later went on to win an Olympic silver medal in women’s track cycling at the age of 40, a record for the competition.

“I had been competing professionally for about ten years before adopting a plant-based diet, but when I finally did (two years before the 2012 Olympics), it felt like rocket fuel. I was more energized and able to recover from workouts so much faster than ever before. As the oldest person to ever medal in my discipline, that recovery factor really helped me pursue and earn a spot on the Olympic team.” Dotsie said.

While she’s now retired from professional cycling, she still promotes a vegan diet, founding the nonprofit Switch4Good, which is focused on encouraging people, especially athletes, to drop dairy from their diet. She was featured in the 2019 movie, The Game Changers, and continues to give talks promoting plant-based diets.

Olivia Newton-John – plant-based to fight breast cancer

Olivia Newton John is using a vegan diet to help in her fight against breast cancer. 

Seventy two year old singer, Olivia Newton-John, is best known for her role in the musical film Grease back in 1978, but she also produced many solo hit single recordings in the 70s and 80s and has continued to record and perform throughout her long career.  She’s a four-time Grammy Award winner with five US number one records and another 10 Top Tens on Billboard’s Hot 100. She has sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

She has been a longtime activist for environmental and animal rights issues. In 1992 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and has since become an advocate for cancer research and other health issues as well. She enjoyed a long period of remission, but in 2017 she was again diagnosed with breast cancer, and she switched to a plant-based diet to help her get healthier while being treated.  She shared that her daughter, Chloe Lattanzi, is key in helping her to eat more plant-based foods. “I’ve been eating vegan because my daughter was visiting me and she’s a vegan.  I feel very good.  After having lived for years with different cancers, and having surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, I thought it would be wonderful if we could find different kinds of treatments for people going through cancer” she said.

Newton-John recently launched the Olivia Newton-John Foundation with her husband, John Easterling, to promote plant-based eating as a way to stay healthy through cancer treatment.  Her foundation aims to develop less damaging forms of treatment, as well as to support research into how a plant-based way of eating can help nutrition and health for patients.

There’s already a lot of research into how a plant-based diet can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer in the first place and reduce your risk of recurrence if you’ve had breast cancer.  Let’s hope that this foundation finds evidence for the benefits of plant-based diets during treatment as well.

Ultrathon runner wins on vegan diet

Harvey Lewis

Ultrathon runner Harvey Lewis, 45-years old, won the most recent 135-mile Badwater endurance race, on a vegan diet.

Badwater is the most demanding running race offered anywhere on the planet. The race starts at 280 ft below sea level in California’s Death Valley, and finishes up at 8300 ft on Mount Whitney.  Lewis completed the race in under 26 hours, despite 100 degree heat. He has won this race before back in 2014, and has completed the race 10 times, with top wins half of those times. He credits plant-based nourishment for his endurance and athletic performance.

In 1996 at age 20, Lewis decided to become a vegetarian after his mother suffered a stroke at age only 54, which caused him to reassess the culture of the modern Western diet. Following a trip to the Australian rainforest for college credit and an overarching love for animals, Lewis considered his existing habits and their impact on his overall quality of life, as well as the impact on the planet.

More recently in 2016, he went fully vegan. He says being vegetarian, and now vegan, gives him the “necessary ingredients for my body to bounce back quickly from punishing endurance events.” He admits his daily nutrition varies significantly from his race-day intake, particularly for a 24-hour race. On a regular day, Lewis enjoys black bean burgers, traditional ethnic foods like Indian and Korean cuisine, and mango smoothies.

However, during lengthy races, he snacks on Clif bars and cran-razz shot bloks, Peppermint Patties, Coca-Cola, pizza and avocado sandwiches. For a race in the heat, like Badwater, Lewis relies on liquid calories, namely Clif hydration drinks and Coca-Cola. Lewis was featured on a No Meat Athlete podcast describing his Badwater win and race-day nutrition.

Several other ultrarunner athletes prefer plant-based diets, including a former member of ours, Scott Jurek, who co-authored a memoir called Eat & Run detailing his experiences with ultrarunning, going meatless in 1997, and becoming vegan in 1999.

Helping Black-owned restaurants serve vegan food

Rapper RZA

Many restaurants have struggled to survive during this past year.  Black-owned restaurants, which often serve as cultural hubs for their communities, have been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and so a special program has been established to support them.  RZA, the rapper and founding member of the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, has worked together with the plant-based cheese brand Violife,  to establish a Plant Grants program, whereby five Black-owned restaurants will be chosen to receive a $20,000 grant to help with revitalizing their businesses by incorporating plant-based dishes into their menus.

RZA explains that “I’m partnering with Violife because we share a similar philosophy about eating plant-based, and we want to make plant-based eating more accessible, affordable and sustainable to all.” He added that “The influence of hip-hop and the culinary history of plant-based eating in Black communities contribute to a movement of embracing meatless options. I’m proud to support Plant Grants to continue this movement and make plant-based eating more readily available at Black-owned restaurants that are at the heart of communities.”

The program is designed to help the restaurants develop new menu items with plant-based ingredients and create dishes and recipes, so that more people will be able to choose to eat plant-based foods.  To help facilitate the transition, the program comes with a coaching element where 2 plant-based pioneers will guide recipients in adding plant-based options.  The program also includes marketing and publicity assistance. Grant recipients will be chosen based on a number of criteria, including their commitment to add plant-based options and engage their community. The Plant Grants program is open now through July 31 and recipients will be announced in September 2021. 

RZA has been working to promote vegan options for several years, along with Wu-Tang members GZA and Ghostface Killah.  They helped to promote the launch of the Impossible Slider at White Castle in 2018.  In a previous article, RZA explained how he became vegan for the animals.  This latest program is a creative way for him to promote vegan food choices, while helping black-owned restaurants get back on their feet after the pandemic. 

NBA star JaVale McGee promotes vegan lifestyle

JaVale McGee shoots for the hoop
JaVale McGee

NBA star JaVale McGee plays center for the Denver Nuggets.  He is using his passion for vegan food and his star power to help promote vegan food products and a foundation called JUGLIFE, which provides clean, safe drinking water in underdeveloped areas of the world.

McGee went vegan in 2016, and credits his plant-based diet with helping him “get up and down the court.” In 2018, McGee helped his team, then the Golden State Warriors, win an NBA championship title, which he credited in part to his plant-based diet.  He actively promotes plant-based brands to athletes and fans.  McGee was one of the investors, alongside legendary musician Snoop Dogg, to help Outstanding Foods close a $5 million financing round last year. 

In addition to his support of Outstanding Foods, McGee has been an athlete ambassador for vegan brand Beyond Meat since 2019 after he and a group of 13 other professional athletes invested in the brand—which also counts Snoop Dogg as an investor. “Shifting to a plant-based diet has been a literal game changer,” McGee said at the time. “And I’m excited to have my two favorite LA brands partnering to make plant-based eating not only delicious, but accessible.” 

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