26 Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Vegan
These celebs have some serious discipline.
Food fads come and go, but veganism is here to stay. For some vegan celebrities, not using or eating animal products is a simple way to look and feel healthier. For others, it's a philosophy that goes far beyond how they fuel their insides and what they wear on their outsides.
Whatever the reason, committing 100 percent to a vegan lifestyle is no easy feat (even a few people on our list admit to being occasional "cheagans") and many famous people have tried and failed. Those celebs include the likes of Kristen Bell, Usher, Dax Shepard, Lea Michele, Ellen DeGeneres, Anne Hathaway and, yes, even Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
But we're not here to shame anyone. Whether going vegan for a couple of months to shed a few pounds or for a lifetime to battle the environmental ramifications of industrial farming, we applaud the following vegan celebrities for living their best vegan lives.
For Jessica Chastain, veganism is a family affair. Chastain's mother is a vegan chef, but Chastain didn't make the switch to veganism from vegetarianism until 2007. At the time, Chastain was battling high cholesterol and fatigue. She decided to give veganism a shot when a friend couldn't finish the food from her two-week vegan delivery program.
"I used it and immediately I just had more energy than I ever had in my life," she told W. Chastain may have converted for physical reasons, but she embraces the ethical aspects as well. "I don't want to torture anything," she says. "It's about trying to live a life where I'm not contributing to the cruelty in the world."
Miley Cyrus chose to become a vegan in 2014. The singer-actress spoke about her passion for sustainable fashion during last year's Met Gala. "For me, I want to bring a message which is veganism, and that there doesn't have to be torture in fabulous fashion," she told Vogue. When Cyrus tied the knot with beau Liam Hemsworth in December 2018, the menu was a southern feast including vegan mac and cheese and vegan fried chicken.
Liam Hemsworth followed Cyrus's lead, adopting a vegan lifestyle in 2015. "For my own health, and after all the information I gathered about the mistreatment of animals, I couldn't continue to eat meat," Hemsworth told Men's Fitness. While his lady love no doubt played a role in Hemsworth's awakening, he actually credits pal and Hunger Games co-star Woody Harrelson (among others) for the change.
In 2016, the former Suits star told Best Health she's a part-time vegan. "I try to eat vegan during the week and then have a little bit more flexibility with what I dig into on the weekends," she said.
Meghan Markle continues to follow her pre-Harry diet since becoming an official member of the royal family—and that's no easy feat in the land of meat and pudding. The Duchess of Sussex even plans to use vegan paint to coat the walls of the nursery for her and Prince Harry's first child, reports The Sun. You'll also want to learn the other 15 Ways Meghan Keeps That "Markle Sparkle."
Ariana Grande is famous for her chart-topping hits and wild romances, but this Italian girl gave up meat and cheese in 2013 and hasn't looked back. "I love animals more than I love most people, not kidding," she told Mirror.co.uk. "But I am a firm believer in eating a full plant-based, whole-food diet that expands your life length and can make you an all-around happier person."
That'll do, Pig. That'll do. James Cromwell played the ax-wielding, duck-killing Farmer Hoggett in Babe. The experience of working alongside his furry and feathered co-stars had a profound effect on the longtime vegetarian's outlook, prompting him to take the leap to veganism.
"I cared about their welfare and then, of course, you have lunch, and it's all out there in front of you, and I thought I should go the whole hog, so to speak," he said in an interview with TakePart. Cromwell later joined forces with PETA and was arrested in 2017 during a protest against the treatment of orcas at Sea World.
Joaquin Phoenix and his five siblings were all raised vegan. "I was three years old—to this day it is a vivid memory," he told DNA India. "My family and I were on a boat, catching fish. As one fish was caught, he was writhing, then he was thrown against the side of the boat. You couldn't disguise what it was. This was what we did to animals to eat them. The animal went from a living, vibrant creature fighting for life to a violent death. I recognized it, as did my brothers and sisters."
Phoenix has narrated two documentaries for Nation Earth and is a member and active campaigner for PETA and In Defense of Animals. Most recently, Phoenix gathered with lawmakers and other animal-rights activists at Los Angeles City Hall to announce statewide legislation to ban traveling wild-animal exhibitions.
Fans know Woody Harrelson used to be a big fan of "herbs," but the Hunger Games star has also been a vegan for three decades. The Oscar-nominated Harrelson gave up dairy to improve his skin, and the results were eye opening. "So, I started thinking to myself, jeez, I've always been told 'milk does a body good,'" he told Esquire.
"It's a fundamental thing. So, from there, it was like, what else are they lying about?" Harrelson is an ethical vegan which means he doesn't rely on animals for anything. Harrelson is also the co-owner of Sage, the world's first organic vegan beer garden in Culver City, California.
Director-writer-actress Ava DuVernay was named one of PETA's Most Beautiful Vegan Celebrities of 2018. For DuVernay, whose directing credits include 13th and Selma, veganism isn't just about healthy eating, animal rights, or the environment. She took to Twitter to point out it's also a matter of social injustice and food access (or lack thereof). "Like many food trends that seem new, black veganism has historic roots," DuVernay tweeted. PETA praised DuVernay 'for saving animals not only by going vegan but by sharing her commitment with the world.'
James Cameron, director of blockbuster hits Avatar and Titanic, became a vegan six years ago. Cameron and his wife, Suzi Amis Cameron, co-executive produced Game Changers, a documentary demonstrating the benefits of going vegan. The 2018 Sundance entry demonstrates how a plant-based diet benefits athletes, weightlifters, and bodybuilders. Always outspoken, Cameron doesn't mince words when it comes to eating meat. "It's not only killing us, it's killing the planet," Cameron told Deadline. "The environmental impacts are enormous."
The Canadian-born actress was thrust into the spotlight after her star-making turn in the film Juno. Ellen Page has continued to act, but she's also used her fame as a platform to turn the light on issues she is passionate about. She's a self-proclaimed pro-choice feminist, an atheist, and among many other things, a vegan.
Page is very vocal on social media about her politics and personal passions. "Why are vegans made fun of while the inhumane factory farming process regards animals and the natural world merely as commodities to be exploited for profit?" she tweeted.
The Orange Is the New Black star announced she was a vegan on Twitter in 2017, writing it was the "best thing ever!" Laverne Cox, the first trans woman to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy, partnered with ORLY to develop a vegan nail polish line named Celebrate Yourself. The LGBT advocate isn't the only vegan cast member of the popular Netflix series. Cox's co-stars Ruby Rose and Danielle Brooks are also enthusiastic plant-based eaters.
After tennis phenom Venus Williams was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Sjogren's Syndrome in 2011 (she was forced to withdraw from the U.S. Open because of her symptoms), she made drastic changes to her diet to help her return to the court. Not only did Williams eliminate animal products, she stopped eating foods cooked above 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
But even world-class athletes have moments of weakness, and sometimes, celery root soup isn't enough. "If it's on your plate, I might get to cheat," Williams said, according to USA Today. "If you're sitting next to me, good luck. You turn your head once and your food might be gone."
PETA also crowned Benedict Cumberbatch one of the Most Beautiful Vegan Celebrities of 2018. During the press tour for Avengers: Infinity War, Cumberbatch spoke about his veganism in multiple interviews.
When a reporter for Time Out London asked the actor if he had to eat anything "gross" like "egg whites" to meet the physical demands of playing Dr. Strange, Cumberbatch replied, "No, no—well, I eat a plant-based diet." In 2016, Cumberbatch appeared on the cover of British GQ wearing vegan boots and a suit from Brave GentleMan—the world's first all-vegan luxury menswear store.
Country songstress Carrie Underwood became a vegetarian at the age of 13 after witnessing the slaughter of animals firsthand on her parents' farm. Underwood made the commitment to veganism in 2011, but she has been known to cheat. Underwood considers herself a "practical vegan." "The vegan thing is something I try to do my best on because it's a cheesy world out there," she told Women's Health.
During Ellen Pompeo's annual visit to Dr. Kristi Funk, founder of the Pink Lotus Breast Center in Beverly Hills, Pompeo and the physician got to chatting about Funk's book, Breasts: The Owner's Manual. Armed with information from Funk, Pompeo left the appointment determined to put herself and her family on a vegan diet.
Pompeo told People the change has been "super fun," and that preparing vegan meals is actually easier than cooking meat which has a shorter shelf life. "You just have to get the vegetables, but vegetables stay good for a week—and I think we all feel better."
Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage had been a vegetarian since childhood. With the abundance of vegan options available, Dinklage found transitioning into veganism a few years ago to be an easy adjustment. "There are so many more organic markets, soy markets, restaurants," he said in an interview with PETA. "That's the funny thing. People think it's more expensive and harder to find, but it is truly less expensive and very easy to find." Dinklage is also an ambassador for Cruelty Free International which works to end animal testing worldwide.
Natalie Portman became a vegan in 2009 after reading Johnathan Safran Foer's book Eating Animals. Portman also co-produced and narrated a documentary based on Foer's work which was released in June 2018. At the New York City premiere, Portman explained to members of the press her shift from vegetarian to vegan.
"I think until then, I had thought, 'Oh, with eggs and dairy you're not killing animals," she told Vanity Fair. "It's just their natural byproducts. But when I started learning about the conditions—and the environmental effects of all these animals and the impact on humans of having large groups of sick animals together, it really made me want to change immediately."
When it comes to eating meat, Erykah Badu steers clear. The singer-songwriter became a vegan in 2006. In an interview with VegNews, Badu addressed the misconception that veganism is an elitist white lifestyle. "I mean we—black people, poor people—we've not really been introduced to the injustices behind what we eat." Badu and her ex-boyfriend, Common, appear together in the documentary Holistic Wellness for the Hip Hop Generation. The film conveys the dangers of consuming low-quality food.
Jared Leto may play bad guys on the big screen, but he's all about clean living when it comes to his day-to-day life. Leto's been a vegan since his early 20s. But the handsome actor-rocker has been known to bend the rules a bit. "I'm a cheagan, a cheating vegan," he told Rolling Stone. "I don't eat meat ever. But if someone's mom made a cookie and handed it to me, I'd probably take a bite, or if I'm in Alaska, and there's wild salmon out of the river, I'd probably eat it."
Jenna Dewan's fierce bod isn't just the result of years of killer choreography. Dewan told the L.A. Times she went cold-turkey vegetarian at a young age after seeing a TV program about slaughterhouses. Dewan was a vegetarian for 22 years before becoming a vegan in 2013.
"After going vegan, I felt so much better. My skin cleared up, I had a ton more energy and I just felt clearer in the head." Dewan appears in a PETA campaign covered only in body paint to call attention to all the snakes, crocodiles, lizards and alligators killed for their skins in the name of fashion. And for more on how some celebs get their fierce bods, check out What Celebrities with Perfect Bodies Do Every Day.
The Big Bang Theory's Mayim Bialik's inspiration to change her dietary habits was Jonathan Safran Foer's book, Eating Animals. "It was really after that book that I had both the education and the confidence and the personal conviction to be able to say I don't know where to draw the line anymore, so I'm not going to draw it," she told One Green Planet. "I'm gonna step over the line and there's been no turning back."
Bialik put her recipes where her mouth is by writing her cookbook Mayim's Vegan Table. Bialik isn't the only star of the long-running CBS series who subscribes to a plant-based diet. Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, and recurring guest star Sara Gilbert do as well.
Donald Trump isn't the only leader of the free world who has a hankering for junk food. Former President Bill Clinton loved meat whether it moo'd or squealed. But after a quadruple bypass in 2004 and angioplasty in 2010, Clinton decided it was time to make extreme changes to his diet.
During an interview with CNN in 2011, Clinton told Dr. Sanjay Gupta he no longer consumed meat, dairy, eggs, and hardly any oil. "I like the vegetables, the fruits, the beans, the stuff I eat now," he said. In 2014, the New York Times revealed Clinton reintegrated some lean proteins into his diet.
Riverdale vixen Madelaine Petsch, who plays Cheryl Blossom, hasn't been tempted to stray from her vegan diet even once in her life. Petsch shared with People her 1,700 calorie a day meal plan, and while it may not include shakes from Pop's, the actor isn't depriving herself. Petsch even indulges in vegan banana ice cream for desert. "Being vegan keeps my body fueled and running smoothly," she said.
Maggie Q was named one of Peta's Sexiest Vegan Celebrities of 2017 and believes going vegan is the best way to battle climate change.
"I know that when I'm eating … I'm not hurting the planet, I'm not hurting the people on this planet, I'm not hurting animals," she told PETA. And for more self-aware celebs, check out the 25 Celebrities Who Live in Surprisingly Modest Homes.
U.S. Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey became a vegetarian while playing college ball back in 1992. The transition to veganism was a gradual one, but Booker said his last non-vegan meal was on election night in 2014. Booker has no intention of foisting his beliefs on anyone else, but he does see a greater public awareness when it comes to animal cruelty.
"I want to continue to be a part of a movement of folks who are fighting against corporate interests that are undermining the public good and the public welfare," he told VegNews.