A Tribute to Dick Gregory
“I have experienced personally over the past few years how a purity of diet and thought are interrelated. And when Americans become truly concerned with the purity of the food that enters their own personal systems, when they learn to eat properly, we can expect to see profound changes effected in the social and political system in this nation. The two systems are inseparable.”
On the 19th of August 2017, we lost a brilliant contribution to humanity, but his memory and legacy will not soon be forgotten. The late Dick Gregory will be remembered as a civil rights activist, political satirist, one of the earliest African American tickets for the United States presidency, defender of the disenfranchised, active feminist, and vegan, to name but an egregiously lacking list of the his innumerous accolades. Long before Saturday Night Live turned light-hearted humor as a vessel for political narrative into an American tradition, Gregory employed the use of comedy to break barriers for significant issues to reach and resonate with a wider audience relative to typical political discourse. A true humanitarian- he stood against discrimination in all forms. He was one of the earliest vegans publicize the merit and benefits of a plant-based diet. Furthermore, he integrated eating green into his fight for social reform in holding that too few African-Americans were eating vegan/vegetarian, leading to undue death and illness. This issue is especially relevant today in the current industrial structure of the food industry, in which nutritional food is less accessible to the impoverished and minority demographics therein. Hopefully we will see his torch carried in enacting significant reform of an economic climate that favors the profit of big-business, long-distance agriculture over the overall health and wellness of our nation. With more people choosing to go vegan than ever before, the change is coming- one plate at a time.
1. Ellen DeGeneres
“I personally chose to go vegan because I educated myself on factory farming and cruelty to animals, and I suddenly realized that what was on my plate were living things, with feelings. And I just couldn’t disconnect myself from it any longer.”
The beloved television personality has made a very public effort to express her personal and political convictions behind adopting a vegan lifestyle to a global audience. Her vegan health and lifestyle blog, #EllensHealthyLiving, serves as an approachable resource for anyone interested in pursuing personal health and wellness.
2. Ellen Page
“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?”
An actress since childhood, Canadian talent Ellen Page has since grown to be a feminist, environmentalist, human rights advocate, and vegan. Her personal choice to adopt veganism extends beyond the reach of a fork tie her interlace health with other facets of her life.
3. Miley Cyrus
“I’d eat dirt before an animal.”
Miley has come a long way from being a Disney pop idol and further still since the ‘Wrecking Ball’ reinvention of her persona. In 2014, she publicly announced her choice to become vegan. This past July, she had a ‘Vegan for Life’ sunflower tattooed on her underarm that was posted on Instagram in addition to a myriad of other photos that give us a glimpse into a plant-based high life.
When the 1985 ‘Meat is Murder’ LP was released by underground British rockers The Smiths, it was one of the earliest attempts to bring herbivorous eating into the musical spotlight. While technically a vegetarian during the band’s active years, former frontman Morrissey recently came out as a vegan in a 2015 Larry King interview. Keeping with the times as a sub-cultural icon and low-hanging fruit for a satirical quip, he was the subject ‘Defensive Eating with Morrissey’, a 2016 vegan cookbook written by chef and punk musician, Joshua Ploeg.
5. Stevie Wonder
“I’ve been a vegan for two years, so that’s helped my already good-looking self.”
Maintaining vegan status since 2014, this legendary singer-songwriter has never felt better. Stevie Wonder is opening eyes to the health, moral, and environmental repercussions of eating meat. “We can’t just talk about it, we have to be about it.”
6. James Cameron
“You’re going to be healthier, you’re going to live longer, you’re going to look better. You’re going to have fewer zits. You’re going to be slimmer. You’re going to radiate health. You’re going to have a better sex drive. That’s what shifting away from meat and dairy does.”
Aside from being one of the most prolific and consistently brilliant directors in the history of film, it’s no secret that James Cameron is a proud vegan. This year, he served as executive producer for the vegan documentary, ‘The Game Changers.’
7 and 8. Jay-Z/Beyonce
“The benefits of a plant-based diet need to be known. We should spend more time loving ourselves, which means taking better care of ourselves with good nutrition and making healthier food choices.”
“Psychologists have said it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. On the 22nd day, you’ve found the way.”
While this inclusion may be controversial since the musically-inclined couple is no longer actively vegan, they certainly were for awhile. Jay-Z’s personal life coach/trainer, Marco Borges, recommended a 22 day cleanse for increased wellness of body and mind. Deciding to join him on the venture, Beyonce supposedly lost 9 pounds during this time, whereas Jay-Z reported improved mental clarity, sounder sleep, more energy, and a brighter outlook on life. While the line between fact and publicity-seeking sensationalism is blurry, I have no reason to doubt the benefits the couple claimed to reap.
9. Bill Clinton
“I might not be around if I hadn’t become a vegan. It’s great.”
The contrast between the former US president now compared to when he was in office is notably significant. After a series of heart complications, Clinton knew that something would have to change if he were to see his grandchildren; the answer was a change in diet. Seven years a vegan and seventy years of age, he has lived longer than every family member on both sides for three generations. Once a world leader, Clinton now leads by example.
10. Brad Pitt
Hailed as one of the sexiest men alive, Pitt has supposedly represented plant-based living for awhile now. Initially, his disgust for red meat lead to forgo all meat, which maturated into giving up animal products altogether. It’s said that he becomes irritated in the presence of meat being consumed, with his family being no exception.
11. Russell Brand
“Even as a junkie I stayed true [to vegetarianism] – ‘I shall have heroin, but I shan’t have a hamburger.’ What a sexy little paradox.”
As an English comedian, activist, actor, author, and vegan, Russell Brand wears a fur-free coat of many colors. He is known for his social activism, having filmed multiple documentaries as well as published books on topics that are deeply personal to him. Health, healing, and harm reduction is a central theme is much of his work, making the vegan mindset a natural inclusion into his life philosophy.
12. Ariana Grande
“I love animals more than I love most people, not kidding. But 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. It is tricky dining out, but I just stick to what I know — veggies, fruit and salad — then when I get home I’ll have something else.”
The young pop artist maintains a healthy diet in addition to a healthy love for animals. As opposed to a burdensome inconvenience, she sees her completely organic, plant-based diet is a privilege and source of happiness.
13. Natalie Portman
“Everyone has to find what is right for them, and it is different for everyone. Eating for me is how you proclaim your beliefs three times a day. That is why all religions have rules about eating. Three times a day, I remind myself that I value life and do not want to cause pain to or kill other living beings. That is why I eat the way I do.”
The secret to actress Natalie Portman’s flawless skin doesn’t come in a plastic tube. She claims to experience subsequent breakouts upon consuming dairy, which she remedied by switching from from the vegetarian diet that she held for twenty years to living completely free of animal products. Upon discovering a positive shift in her overall health, Portman decided to maintain a vegan diet through her pregnancy.
“I got into being vegan because I was simply looking to benefit from being more compassionate. I have since come to learn that it is an animal-based diet that is responsible for the overwhelming majority of cases of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, multiple sclerosis, and all kinds of other problems.”
Few people exemplify ‘turning your life around’ better than Steve-O, who is best known for his flagrant disregard for personal safety in his role as stuntman in MTV’s ‘Jackass’. After a drug-addled career that somehow managed to last over a decade, Steve-O made the decision to go sober and vegan on behalf of his mental health. Despite living clean and green, he has managed to transcend his previous state of being in the pursuit of ridiculousness. Becoming vegan was an act of compassion for himself.
15. Samuel L. Jackson
“I wanted to live forever.”
Samuel L. Jackson’s best roles most closely resemble the genuine eccentricity of his actual personality. The iconic expositional scene in ‘Pulp Fiction’ regarding hamburgers in relation to the metric system makes this selection particularly amusing. Royale without cheese. He recently appeared in the vegan documentary, Eating You Alive, which delves into the relationship between diet and illness.
16. Mike Tyson
“I wish I was born this way [vegan]. When you find out about the processed stuff you have been eating. I wonder why I was crazy all those years.”
No Mike, ears are not vegan, but former World Boxing Council undisputed champion did take to eating exclusively from the Earth between 2009 and 2013. For the record, he partially blames consuming meat for that whole thing with going ape and biting a man’s ear off, which drove his decision to become a vegan as part of his rehabilitation process. ‘The baddest man alive’ may not be the most savory character, but he makes for a strong case against the notion that you can’t stay ripped as a vegan.
17. Betty White
“I do have more in common with animal people. I find myself disappointed with those who are not interested in animals, they lack a certain warmth and tend to me a little self centered. Animal people have a certain empathy – this isn’t just me talking now. Research has shown this to be true.” “could never see [herself] eating a best friend”
A true American treasure at the age of 95 (but not looking a day over 80), the legendary comedic screen personality, Betty White, is more active in her career than most actors half a century younger, which she believes has everything to do with her diet. After being a vegetarian for over thirty years, she is now a bonafide vegan.
18. Steve Jobs
“I am a fruitarian and I will only eat leaves picked by virgins in the moonlight.”
I swear that’s an actual quote.
As we navigate the blogosphere with a fingertip on our array of iThings, I doubt that many of us ever stopped to wonder why our beloved devices are named after a fruit, but here’s your answer anyway. Jobs was, by all accounts, a total hippie. After dropping out of Reed College, he spent time living in a commune on an orchard where he adopted a vegan diet. The experience resonated so strongly with him that he named his original brainchild, the Macintosh, in memory of his time on the farm. In his thirty years of being a vegan, his eating choices were unconventional to say the least (enter the ‘fruitarian’ diet), but I hope that despite his untimely death from pancreatic cancer, he was all the better for his dietary exclusion of animal products.
“I don’t need a dead animal or dead piece of flesh to go into my live body.”
Robert Diggs, otherwise called by his stage name RZA (pronounced RIZ-ə), is one of the most well-respected hip-hop artists and producers; representing the legendary 90s hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan as lead MC. RZA has become the face of plant-based living in the business alongside Waka Flocka Flame.
“When I became a vegan in 1987, in one fell swoop I extended my life expectancy and annoyed most of the people in my life—my mom most of all.”
Over the span of thirty years of eating plants and producing music, Moby has accumulated an impressive repertoire of press material published on subjects outside of of his art. This guy was making the vegan life cool long before it caught on in the mainstream, having interviews in the Rolling Stone and other major publications dedicated to topic, specifically. Moby remains active in social activism, using his status as a respected musician to promote the merit of veganism.