Which Celebrities Are Vegans and Why?

Quiz time. Quick, name a celebrity who’s a vegan.

That’s getting pretty easy to do these, as the list of celebrities choosing the vegan lifestyle seems to be increasing by the minute.
Take these, for instance:

Some, like Ellen Degeneres and wife Portia DeRossi, who will be partnering with rocker Chrissie Hynde, and producer Steve Bing to open up their very own vegan restaurant, became vegans for ethical reasons.

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. I read books like “Diet for a New America” and saw documentaries like “Earthlings” and “Meet your Meat,” and it became an easy choice for me

Others, like President Bill Clinton, did so for health reasons, after having a heart attack and bypass surgery. In an interview with CNN, Clinton says:

I essentially concluded that I had played Russian roulette,because even though I had changed my diet some and cut down on the caloric total of my ingestion and cut back on much of the cholesterol in the food I was eating, I still — without any scientific basis to support what I did — was taking in a lot of extra cholesterol without knowing if my body would produce enough of the enzyme to support it, and clearly it didn’t or I wouldn’t have had that blockage. So that’s when I made a decision to really change.

According to his recent biography by Isaacson, Steve Jobs also considered himself to be vegan and was quite sanctimonious about it. He wasn’t even really a vegetarian because he loved large quantities of unagi sushi – cooked eel (Issacson, p. 260). For more information, see Ask Mary RD‘s personal nutrition blog.




What’s the difference between vegetarianism and veganism?

A vegetarian diet is a meal plan that contains mostly plants, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts, with little or no animal products. Lacto-vegetarians will eat some or all dairy products and lacto-ovovegetarian will also eat eggs.
Vegans only eat plant based food.Some limit this restriction to what they eat, while others extend this prohibition to the use of animal products and by-products such as leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products.

How many vegetarians are there?

According to The Vegetarian Resource Group, a nonprofit education and advocacy group, its latest figures show that about 5 percent of American adults are vegetarians and that half of these vegetarians are also vegan.

The group also says that there’s been a marked increase over the last decade in veganism in America and that it’s currently either remaining steady or, more likely, slowly rising.

What are the potential health benefits of veganism?

Vegetarian diets most often lead to healthier outcomes:

  •  Lower levels of obesity
  • Reduced risk for heart disease
  • Lower blood pressure

Compared to non-vegetarians, vegetarians usually eat:

  • Fewer calories from fat (especially saturated fat)
  • Fewer overall calories
  • More fiber, potassium, and vitamin C

Are Vegan Diets Nutritionally Sound?

According to the USDA, vegetarian diets can meet all the recommendations for nutrients. The key is to consume a variety of foods and the right amount of foods to meet your calorie needs.Nutrients that vegetarians may need to focus on include protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12.

Protein has many important functions in the body and is essential for growth and maintenance. Protein needs can easily be met by eating a variety of plant-based foods. Combining different protein sources in the same meal is not necessary. Sources of protein for vegetarians include beans, nuts, nut butters, peas, and soy products (tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers). Milk products and eggs are also good protein sources for lacto-ovo vegetarians.

Iron functions primarily as a carrier of oxygen in the blood. Iron sources for vegetarians include iron-fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, turnip greens, molasses, whole wheat breads, peas, and some dried fruits (dried apricots, prunes, raisins).

Calcium is used for building bones and teeth and in maintaining bone strength. Sources of calcium for vegetarians include calcium-fortified soymilk, calcium-fortified breakfast cereals and orange juice, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and some dark-green leafy vegetables (collard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, mustard greens). The amount of calcium that can be absorbed from these foods varies. Consuming enough plant foods to meet calcium needs may be unrealistic for many. Milk products are excellent calcium sources for lacto vegetarians. Calcium supplements are another potential source.

Zinc is necessary for many biochemical reactions and also helps the immune system function properly. Sources of zinc for vegetarians include many types of beans (white beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas), zinc-fortified breakfast cereals, wheat germ, and pumpkin seeds. Milk products are a zinc source for lacto vegetarians.

Vitamin B12 is found in animal products and some fortified foods. Sources of vitamin B12 for vegetarians include milk products, eggs, and foods that have been fortified with vitamin B12. These include breakfast cereals, soymilk, veggie burgers, and nutritional yeast.

Have you tried a vegan/vegetarian diet? What were your reasons?

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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