Celebrity·Posted on Jul 12, 202045 Celebrities Explain Why They Went VeganFrom animal rights to health benefits, here's what they said.by Whitney JeffersonBuzzFeed StaffFacebookPinterestTwitterMailLink 1. Taraji P. Henson Rich Fury / Getty Images Taraji opened up to InStyle about her recent change to veganism. She said, "It took a doctor in Macon, Georgia, to say, 'If you don’t change what you’re doing, you’re going to get stomach cancer.' ... So I switched everything up out of necessity. I want to live. Thank God, because I feel so much better." 2. Billie Eilish Tolga Akmen / Getty Images Billie was raised vegetarian but wrote about why she moved to veganism on her Tumblr blog in 2018. She said, "I went vegan like four years ago. There were a lot of reasons. I love animals and I just think there's no point in creating something out of an animal when the animal is already there. Leave animals alone. Damn. Also I'm lactose intolerant and dairy is horrible for your skin and my skin is VERY aware of that." Her mother recently launched Support + Feed, which provides plant-based meals to frontline workers helping with the coronavirus. 3. Venus Williams Daniel Pockett / Getty Images Venus told Health that she transitioned to a plant-based diet after she was diagnosed with Sjögren's syndrome: "I started for health reasons. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and I wanted to maintain my performance on the court. Once I started I fell in love with the concept of fueling your body in the best way possible. Not only does it help me on the court, but I feel like I’m doing the right thing for me." 4. Mena Massoud Rich Fury / Getty Images Mena, who recently played the titular role in Disney's Aladdin told BuzzFeed, "Going plant-based is about evolving in the right direction so that we can help save our planet, our bodies, and our fellow living souls." He runs Evolving Vegan and will release a cookbook of the same name in September. 5. Joaquin Phoenix Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images Joaquin and his siblings went vegan as young children. He told the story to Collider, saying, "They were catching fish, and I guess to stun them they were throwing them against the side of the boat. I just had a profound strong reaction. It felt like a real injustice. It wasn’t just me, it was my siblings, all of my siblings, except for the youngest, Summer, she wasn’t born. ... I don’t know how to explain it. I think it made me distrustful, and angry, and frightened of humans, humanity. I just thought it was such a gross abuse of power in a way. I think that during that moment, we knew that we were not going to eat meat anymore. We said to our parents, ‘Why didn’t you tell us?’ It’s amazing. I remember my mom’s face, I remember her crying. She didn’t know how to answer. It became very obvious we weren’t going to eat meat anymore." 6. Rooney Mara Kevin Winter / Getty Images Rooney Mara first went vegan back in 2011, according to what she recently said to Coveteur, "I’ve been a vegetarian on and off since I was nine… On and off only because my parents told me I was a picky eater and wouldn’t always let me. Then, about seven years ago, someone sent me this horrible undercover video of a pig, which led me to another horrible video and another horrible video. I went down the YouTube rabbit hole." 7. Kate Mara Michael Loccisano / Getty Images Kate Mara told Shape about how she found veganism in 2018, saying, "I've been a vegan for five years. I found it hard to give up cheese at first because I love it so much. But I haven't missed meat at all. I decided to go vegan after reading a book called The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder. It's about how our bodies are not meant to digest animal products and what we should be eating instead. It made a lot of sense to me. I've always had a pretty sensitive stomach, but when I cut animal products out of my diet, I felt so much better." 8. Tabitha Brown Paul Archuleta / Getty Images The popular vegan personality recently went in-depth with Goodful about how her vegan journey began. She had been experiencing extreme sickness with symptoms including chronic pain, blurred vision, panic attacks, and anxiety for a year and seven months straight. One day her daughter suggested watching a movie on Netflix that convinced her to try vegansim and she never looked back:"My daughter came home from school one day and she said, 'Mom, we saw this documentary at school and I think you should watch it. It was What The Health. My husband and I, we all sat down together, we watched it, and I was like, 'Oh, wow, this is very interesting.' What got me, is that when they were talking about diseases and our heritage, they would eat the same thing causing the same disease. For me, my mom died at 51. She had ALS. My dad is 68, he's the oldest male to live in the family. A lot of my aunts, uncles, and family members died very young of heart attacks, strokes, and rare sicknesses. To me, meat was the common denominator. And I thought to myself, Well, I haven't tried that, right? And they were talking about plant-based eating on What The Health. So I told my husband, I'm done with the dummy drugs, all the guinea pig drugs that the doctors have given me over this last year and a half. Nothing has worked. If I've tried all that stuff, honey, I can at least try to do this vegan thing for 30 days and see if it makes me feel better. And so we decided, as a family, to do a 30-day vegan challenge and on day 10 my headaches went away. I remember I was walking through my kitchen and was like, my head ain't hurting. I started feeling better from that day. I started getting my energy back. I just started feeling like myself again. On day 29, I told my husband, 'I think this is my path, I'm going vegan.'" 9. Woody Harrelson Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images Woody is a longtime vegan and a champion of animal rights. He recalled the time in his early twenties when he decided to go vegan to Esquire: "I was on a bus and some girl sees me blowing my nose. I had acne all over my face, which I'd had for years and years. And she's like: 'Hey, you're lactose intolerant. If you quit dairy, all these symptoms you got will be gone in three days.' I was like 24. And I was like, 'no way.' But three days later: gone. So I started thinking to myself, Jeez, I've always been told nothing but 'milk does a body good.' It's a fundamental thing. So from there it was like, 'what else are they lying about?' I just started realizing: There are all these things we're brought up to believe that are just a total hoax, just bullshit advertising, you know?" 10. Nathalie Emmanuel Gregg Deguire / Getty Images The actor who played Game of Thrones' Missandei spoke to Women's Health about her decision to go vegan over eight years ago, saying, "I ate vegan for one week at first — I would have reassessed if it made me feel really ill, but it made me feel really good, so I carried on for another week, and then I felt even better. People kept coming up to me and telling me I looked glowy and my eyes looked really bright, so I kept going." 11. Ariana Grande Valerie Macon / Getty Images Ariana spoke to the Daily Mirror about being vegan given her Italian upbringing and how she was "raised on meat and cheese." She said, "I've had enough for anyone's normal life span." As for why she went vegan, she said, "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-round 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." 12. Lewis Hamilton Giuseppe Cacace / Getty Images The Formula One driver went vegan for the sake of animals and for his own health. He told the Independent, "There’s a multitude of things and I’m always trying to raise the bar. One of the things was my sleeping pattern and not feeling right in the stomach. Your gut is your second brain. We’re taught to drink milk and eat meat for protein and I started looking into other areas of research around this." 13. Miley Cyrus Rob Kim / Getty Images Miley told Paper magazine that she went vegan in 2013 while on tour for her Bangerz album after her dog Floyd died of a coyote attack. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, she spoke about her love of vegan fashion, and called herself "a sustainable vegan activist." 14. Cody Kearsley Kyrani Kanavaros Cody, who plays Moose on Riverdale, told BuzzFeed why he made the decision to go vegan, saying, "I’ve been vegan for three years now. I became vegan after researching the health benefits of a plant-based diet. I stayed vegan after learning about the horrors of the meat and dairy industry and the catastrophic impact it has to the animals, our planet, and our bodies." 15. Madelaine Petsch Frazer Harrison / Getty Images The Riverdale actor told People that she's grown up living a plant-based lifestyle, saying, "I’ve been plant-based my whole life. Being vegan keeps my body fueled and running smoothly." 16. Mýa Frazer Harrison / Getty Images Mýa's decision to go vegan spawned from challenges that she sets for herself every year, as she told Madame Noire. The self-described "extremist" said, "I didn’t know what I was getting into when I went vegan, but so many things changed. I shed 30 pounds. I felt better. I was doing better mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I was healing myself from the inside out. I didn’t have to work out as much and I cut my budget in half. I just saw all of the benefits in every area in my life, including the creative aspect, and a lot of that has to do with the pineal gland." From there she went raw vegan and is now an advocate for veganism — she even has a "vegan transition guide" available on her website. 17. Natalie Portman Tommaso Boddi / Getty Images Natalie changed from a vegetarian to a vegan diet after reading the 2009 book Eating Animals. Of it, she said, "When I read the book, that was what made me become a vegan. I think until then, I had thought, Oh, with eggs and dairy, you’re not [harming] animals. It’s just their natural byproducts. But when I started learning about the conditions and the environmental effect 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." 18. Stevie Wonder Jesse Grant / Getty Images Stevie Wonder told AOL that he went vegan for the environment. The musical icon said, "I’m motivating people to do something about how we’re living on this planet." He also said, "We have to be about making our planet more greener, the urban areas more sustainable for the children. We can't just talk about it, we have to be about it." 19. Jessica Chastain Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images Jessica has been vegan since 2007 and was vegetarian for 15 years before that. She told W Magazine, "I found myself going to veganism because a friend of mine had a two-week vegan food delivery program she wasn’t going to use so I used it, and immediately I just had more energy than I’ve ever had in my life. ... I said okay, I’m going to just listen to my body now. Being vegan was not anything I ever wanted to be. I just really was listening to what my body was telling me." 20. Alicia Silverstone Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images Alicia Silverstone told Oprah that she was living on a "steak and donut" diet until the age of 21. At that point, she watched a documentary about the treatment of livestock, which motivated her to make a change. The Clueless actor said, "I just took a look at my dog and said, 'If I'm not willing to eat you, how can I continue to eat these other creatures that have the same desire to live, are just as funny, just as cute as my dogs?'" 21. Erykah Badu Gregg Deguire / Getty Images In 2016, Erykah Badu told People about how long she's been meat-free, saying, "I’ve been a vegetarian since my senior year of high school, that was 1989 and I’ve eaten like a vegan since 1997, so it’ll be 20 years next year. I wouldn’t call myself a vegan because I don’t subscribe to any type of organizations. It’s just what’s best for my body. If I was a Lamborghini I would want to put the best gas in it." 22. Evanna Lynch John Phillips / Getty Images Evanna told Vegan Food and Living about her journey, saying, "I had gone vegetarian when I was 11 because I was viscerally repelled by the idea of eating animal flesh and there was no way to avoid the fact that someone had been killed for that piece of meat. But as far as veganism went I was definitely in cloud cuckooland eating my ice cream and imagining that the cows were having a grand old time in the open fields, spouting all this excess milk that was only weighing them down. It wasn’t until I read Eating Animals in 2013 that I understood how inconsistent my vegetarian lifestyle was with my beliefs and that’s when I began making the transition to veganism. I would say it took me until 2015 to become fully vegan." She co-founded Kinder Beauty Box, a vegan and cruelty-free skincare and makeup subscription service. 23. Maggie Q Amanda Edwards / Getty Images Maggie spoke to VegNews about going vegan: "I transitioned to a plant-based diet about 19 years ago while living in Hong Kong. I attended a concert, and a PETA Asia employee was tabling outside of the show. I was watching her, and it didn’t seem anyone was paying much attention to what she was offering. It made me feel bad for her, so I walked over. We connected, and she sent me information on animal welfare in the fashion, food, and entertainment industries. It made me sick, but nothing prepared me for the truth of the environmental impact of meat production. I quit cold turkey and never looked back. I didn’t understand how I could have ever claimed to love animals but hadn’t made the choices to protect them." 24. Ellen Pompeo Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images Ellen went vegan in 2018 after a visit with her doctor, she told People. "I just went for my yearly appointment a couple of weeks ago and [Dr. Kristi Funk] told me about her book. Since then my whole family has gone completely vegan. She told me she turned her three kids completely vegan and I came home from my appointment with her where she basically gave me [the information] … and I said, 'That’s it, we’re all vegan.'" 25. Kyrie Irving Dave Mangels / Getty Images The NBA star told SB Nation about why he went vegan in 2017 in a postgame interview, saying, "This season I've been on more of a plant-based diet, getting away from all the animals and all that. I had to get away from that. So my energy is up, my body feels amazing. Just understanding what the diet is like for me and what’s beneficial for me for having the highest energy out here and being able to sustain it at a very high level." He recently donated 200,000 Beyond Burgers to a New York City Food Bank for hunger relief due to the coronavirus. 26. Kevin Smith Kevin Winter / Getty Images Kevin explained how his daughter Harley and the heart attack he had led him to a vegan diet in a recent issue of Compassionate Living. He said, "My heart attack was the weirdest, worst thing that ever happened to Harley. It was like a punch in the face. She stuck by my side in the hospital. She was there when the nutritionist brought up going vegan. The kid seized on it. So I said, 'You know what, I've eaten the way I've wanted to for like 47 years, and it led me here. So I'll try eating your way for six months.' It's been a year. I'm never tempted. I feel like more has been given to me, including more time, more compassion. Once you step away from the meat industrial complex, suddenly you're just like, 'Geez, that's a lot of misery.'" 27. Harley Quinn Smith Frazer Harrison / Getty Images Harley Quinn Smith, Kevin Smith's daughter, came to veganism another way. She told Compassionate Living, "My mom has been vegetarian most of my life, and that was definitely a huge part of the inspiration. What really pushed me was my rabbit, Cinnamon Bun. When I adopted her, she was in terrible condition. Now she's the love of my life. To see what human compassion could do to a traumatized animal really changed everything for me. If I hadn't gone vegan, I'd be ignoring the cold, hard truth that was right in front of me." 28. Leona Lewis Tim P. Whitby / Getty Images Leona, who just had a fully vegan wedding in 2019, opened up to Metro about how she first went vegan. "I would go to farms lot with my mum when I was younger to look at the animals — chickens and pigs — and I began to realize that I was eating those same farm animals I loved to go to feed and to be around all the time. I remember saying to my mum I just would not eat it any more. I stopped when I was about 6 or 7. I went to and fro with being vegetarian throughout my teens until eventually I was like, 'no, I’m not going to eat it.' Also I remember walking along Oxford Circus as a child and seeing big posters of animals being tested on. Seeing those images when you’re little is quite traumatic. That is quite a vivid memory." 29. Pamela Anderson Jeff Spicer / Getty Images Pam first knew she no longer wanted to eat meat as a child, as she wrote in the Guardian in 2018, saying, "One day I found a dead deer, without its head, hanging outside our home, dripping blood into a bucket. I cried for days. It wasn’t hard for me to give up something so cruel. I got my father to stop hunting, too." She later transitioned to veganism, of which she wrote on her own blog, "So I say, veganism is about more than choosing not to eat animal products. Veganism is bigger than that. Veganism is about saving animals, saving ourselves, saving our societies, and saving our planet!" 30. Travis Barker Frazer Harrison / Getty Images The Blink-182 drummer told Joe Rogan on his podcast that he went vegan after he survived the airplane crash in 2008. He said, "I was vegetarian since I was 13 and then after my accident I was in hospital. It's a long story I will just sum up. I had to eat meat in the hospital because they didn't have any vegan options of protein. So I'd eat bags of beef jerky — whatever they could give me, whatever I could stomach and not think about what I was eating. Because I wasn't eating at all. I was ditching my food, giving it to my friends because I didn't want to eat meat but then I got caught. So long story short, I ate a bit of meat in the hospital and when I got out I just felt like the next evolution of my eating would be to try and be vegan. And it was so easy in LA because we have so many great vegan restaurants." 31. Mayim Bialik Frazer Harrison / Getty Images Mayim Bialik went vegetarian when she was 19 years old and moved to veganism after the birth of her first child. She told Vegetarian Times, "A taste aversion stopped my eating meat, then my deep love and respect for animals started informing more and more of my decisions. I had an innate sense of wanting to be vegan, but I needed more information. The change was gradual, which let me think through every step. I was still eating dairy when my first son was born; he couldn't tolerate my breast milk, and I realized I had a dairy allergy. So it kept evolving. I read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, and that did it." 32. RZA Rommel Demano / Getty Images On Joe Rogan's podcast, RZA said, "I haven’t had a piece of red meat since 1995. I haven’t had a piece of poultry since 1996, after we finished the Liquid Swords album I guess. I haven’t had fish, I stopped eating fish, in 1997." He launched a vegan clothing line called 36 Chambers a few years ago and has inspired many of his Wu-Tang Clan members to go vegan, including Inspectah Deck, who recently said that "80 percent" of the group is now vegan. 33. Ruby Rose Frazer Harrison / Getty Images Ruby Rose discussed how she first went vegan on an episode of Shark After Dark, talking about the childhood memory that first launched her journey. "I used to get something called 'shark fin soup,' and I didn’t know. I said to my mom, 'Wait, is this made out of an actual shark’s fin?' I thought that it was even worse that they just cut the fins off and the sharks were out there not able to move. That really scared me and I used to have nightmares that they were finless in the ocean, and I couldn’t eat any fish ever again." 34. Jenna Dewan Ethan Miller / Getty Images Jenna went vegan at the age of 10 after she watched a documentary about slaughterhouses. She told Women's Health, "The next day I said, 'I’m never eating meat again.' It just stuck. I feel good about it morally and physically." 35. John Salley Frazer Harrison / Getty Images While discussing a vegan documentary on The Real, he explained why he went vegan, stating, "If I’m gonna live this life and this is the only body I have, I’m gonna take care of it. I get a Ferrari, get a Benz, you get mad if somebody lean on it, breathe on it, but then you put dollar food in your million dollar body. That’s ridiculous." 36. Emily Deschanel Grant Lamos Iv / Getty Images In 2015, the Bones actor spoke to Garden of Life about her transition to veganism as a child: "Everything started when I decided to become vegan 22 years ago after visiting [the Farm Sanctuary] in New York. It was life-changing to see animals growing up in a healthy environment. I like to take Henry so that he can experience these animals and see that they have their own personalities — even the chickens! It’s very eye-opening to go there because they also do a great job of educating about the dangers of factory farms and where our food comes from." 37. James Cameron Eamonn M. Mccormack / Getty Images James told PETA about his choice to go vegan: “It’s not a requirement to eat animals, we just choose to do it, so it becomes a moral choice and one that is having a huge impact on the planet, using up resources and destroying the biosphere.” Together with his wife, he founded the MUSE school, a fully vegan elementary school in Southern California. 38. Dawn Richard Todd Williamson / Getty Images Dawn told PETA in 2014 that she went vegan "cold turkey" after her father was diagnosed with cancer, saying, "It was an eye-opener for me. So I started going a lot of research — Food, Inc. and going on Netflix and watching all these documentaries on food and healthcare. I was devastated to find out that the food that I was eating was so processed and so bad, and the animals were so mistreated. And I was not happy with it." 39. Daryl Hannah Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images Daryl became a vegan at the age of 10, she told Vegetarian Times, "On weekends my family, who lived in Chicago, would travel to Wisconsin and stop at this restaurant I didn't like, so I'd wait in the car while everyone else ate. One night, bored, I got out of the car and walked around the parking lot. I noticed this truck full of calves and bonded with one in particular, who kept kissing me. After about an hour the truck driver came out of the restaurant. I asked him what the calf's name was, and he said, 'Veal, tomorrow morning by 7 o'clock.' That was it: I could no longer disassociate the creature from what was on my plate." (You can also watch her tell a longer version of this story here.) 40. Russell Brand Eamonn M. Mccormack / Getty Images Russell Brand has been vegetarian since he was in his early teens and dabbled on and off with veganism until he committed to it for good in early 2019. He spoke about his return to veganism on tour, saying, "I was nagged into veganism by society... I was vegetarian from when I was a little kid, 14, because of The Smiths and because of like 'oh, they do what in factory farms?' You know, like, it was too brutal. And then my mate Simon Amstell, he's a very good comedian, made a film called Carnage, which sort of talked about like in 50 years people will look back and go 'f***ing hell they ate animals.'" He's famously been quoted as saying, "I don’t see why someone should lose their life just so you can have a snack." 41. Bellamy Young Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images Bellamy told YouBeauty about how she first went vegan in college. "It came to me in a very strange way. I was at college, it was sophomore year, and I got the baked breast of chicken and they sort of plated it weird. As I lowered it down to my tray, it looked exactly like my mom’s little furry yippy dog when she’d roll over and want you to rub her tummy. That was it for me." 42. Kendrick Farris Harry How / Getty Images The Team USA weight lifter told HuffPost that he went vegan out of respect for animals, saying, "I don’t necessarily trust the way the food is being processed. I don’t agree with the way the animals are mass-slaughtered. So that’s one thing that kind of got me looking at what they call a vegan diet." 43. Bryan Adams Tristan Fewings / Getty Images Bryan Adams spoke to PETA about his over 30 years of experience being a vegan and what drew him to the cause originally: "Being sympathetic to animal rights is just something that came very naturally to me. Perhaps because I used to have dogs growing up, and you know they became part of the family. And it never occurred to me growing up … I never put the whole thing of animal cruelty and that together as a youngster. But the moment I began to understand what was going on with the treatment of animals, it led me more and more in the way of the path I am [on] now, which is a complete vegan." 44. Kat Von D Paul Archuleta / Getty Images Fans of Kat's makeup line already know that it's entirely vegan and cruelty-free. In 2016, she told Compassionate Living magazine about her choice to transition to veganism, saying, "After being a vegetarian for years, I stumbled upon the documentary Forks Over Knives. The straightforward information on food and its direct connection to the current state of the world’s bad health just hit home with me. After watching it, I never looked back." 45. Moby Phillip Faraone / Getty Images In 2014, Moby wrote an op-ed in Rolling Stone called "Why I'm Vegan." In it, he talks about going vegetarian in 1985, because of an epiphany about how much he loved his cat, and going fully vegan two years later. He said, "I thought, I don’t want to contribute to animal suffering. But the cows and chickens in commercial dairy and egg farms are pretty miserable, so why am I still eating milk and eggs? So in 1987 I gave up all animal products and became a vegan. Simply so that I could eat and live in accordance with my beliefs that animals have their own lives, that they’re entitled to their own lives, and that contributing to animal suffering is something that I don’t want to be a part of."