What does it mean to be vegan? It’s not just about eliminating meat from your diet. A vegan or plant-based diet excludes all animal products. That means no dairy, eggs, or even honey. The restrictions also include clothing. You most likely won’t see a vegan wearing leather or suede because those products are made from an animal.
A person may opt to choose a vegan lifestyle for purely ethical reasons. However, there is some medical evidence that a plant-based diet may improve a person’s overall health and decrease cancer risks and heart disease.
It may have been for health reasons, because they bonded with an animal, or maybe they just wanted to look better, but these famous people can recount the exact moment they became vegan.
As a struggling actor in his 20s, Woody Harrelson was living in New York City. While riding the bus one day, a girl told him the secret to getting rid of his acne:
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.
Harrelson is a raw vegan. The True Detective actor also does not eat sugar or flour. Harrelson lives with his family on a working organic farm in Maui.
Dax Shepard got to work with long-time screen actor Beau Bridges in the 2012 Action Comedy Hit and Run. Bridges was 70 years old at the time, and Shepard was impressed with his physical spryness. He asked Bridges the secret to his success, and it turned out that the elimination of meat and dairy made all the difference:
When I saw his age was 70, I almost crapped myself. I would go, "Jesus, Beau, you’re not supposed to be able to punch somebody out in a scene at 70. My grandpa couldn’t have done that. What’s your secret?" And he goes, "I’ve been a vegan for 12 years." I was like, damn, I need to think about this. And then I saw Forks Over Knives, that documentary, and I was like, I’m in. I’ve been a vegan since January.
In addition to his vegan diet, Shepard also quit smoking and drinking. The changes in his lifestyle and diet have made him "tremendously excited about life."
Bellamy Young has been a vegan since college. The Scandal actress contends that the change in diet helped with her cystic acne and energy level. Young used to have issues with digesting food before she switched over to a plant-based diet. Young ties the moment she went vegan to a chicken entree she was served in college. She explains:
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.
Jonathan Safran Foer's book, Eating Animals, had a huge impact on Natalie Portman. The actress not only went from vegetarian to vegan after reading the 2009 bestseller about the detriments of industry farming and animal abuse, but also helped to adapt the novel into a 2017 documentary of the same name. Portman served as co-producer and narrator on the project. She was pregnant with her son when she decided to remove dairy and eggs from her diet:
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.
The Academy Award-winning actress has also become a voice for the vegan lifestyle. She often publicly talks about both the health benefits and positive environmental impact the switch to a plant-based diet has on an individual and the rest of the world. Portman believes that it's now easier than ever to switch to a vegan diet:
I feel like there’s a lot more vegetarian and vegan places opening all the time. I mean, in LA, we’re spoiled - but even in New York. And places like Shake Shack have a vegetarian option now. It’s obviously something that consumers are demanding more. Things like the Impossible Burger and Kite Hill cheese and Van Leeuwen’s vegan ice cream, those things pop up and create really incredible alternatives. People don’t feel like they’re sacrificing anything. They can still have delicious food and not be harming the planet.