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Celebrity vegans

Submitted by Susan Tomlinson on October 3, 2013 – 11:26 am No Comment

Bill-Clinton,-thanks-to-Donkeyhotey-on-FlickrWhat do Bill Clinton, Brad Pitt and Ozzy Osborne have in common? (And it doesn’t involve taking a stroll down the red carpet.)

All three of them are vegan.

In fact, it seems the list of celebrities not only eschewing meat but animal products is long. Along with the predictable , Darryl Hannah, Morrissey, and Sinead O’Connor, there are some real surprises like comedian Russell Brand and Olympic athlete Carl Lewis.

In fact, according to the Vegan Society, Carl Lewis credits his best year, winning Olympic gold many times over to a vegan diet.

“We have triathletes, marathon runners, all sorts of sportsman who are into a vegan diet,” says Amanda Baker from the Vegan Society. “

There’s even a few heavyweight wrestlers, like Brian “The American Dragon” Danielson and US body builder Mike Mahler who finally put paid to cliches of the pale, frail vegan.

And a glance at the history books show it’s not such a recent phenomenon either.

Leonard da Vinci apparently refused all animal products, although of course there wasn’t an official name for it in the 16th century.

In fact the term vegan was coined by Englishman Donald Watson in the 1940’s. Born into a meat loving Yorkshire family, Watson spent much time on his uncle’s farm and became vegan after watching a pig being slaughtered. It was a New Year’s Resolution that stuck, for in 1944, he founded the Vegan Society, coming up with the name by putting together the first three and last two letters of vegetarian – as he put it: “the beginning and end of vegetarian.”

Watson writes in the society’s first magazine, Vegan News, penned by Watson:

“We can see quite plainly that our present civilization is built on the exploitation of animals, just as past civilizations were built on the exploitation of slaves, and we believe the spiritual destiny of man is such that in time he will view with abhorrence the idea that men once fed on the products of animals’ bodies.”

The Vegan Society has come a long way since then and have just started a mentoring scheme whereby  new members pledge to become vegan but with the help of another local and long standing member.

And with 150-200 new vegans joining every month, the scheme is rapidly become a big success. “Having someone on hand to ask all the questions and provide the local knowledge about where to buy food has been great,” says Baker. She adds that although most people expect cheese to be the hardest comfort to give up, on the mentoring scheme, people rapidly realise there are lots of alternatives out there.”

To join the mentoring scheme, take a look at the Vegan Society website.

Photo: Thanks to Donkeyhotey on Flickr.

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