Despite many challenges—like losing his beloved dog, Coco, and testing positive for the coronavirus—2020 was a monumental year for Lewis Hamilton.
Not only did the British racing driver win his seventh Formula One championship, but in the fall, he also released his latest collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger. The clothing range took a more sustainable approach and was comprised of nearly 80 percent organic cotton and recycled materials. On top of this, he continued to back Neat Burger. The London-based vegan burger chain opened its third location in December.
Hamilton went plant-based in 2017 after watching the vegan documentary What the Health. A year later, he executively produced the documentary The Game Changers. The film examines misconceptions around plant-based eating, protein, and strength.
Lewis Hamilton: Vegan Athlete
The vegan racer is proof you don’t need to eat meat to be a successful athlete.
In addition to securing yet another championship, Hamilton holds numerous records, including winning the most number of races. He told GQ Hype that going vegan only made him stronger.
“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 all this,” he said. “The first thing was, what’s happening to the animals? Secondly, the impact it can have on your body. That’s a free advantage I’m going to take. If no one else wants it, well that’s their loss.”
10 Times Lewis Hamilton Has Spoken Up for Animals
With more than 21 million followers on Instagram, the racer uses his platform to speak out about important issues. He’s advocated for racial justice and urged his followers to be more conscious about the environment. He’s also lent his voice to the animals.
Hamilton regularly talks about animal exploitation issues like factory farming and animals in captivity on social media and during interviews.
In honor of Hamilton’s birthday, we’re highlighting 10 of the most powerful things he has said in support of animal rights.
Being a voice for the voiceless
Hamilton has spoken out against the illegal wildlife trade. In an Instagram post, the British racer revealed he supports Art for Animals, a campaign launched by Space for Giants. The organization works to stop illegal wildlife traders in African and Asia.
“It’s so important that we fight for those that don’t have a voice, animal rights, and protecting our planet’s amazing wildlife. The illegal wildlife trade continues to thrive and it damages our environment and threatens endangered species,” Instagram, 2020.
Protecting marine life from plastic waste
Hamilton told his Instagram followers he spent time picking up plastic waste at the beach, prior to the coronavirus outbreak. He also urged his followers to be more conscious about the products they purchased and to buy from sustainable companies.
“Every single piece of plastic ever made still exists today, and a heart-breaking amount ends up being discarded and polluting our environment. It was really eye opening to see the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans, infecting the habitats of the marine life who live there,” Instagram, 2020.
Advocating for veganism
After sharing an image of deceased pigs—a product of the meat industry—on Instagram, Hamilton explained why he decided to go vegan.
“We all have a voice, I have this platform and so to not use it correctly would be wrong of me. Nobody is perfect, I certainly am not but this is actually happening everyday to so many animals worldwide. This is why I have decided to go to a vegan plant based diet, been over a year now. Yes it’s hard, nothing’s ever easy but I’ve felt the best I’ve ever felt for the past year,” Instagram, 2018.
Supporting wildlife organizations during Australia’s bushfires
In January 2020, amid Australia’s bushfires, Hamilton revealed on Instagram that he had donated $500,000 to support Wires Wildlife Rescue, WWF Australia, and the Rural Fire Services. He also urged his followers to donate, too.
“It saddens me deeply to know that over one billion animals in Australia died a painful death, no way out, not their fault. My love of animals is no secret and I can’t help but grieve for the defenseless animals thought to have died so far, pushing certain species closer to extinction. I implore you to join me in thinking about the impact we are having on our planet. Let’s work together to make small changes, and encourage our family and friends to do the same, so we can help shift the direction we’re going in,” Instagram, 2020.
Helping animals impacted by Australia’s bushfires
Along with donating half a million dollars to Australia’s bushfire relief, Hamilton visited New South Wales to see the work Wires Wildlife Rescue did of rehabilitating wildlife.
“Over one billion animals were impacted by the fires and it’s going to take years for Australia to recover, so it’s thanks to non-profits like WIRES, an organization I supported during the fires, that we have the resources to help preserve this beautiful country and its amazing wildlife,” Instagram, 2020.
Speaking out against animals in captivity
While in Japan, Hamilton took to social media to share a video by the Dolphin Project, a dolphin welfare organization. The vegan activist also urged his followers not to support dolphin shows.
“Please please don’t go and support these shows around the world. Don’t buy tickets to show your kids. Instead educate them of these horrible things that are happened to the dolphins, whales, and other sea life. These beautiful creatures shouldn’t suffer,” Instagram, 2019.
Raising awareness for dolphins
Hamilton also shared a video on Instagram showing how dolphins are stolen from the wild in order to be used in shows.
“The brutality Taiji’s dolphin hunters have demonstrated towards Pacific white-sided dolphins is deplorable,” Instagram, 2019.
Calling for an end to shark finning
In addition to speaking up for dolphins, Hamilton used his platform to talk about the issue of shark finning.
“1,400 pounds of shark fins were seized at a Miami port. This needs attention people, this is disgusting. People are catching sharks, chopping off their fins and throwing them back in the ocean where they sink to the bottom helpless and die. This is barbaric and we need to push to change this,” Instagram, 2020.
‘Don’t turn away’
Hamilton took to Instagram to share a graphic video showing what pigs endure in order to be farmed for food. He urged his followers not to support the meat industry.
“This is the world we currently live in where humans believe that an animal’s life is worth less than one of our own. The food you buy and eat today, at home or in restaurants is coming from places like this. This is why I went vegan, to not support this barbaric behaviour and slaughtering of millions of animals. I don’t support this industry. It is unacceptable and we have to work together to change this. Please don’t turn away, if you change the person next to you can change and so on and we can actually end this,” Instagram, 2020.
‘I choose to love’
Sharing a photo of his dog on Instagram, the activist spoke out against animal exploitation.
“Animals possess values of which very few humans do. We turn a blind eye to the pain and torture we put animals through. Every piece of meat, chicken or fish you eat, every bit of leather or fur you wear, has come from an animal that has been tortured, pulled away from their families and brutally killed. We all have choices to make and if you are ok with it then that’s you but I choose to love, to be conscious of what I’m supporting and I refuse to support the companies that buy from those companies killing and torturing animals,” Instagram, 2018.