Veganism is gaining momentum around the world. And vegan musicians are leading the trend.
Plant-based, cruelty-free living is becoming popular in industries everywhere; doctors are clocking on to the health benefits of vegan food, fashion designers are featuring animal-free leather in their work, and athletes are adopting plant-based diets to boost performance.
The music scene is just as involved. More and more artists are going vegan and many are keen to let their fans know about it.
Why Celebrities Go Vegan
Various factors motivate celebrities to go vegan. Health is a major motivator. A growing bank of research is finding links between meaty, dairy, and eggs, and disease. Animal products often contain high levels of saturated and trans fats, which can increase blood cholesterol. High cholesterol can increase the risk of peripheral artery disease, stroke, and heart attack.
More than ever, celebrities are doing their part for the planet by updating their diet. Animal agriculture is to blame for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector combined. It also uses vastly more land and water than plant-based farming.
Animal welfare is another leading reason that celebrities go vegan. The meat, dairy, and egg industries are typically rife with animal welfare violations. More musicians are making the connection between what’s on their plate and the animal it’s sourced from, and boycotting animal products to take a stand against animal cruelty.
Benefits of a Vegan Diet
The decision to adopt a vegan diet could bring with it a range of health benefits. Plant-based food, by nature, contains no cholesterol; cholesterol is only found in animal products. Vegan food also contains good amounts of fiber, while animal-based foods have none. Cholesterol-free, fiber-rich diets lower the risk of disease and can extend lifespan. Data collected from 185 observational studies said that individuals who eat the most fiber are 15 to 30 percent less likely to die prematurely. Fiber-rich diets were also connected to a 16 to 24 percent reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes, stroke, and colon cancer.
Vegan Diet and the Climate
Vegan lifestyles are good for the planet’s health, too. Eating animal-product-free can help clean the planet and save resources.
According to “Cowspiracy,” 70 to 90 percent of freshwater pollution in western countries is linked to animal agriculture. A study by the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), which was published in Nature in 2018, found that a vegan diet uses five times less water than a meat-based one.
The most comprehensive analysis of farming’s impact on the planet looked at data from 40,000 farms in 119 countries. Researchers found that if everyone on the planet went vegan, global farmland use would drop by 75 percent. This move would free up landmass the size of Australia, China, the EU, and the U.S. combined.
Oxford University researcher Joseph Poore, who led the study, stated: “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use.”
17 Vegan Musicians
1. Sir Paul McCartney
Former Beatles frontman Sir Paul McCartney has been living meat-free since 1975 but these days, the rock ‘n’ roll legend is all-vegan.
His plant-based diet has powered him through his recent solo world tours where he performed two-and-a-half-hour shows featuring more than 30 songs.
The 77-year-old made a short documentary film with his daughters Mary and Stella McCartney which looked at the impact of animal agriculture on the planet. The film, which is called “One Day a Week,” also features vegan actors Emma Stone and Woody Harrelson and encourages people to reduce their consumption of meat. “[If] we all join together in this effort, we can help improve the environment, reduce the negative impacts of climate change, and even improve people’s health,” McCartney said.
He added, “Through this campaign, I can say to people, ‘Just try it’ and show that it can actually be quite fun when you look at what you do, what you eat, how you live and think, ‘is this what I’m gonna do for the rest of my life or would it be interesting to try making a change?’”
2. Billie Eilish
At the age of 17, American singer-songwriter Billie Eilish has taken the world by storm with hits like “bad guy” and “bellyache.” The musician went vegan around 2014. She wrote in a blog post that there were “a lot of reasons” for the lifestyle change, including the impact of dairy on health and animal welfare – “leave animals alone,” she wrote.
In June, Eilish took to Instagram to urge people to think twice about the food on their plates. She shared undercover footage taken at Fair Oaks Farms, a facility in Indiana that supplies cow’s milk to dairy brand Fairlife. The exposé, which said to be the largest undercover dairy investigation ever, showed farmworkers abusing calves.
“If you can watch the videos that I just posted and not give a [expletive] that it’s YOU contributing by LITERALLY EATING the creatures that are being fully tortured just for your pleasure. I feel sorry for you,” wrote to her 26.1 million followers.
“I understand that meat tastes good… and I know you think you’re just one person and it ‘won’t change anything if you stop,’” Eilish continued. “But that’s ignorant and stupid.”
3. Miley Cyrus
Pop sensation Miley Cyrus went vegan in 2014, the same year she adopted a rescue pig named Bubba Sue.
By 2018, Cyrus had 16 animals living with her, including nearly 10 rescue dogs, one of whom, a beagle who was rescued from lab testing.
The musician’s bond with her animals is a close one. She told Howard Stern in 2017 that her rescue pigs were stopping her from touring. “Literally the only reason I’m not touring is because of those [expletive] pigs. That’s how much I love those pigs,” she said.
Cyrus has also been vocal about the need to save the planet. At the Tinderbox Festival in Odense, Denmark, the artist delivered a passionate speech about ocean pollution. “I don’t like that there’s more [expletive] trash in the water than living [expletive] animals that deserve to be there, that have nowhere else to go,” the “She Is Coming” artist said. “And by the [expletive] way, we don’t have anywhere to [expletive] go, either! There’s no planet B, so don’t [expletive] up!”
4. A$AP Rocky
American rapper A$AP Rocky revealed his newly adopted vegan lifestyle in his latest single, “Babushka Boi.” He raps on the track, “I ain’t ducking bullets either. Sh*t, I ain’t duck sauce since I became a vegan.”
The musician became a pescatarian in 2011 and later stopped eating fish, too, telling Rolling Stone that eating meat-free helps him to “clean my mind, body, and soul.”
Animal welfare and health reasons were behind the change. He told Complex in 2012, “I started doing research and found out how they treat those animals before they, you know, service them. They inject them with steroids and drugs that enhance their growth. None of that sh*t is healthy, and on top of that those [expletive] animals were stressed and compressed the whole time,” he said. “That kind of food going into your body is unhealthy. I don’t mean to sound like some weirdo, but it is what it is.”
Will.i.am went vegan in 2017 after being diagnosed with high blood pressure and cholesterol. The change in diet helped the rapper lose 15 pounds and lower his cholesterol and blood pressure without medication. He also said it improved his nasal drip, energy levels, and acid reflux.
Will.i.am has since spoken out about the ethical side of plant-based living. “If we didn’t have these fancy utensils, would I have the ability to go up to a living creature and like, savagely kill it to eat it? Could I do that?” he said in a video on his Instagram.
The Black Eyed Peas frontman said on a podcast with Arianna Huffington that going vegan “changed my life.”
Singer and dancer Ne-Yo was inspired to go vegan after watching “What the Health.” The 39-year-old said to Capital FM earlier this year, “Initially, I watched the documentary ‘What the Health’, and to put it frankly, it p***ed me off. It really did,” he said. “I was like, let me get this straight: The person giving you the disease and the person fighting the disease are in bed together? To hell with y’all.”
The switch has paid off. “I am loving it. I genuinely am. It’s been about two years. More energy, my face clears up, weight falls off. I lost, like, 30 pounds!” he said.
Ne-Yo is set to appear in “Hungry for Justice,” an upcoming documentary that explores the issue of food injustice, including food deserts, the link between diet and disease, and nutritional racism.
Sixty-year-old singer-songwriter Morrissey stopped eating meat at 11-years-old. As the frontman of The Smiths, Morrissey released the album “Meat is Murder” in 1985.
The musician hasn’t been quiet about his lifestyle. He told Fiona Dodwell in an interview, “I refuse to eat anything that had a mother, that’s obvious.”
Earlier this year, he began setting up booths at his concerts to collect petition signatures to urge winter clothing manufacturer Canada Goose to ditch down and coyote fur. “I’m writing to urge Canada Goose to act more like its namesake (e.g., smart, brave, and willing to fly off in a new direction) by making the bold ethical choice to remove coyote fur and down feathers from its parkas,” the musician wrote in the petition, which will be delivered to Canada Goose’s CEO Dani Reiss once the tour has ended.
Last year, Morrissey wrote a letter to the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine asking for a ban on fur farming in Ireland.
8. Joan Jett
American rock singer Joan Jett has been meat-free since the 80s. The artist made the change for ethical reasons. “Twenty years ago I thought: What’s the difference between eating a bloody steak and killing my dog, slitting him open and roasting him?” Jett said to the Guardian in 2010. “I’ve always loved animals but it was around the late 80s that I realized I had to go vegetarian. A lot of things converged in my life then – musically, emotionally – but mainly it was my love of animals and spending so much time touring that made me decide I had to change my diet.”
It was a change of pace for the frontwoman of the Runaways, who had grown up being “a major carnivore.” Now she’s a major supporter of PETA, the largest animal rights group in the world. In a 2008 testimonial for the organization, Jett said, “Cutting meat out of your diet is the best thing you can do for animals and your own health. Did you know it’s one of the best things you can do for the planet too?”
When longtime vegetarian Mýa went vegan, she experienced a world of benefits. She has since declared she is “vegan for life.” The R&B artist credits her plant-based diet for helping her beat anemia. “I thought you had to have meat to have protein and get your iron, and that’s just false information,” she said in a video for PETA.
She explained that she no longer gets sick since ditching animal products and thanks her healthy diet for her clear skin and “fountain of youth.”
“It’s done wonders for my entire life.”
10. Ariana Grande
American singer-songwriter Ariana Grande adopted a plant-based diet in 2013. She told the Mirror the following year, “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,” she said.
By 2017, Grande had adopted nine rescue dogs (one of whom, Toulouse, appeared in the music video for “7 Rings”).
The entertainer has been spotted donning a faux fur coat by Marei 1998, a Tel Aviv-based luxury fashion brand.
11. Bryan Adams
Canadian musician Bryan Adams, the artist behind the 1985 hit “Summer of ’69,” is a vocal supporter of the vegan movement. The singer-songwriter said last year that ditching animal products (and sugar) was the “best thing I ever did for myself.”
Adams frequently urges his fans to think twice about what’s on their own plates (even his Instagram bio encourages people to go vegan). Earlier this year, he warned his fans to ignore “meat industry propaganda,” especially the myth that meat is needed for protein. In September he took a stand against whale hunting, saying there’s “no need” to hunt the “magnificent giants.” He added, “The future is recognizing that killing animals for food is [expletive] up the planet.”
12. Jermaine Dupri
Jermaine Dupri has been vegan for more than 12 years. The American rapper first dipped his toes into plant-based eating by participating in a 25-day cleanse. “The energy I had, the way I felt, I just tried to figure out at that point how could I keep this same feeling. People were like, ‘well you should be vegan,'” he said last year for a campaign that encouraged people to “feel the beets, lose the meats, go vegan.”
“The vegan lifestyle, to me, is the best lifestyle. And I want to get the world into this,” the Grammy Award-winner said.
13. Gabrielle Aplin
Twenty-six-year-old singer-songwriter Gabrielle Aplin adopted a plant-based diet in 2014. “Today, I embark on my fully vegan adventure. Trembling at the thought of no blue cheese. Or just no cheese at all. No. cheese. at. all,” she wrote on Facebook.
But the British musician seems to be coping just fine. The “Please Don’t Say You Love Me” singer now has her own vegan cooking show on YouTube called Food With Friends. The online series sees her whipping up dairy-free mac ‘n’ cheese, eggless omelet, vegan Buffalo wings, and plant-based jackfruit tacos.
American musician Moby hasn’t kept quiet about his animal rights activism and vegan lifestyle. The artist recently got a “vegan for life” tattoo on his neck. “I’ve been a vegan for almost 32 years, so getting this tattoo seemed like a pretty safe bet,” he wrote on Instagram last month.
In 2018, Moby sold his personal record collection — which featured more than 1,000 records — and more than 100 pieces of music equipment and donated the money to PCRM, a non-profit research organization that promotes a plant-based diet for optimal health. The same year, he sold his house in New York — which is worth $1,300,000 — and donated a portion of the proceeds to his animal rights foundation.
15. Jason Mraz
Jason Mraz adopted a plant-based in 2011. The “I’m Yours” artist wrote on his blog at the time that he felt “stronger, fitter, healthier and more productive” as a vegan. “I ride longer distances on my bike, can do more pull-ups than ever, and my brain seems to have a larger capacity for new projects, problem-solving, songwriting, and fielding random questions,” Mraz said.
“My health and strength make me a better performer and all that combined gives me more confidence to go out in the world and shine my light. It also makes me a lot better in bed. Just sayin…” he added.
The musician also lives on a five-and-a-half acre avocado farm, which might be the most vegan thing about him.
Member of the Wu-Tang Clan RZA thinks veganism leads to a “better tomorrow.”
The American rapper was partly motivated by ethics to ditch animal products. He told PETA in 2014 that there’s nothing “on this planet that doesn’t want to live.”
“I’m quite sure [animals] do not wanna be on my plate… When you eat [animal products] you’re eating that stress, eating that sickness, eating that fear,” he said, also adding, “I don’t need a dead animal or dead piece of flesh to go into my live body.”
Last year, RZA launched his own vegan fashion line. The collection features shirts, jackets, CDs, hats, socks, and cruelty-free leather wallets.
17. Dawn Richard
American singer-songwriter Dawn Richard went vegan “cold turkey” following her father’s cancer diagnosis. “Everything has changed for me and for the better,” Richard commented, also saying that veganism is about “more than just food, it’s a lifestyle.”
She believes more people need to make the connection between what’s on their plate and the animal their food was sourced from. “People are forgetting that it starts with the animals and we have misused them as if they are not like us,” she said. “The mistreating of them, it comes into our food.”