From vegan activist Earthling Ed to musician Moby, TED and TEDx Talks have provided many influential people with a platform where they can speak about the benefits of a plant-based diet.
What Are TED and TEDx Talks?
TED—an acronym for technology, entertainment, and design—first started out as a conference in 1984. TEDx and TED events are now held year-round and are available in more than 100 languages.
TED Talks have more of a global approach, while TEDx talks, which are independently organized, have more of a local feel, reports Forbes.
Head of the organization Chris Anderson told the publication: “officially, the ‘x’ in TEDx stands for independently organized TED event – but it’s more of a TED multiplied. It’s been the force that has taken TED across the planet and seeded all of these communities.”
TED and TEDx Talks aim to inspire and spark conversation. Topics are wide-ranging, covering everything from business to environmental and social issues. Here are the 9 best TED and TEDx talks covering veganism and animal rights.
The 9 Best Vegan TED and TEDx Talks
1. Are You Feeding Your Body or Feeding Disease? – Matthew Kenney
In 2011, plant-based culinary chef Matthew Kenney gave a TEDx Talk in Oklahoma about the connection between food and human health.
“We have a killer epidemic on the loose in the United States. It’s affecting 200 million people… You catch it from dinner,” Kenney said. He continued: “Meats and animal products and undigested cooked and processed foods stay in our system and create bowel toxemia and the inability to assimilate minerals and vitamins and nutrients that we need to fight disease and to stay healthy.“
2. Modern Warrior – Damien Mander
Founder of Akashinga—a radical team of vegan women that are working to protect Africa’s most vulnerable species from poaching—former Australian special forces sniper Damien Mander first turned to veganism after feeling the hypocrisy of “protecting one group of animals and coming home and eating another.”
Mander gave a moving TEDxSydney Talk in 2013 at the University of Sydney. “As this over-consumptive meat-eater, I’d referred to some animals as beasts, when in reality I’d been the beast—destructively obedient, a slave to my habits, a cold shoulder to my conscience,” he said.
He continued: “We’ve all had contact with pets or other animals in our lives. We can’t deny our understanding of the feelings that each animal has, the ability to suffer pain or loneliness, and to fear.”
3. Why I’m a Vegan – Moby
Musician and animal rights advocate Moby gave a TEDx Talk in Venice Beach in 2018.
During his talk, Moby explained how a kitten he rescued, which he named Tucker, inspired him to go vegan. Moby said that one day he looked at Tucker and “saw this perfectly formed being.” The cat had a “deep desire to avoid pain and suffering and to be alive and happy.”
He said: “At that moment, I left behind hamburgers, hot dogs, etc and I became a vegan and an animal rights activist.“
4. Every Argument Against Veganism – Earthling Ed
Earthling Ed, aka animal rights activist Ed Winters, gave a powerful TEDx Talk at the University of Bath last year.
During the talk, Ed discussed all of the arguments he used to make before going vegan. The vegan activist said his first argument before giving up meat, dairy, and eggs was that it was his personal choice to eat them. “Well, interestingly, yes—it is our personal choice to consume animal products in the same way that it’s our personal choice to abuse a dog or beat a cat,” he said.
He went on to explain that just because something is a personal choice doesn’t mean it is morally justified.
5. A 10-Year-Old’s Vision for Healing the Planet – Genesis Butler
In 2017, at the age of ten, vegan activist Genesis Butler gave a TEDx Talk at California State University, Long Beach.
“According to many scientific studies, raising animals for food is the primary cause of global climate change, loss of biodiversity, pollution, and water shortage—just to name a few,” she said.
Butler has received numerous awards over the years for her activism, including PETA’s Youth Activist of the Year. She also appeared in the 2019 documentary “The Invisible Vegan.”
6. Power Foods for the Brain – Neal Barnard
Founding president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit health organization that promotes a plant-based diet, Dr. Neal Barnard has given several TEDx Talks over the years. During “Power Foods for the Brain” in 2016, Dr. Barnard gave an informative speech about how the consumption of animal products impacts the way the brain functions.
“Let’s throw out the pyramid… it had a meat group and it had a dairy group, despite the fact that people who don’t eat meat or dairy products happen to be healthier than people who eat them,” he said.
7. The Next Global Agricultural Revolution – Bruce Friedrich
Bruce Friedrich is the co-founder and executive director of the Good Food Institute, a US-based nonprofit that promotes healthy, sustainable plant-based food. He’s also a TED Fellow and regularly speaks about the topic of food innovation.
In his 2019 TED Talk “The Next Global Agricultural Revolution,” Friedrich discusses the ways in which plant and cell-based products can transform the global meat industry. He also talks about how harmful meat production is for the planet and for people’s health.
“In 2019, humanity received a warning. Thirty of the world’s leading scientists released the results of a massive three-year study into global agriculture and declared that meat production is destroying our planet and jeopardizing global health,” he said.
8. Can You Eat to Starve Cancer? – William Li
In 2014, world-renowned physician and scientist William Li gave a TED Talk about the benefits of eating cancer-fighting foods. Specifically, Li discusses how eating certain plant-based foods like strawberries, herbal teas, and soybeans can inhibit angiogenesis, the growth of blood vessels that feed a tumor.
“Mother Nature has laced a large number of foods and beverages and herbs with naturally-occurring inhibitors of angiogenesis,” he explained.
9. The Power of Our Food Choices – Lauren Ornelas
Lauren Ornelas went vegan in high school. Around the same time, she started her own animal rights group and dedicated herself to social justice work. In 2007, she founded the Food Empowerment Project, a nonprofit that works to create a more sustainable world with better food choices.
During her 2013 TEDx Talk at Golden Gate Park, Ornelas discusses the power of food choices. “Uninformed food choices can contribute to the suffering of sentient beings. Therefore, your food choices can change the world,” she said.