Going vegan is hard. For those who have already gone through a big part of their life as vegetarians or lactose-intolerant, making a few more adjustments to their lifestyle in transitioning to veganism might not be the most difficult thing. However, for those of us who are going straight from a carnivorous diet to a vegan lifestyle, some advice and motivational quotes might be appreciated. Read on to find out why, and how, these four famous vegans made the transition.
“Going vegan saved my life.” It’s a dramatic statement, and comes from none other than the 42nd President of the United States. Bill Clinton adopted the vegan diet following an emergency surgery in 2010 after experiencing severe chest pains. His doctor put him on a vegan diet with a few exceptions (salmon and omelette once a week). At first, Clinton admitted he didn’t always enjoy vegan food, and the transition was far from easy. He continued to crave processed and fatty foods until a few weeks into his diet, at which point his body started to adjust to the raw and organic ingredients in his meals.
Motivated to stay committed to his new vegan diet, Clinton started reading ‘Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease’ and ‘Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease’ by Caldwell Esselstyn which advocated the same thing – a low-fat and plant-based diet. In line with this medical advice, Clinton starts his morning with a breakfast smoothie made from almond milk, berries and protein powder. He snacks on nuts throughout the day, while dinner involves vegetables, quinoa and sometimes a vegan burger.
For those still craving starchy food, Clinton has some advice. “You can make whipped cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes, and it’s great.” He also has some more thought-provocative advice, however. “If you don’t have the willpower to do it for yourself, he adds, do it for your loved ones. A lot of people who are busy and stressed feel that eating and being comfortable is their reward, but you have a responsibility to try to be as healthy as possible.”
The world’s most successful poker player got his start in poker early. Nicknamed ‘Kid Poker’ because of his World Series of Poker win at the age of twenty-three (a title feat which he has since repeated), the star has acquired over h $36 million in live tournament winning -, it’s safe to say there’s not a poker player who even comes close.. A lot of his success, Negreanu admits, is thanks to his vegan diet.
In his younger days, Negreanu had a typical Las Vegas diet – steak, chips and bear. With youth on his side, it may not have made such a difference to the poker player that he was consuming high-fat foods low in nutrition. As he got older, however, the energy and concentration he once took for granted (and which are essential for enduring a long poker tournament) began to wane.
Negreanu switched to a vegetarian diet which didn’t make much of a difference to him at first, in part because ‘vegetarian’ equated to Margarita pizzas and chips. It was only after he consulted with a nutritionist and switched to a vegan diet that Negreanu was able to once again reach peak performance at the card table. The PETA-promoting poker player is even in the process of collaborating with James Cameron on a documentary about veganism.
He has numerous pieces of advice for those considering the transition to a vegan lifestyle. The first and foremost comes in educating oneself. “As I learned more about veganism, and animal farms and the way animals were treated, it just disgusted me to the point where I could never imagine eating animals again. I watched documentaries like Cowspiracy, but even before that I had read books which really pointed to what we’re creating in this world and how it’s not sustainable in the long term,” Negreanu said. It is this knowledge, he explains, that helped him stay motivated in the transition stage.
In terms of helpful resources, Negreanu recommends reading the vegan-based ‘21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart’ by Neal D. Barnard as he says “to help people with the transition. It focuses on meal plans for beginners.”it’s a great basic guide
The story of how the Hollywood star became vegan is an unexpected one. In his early twenties, before his days of stardom, Harrelson was riding a bus when a woman sat next to him and diagnosed his acne and runny nose as being the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Harrelson, who had been to many doctors in an attempt to figure out what he was allergic to, was dubious. After three days of cutting out dairy, however, Harrelson’s symptoms disappeared.
That led the actor to consider other ways in which his body would benefit from cutting out animal products. “I just noticed every time I ate a steak or a burger, I wanted to lay down for a nap or something,” he said in an interview about his diet. After cutting out meat, Harrelson found himself having more energy. “We take so much care about what kind of fuel we put in our car, what kind of oil. We care about that more than the fuel that we’re putting in our bodies,” he once pointed out.
Now, the actor is an outspoken hemp activist and passionate environmentalist, teaming up with PETA and investing in vegan restaurants and beers across America.
The hugely popular talk show host and comedian is perhaps the only person on this list who didn’t initially go vegan for health or environmental reasons. “I do it because I love animals,” Degeneres explained. “I suddenly realized that what was on my plate were living things, with feelings. And I just couldn’t disconnect myself from it any longer.”
Ellen is passionate about encouraging others to go vegan, and has a section on her website dedicated solely toward providing advice and recipes for aspiring vegans. Included here are video clips from cooking segments on the Ellen Degeneres Show – sometimes featuring big guest stars, and always humorous!
Most of us, unlike these big stars, don’t have the same amount of money or time to invest in healthy and ethical eating. Going vegan can be both expensive and impractical in some parts of the world – but making small and gradual changes, like adopting a ‘meatless monday’ tradition, or just making one of your three daily meals vegan, goes a long way in improving your health, animal welfare and the environment. These famous figures, at the top of their game, will tell you it’s worth it.