29 February 2012

Meredith Vieira to Ellen 'Now I want to be a vegan'

A new member of the celebrity vegan clan announced her decision to become a vegan -- sort of -- on Ellen this week. Former Today Show host Meredith Vieira and Ellen DeGeneres enjoyed some boxed wine while discussing a variety of topics, including Vieira’s recent cleanse, and subsequently, her desire to become a vegan. Although she followed up her statement with a disclaimer: "I don't know if I will be able to do it though."

After spending three days on a juice cleanse, Vieira decided she wanted to join DeGeneres, a vegan of four years, in her animal-friendly diet. Vieira and DeGeneres are not the only celebrities to call attention to a plant-based diet.

When DeGeneres’ partner, Portia De Rossi moved onto a farm with DeGeneres, she decided to follow her partner’s lead and stop eating animal products. Former president Bill Clinton decided to switch to a plant-based diet after his heart surgeries. After starting his new diet, done in part for his daughter’s wedding, Clinton lost 20 pounds.

Vegan actress Alicia Silverstone received much attention for her book, The Kind Diet, which provides extensive information on the treatment of animals raised for consumption, the importance of vegan nutrients, tips for becoming a vegan, and a complete vegan cookbook for every meal of the day (including a full Thanksgiving dinner plan). Along with her book, Silverstone runs her own blog, which features additional information and recipes. Silverstone officially began her vegan journey at the age of 21, though she had tried becoming vegetarian since she was 8. However, the former Clueless actress did not officially commit to becoming vegan until she saw a documentary on the harsh treatment of animals, comparing those animals with her dog.

As Silverstone said in an interview on Oprah in 2010, “I just took a look at my dog and said, 'If I'm not willing to eat you, how can I continue to eat these other creatures that have the same desire to live, are just as funny, just as cute as my dogs?'" Before becoming a vegan, Silverstone suffered from a series of health issues, including asthma, insomnia, acne and constipation. Once beginning her vegan diet, she immediately slept better, her skin cleared up and she no longer worried about her weight.

Actress Natalie Portman, perhaps one of the most well-known vegan celebrities, began her vegan diet after reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. Though she gave up her vegan diet during her pregnancy, reverting back to vegetarianism.

As more celebrities embrace the vegan lifestyle, it opens the door for others to follow. Though veganism is not a new idea, it has gained momentum as more restaurants begin to serve more plant-based dishes. Publicity for the movement is aided by celebrities, like Meredith Vieira, who are willing to take a chance on a new diet, and based on the responses from those who have made the transition, it has changed their lives for the better.

Samantha Wood | @bostonu14 | Blog
Boston, MA Samantha is a journalism student at Boston University who hopes to pursue a career in the health magazine field. She is interested in both nutrition and cooking, especially vegan cooking. She became a vegan while in college and has remained that way ever since. She created a blog to document her efforts and it has become a collection of vegan recipes, restaurants and nutrition information. Samantha hopes to develop her photography skills as well so she can take appetizing photos of all her recipes. She loves chocolate (the vegan kind of course) and dogs, as well as California, where she hopes to live someday.

Photo credit: Screen capture