Penn Jillette first went vegan four years ago, purely for health reasons. He lost more than 100 pounds. Now, the American magician still follows a plant-based diet, but he’s also motivated by ethics.
On a recent episode of the “Joe Rogan Experience,” Jillette recalls how adamant he was at first about only being vegan for health reasons. “I wrote in my book, I wrote a lot of stuff about ‘I am an unethical vegan,'” he told Rogan. His book — published in 2016 — is called “Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales.”
He continued, “[I wrote] ‘I’m not doing this for any sort of animal, any sort of animal cruelty, nothing. Strictly health. That’s why I’m doing the plants, end of story.'”
Shortly after, however, Jillette did discover an ethical side to his veganism. And it was all to do with his gut microbiota. “This has happened to a lot of friends of mine,” he explained. “After whatever it takes, people are guessing like three months, four months of no animal products, those little critters eating sh*t in your guts die.”
“They like the meat stuff,” he continued. “They’re not giving that feedback loop. [Then], I just found a real emotional change. All of a sudden I went, ‘I don’t want to be a part of that suffering.’ It was really strange how that changed.”
Health to Ethics
Jillette isn’t alone in his journey from health vegan to ethical vegan. Filmmaker Kevin Smith ditched animal products in 2018 after a heart attack nearly claimed his life. He was helped along by Jillette’s book, losing 17 lbs in nine days.
Now, he also stands up for the animals. Last year, he worked with Farm Sanctuary to encourage people to keep turkey off their plate at Thanksgiving.
He said in a video for the animal rights organization (whilst sitting with two turkeys), “I would just like to apologize to both these ladies for the [number] of their forefathers and mothers that I’ve put away.”
He continued, “you have my solemn word ladies, I will never eat another turkey. And I will go out of my way to see that others might not as well.”