As veganism gains momentum around the world, it seems there are now more vegetarian and vegan musicians than ever before. Plant-based, cruelty-free living is becoming popular in industries everywhere; many doctors are promoting the health benefits of vegan food, fashion designers are featuring animal-free materials 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 ditching meat—and many are keen on letting their fans know about it.
Why Musicians Are Going Meat-Free
There are a number of reasons musicians and other celebrities are choosing to ditch meat and dairy products. For starters, health may be a major motivator. A growing body of research has linked meat, dairy, and eggs to various diseases. Animal products often contain high levels of saturated and trans fats, which can cause blood cholesterol levels to surge. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a non-profit that advocates for plant-based eating and preventative medicine, this can contribute to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Environmental concerns may also be motivating musicians to overhaul their diets. The animal agriculture industry is responsible for high amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. This includes methane, which—according to NASA—traps heat 28 times more effectively than carbon dioxide. Animal welfare concerns may be another reason that celebrities are going vegan. The meat, dairy, and egg industries are rife with animal welfare violations. And more musicians are making the connection between what’s on their plate and the animal it’s sourced from—and are thus boycotting animal products to take a stand against cruelty.
Benefits of a Plant-Based 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 the 2014 documentary 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.”
Vegetarian and Vegan Musicians
Sir Paul McCartney
Former Beatles frontman Sir Paul McCartney has been living meat-free since 1975. “Many years ago, I was fishing, and as I was reeling in the poor fish, I realized, ‘I am killing him—all for the passing pleasure it brings me. And something inside me clicked. I realized as I watched him fight for breath that his life was as important to him as mine is to me,” he said in an ad for PETA. The musician made a short documentary film in 2017 with his daughters Mary and Stella McCartney, which examined the impact of animal agriculture on the planet. The film, called One Day a Week, also features vegan actors Emma Stone and Woody Harrelson. It encourages people to reduce their consumption of meat.
Rocker Lenny Kravitz is meat-free. During a 2020 Zoom interview with Men’s Health, the musician gave a glimpse into the plant-based foods he likes to eat. “What we have is green and more green. We’ve got cucumbers, mangoes, broccoli, kale, salad greens,” he explained. “A great blessing of living here in the Bahamas is that I’m able to grow my own food.” He added: “As you can see, I’m vegan and primarily raw. I have done extensive raw diets where I eat raw for a year.”
You won’t find meat on Leona Lewis’ plate. “I grew up in a vegan household so vegetarianism was a natural choice for me,” she told Women’s Health. “If you have a balanced diet with plenty of fresh produce you can get all the protein you need from vegetables and pulses.” In 2019, the British singer even held a vegan wedding ceremony, serving delicious-looking pastries by Sicilian chef Marco Failla. Lewis has also supported PETA, even narrating a 2015 PSA about the leather industry.
English musician and lead singer for Radiohead, Thom Yorke doesn’t eat meat. During a 2005 interview, he said there were a number of factors that influenced his decision to ditch meat. “First thing was Meat is Murder, The Smiths. The second thing was getting sick all the time every time I ate meat. And the third thing was I started going out with this girl and I wanted to impress her so I pretended I’d been vegetarian all along. And I immediately felt a lot better, a lot healthier.”
Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Billie Eilish has taken the world by storm with hits like “Bad Guy” and “Bellyache.” The vegan musician ditched meat 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 2019, 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 then 26.1 million followers.
Erykah Badu hasn’t eaten meat in more than three decades. The singer-songwriter told People magazine she stopped eating meat in high school. “I’ve been a vegetarian since my senior year of high school, that was 1989,” she explained, adding that she ditched dairy and eggs in 1997. “It’s just what’s best for my body. If I was a Lamborghini, I would want to put the best gas in it.” Badu also says her diet gives her energy, adding, “I eat raw mostly, kale salad, avocados, fruits, vegetables, and alkaline water.”
This award-winning singer is strong enough with meat. Cher previously told her Twitter followers that she stays away from eating ham and red meat. In 2013, she told Hello!: “I don’t like meat and so most of things that I like are healthy for you.” In her 1991 book, Forever Fit, she wrote: “I try to avoid foods with a high fat content because they make me sluggish and keep my weight up. Dairy products are not good for us. I weaned myself from whole milk to nonfat milk—if I’m having milk at all. I think cheese is one of the worst things for the body. It doesn’t digest well, and most cheeses are too high in fat and cholesterol.”
American rapper A$AP Rocky revealed his vegan lifestyle in his 2019 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 vegan musician became a pescatarian in 2011 and later stopped eating fish, too. He told Rolling Stone that eating meat-free helps him to “clean my mind, body, and soul.” In 2012, he told Complex that after doing research, he was shocked to learn how factory-farmed animals are treated. “They inject them with steroids and drugs that enhance their growth. None of that [expletive] 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.”
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.
In June 2020, Lizzo took to her TikTok to tell her then nearly nine million followers that she is vegan. “As a new vegan, I’m enjoying exploring flavors from plants & plant-based proteins! Every journey is personal & deserves to be celebrated,” she wrote. In a TikTok video, after being plant-based for six months, the vegan musician said: “This is from a whirlwind tour and year, and after being seven years vegetarian, going back to eating all animal products. This is me now, making my vegan protein shake.” She added: “Honestly, I am both of these women and I cannot condemn one woman or the other. I’m happy both ways and right now, this is what’s bringing me joy.”
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.” In 2019, 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.
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,” she explained.
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.” She continued: “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.”
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 in 2018 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). In 2019, he warned his fans to ignore “meat industry propaganda,” especially the myth that meat is needed for protein. He also 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.”
Jermaine Dupri has been vegan for more than a decade. 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 for a PETA 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.
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 even launched 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.
This musician hasn’t kept quiet about his animal rights activism and vegan lifestyle. Moby even has 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. 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.
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.
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.” In 2018, RZA launched his own vegan fashion line. The collection features shirts, jackets, CDs, hats, socks, and cruelty-free leather wallets.
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.”
British musician Geezer Butler, the bassist for Black Sabbath, went vegetarian at the age of eight. “I used to eat meat when I was a little kid, but I didn’t know where it came from,” Butler said during an interview with PETA2. “And one day, I cut this piece of meat open, and blood came out of it, and I asked me mother, ‘Where did this come from?’ and she said, ‘From animals,’ and that was it.”
There’s no doubt Grammy-winning musician, songwriter, and producer Tony Kanal loves animals. Kanal went vegan in 2012 after being vegetarian for years. The rocker and his wife, Erin Lokitz, even “veganized” their home. “We had down couches, wool blankets,” Kanal told the Los Angeles Confidential. “Once we became aware of how animals were exploited to harvest these items, we were devastated. When it came time to redecorate, we knew none of these things would be welcome.” Kanal is also active in the animal rights community. He regularly attends animal rights marches, as well as pig vigils at Farmer John’s slaughterhouse in Vernon, CA.
Rapper Styles P is a friend to the animals. In a video for PETA, he said: “I love all animals,” he commented in the video. “I started looking at a cow like my dog. Like, I love my dog. If I wasn’t trained that a dog is your companion, would I treat the dog how I treat the cow?” “I feel great, but it’s the plant-based diet. It keeps me going. It keeps me tickin’. It keeps me motivated. It keeps me feeling good,” he added. In 2016, he, along with friend and fellow rapper Jadakiss, launched Juices for Life to bring healthy, plant-based foods to marginalized communities in New York.
During a 2019 episode of Joe Rogan’s podcast, Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker said he went vegan after surviving a plane crash in 2008. “After having to eat meat in the hospital, I got out and I never wanted to eat anything that came from an animal again,” he told Vice in 2015. Speaking with Men’s Journal, he said being vegan has given him “endless amounts of energy.” He and his vegetarian daughter, Alabama, took part in a campaign for PETA called “Make Noise for Animals.” “We love animals,” he said. “We have a pig that’s so smart. And to think people still eat them is insane.”
In addition to being vegan, Bring Me the Horizon frontman Oli Sykes is an active animal rights activist. He even opened a vegan bar and cafe called “Church: Temple of Fun” in 2018. He talked with vegan meat company The Fry Family Food Co. about his plant-based lifestyle. “I have been vegetarian for almost 15 years now, and I made the transition to being vegan slowly about five years ago,” he said in 2017. Sykes admitted it took him “a while to fully convert.”
Nigerian-British grime MC, songwriter, and producer JME went vegan in 2012. “We don’t need to eat animals. I’ve been vegan four years, been living healthy, there’s no energy loss and I run 5k, swim, it’s better; there’s no downside,” the vegan musician told UK vegan charity Viva!. He even starred in comedian Simon Amstell’s 2017 film, Carnage, about a vegan utopia. “Being vegan, people think you’re an alien. People think that you’ve done something. They think that you’re different in some way. The only difference is you know something different, that’s all,” he said during an interview for Link Up TV.
British rapper Akala has been vegan for more than a decade. In a 2017 interview with GQ Magazine, Akala said he originally went vegan for health reasons. “I did a lot of research and I came to the conclusion that animal products are not the optimum food for human health. It was nothing to do with animal rights, and all of that stuff, that came later,” he said. “Originally it was just to do with health, and I do personally feel much better now.”
Legendary singer, songwriter, and producer Stevie Wonder has been vegan for more than six years. On a 2015 segment of James Cordens’ Carpool Karaoke, Wonder talked about his veganism. The duo also broke into song about Wonder’s eating habits. “I like not eating meat,” Wonder told Corden. “Go vegan, go vegan, you’ve got-got-got to go vegan,” the pair sang. “We have to be about making our planet more greener, the urban areas more sustainable for the children… We can’t just talk about it, we have to be about it. I’m motivating people to do something about how we are living on this planet,” he said in a 2018 interview with AOL.
AFI and Blaqk Audio lead vocalist was vegetarian for two years before going vegan. “It truly was the straight edge and hardcore scene that influenced me to be a vegetarian in the first place and that educated me in health and animal rights, and it was the same community that led me to veganism by education,” the vegan musician said in an interview for Ones to Watch. An ardent animal rights supporter, this vegan musician is a supporter of PETA. “I’d much rather go naked than wear leather,” he said during a PSA for the organization. “If you are wearing leather whilst not eating animals, you’re still contributing to the destruction of innocent creatures.”