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Health, Veganism

Unexpected Vegan

I like to think that veganism will make progress when it goes mainstream – that is, when people from all walks of life make the change away from meat, eggs, and dairy.   While I think that is still a fair way off, over the past couple of years I’ve noticed a few positive changes.  Mainly it’s been the growth in availability of vegan foods, and the development of vegan restaurants, especially overseas.   But another nice change is the ‘popping up’ of vegans in unexpected places.  While it’s never surprising to find vegan celebrities, like musicians or actors, the sports world has been pretty resistant.  Here in NZ, we’re constantly subject to the Evers-Swindell twins dancing around to the joy of dead cow and lamb, or some cyclist peddling McDonalds proteins.

Thus it was a nice surprise for me to listen to one of my favourite podcasts – Adam Carolla’s show – and hear him interview John Salley, a four time NBA champion with the Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls and L.A. Lakers.  He isn’t an “all-time” great, but he was a solid pro who had a long promising career, and he’s now a media commentator, into a range of different things, including doing some commentary on NBA games.

He’s also gone vegan, and is encouraging others to do the same.   He’s even created his own line of foods that are promoted as proudly vegan.  It’s just one little step, that’s for sure, but getting personalities like Salley on board is an important part of explaining that you can be vegan, healthy, active, and at the top of your sport.  I am a huge NBA fan, and while I was never a fan of Salley in his playing days – the Pistons were an arch rival of my favourite team – I sure am now.  Good on you John!  Who will be the first major NZ sports figure to come out and proudly say ‘I’m vegan too’?


2 thoughts on “Unexpected Vegan

  1. There’s a flipside to this: The unexpected vegan celebrity who turns out to be an unexpected non-vegan celebrity. I’ve repeated the line that Clint Eastood is vegan many times. Trouble is, he isn’t. As far as I can tell, Eastwood once said he ‘tried to stick to a vegan diet’; the LA Times reported him as vegan (http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jun/01/entertainment/ca-clint1); but then the NY Times reported that he eats meat (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/14/movies/14head.html?ref=movies).

    This is despite PETA etc including him in lists of pro-animal-rights celebrities.

    I think this illustrates the danger and pointlessness of focusing on celebrity endorsements of veganism. Our culture is overly concerned with the opinions of people who, really, aren’t the best sources of ethical and political guidance.

    That said, there is probably more worth in citing vegan athletes than vegan actors, as the former helps to dispell the myth of pale, unhealthy, skinny vegans.

    Posted by David Tong | 6 November 2009, 11:51 am
  2. I disagree.

    Personally, what you’ve cited doesn’t worry me at all. I have no problem with celebrity veganism. You cite it this phenomenon as being “overly concerned with the opinions of people who, really, aren’t the best sources of ethical and political guidance”. I see it as veganism going mainstream. As far as I’m concerned, the more vegans the better, and every one we get makes it that much more likely that people will come to see the movement as being “normalised”.

    If some people get lost along the way, like your Eastwood example, well, that’s just real life. People come and go from being vegan – I did. This is my second – and last! – go round. I want more actors, more athletes and really, more anyone. I think some actors have done amazing things to get people involved, and like it or not, those celebrities have a platform. Why shouldn’t they use it to promote veganism? Check out Natalie Portman’s work: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/natalie-portman/jonathan-safran-foers-iea_b_334407.html – very impressive. She’ll get more hits on this site in a day than we’ll get in a lifetime.

    I do agree that getting athletes on board will help, but so will getting people with public profiles. Just as with other movements, I’ll cheer when we have the first “openly” vegan politician, judge, Minister, etc. Anything that breaks down the hard set resistance to getting there.

    Appreciate the different view, but don’t agree with it!


    Posted by Peter Sankoff | 6 November 2009, 2:14 pm
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