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Why Celebrities Go Vegan

12/17/2013 05:18 pm ET | Updated Feb 16, 2014

When news spread in November that Al Gore had recently started eating a vegan diet, reports expressed curiosity about his motivations. As the Washington Post noted in its coverage of the change, "people usually become vegan for environmental, health or ethical reasons." Gore has not shared his reasons, but he has plenty of celebrity company for any of the factors, with many other prominent individuals announcing in the past year that they have adopted vegan practices.

Going Vegan For Health Reasons

Jay Z and Beyonce rapidly eclipsed coverage of Gore's change when they announced a plan this month to try eating vegan for 22 days as a "spiritual and physical cleanse." The diet decision came after a few months of eating a plant-based breakfast, which the hip-hop mogul said was "surprisingly easier on me than I thought." Indicating possible intent beyond a trial run, Jay Z cited 21 days as a threshold for rewiring a habit (the couple chose 22 days because of personal significance of that number).

Dr. Neal Barnard would seemingly support that timeline, given the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine's 21-Day Vegan Kickstart program.

During the cleanse, Beyonce has sparked controversy for wearing outfits seemingly designed to represent what she's unable to eat, such as a cow-print top or an entire ensemble of pepperoni pizza images. Time will tell which of the media outlets are right, whether this is ignorance or humor or perhaps highlighting the additional aspects of a vegan lifestyle besides food.

An answer the couple's trainer gave SHAPE magazine regarding the question of wearing leather during the 22 days does show that their focus is personal health:

We've addressed it and we want people to know that this is a great opportunity to share this challenge, so we're focusing on what's important: getting healthier, the wellness, and being kind to ourselves.

Going Vegan for Environmental Reasons

Most speculation about Gore's decision concluded he's motivated by concerns about being kind to the planet. His Live Earth benefit concerts promote going vegan, so perhaps he's decided to practice what he preaches.

Director James Cameron would enthusiastically join him in this endeavor. In November, Cameron used an award acceptance speech at a National Geographic gala to implore others to join his year-old commitment, stating:

I want to challenge all of you as people of deep conscience, people who are environment stewards of the earth and oceans. By changing what you eat, you will change the entire contract between the human species and the natural world.

Ecorazzi noted Cameron's affection for rainforests, saying he "probably knows that one of the biggest contributors to the destruction of those precious bits of land is cattle ranching."

Whatever your reasons for following or considering a vegan diet, you can probably find inspiration and ideas from coverage of the celebrities' practices. Gore seems to be staying quiet about it, and you probably won't share James Cameron's challenge of transforming a 2,500-acre personal farm from dairy to crops, but you just might find your next meal on Beyonce's Instagram profile.

About Sandy Pukel

Sandy Pukel is a nationally recognized educator and a highly respected nutritionist who has an international reputation as a leader in his field. He has been involved with the natural food movement for over forty years. He is the founder and creator of Holistic Holiday at Sea, an educational and gourmet vegan and natural food cruise. He also co-authored a vegan cookbook, Greens and Grains on the Deep Blue Sea which features recipes that can be enjoyed on his annual inspirational, educational and gourmet natural food cruise. In the years leading up to his natural food cruise. Sandy owned and operated the Oak Feed Store which became a Coconut Grove, Florida landmark and crossroads for those seeking lifestyle change. He is considered a guru to those whose lives and health he helped transform to a better state of wellness.

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