The beauty of veganism is that it’s a personal decision. Every day, each person has the opportunity to decide to live without cruelty or not. But because it is such a personal decision, there’s often not a consistent “message” — any one of us can promote veganism. Occasionally this sparks debates within the movement and many of us may disagree with others who are highly visible outside the movement. However, most of us can agree that we do what we do for the animals and for the environment (as well as our own health). And so, without endorsing everything ever written or said by the following people, these are, in my estimation, the top 10 people promoting veganism today.
1. Isa Chandra Moskowitz – Easily the most accessible, punk-rock, celebrity chef around, Isa (along with her co-author Terry Hope Romero) has provided the world with some of the vegan cook’s must-haves: Vegan with a Vengeance and Vegan Cupcakes take over the World, among others. With more than 13,000 followers on Twitter and countless members on her online forum, the ppk.com, she’s clearly promoting veganism and showing everyone just how good vegan food can be.
2. Carol J. Adams – Ms. Adams may not have as many Twitter followers as Isa, but her influence is no less important. She’s written extensively about the intersection of feminism and veganism. The Sexual Politics of Meat and The Pornography of Meat are dense, but worth a look, as are many of her 100-plus articles or entries in journals or books about animal rights, sexual abuse or domestic violence.
3. Paul Watson - Many may not agree with his actions, tactics or even his personality, but “Admiral” Paul Watson is a longtime vegan activist who has a high-profile and promotes veganism. Founder and President of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Paul Watson has had his share of controversy, but no one can say he doesn’t promote veganism or animal rights activism.
4. Josh Hooten/Michelle Schwegmann – Josh and Michelle are no less cerebral, active, or involved as many on this list, but their clothing line, store, publishing company, and vegan empire, The Herbivore Clothing Company, is a place many of us have heard of, browsed, purchased from or visited in the past few years. Nestled, conveniently, between Food Fight! Grocery and Sweet Pea Baking Company, they, along with Scapegoat Tattoo, have carved out what is known as the vegan mini-mall. Josh and Michelle promote veganism, vegan parenting, vegan activism, and all-around vegan awesomeness. And they make great gear that enables each of us to promote veganism on our chests, our backs or on our feet.
5. Ingrid Newkirk – Yes, there are plenty to disagree with when it comes to PETA and Ingrid Newkirk. But there is much more that unites us than divides us, and often we (read: I) forget that. Reading the website, it becomes clear and concise, “PETA operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment.” We may not always hear of PETA’s successes, but there are plenty. None of that would be possible with Ingrid Newkirk, her work, and PETA.
6. Ellen Degeneres - I often dislike writing about vegan celebrities because it’s so often used as a novelty to discuss how someone is quirky or keeping thin or reduced to some other simple factoid in a puff tabloid piece. But Ellen Degeneres does a great job of bringing veganism into people’s homes every day. People know she’s vegan and see her on TV and they don’t see an extremist judging their every bite. Most days, Ellen’s not trying to convince you to give up meat, but that doesn’t mean she’s not doing her part, including helping Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt-a-Turkey project last year.
7. Professor Gary Francione – With almost 4,000 Twitter followers, Professor Gary Francione has written and taught extensively on animal rights and animal welfare issues. He is an American legal scholar and there are plenty who disagree with his abolitionist approach, but again, it is that which unites us that is important. At a time when few legal scholars are taking up the issue of animal rights as a potential body of law as opposed to animal welfare, Professor Francione persuasively suggests treating animals as more than just property–hardly an extreme position for vegans with companion animals.
8. Emily Deschanel - Another vegan celebrity?! I know, but Emily Deschanel, who, if the internet can be believed, is pregnant, has continued to be vegan throughout her pregnancy. So often with celebrities we hear they are vegan and quickly hear they aren’t because they became pregnant or felt they were depriving themselves or many of the same excuses we hear from ex-vegans we may know. Ms. Deschanel continues to be vegan, and to help animal rights events and promote veganism along the way.
9. Laura Hooper Beck – While there are many bloggers for Vegansaurus, Laura Hooper Beck is the founding editor for this vegan lifestyle blog. In 3 short years Vegansaurus has spread like wildfire, but in a good way. One minute I had never heard of it, and the next moment, it was huge! I love that. I love Vegansaurus. If you haven’t checked it out, please do. Then tell them where you heard about them. And Laura Hooper Beck seems to do it all, and not just for Vegansaurus. She’s all over the internet promoting veganism!
10. You – If you’re here you’re reading blogs and hopefully sharing links and commenting on articles or entries that speak to you. Share the articles you love with your non-veg friends. Let us know what you disagree with and let’s discuss it. Living a healthy vegan lifestyle is a great way of promoting veganism.