The rise of veganism is unstoppable. Every day more people are taking little steps towards a vegan lifestyle and so are an increasing number of celebrities. High profile people do enormous good to inspire the new generation about the virtues of becoming vegan – which we all acknowledge can be tough.
To celebrate Black History Month, VGB is taking a look at some of the most famous people of colour and black vegan celebrities in the world from actors and sports stars to musicians, poets and comedians.
Here is the top ten of our fave black vegans who inspire us the most.
Coming in at Number 1 is radical rapper, Rastafarian, people’s laureate and musician Benjamin Zephaniah. Sixty-two-year-old Zephaniah became a vegetarian at 11 and vegan at 13 to save animals – so he’s been munching on the plant-based stuff for a while now! We chose him because he is such a big influencer of both young and old and we are big poetry fans. His writing is quirky and inspirational and we love the poem entitled Vegan Delight:
“Ackees, chapattis, dumplins an’ naan,
Channa and rotis, onion uttapam…”
… which answers the question he’s often asked about what he actually eats!
We love a good laugh at Vegan Green Bee and so at Number 2 we have chosen self-deprecating comic Romesh Ranganathan, His deadpan humour is brilliant and he has featured in a number of comedies, quiz shows and travel programmes. Ranga, to use his one-time rap battle name, became a vegan in 2013, having previously been a vegetarian. Not as vocal or outspoken as many of other vegan celebrities, he promotes his vegan ideals quietly and calmly.
And so to sport. Our Number 3 choice has to be world #1 Formula One star Lewis Hamilton. Lewis adopted a vegan diet after stating that “It’s the only way to truly save our planet.” The fitness level of F1 drivers is amongst the top level in all sports due to the stress that their bodies come under as a result of G forces when driving and they can lose up to 4kg of body weight every time they race. Veganism hasn’t affect Lewis at all, having won many championships since turning vegan.
Coming in at Number 4 in our vegan charts is the gorgeous black role model, record producer, actress and singer-songwriter Erykah Badu. “Vegan food is soul food in its truest form,” 20-year vegan Erykah Badu says about her plant-based lifestyle.
They may be rivals on the tennis court, but Serena and Venus Williams have been super supportive of each other when it comes to being vegan. The sisters come in at Numbers 5 and 6 on our list of favourite black vegans. Venus went vegan in response to being diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that was leaving her very short of energy. She credits her vegan diet with saving her career. Serena went vegan in 2012 in support of her sister.
Venus hit tennis big time first when she won Wimbledon in 2000. She added six more Slams, which still leaves her a long way behind her little sister Serena. The younger Williams sister has a record 23 Grand Slams to her name and is believed by many to be the greatest tennis player – male or female – of all time. Both sisters say that they owe becoming vegan to their longevity as players and late-career excellence. As of September 2020, Serena, aged 39, is ranked 9th in the world by the WTA whilst Venus is now ranked 76 at the age of 40.
X Factor fans will approve of our Number 7 choice, Leona Lewis. Leona is one of the biggest UK winners of The X Factor which she won back in 2006. She has since stormed the American market winning two MOBO Awards, an MTV Europe Music Award and two World Music Awards. She is also a six-time Brit Award and three-time Grammy Award nominee. As well as being a singer-songwriter, Lewis is an actress, model and activist for animal rights charities such as World Animal Protection. Leona became a vegetarian in her teens and now says she is vegan apart from the occasional egg which she says she sources from an ethical farm or friends who have chickens. Baby steps, Leona…!
In at Number 8 is American musician, rapper, record producer, actor, film-maker and author Robert Fitzgerald Diggs, better known by his stage name, RZA. De facto leader of the Wu-Tang Clan.He has produced almost all of Wu-Tang Clan’s albums, as well as many Wu-Tang solo and affiliate projects. RZA is vegan and has promoted the vegan lifestyle and compassion for animals on behalf of PETA. “I tell you one thing I did use to like: the fish and chips,” he said in 1997. “But I stopped eating fish this year. One day I just felt the death in it.”
Game of Thrones fans may not know that our Number 9, British actress Nathalie Emmanuel, is also vegan and has been for around 7 years. Nathalie gained international recognition for her role as Missandei in the long-running HBO series which she played between 2013 and 2019. Emmanuel is vegan for health reasons, and told Glamour magazine in 2017, “I don’t trust the food industry, I don’t trust what they put in our food – it makes me feel sick actually.” You can follow her on Insta @nathalieemmanuel where she posts about her favourite plant-based meals and recipes.
Our final celebrity at Number 10 is the legend that is Stevie Wonder. What can be said about this man that hasn’t already been said? Wonder is truly an icon in the music world having been involved with singing and song writing for decades and having worked with all the great musicians.
Wonder has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Winner of 25 Grammy Awards, he was the first Motown artist and second African-American musician to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the 1984 film The Woman in Red. Wonder has been inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, In March 2018 Wonder revealed in an interview with AOL that he had become vegan for environmental as well as health reasons. “I’ve been a vegan for two years, so that’s helped my already good-looking self”, the good-humoured Wonder said. “I feel fresh. It feels good not to eat meat.”
With such inspirational people promoting veganism and a vegan lifestyle, the world can’t fail to sit up and take note.