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Once on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list, inspiring the likes of John Lennon, Yoko Ono and The Rolling Stones, she is considered the godmother of modern activism and announced she was vegan in 2009: we proudly kick off our top 100 list with Angela Davis! A force to be reckoned with, Angela has been advocating human rights and progressive justice since the 1960s. As a socialist scholar, she has lectured all over the world and held positions at a number of universities. More recently, she discussed the connection between human rights and animal rights in a major speech at the University of Cape Town, South Africa: “Sentient beings endure pain and torture as they are transformed into food for profit, food that generates disease in humans whose poverty compels them to rely on McDonald’s and KFC for nourishment.” Angela discusses human and animal rights with equal fervour, bridging the gap between animal liberation and progressive politics by illuminating the need to stop devaluing lives based on prejudice and profit. She was the co-chair of the 2017 women’s march on Washington, which took place across America the day after Donald J. Trump's inauguration as president of the United States. Davis is someone to look to―and look out for―when you want to find effective ways of talking about injustice, and familiarise yourself with how progressive movements can grow.
American vegan vlogger Hannah Howlett is known for her dramatic weight loss and potato cleanse diet. Howlett, who goes by the online name of High Carb Hannah, lost 70 lbs in less than a year. She did this by following Dr. John McDougall’s famed starch solution, published under the same name in 2012, by eating meals packed with potatoes, rice, oatmeal and other whole starches. In 2016, Howlett published Lean & Clean, an ebook containing over 50 recipes and 14-day meal plans and exercise guides for weight loss. Howlett inspires her YouTube followers to live vegan, updating them on what she eats, her workout routines and how to follow a more eco-friendly lifestyle and runs the Raw Till Whenever website.
Garth Davis is a medical and surgical weight loss doctor based in Houston, Texas, lecturing across the medical field on the importance of a plant-based diet. Working as a medical expert for over 30 years, Davis has reviewed thousands of science-backed studies to successfully dispel the myth surrounding the need for animal protein. Instead, he writes that animal protein is killing humans in his critically acclaimed book, Proteinaholic. Dr Davis has starred in a number of films recently, playing a key role in the Cowspiracy sequel, What The Health. He also regularly takes part in triathlons and marathons, and runs a Facebook page with a devoted following of over 70,000 fans.
As the first academic to teach animal rights theory in America, Gary Francione has been doing just that for close to 3 decades. Professor Francione is well-known throughout the animal protection movement for his criticism of animal welfare laws and the property status of nonhuman animals, and for his abolitionist theory of animal rights. He has authored a series of seminal books, including Eat Like You Care: An Examination of the Morality of Eating Animals, and The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation. Francione and his partner and colleague, Anna Charlton, represent individual animal advocates, grassroots animal groups and national and international animal organizations, and curate their website, The Abolitionist Approach, on AbolitionistApproach.com.
The 24-year-old Australian social media star has been active on YouTube since 2015 to promote the vegan lifestyle, gathering a following of over 250,000 subscribers over the years.Rebecca’s repertoire includes what-I-eat-in-a-day videos, healthy recipes, tips about veganism and lifestyle vlogs. She recently published Carbolicious, a recipe ebook filled with over 25 easily accessible high-carb and low-fat vegan recipes.
Vegan freerunner, parkour athlete and winner of the World Freerunning Championship, Tim Shieff is training, in his own words, with “a purpose greater than [his] own: to liberate animals."Schieff has appeared on the Ninja Warrior UK series in 2015 and 2016, and is now focusing on his vegan clothing line, Ethics and Antics. He is an active YouTuber with over 160,000 subscribers.
A proud vegan since 2011, Patrik Baboumian is one of the strongest men in the world. Born in Iran and raised in Germany, he is a strongman competitor, strength athlete, and former bodybuilder who continues to inspire countless athletes and people around the world to go vegan. He recently published a book about the benefits of the vegan lifestyle: VRebellion-1: How to Become a Vegan Badass. He is also active on YouTube, and regularly gives talks at vegan events across Europe. His youtube channel can be found here.
Model and actress Katie Cleary is the president and founder of Peace 4 Animals and its global animal news network, World Animal News. Cleary founded the nonprofit Peace 4 Animals with a clear vision: to create a world in which we can all live in harmony with our animal friends. Cleary also produced Give Me Shelter, a documentary covering and uncovering the three most prevalent issues facing animals. She is regularly featured on JaneUnchained.com and spoke at the 2016 SoCal VegFest where she exposed the plight of the animals raised for food.
As the host of the Foody TV series Healthy Living with Chef AJ, Chef AJ has been devoted to the vegan lifestyle for nearly 40 years. She is the author of the popular book, Unprocessed: How to Achieve Vibrant Health and Your Ideal Weight, which focuses on her journey from a junk-food vegan faced with a diagnosis of pre-cancerous polyps to learning how to create recipes that nourish and heal the body. Based in Los Angeles, California, Chef AJ teaches a hugely popular monthly seminar featuring cooking instructions and nutritional science. She is also the founder of the Ultimate Weight Loss Program, and the host of the YouTube cooking show, The Chef and the Dietitian.
Next up is Jake Conroy, who has been involved in a wide range of activism since the mid-1990s. As the co-founder and vice president of Ocean Defense International, Conroy led the first ever whale-hunt disruption in US coastal waters. He also helped build the foundation of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA, one of the most successful grassroots animal rights campaigns in recent history. Due to the overwhelming success of the campaign against one of the biggest lobbying industries in the US, the federal government prosecuted Jake and his co-defendants, known as the SHAC 7, as domestic terrorists. Jake was sentenced to 48 months, which he served in 2 prisons in southern California. Conroy currently works for an international environmental organization that relies on direct action and pressure campaigns to help enact responsible corporate policies. He is also on a speaking tour across universities and events, and has been featured in What the Health.
Nina and Randa Nelson are identical twins who have been vegan from birth.In 2015, they exploded onto the YouTube scene and have since raked in over 600,000 subscribers, garnering over 30 million views in the last year alone. Unlike many of the influencers on this list, Nina and Randa have shifted away from purely vegan-based content and campaigning. By focusing on their passions, including music videos, they are expanding their subscriber base and reaching people who would otherwise never consider a plant-based diet to thrive. Plant Based News will continue to watch these two rise to fame over the next and take the vegan movement to scale.
British animal rights activist Ed Winters, better known as Earthling Ed, is a campaign and protest organizer active on the London scene and beyond. Rejecting the mainstream political system, Winters documents events and interviews and uploads them as educational content on his eponymous YouTube channel that recently hit 600,000 views.He is the co-founder of Surge, a grassroots animal rights organization through which he organizes and attends protests, demonstrations and outreach events that focus on a variety of animal rights issues. In 2016, Surge hosted the UK’s biggest ever animal rights march, gathering over 2,500 vegans in London, which Winters ended with a rousing speech: “I can’t believe that in this day and age we still have to fight oppression. How can we allow ourselves to fit into a society that thinks compassion is extreme?” Watch out for the official 2017 march for animal rights, which will take place in September!
Sharon Nunez is the founder and international director of Animal Equality, a well-known animal advocacy organisation dedicated to defending all animals through public education, campaigning, and farm investigations. Currently active in the US, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Venezuela and India, Animal Equality moves the public to embrace veganism for the animals. Their greatest accomplishment to date, iAnimal, is a virtual reality project that creates a 360-degree, immersive environment in which viewers are transported inside factory farms and slaughterhouses. iAnimal reached 30,000 influencers worldwide and is shared with over 90 activists and organizations.
Daniel Bissonnette is the world’s most influential 12-year-old speaker and author in the health field. From the age of 9 onwards, Daniel has been speaking alongside world-renowned experts at leading health events across Canada and the US. He is now the keynote speaker at Western Canada’s Premier Consumer Health Shows. Determined to make an impact on the world by helping kids and families eat better, he has delivered over 100 professional presentations and authored a best-selling book, Daniel’s Breakfast Burst. Feel free to check him out on his YouTube channel!
American physician and author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Dr. Esselstyn is known worldwide for his long-term nutritional research aimed at arresting and reversing coronary artery disease through a low-fat, whole-foods, plant-based diet.Previously the star of the Forks Over Knives documentary, he was featured in two recent documentaries, What The Health and Eating You Alive. His son and Engine 2 Diet and My Beef With Meat author, Rip Esselstyn, is a former firefighter and triathlete who promotes healthy vegan dieting, trademarking the "plant-strong" term.
As the co-founder of the Belgian organisation, Ethical Vegetarian Alternative, and The Center for Effective Vegan Advocacy, Tobias Leenaert is known for his work as a vegan strategist alongside such notables as Melanie Joy. Leenaert organises weekend training sessions on effective vegan advocacy and he is currently putting the finishing touches to a book on vegan strategy and outreach entitled, How to Veganize the World in 30 Years. He can be found at VeganStrategist.org where he discusses vegan activism strategies.
Coming in at number 85 on our list, a long-time vegetarian who became vegan in 2012 after watching Forks Over Knives, Kristen Bell, and her husband, Dax Shepard, have become strong supporters of anti-animal cruelty, fostering and protecting animals from the Michigan Humane Society. Bell also attends fundraisers for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and supports the San Diego-based Helen Woodward Animal Center.
As the founders of Vegan Outreach, Matt Bell and Jack Norris have distributed over 1 million copies of their informational booklet, Why Vegan? The success of their strategy was proven by the steady stream of testimonials from individuals across the world who have all given up meat “cold turkey” after reading their literature. Ball and Norris also offer other award-winning booklets, including The Vegan Starter Pack and The Vegan Advocacy Booklet.
A vegetarian since the age of 16, the iconic Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage recently became vegan on ethical grounds, fronting campaigns for Farm Sanctuary and PETA, and serving as an ambassador for Cruelty Free International. He has been a spokesperson for Farm Sanctuary’s Walk for Farm Animals and delivered an important narration for PETA’s farming exposé, Face Your Food.
The famous professional tennis sisters switched to a vegan diet in 2011 when the older of the two, Venus, was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disease that made her constantly tired and caused her severe joint pain. Serena showed her support and turned vegan herself shortly after. During tennis season, the iconic sisters follow a raw vegan diet abundant in veggies, green juices and sprouted foods. Although we don't know whether the Williams sisters have been vegan throughout the past 6 seasons, it is clear that they have had a significant influence on the vegan movement, recently promoting Silk, the plant-based milk alternative for a healthy lifestyle.
Bob Goldberg is the CEO and founder of Follow Your Heart, an American company that manufactures and distributes Vegenaise, the now world-famous egg-free mayonnaise substitute, plus numerous vegan cheeses, vegan eggs and dressings, and gluten-free products. Follow Your Heart also shares recipes and promotes compassionate living on their FollowYourHeart.com website.
The English singer, Steven Morrissey, best known as the frontman of indie rock band The Smiths, released Meat is Murder in 1983, which was remastered in 2012 and promptly became the number-one anti-animal cruelty album in the UK, winning devoted fans and foes alike.In 2016, in what was his first interview in nearly a decade, Morrissey sat with TV legend Larry King, speaking openly about his vegan lifestyle. Back on the touring side, Morrissey insists that his venues serve no meat. As a long-time PETA supporter, he partnered with the animal rights organisation to create an animated video about farmed hens that he features on his tours.
Alexandra Beth's YouTube channel, Alexandra's Girly Talk, currently boasts over 1.4 million subscribers.Combining beauty hauls and vegan lifestyle vlogs, Beth encourages her audience to buy cruelty-free cosmetics and non-leather products.The 22-year-old Colombian vlogger recently became a mother, sharing with the world what she ate as a pregnant vegan.
Simone Reyes has been dubbed the "Gloria Steinem of the Animal Rights Movement." Reyes is the executive assistant to media mogul Russel Simmons, who is also vegan, and has been working tirelessly for animal causes. She has been featured on Plant-Based by Nafsika and JaneUnchained, and is a successful public speaker.Simone recently created a YouTube channel, so don't forget to check her out!
The 6-foot-5, 300-pound defensive lineman for the American football league, NFL, happens to be an outspoken Vegan Outreach activist.As an ambassador for Vegan Outreach, Carter speaks variously on vegan-related topics, including food justice and vegan activism. Having embraced veganism and stopped consuming any animal products after watching Forks Over Knives, he managed to reverse and cure his ailments and saw a massive improvement in his performance on the field.His motto? “My food is my medicine”.
Stay tuned for the rest of the list, which will be released soon. Subscribe to Plant Based News on youtube or subscribe to the newsletter to get notified.
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Diana is a London-based media student passionate about words and veganism.
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