9 Celebrities Who Quit Their Vegan Diet And Why

By Gwen Farrell··  6 min read
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We’re probably not as interested in celebrities when they start something as we are when they quit something – whether it’s relationships, exercise regimes, and even diets.

Veganism used to be the Hollywood diet, touted by the stars for its supposed health benefits, ethical considerations, and its hefty price tag. But now, some of its most vocal proponents are now ex-vegans, and for good reason. Here are nine celebrities who quit their vegan diet…and why they did so.  

1. Samuel L. Jackson

Nick Fury didn’t always look like Nick Fury, obviously. The Marvel actor began a vegan diet sometime in 2014 to slim down for his role within the MCU, which began in 2008 with Iron Man alongside Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow. At the time, Jackson said he was “just trying to live forever” and finish out his Marvel contract in the healthiest and best shape he could, losing around 40 pounds in the process. But by 2015, Jackson had quit his vegan diet to gain his weight back, or else be fired from his role in Tarzan. Jackson now eats a hybrid diet, eating protein two to three days a week and “vegetarian the other four days.”

2. Kristen Bell

Kristen Bell, aside from being our 2000s alt it-girl Veronica Mars and part of the smash Disney success Frozen, is a noted animal lover (here she is crying hysterically after being surprised by her husband with a visit from a sloth). Bell was a vegetarian starting at age 11 before converting to a fully vegan diet in 2012 after watching the documentary Forks Over Knives, which dissects plant-based living as a way to reverse chronic illness and disease. 

However, Bell began to eat animal products again when she became pregnant with her first daughter Lincoln in 2013, citing her need for “more calories” to feed her pregnancy as she worked full-time. Bell is now back to vegetarianism, and says she likes to consume animal products that are only produced in places with “humane treatment.”

3. Dax Shepard

Bell’s husband Dax Shepard followed in her footsteps, also adopting a vegan diet in 2012 following their Forks Over Knives viewing. Shepard later admitted that even though he was named one of PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarians, he was only vegan for about a year and later quit the diet.

4. Zooey Deschanel

The best kind of girl is a quirky girl! Or is it a vegan girl? Queen of quirkiness Zooey Deschanel says that, unfortunately, she isn’t as committed to veganism as her older sister Emily Deschanel, of Bones-fame, who has been vegan since high school. Zooey has explained that she couldn’t even eat at vegan restaurants because of soy and wheat allergies and that she wasn’t getting enough calories in a single meal for it to be a sustainable diet for her.

5. Anne Hathaway

It’s rumored that our own monarch Mia Thermopolis started veganism in 2011 so she could prepare for her role as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises (when your wardrobe is 95% latex catsuits, it would be hard for any of us not to be overly-conscious of our weight). 

Hathaway has since brought back meat and dairy into her diet, though, following the physical demands of more intense roles like hers in Interstellar alongside Matt Damon. Hathaway has recounted how veganism wasn’t giving her the energy she needed to film for hours on end in a 40-pound astronaut suit. She and Damon also dined at a Michelin-star restaurant in Reykjavik during filming, and Hathaway said that eating salmon made her brain feel like “a computer rebooting.” She has also said that while a vegan, she didn’t “feel good or healthy, not strong.”

6. Simon Cowell

We know that a lack of proper nutrition can make an individual hangry and unpleasant…maybe that explains Cowell’s attitude on American Idol and The X Factor for all those years. Cowell did commit to an exclusively plant-based diet in 2017, cutting out sugar, wheat, meat, and dairy, or as he has said, “stuff I shouldn’t have been eating.” 

Cowell then reverted back to a more inclusive diet in 2020 after an accident on a motorbike broke his back, meaning he was laid up and immobile for weeks. Though he didn’t expressly give any reason for quitting veganism, Cowell stressed the comfort he found from eating treats and traditional English food as he recovered from his accident.

7. Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus, an animal lover who owns a reported total of 44 pets (22 at her home in California and 22 at her farm in Tennessee), started following a vegan diet after noticing how intelligent her pet blowfish was. In 2020, to the ire of many of her fans, Cyrus announced on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast that she wasn’t vegan anymore, referring to the Glastonbury festival in England where she felt like she was “running on empty” during her performance. 

Cyrus also noted that when her now ex-husband Liam Hemsworth grilled fish for her, she cried just thinking about it, but says she’s functioning much better cognitively now that she’s back to a more inclusive diet, including eating fish for the benefit of the Omega 3 fatty acids.

8. Liam Hemsworth

Many believe Miley’s ex’s decision to commit to a vegan diet was influenced by her, which is entirely possible, and Liam Hemsworth adopted the diet in 2015. He ditched the diet however in 2018, saying that he was feeling “really low and lethargic.” Additionally, Hemsworth was struggling with kidney stones, which could have been a result of an increased intake of oxalate, which is found in legumes, nuts, and spinach, all of which Hemsworth consumed in breakfast smoothies. 

9. Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres, as many will note, doesn’t really have a reason or logic behind quitting the diet (could it have been during lockdown when she said being stuck in her mansion felt like being in jail? We’ll probably never know). DeGeneres admitted a few years ago that while she “loved being vegan,” she started to include fish and eggs into her diet, but says she only eats “eggs from chickens I know.”

Closing Thoughts

Celebrities do all sorts of things for crazy reasons, but if they’re taking control of their health through their diet – and being open about including meat and dairy, for that matter, and risking judgment for it – we should applaud their candor. A common theme throughout this thread seems to be that for many, ditching veganism was the key to feeling better, stronger, and healthier. And since there seems to be such an undeserved stigma around eating meat, fish, eggs, and dairy these days, as a proud animal product consumer, that’s something to commend in my book. 

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  Pop-Culture  Celebrities  Nutrition
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