Celebrities and the vegan movement are a real double-edged sword. I should know; I spent the last six years developing and stewarding celebrity relations for a major nonprofit.
Here’s the thing: most celebrities I worked with were truly lovely people. They were dedicated activists who had been vegan for years and wanted to do whatever they could to help animals. They just also happened to be famous. And so they used their platform to reach people far and wide to speak truth to power about the plight facing animals and also about a vegan lifestyle.
But then there’s… the others. You know who I’m talking about. The celebs who loudly announce they’ve gone vegan – and everyone in the vegan movement instantly falls all over themselves to tweet about them, write about them, put them on the cover of magazines, announce them as the best thing to ever happen to veganism, etc. – except the celeb has already gone back to eating meat.
Don’t get me wrong: at first, the exposure is great. Vegan activists would have to spend MILLIONS in ads to get the kind of reach celebs get just by posting a selfie on Instagram. But when the honeymoon ends and the celeb goes back to eating burgers, it suuuucks.
As someone who writes daily about veganism, I follow news stories that cover the topic. And this week, I was bombarded – literally BOMBARDED – with article after article about Anne Hathaway going back to eating meat after some stupid dinner she had with Matt Damon. It was the usual bullshit of how she ate salmon and was reborn or whatever.
Now undoubtedly this gets clicks for celeb websites and maybe it’s bad press for veganism – but should we really give a shit? I say no.
What does Anne Hathaway have to do with us to begin with? She’s an Oscar-winning celebrity with millions of dollars who probably flies around the world on private jets and has an assistant who has an assistant who has an assistant. Who even knows (or honestly cares) why she went vegan. Was it for the animals? Probably not. Was she ever even really vegan or just eating a plant-based diet? Your guess is as good as mine.
My point is that while celebrities ebb and flow in and out of veganism, true activists are lifers. We don’t take our cues from the likes of Anne Hathaway. We take them from the animals who are violently abused and slaughtered day in and day out.
Do I wish I had the power to make people wake up tomorrow and not care about Brad and Angelina – (yes, tabloids are actually still writing about their divorce) – of course I do. But we have to surrender to the reality that some things are completely out of our control. The fact is we live in a celebrity-obsessed culture and it’s not going away any time soon.
Whether Anne Hathaway eats hamburgers or Beyond Burgers is of no importance to me as an activist. And it shouldn’t be to you either. Thank you, next.