Veganism Before It Was Cool
7+1 famous people who embraced veganism

Veganism is not a new trend. Believe it or not, it dates several years ago. The idea of cutting meat and turning to plant-based food was embraced by many famous people who left their mark in history.


Pythagoras the ancient philosopher of Samos is closely tied to the idea of avoiding meat fish or dairy products. Before the word veganism was established, such food choices were called “Pythagorean”. Due to the lack of writings, there is some controversy whether Pythagoras was vegan or not. All we know – from sources available – is that he followed a strict diet that did not include animals. 

 Leonardo Da Vinci 

Although it has not been proven still there is some evidence that Leonardo Da Vinci may have practiced veganism. To begin with, there is a contemporary letter that describes Leonardo as a person who avoided eating meat. Moreover, in his notebook, he expresses his deep concern about animal welfare and horror over the fact that animals are raised to be killed and eaten.

 Mahatma Gandhi 

Veganism was extremely popular in India many years ago. Known as “Ahimsa” an idea that excludes animal harm. Mahatma Gandhi’s mother introduced him to this philosophy from his early years. Surprisingly enough, Mahatma Gandhi was a reckless teenager who drunk alcohol and ate meat. While studying law in London he joined the vegan movement. That was when he returned to his traditional “Ahimsa” practices and refrained from alcohol, meat, and sex.

 Fran Kafka

Fran Kafka, the well-known author suffered from chronic digestive ailments. He tried to treat them by adopting a lacto-vegetarian diet. Apart from being vegan, Fran Kafka adopted the teachings of Horace Fletcher who supported that food should be chewed 100 times a minute. 

 Mary Shelley 

Influenced by her father, Mary Shelley spent a lot of time with many influencers who played an important role in the spreading of veganism. Throughout her life, Mary Shelley was a strong vegetarian supporter and against animal harm. Some say that her vegan lifestyle is presented in one of Dr. Frankenstein’s creature sayings “My food is not that of man; I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment”.

Leo Tolstoy 

Leo Tolstoy is believed to be responsible for the growth of veganism in the 19th century. He devoted his life to his own “mystical” version of Christianity focused on pacifism and anarchism. Tolstoy’s pacifism rejected animal harm and violence against all human beings. Moreover, in his introduction at the “Ethics of the Diet” Tolstoy narrated a visit to a slaughterhouse, where he witnessed the suffering of the animals and the indifference of the butchers, who seemed to have become desensitized to the brutality of their jobs.

 John Harvey Kellog

John Harvey Kellog the health-food “evangelist” was the foremost advocate of veganism in the US. He promoted veganism as part of “a biologic living” that avoids alcohol or smoking and promoted constant exercising. Moreover, he believed that sexual activity caused a variety of both mental and physical illnesses. 


Voltaire the well-known philosopher, historian, and writer is probably one of the most important figures of the French Enlightenment. During his academic years, Voltaire became a proponent of religious, political, and social liberty. In his writings, he refers to veganism as a virtue of the Enlightenment era. His scripts and ideas continue to be influential.

Susan B. Anthony

She believed in all forms of social justice, women’s rights, and the abolition of slavery – something that was unthinkable during her time (1820-1906). She was part of the animal welfare movement and she was one of the speakers at the very first meeting of the American Vegetarian Society. 

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