Well, well, well. Looks like the word “vegan” might finally be going mainstream.
Gone (or at least going) are the days that being a vegetarian automatically means that you’re a “flaky, tree hugging hippie” when the likes of Steve Wynn, Russell Simmons, Mort Zuckerman and Bill Clinton are advocating on behalf of a meat-free lifestyle.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the enviro-loving implications that the vegan cliché bestows upon me. I’ve hugged many a tree in my lifetime. I’m just saying…
The image of veganism started to shift with the increasing number of celebrities making the change. The up rise of plant munching professional athletes didn’t hurt either. It’s hard for naysayers to maintain that vegans are weak and feeble when we’ve got Robert Parish, John Salley, Bill Pearl, Martina Navratilova, Joe Namath, Tony Gonzalez, Georges Laraque and many others on our team.
Slowly but surely, the big name veggie-lovers aren’t just the ones we see on *TMZ anymore. Veganism has made it’s way to the boardrooms and the trading floors.
Ford Executive Chairman of the Board Bill Ford, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, venture capitalist and angel investor Joi Ito and many other CEOs, are adding veganism to their list of exclusive club memberships.
Whether it’s for the animals, the environment, health, love (Dennis Kucinich converted as a strategy to win the heart of a vegan) or image, there is a power that comes with being a vegan and some of the most powerful people in North America are recognizing that.
10 years ago, being a vegan was such an underground concept that pundits listed it as a reason Kucinich couldn’t be the Democratic Presidential nominee. Years later he persuaded Representative the head of the Committee on House Administration to include vegan options in the congressional cafeteria.
Steve Wynn sold the Mirage Hotel—and its dolphin tank—in 2000 and gave up meat and dairy this June. He even included the Humane Society of the U.S. in his will. Wynn was converted after watching the documentary Eating.
“I watched it, and I changed the next morning”
He promptly bought 10,000 copies of Eating, one for each of his employees.
In 2000, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone went to visit the animal rescue organization, Farm Sanctuary, and came home a vegan. Just. Like. That.
Farm Sanctuary’s board includes a number of powerful vegans, including Tom Anderson, a former partner at McKinsey and CEO of college financing company Upromise. As an associate at McKinsey, he kept his veganism quiet for fear of stereotypes. However, as he climbed the corporate ladder, he became increasingly open about his eating ethics.
So what does that mean?
Well, for the CEO vegans, it means they have yet another way to make themselves seem smart and mysterious. It also means their medical and pharmacutical bills will be smaller subsequently making them even richer.
For all the other vegans? If nothing else, hopefully it will give a boost to the availability and accessibility of vegan products in mainstream restaurants and grocery stores.