Vegan celebrity: do as I say, not as I eat

cheese and crackers

So, it seems folks are all a-twitter about the recent cheese bomb Alicia Silverstone dropped during an interview with US Weekly.

Alicia Silverstone Admits She ‘Cheats’ Sometimes On Vegan Diet (

The comment section on their page is of course just a sample of the feedback this little admission is getting from folks. As a high-profile celebrity who has supported the healthier living cause, and more specifically the vegan/animal rights cause, Alicia openly admitting to trying cheese at a party seems to be the collision of two things I have touched on in the past:

CEOs and celeb vegans


Are vegans extinct?

“Being flexible that way makes more people comfortable. If I’m rigid about it and I’m perfect, then no one is going to be able to be like me because I’ll be this icey, rigid thing.”

Although I can agree with Alicia to some degree about the importance of being somewhat flexible about one’s stance on diet, animal rights, etc… I have to admit that I feel her celebrity status, and profiting from the vegan identity, places a little more weight on her being a “perfect” person. I know, celebrities are people too, but when those people are fighting or representing causes that are already ridiculed by the media (albeit less and less these days) their actions are all the fodder a tabloid needs to take a bite out of veganism or whatever cause they admit to cheating on every now and then.

So, what do you think? Does everyone deserve a Get Out of Jail Free card when they don the vegan cap or do they lose that privilege once they step out in front of a camera and publicize what’s on their plate?

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  1. Stacey Nelson wrote: Nov. 13, 2010

    As a vegan of 7+ years, I am very sad to hear that Alicia Silverstone occasionally eats cheese.
    Of course I sometimes miss the comforts or convenience of the foods that I used to eat. If I ever find myself tempted, I remind myself of why I became vegan in the first place. I think about where that particular food came from. Cheese for example. I think about the life of a poor dairy cow. I think about a mother that has had her baby taken from her to perform as a milking machine living with constant mastitis. For me, tasting cheese again is not worth it.
    Instead, my partner and I recreate old favorites with cruelty free vegan ingredients. Last night we had friends over that are not vegetarians and we made faux chicken parmesan with spaghetti and marinara sauce. Our guests had seconds and raved about how delicious everything was.
    Oh and Ryan, recently Daiya became available in Calgary and it is delicious!! Next time you are in Calgary let me know and we will have you over for dinner. 🙂

    • Ryan wrote: Nov. 13, 2010

      Hey Stacey,
      I think that might be part of the disappointment I have with the cheating. It’s not something that may or may not have been vegan, it was obviously not.
      People slip-up, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve pleaded ignorance at random times when I didn’t want to simply not eat. I think it’s something that comes with the territory when you travel a lot and want to stay healthy instead of eating potato chips from a gas station just to stay vegan without a doubt.
      For me though the bigger issue is the influence she has on other people and the media. Cheating on something that so many other people are working hard to convince the world to adopt as a way of life just gives the media a reason to stress how unhealthy and difficult a vegan diet is to maintain. If celebrities can not do it, how can any average person keep it up?
      If someone is going to step into the spotlight and stress how healthy and important something is, they should be aware of how important it is for them to maintain that stance.
      As for Daiya, I’ve heard it’s even as far east as Halifax, which is driving me crazy since I am now missing tempeh and Daiya just because I’m one province east of there! That being said, the next time I’m in Calgary I will be by for pasta and faux chicken for sure!

      thanks for the input,

  2. Chucky wrote: Nov. 12, 2010

    I expect Alicia to be perfect when I become perfect. Alicia! It’s okay to be human.

    BTW… does the article describe the circumstances of her eating the cheese?

    • Ryan wrote: Nov. 12, 2010

      “If I was at a party and there was a tray of cheese sitting there and I had had drinks, then I might have a bite,” The Kind Diet author said.

      According to the article on Ecorazzi, those were the circumstances. I’m sure most of us have been in a similar situation, and chances are plenty of us have taken the nibble. I am more interested in whether or not those we look up to should be expected to not cheat, regardless of the circumstances?

      Given the feedback so far, I’m guessing the general consensus is a “no, they don’t have to do any better than the rest of us”, which is comforting in a way. However, I’m not sure if folks who are looking to criticize veganism will see it the same. Having celebrities identify as vegan is an immediate plus to the cause, but having them slip-up as vegan is an immediate negative as well. Whether or not I happen to eat something tonight that is not vegan will be of no interest to the media, but if Bill Clinton is seen eating a steak this weekend I suspect there will be much more interest from both sides of the fence.

  3. denise wrote: Nov. 12, 2010

    We live in a society that is not geared to accommodate vegans, and yet we slam those who manage to adhere to a vegan lifestyle 99% of the time because they cheated in that 1%. No one is perfect. I have been starving at a party because I didn’t have time to eat before I went and yes, I ate non-vegan chips. I don’t think that makes my lifestyle choices less powerful when I go to the grocery store.

    Why are we so willing to attack? Bottom line is Alicia Silverstone has done a lot for the vegan movement because she makes it clear that doing a little is better than doing nothing at all. The all-or-nothing, 9th degree Vegan brigade alienate more people than they actually reach and are usually more concerned with their image than in the welfare of animals.

    • Ryan wrote: Nov. 12, 2010

      Hey Denise,
      I agree that we shouldn’t be quick to attack those who are not perfect. None of us are.
      However, I was questioning whether or not it is more important for someone who is so open about their life choices to adhere to them. Alicia certainly has helped push veganism into the spotlight due to her public profile, but one must wonder whether or not a slip-up by a celebrity would have more of a detrimental impact on the movement than if it was simply a few friends who noticed you eating their cheese dip at a New Year’s party? With the media still willing to deflate the idea that a vegan diet is not difficult to maintain a high-profile admittance of cheating is a good way to keep pushing that idea. Basically, if the actions of a celebrity vegan are magnified, do their slip-ups cause more harm than their good days?

      hoping Daiya gets to NL soon so I can satisfy my own cheese craving,

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