Inspirational Activists & Vegans

Inspirational Activists & Vegans

Veganism & activism has come a long way these past few years – we have a lot more inspirational vegans now than we had even 3-5 years ago! People with big names and even bigger platforms are speaking out and reaching a massive audience with so many of their words & actions!

Here are a just few people who have inspired Lotus either way back at the start in 2010,  or somewhere along the path right into 2020

There are so very many inspirational people in this world, but in this space we can only share a few!

We recognise that the movement has many amazing activists – way too many to mention. We respect them and thank them for their work.

Here we are including people who have used their platforms in other ways – they may also be activists, but they use other means to  promote veganism; acting, sport,  school, psychology, medicine etc.

The following people are all shining examples of what one person can do to make a difference, and how their work can cause that ripple effect!

Take a look – you may also find their work inspiring and motivational too.

© Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism - Photo used with permission from Parallax Press

Thich Nhat Hanh

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh wss a global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist, revered throughout the world for his powerful teachings and bestselling writings on mindfulness and peace.

His key teaching was that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live happily in the present moment—the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world.

Thich Nhat Hanh who passed away in January 2022 aged 95, was a gentle, humble monk – Martin Luther King Jnr. called him “An Apostle of peace and nonviolence.” The media has called him “The Father of Mindfulness,” “The Other Dalai Lama” and “The Zen Master Who Fills Stadiums.”

Plum Village practice centres and retreats have always been vegetarian, and since 2007, they have also been vegan. In October 2007, Thay wrote his famous “Blue Cliff Letter“, where he explained why the community was turning vegan to nourish compassion and help save the planet.

Dairy and egg products… are products of the meat industry,” he wrote. “If we stop consuming, they will stop producing… According to the University of Chicago, a vegan causes approximately 1.5 fewer tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year than a meat-eater does.”

“Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) managed to explain very simply why veganism is the only way to be truly peaceful and compassionate, and it was Thay himself who influenced my decision to switch to veganism from vegetarianism. This First Mindfulness Training really struck a chord with me when I heard Thay explore it and explain it. Being vegan is not just about love and compassion for the animals, but consideration for the environment and awareness how the meat and dairy industries impact massively on world hunger. It is not possible to be truly peaceful, loving and compassionate as long there is any involvement in the violence and cruelty of the meat, dairy and egg industries.”

Buddha/Thich Nhat Hanh

The First of the Five Mindfulness Trainings based on the Buddhist precepts.
The First Mindfulness Training really struck a chord with me when I heard Thich Nhat Hanh deliver and explain it. How could we possibly follow any of this without being vegan?

The Five Mindfulness Trainings represent the Buddhist vision for a global spirituality and ethic. They are a concrete expression of the Buddha’s teachings on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, the path of right understanding and true love, leading to healing, transformation, and happiness for ourselves and for the world. To practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings is to cultivate the insight of interbeing, or Right View, which can remove all discrimination, intolerance, anger, fear, and despair. If we live according to the Five Mindfulness Trainings, we are already on the path of a bodhisattva. Knowing we are on that path, we are not lost in confusion about our life in the present or in fears about the future.

First Mindfulness Training ~ Reverence For Life

Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.

Photo used with kind permission from Philip Wollen

Philip Wollen –

Philip is an Australian philanthropist and one of the less well known advocates for animal rights…mainly because he has striven to keep himself out of the limelight.

He was born in 1950 in Australia and became a high powered businessman; a former Vice-President of Citibank and was also General Manager at Citicorp. Philip went vegan following his departure from Citibank and is a member of the animal rights movement.

In a very articulated and calm manner and approach, Philip delivers the reasons why “Animals Should Be Off The Menu” in a debate in 2012 at St James Ethics Centre and the Wheeler Centre in Australia.

Please take 10 minutes to listen to this – it is the best speech you will ever hear! Philip does say vegetarian, but he’s referring to veganism.

For me a particularly powerful paragraph was –

“Poor countries sell their grain to the West while their own children starve in their arms. And we feed it to livestock… so we can eat a steak? Am I the only one who sees this as a crime? Every morsel of meat we eat is slapping the tear-stained face of a starving child. When I look into her eyes, should I be silent?
The earth can produce enough for everyone’s need. But not enough for everyone’s greed”. 

We must look at the bigger picture…this isn’t only impacting on the lives of billions of animals every year, it’s impacting on our planet as we are in crisis, but it also massively impacts on world hunger and our fellow human beings!

Photo used with kind permission from Fiona Oakes

Fiona Oakes

Fiona has been vegan since she was 6 years old!
She is not only the carer of over 500 animals at Towerhill Stables Animal Sanctuary which she founded in 1996, but she is an elite marathon runner who has competed in over 100 marathons and finished in the top 20 in two of the world’s Major Marathon series (Berlin and London), along with winning the Main Start and placing top 20 in the Great North Run.

As if that isn’t enough, Fiona became the first vegan woman to complete the gruelling Marathon de Sables – a race she has completed twice more since – and in 2013 won the North Pole Marathon and the Antarctic Ice Marathon. She now holds four Guinness recognised World Records in endurance events including being the fastest woman to run a Marathon on every Continent – she is one inspirational human in so many ways!

Why does she do all of this? To promote veganism for the animals – she simply wants to prove we can be strong, fit, fast, healthy and competitive on a basic vegan diet – Fiona would be the first to tell you that there is nothing fancy about her diet – it’s just a basic healthy vegan diet!

Fiona was filmed to be part of The Game Changers movie, but for some reason her footage was cut – this is a great pity, because her endurance and longevity as a vegan would have been complete substantiated evidence that we can not only survive as vegans long-term, but can thrive! We need now need The Game Changers 2 with Fiona making that important appearance alongside more female vegan athletes – The Game Changers was very geared up to a male audience and it worked, let’s make a 2nd one targeting a wider audience!

Watch Fiona’s inspirational story in the documentary Running For Good on Netflix

Photo by Morio - licensed by Creative Commons Attribution

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton is one of the most successful drivers in the history of Formula One, and many experts would argue he is also the best!

His impressive 6 World Championship titles is the second highest of all time; with Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher holding the record for 7 wins. At the time of writing this Lewis is also second to Michael in his tally of 84 race victories and 151 podium finishes. The McLaren Mercedes driver Hamilton adopted a plant-based diet in 2017, but has since moved towards becoming an advocate not only for plant-based, but for a vegan lifestyle.

He was one of the executive producers on the most talked about documentary of 2019 The Game Changers – a film which inspired a lot of debate and attracted a great deal of attention and of course, saw many people going plant-based. The film sold out in cinemas and in September when the movie was available to pre-order on iTunes for its October release, it was Number 1 on the download movie Chart on iTunes, beating the likes of Toy Story 4, The Lion King, IT 2 & latest Fast & The Furious offering!

A lot of people (like Lewis himself) go plant-based first and then go fully vegan as they learn more. If we water the seed of compassion 3 times a day with every meal, that mindfulness, awareness and conscious eating, starts to subtly bloom in other areas of our lives, and before we know it, we are living a vegan lifestyle.

The legendary British Champion is opening a vegan burger restaurant in London, with plans to open a further 14 franchises internationally over the next 24 months.

He is now taking his stance even further again by pushing Mercedes-Benz to adopt faux leather in place of animal-sourced leather in the company’s models across the world.  

He is also on a mission to work towards F1 reducing its carbon footprint, not only from the cars which are raced, but the sport as a whole!

Lewis Hamilton is a massive global sportsperson and icon who is using his platform and influential voice in a very positive way. With a following of 13.8 million on his Instagram alone, it’s fair to say that Lewis has the ability to advocate in ways many of us could only dream of!

Photo used with kind permission from Dr Will Tuttle

Dr Will Tuttle

Dr Will Tuttle is the best-selling author of the world famous book The World Peace Diet which has been published & translated globally in 16 languages. As activists and advocates something we very often hear during discussions is “but it’s always been done this way”, “its tradition”, “it’s our culture” The World Peace Diet explores many connections with our food culturally, historically, ecologically, psychologically and spiritually, and looks at how our diets not only impact the world around us, but the world within us too!

Will Tuttle is also the editor of Circles of Compassion, and is a long-time Buddhist practitioner and former Zen Buddhist monk. He has been vegan since 1980, and he tours the world doing lectures, workshops and retreats on vegan living, mindfulness, and spiritual awakening. He is one of the nicest and most genuine people you could ever wish to interact with.

If you want to tune into a more conscious and compassionate way of living, we recommend you read Will’s book – it blends mindfulness with kindfulness, love with respect and looks at all expressions of life on this planet we call home!

Kip Anderson

Kip Anderson is director and writer of the truly ground-breaking documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. It is a feature-length environmental film following the intrepid filmmaker Kip as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today…animal agriculture! He investigates why the world’s leading environmental organisations are too afraid to talk about it, and why it’s being covered up!

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction,

habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean “dead zones,” and virtually every other environmental ill. Yet it goes on, almost entirely unchallenged.

As Andersen approaches leaders in the environmental movement, he increasingly uncovers what appears to be an intentional refusal to discuss the issue of animal agriculture, while industry whistle-blowers and watchdogs warn him of the risks to his freedom and even his life if he dares to persist.

Photo used with kind permission from Melanie Joy

Dr Melanie Joy

Beyond Carnism is a US-based, international organization dedicated to exposing and transforming carnism, the invisible belief system that conditions people to eat certain animals.

Carnism causes extensive suffering. Animal agriculture is responsible for the unnecessary slaughter of 77 billion land animals worldwide per year, and it is a major contributor to environmental degradation, human disease, and human rights violations. However, the majority of people who eat animals are unaware that they are contributing to such destruction.

Beyond Carnism believes that people need and deserve to know the truth about carnism, so they can make their food choices freely — because without awareness, there is no free choice.

Beyond Carnism seeks to empower concerned citizens and vegan advocates through education and activism, to help create a more compassionate and just world for all beings, human and nonhuman alike.

Photo used with kind permission from Dr Brooke Goldner

Dr Brooke Goldner

Dr Brooke Goldner was diagnosed with systemic Lupus when she was 16 years of age – she cured herself 12 years later using regular plant-based food from regular supermarkets and exercise…nothing fancy, nothing expensive, just the foods Mother Earth gave us, and some exercise.

She now helps people all over the world recover from debilitating illnesses like Lupus, Fibromyalgia,  Diabetes, Heart Disease, CFS and many other chronic diseases. She’s inspirational and everything she says makes perfect sense.

Photo by Deivitrix via Creative Commons Attribution

Patrik Baboumian

One of the main people who feature in the 2019 ground-breaking documentary The Game Changers is of course Patrik Baboumian.

He was born in Iran and lives in Germany. In 1999 aged 20 he won German Junior Bodybuilding title. He holds the world log lift record for under 105kg, with a 165kg lift, as well as the German heavyweight log lift record. His heaviest log lift is 190kg. In 2011 he won Germany’s Strongest Man, 105kg category.

In 2012 he continued his success by winning the German log lift title for the fourth time in a row, and setting a keg lift world record (115 kg). He took the European Powerlifting title in Finland, and set a world record for fronthold by holding a 20kg weight for 86 seconds.

By late 2012 he had continued to grow in size and strength and weighed 127kg, so is no longer considering competing above 105kg. In 2012 he competed in the European Powerlifting Championships and despite a number of setbacks squatted 300kg, bench pressed 200kg and deadlifted 330kg. This gave him the European title in the Open category.

Also in 2012 he set a World record by lifting a 150.2kg beer keg overhead. He also made an attempt at the front-hold record which involves holding a 20kg weight with straight arms in front of the body. He added 10 seconds to the World record. He finished the year with the first ever title of Vegan Athlete of the Year.

Photo by Mikkei

Robert Cheeke

Robert grew up on a farm in Corvallis, Oregon, where he adopted a vegan lifestyle in 1995 at the age of 15. Today he is a best-selling author of the book Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness – The Complete Guide to Building Your Body on a Plant-Based Diet.

As a two-time natural bodybuilding champion, Robert is considered one of VegNews Magazine’s Most Influential Vegan Athletes. He tours all over North America, giving talks about his story of transformation from a skinny farm kid to champion vegan bodybuilder.

Robert works full-time running Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness, which includes writing books, touring, and maintaining the popular website, He is a regular contributor to Vegan Health & Fitness Magazine, a freelance writer, entrepreneur, and multi-sport athlete.

Robert’s latest book Plant-based Muscle is co-written with Vanessa Espinoza. This is one of the most concise plant-based fitness guides since Shred-it!

It has meal plans, fitness programmes, shopping lists, workout plans, recipes – it is simply a great guide to all round plant-based health & fitness!

Photo used with kind permission from Torre Washington

Torre Washington

Vegan since 1998, 100% supplement free, and an all natural body builder with pro cards in four distinct body bodybuilding organisations, Torre certainly gets our respect. Since a very young age, Torre been fascinated with how things worked and how they were created. He would take things apart to see if he could re-assemble them and have them work as if he never took them apart. This was the beginning of the engineer that wanted to design a great physique. Having studied the physiques of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the bodybuilders of that era, and the comic book characters such as superman and wolverine, he started sculpting his body with a dumbbell and a bench.

Some years later he acquired a degree in engineering, but his passion for sculpting physiques never faded, it rather strengthened when he witnessed his friend compete and win in 2009. His passion drove him to have the courage to start learning about bodybuilding and begin competing. He took a great leap of faith to pursue his dream, to become one of fitness greats and shares his gift with the world.

Photo used with kind permission from Barny du Plessis

Barny du Plessis

In 2014, Barny du Plessis made his third attempt at the coveted Mr Universe amateur category. He was 40 – and he took home the title.

Winning the competition was the pinnacle of his bodybuilding career to date and, after he’d smashed it, he decided it was time to hang up his posing pants for good.
Constant training and dieting had left Bristol-based Barny exhausted and drained; he wanted to experience a ‘normal’ life.

But months after winning the title, Barny turned vegan – and says he found himself in better shape than ever. He claims that his meat-free diet gave him more energy and endurance in the gym than ever before.

He certainly is a great ad for a vegan diet, he says – “The world’s strongest animals are plant-eaters: gorillas, buffaloes, elephants and me”.

Barny is a lifelong bodybuilder who used to think that eating vast amounts of meat and eggs was the only way to build muscle, but now he knows different and is living proof we don’t need meat (or any animal based foods) to build muscle!

Photo used with kind permission from Josie du Plessis

Josie du Plessis

Josie is one of the most inspirational vegans we know! She truly went from one extreme to the other; it’s hard to believe now, but into her 30’s Josie was very overweight – so she not only managed to lose weight, but sculpt her body into a work of art and take the title of the UK’s strongest woman. And if that isn’t awe-inspiring enough, she achieved all of this while she has battled with debilitating chronic conditions like Fibromyalgia – she is nothing short of an absolute vegan warrior.

Josie and her Mr Vegan Mr Universe husband Barny (above) met at a gym in Norfolk – this was when Josie fell head over heels in love with him – they married a few years later!

Josie du Plessis wearing our Plant Built training shirt!
Photo of TCC by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Dr T.Colin Campbell ~

For more than forty years, Dr. T. Colin Campbell has been at the forefront of nutrition research. His legacy, the China Project, is the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted. Dr. Campbell is a professor Emeritus at Cornell University and is most well-known for co-authoring the bestselling book The China Study with his son, Thomas Campbell, MD.

In addition to his long and outstanding career as an author, scientific researcher, and Cornell professor, Dr. Campbell has been featured in several documentary films. He is the founder of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and the online internationally-recognized Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate offered by the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies in partnership with eCornell. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Board.