40. Jeff & Sabrina Nelson of VegSource (started at #16)
Overview: Vegsource was founded in 1996 during the early days of the Internet. Since then, the site has become a central hub of vegan nutrition information and discussion bringing together some of the most important voices in the field. The Nelsons are also about to host their 10th annual healthy lifestyle expo which is frequently a who's who of luminaries in vegan health and wellness. Jeff writes of his family lineage: My great-great-grandfather would probably detest what I stand for and want to accomplish. His goal was to turn more and more people into meat addicts; mine is to help people kick that habit. I come from a long line of pig butchers and meat-packers: the Armour family. My not-too-distant relatives were responsible for such ingenious inventions as the refrigerated train car and the "kill floor," and ultimately the meat-oriented status of the modern American diet. Also: Just ask Sabrina how she beat an "incurable" auto-immune disease called Relapsing Polychondritis by adopting a vegan diet. Ask Dr. Ruth Heidrich (one of our experts) how she beat breast cancer the same way. Or ask any of the thousands of people who happen through our site every day how a diet- and life-style change saved or improved their own health.
Joe says: The Nelsons' dedication to the veg cause and promoting plant-based nutrition is off the charts. They've shared their entire family's veg journey which gives everything a personal touch. I think what is most crucial about their work is how they've brought so many experts and specialists together over the years both online and offline (i.e. Healthy Lifestyle Expo) so everyone can learn and comprehend the bigger picture better. It seems we are much farther along on these issues and our understanding because of the work of Jeff and Sabrina Nelson. Bravo.
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39. Vegansaurus (started at #38)
Overview: A special mention also for NYC's Supervegan as well which is righteous in its own right. Vegansaurus started as an essentially city-centric bay area community vegan site focusing on eats and vegan happenings. They've expanded to covering multiple localities throughout the country including NYC, Philly, Chicago and others.
Joe says: I love how passionate these sites are about promoting culture and community in their cities and beyond. Hopefully at some point in the near future, every major metropolitan city in America will have a fun and feisty vegan lifestyle site like what these guys are doing. Keep it up y'all!
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38. Paul Shapiro & HSUS Factory Farming Team (started at #43) +5
Overview (from Wikipedia): Humane Society of the United States' senior director of its factory farming campaign. He directs an effort to convince retailers, food service providers, and universities to end their use of eggs from caged birds and expand their vegan options. Additionally, the HSUS factory farming campaign played a significant role in helping enact Proposition 2 in California, a 2008 ballot initiative that phases out veal crates, battery cages, and gestation crates in the nation's largest agricultural state. The campaign was also central in Proposition 204, a successful 2006 Arizona ballot initiative that phases out gestation crates and veal crates. It has also helped pass laws against gestation crates in Oregon and both gestation and veal crates in Colorado. In 1995 Shapiro founded the animal advocacy organization Compassion Over Killing and served as its campaigns director until 2005. Shapiro helped spearhead the campaign to end the use of the "Animal Care Certified" logo on egg cartons in the United States.
Joe says: Shapiro has built an amazing and effective farm animal protection team that includes Josh Balk, Erin Williams, Matt Prescott, and Kristie Middleton. Recently, the HSUS reached an agreement with the United Egg Producers to work toward implementing the first federal regulations for egg-laying hens ever that would ban battery cages. The HSUS agreed to pull their ballot initiatives in Oregon and Washington in return for an agreement with the UEP that they would lobby Congress together on this matter. Huge stuff but will it happen? Given the embarrassing debacle that is our Congress (e.g. they haven't even passed a budget for our country for the last two years), I'm skeptical it can be done anytime soon. If they pull it off, it would be the most far sweeping animal welfare reform regulations since the Animal Welfare Act and the Humane Slaughter act. A gutsy gamble.
Jed says: WARNING: VIDEO IS GRAPHIC
37. Pink (started at #34)
Overview (from Wikipedia): AKA Alecia Beth Moore. According to Billboard, Pink was rated No.13 on the list of Artists of the Decade and No.1 Pop Song Artist of the Decade (2000-2009). Forbes Magazine in 2010 named Pink the 27th most powerful celebrity, with $44 million earned between June 2009 and June 2010. She has sold 40 million albums and 65 million singles worldwide. Pink is a prominent campaigner for PETA, contributing her voice toward causes such as the protest against KFC.
Joe says: New mom (another one!) P!nk has been very outspoken in recent years on various animal issues which given her stature is pretty excellent. Case in point is her amazing video and song Raise Your Glass which has some fascinating pro-animal messaging going on in it. Plus, the song just rocks. P!nk reportedly looks to be veganish while occasionally diving into various animal products which includes fish. She's a perfect example of someone who vegans should embrace and welcome in our midst despite her not being up to snuff for some. Don't agree? Check our Carpe Credo out to see our take.
Jed says: I sort of can't believe that Pink is still around, more popular and relevant than ever. I never would have guessed in 2001 that she'd have this kind of longevity. Then again, I didn't think the Fresh Prince's career would live to the see the 90s either.
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36. John Mackey & Whole Foods (started at #5)
Overview (from Wikipedia): CEO of Whole Foods Market which he had co-founded in 1980. Named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003, Mackey is a strong supporter of free market economics. He is one of the most influential advocates in the movement for organic food…Mackey eventually became vegetarian. He identifies as a vegan…Whole Foods was the first grocery chain to set standards for humane animal treatment. Mackey was influenced by animal rights activist, Lauren Ornelas, who criticized Whole Foods' animal standards regarding ducks at a shareholder meeting in 2003. Mackey gave Ornelas his email address and they corresponded on the issue. He studied issues related to factory farming and decided to switch to what he considers veganism. He advocates tougher animal standards. Despite Whole Foods' welfare standards, Mackey has been criticized by abolitionist vegans such as Gary L. Francione. He believes the Whole Foods company policies betray the animal rights position. By other accounts, Mackey is the "driving force" behind significant changes in animal welfare. For instance, he started a non-profit foundation, the Animal Compassion Foundation, to address making animal welfare more economically viable.
Joe says: Let's face it, plenty of vegans are anti-capitalist (the plague of crony capitalism over the last decade hasn't helped). The Whole Foods entity by its mere existence offends some people because they chiefly operate for the purpose of profit. Mackey is also a libertarian which I'm sure makes him look like Beelzebub even more to some. If you feel this way, you should take an honest and thoughtful look at his take on things through his efforts of promoting conscious capitalism. Here's a good start. Personally, I think he's a brilliant guy that has seriously raised the bar for farm animal consideration in this country. And, Whole Foods stores are mostly vegan-friendly along with a heavily tilted vegan selection of books on nutrition, cooking and diet in their stores.
Jed says: Because of the ubiquity of Whole Foods and its power to influence the way a lot of people eat, John Mackey already deserves to be considered among the top 5 most influential vegans. However, among this elite group, he is essentially unique in still not being nearly influential enough. We need to listen to this guy more.
35. Steve Wynn (started at #29)
Overview (from Wikipedia): American casino resort/real-estate developer who played a pivotal role in the 1990s resurgence and expansion of the Las Vegas Strip. His companies refurbished or built what are now widely recognized resorts in Las Vegas, including the Golden Nugget, The Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio, Wynn, and Encore. As of 2011, Wynn is the 512th richest man in the world with a net worth of $2.3 billion (up from $1.5 billion). In 2010, Wynn switched to a vegan diet after watching the documentary Eating by Mike Anderson.
Joe says: Steve Wynn could change the societal perspective on veganism perhaps more then anyone else on this list. Will he? Probably not, but it really is inspiring to see what he's done already at his properties adding vegan meals everywhere along with promoting it to all his employees as well. Steve Wynn is precisely the kind of genius and entrepreneur I'm thinking of when I formulate wild “what-if” scenarios in my head: What if Steve Wynn sold off his holdings and dedicated the last part of his amazing life to promoting the plant-based diet along with consistency in compassion toward our animal brethren? Answer: Countless business enterprises, a coordinated commerce network, festivals, conferences, a multimedia empire, a think tank, etc. A guy can dream can't he?!? BTW, another good article on Wynn and his vegan turn.
Jed says: Joe and I are in agreement (for the first time ever?) on this one: Steve Wynn going vegan is potentially a much bigger deal than almost anyone on this list. Now if only Bill of Bill's Gambling Hall would do the same.
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34. Bob Barker (started at #81) +47
Overview: The Price is Right! The game show God. "Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered."
Joe says: Bob is one of those people in American pop culture that just seems to be loved by everyone. He's like a Golden Girl, only he's not. Anyhow, Bob has always been a dignified voice for the animals along with being a serious financial supporter of animal causes that include Mercy for Animals and Sea Shepherd. I've got a feeling he's going to make it to 100 although he sure took a beating on the Price is Right by all the winners hugging the beejesus out of him. I love what he says @1:01 of the embedded video. He still has it. Bob Barker for King of America!
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33. Kathy Freston (started at #31)
Overview (from Wikipedia): Kathy Freston is a New York Times best-selling author with a concentration on healthy living and conscious eating. Her books include The Quantam Wellness Cleanse: The 21 Day Essential Guide to Healing Your Body, Mind, and Spirit, Quantum Wellness: A Practical and Spiritual Guide to Health and Happiness, The One: Discovering the Secrets of Soul Mate Love, and Expect a Miracle: 7 Spiritual Steps to Finding the Right Relationship. Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Dean Ornish penned the introductions for her two latest books and her work has garnered accolades from such people as Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Neal Barnard, Marianne Williamson and Deepak Chopra
Joe says: I've always been fascinated by people like Kathy Freston. Using the terminology of Malcolm Gladwell from the book The Tipping Point, I find her the ultimate maven and connector. She just has that magic to make things happen through interacting and networking with people. It is an extraordinary skill for our modern world. That said, I think some of her messaging in interviews she uses is less than spectacular. At times, she can come off as a bit flighty. Regardless, she's an MVP in my book for pulling off countless PR coups such as getting Oprah's team to go vegan for a week.
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32. Pamela Anderson (started at #24)
Overview (from Wikipedia): Canadian-American actress, model, producer, author, activist, and former showgirl, known for her roles on the television series Home Improvement, Baywatch, and V.I.P.
Anderson became the center of controversy when she posed in a bikini nearly nude for a PETA ad that was banned in Canada on grounds that the ad was sexist. Anderson retorted saying, "In a city that is known for its exotic dancing and for being progressive and edgy, how sad that a woman would be banned from using her own body in a political protest over the suffering of cows and chickens. In some parts of the world, women are forced to cover their whole bodies with burqas – is that next? I didn't think that Canada would be so puritanical."
Joe says: Probably no A-list celeb has been more active for animal causes over the last decade than Pam. I'm curious to see how she deals with the next stage of her career. I really hope she can make the transition. For the record: V.I.P. was a really funny show with a super-cheesy aesthetic. It never got the credit it deserved. BTW, is it just me or does anyone else notice this Vegan 100 is loaded with Jews, Canadians and gays? Seems like us straight American gentiles need to get our crap together.
31. Russell Simmons (started at #15)
Overview: Hip-hop pioneer, Co-founder of Def Jam, produced Run-D.M.C., Def Poetry, Phat Farm, Baby Phat, Rush Communications, philanthropist, author, yoga practitioner, Transcendental Meditation, insanely successful entrepreneur, amazing dude.
Joe says: Simmons has so much integrity in his voice and words. He's a captivating guy to listen to. I love the way he appeals to people's better nature instead of being negative. Even when he enters the fray on politics, he seems a dignified and civilized voice. I think it would great to see him use some of his clout to organize events and festivals in poor communities surrounding his passions for food, yoga, meditation and music. BTW, Run-D.M.C's Its Tricky is the greatest hip-hop tune of all time in my never humble opinion and Raising Hell is one of the best albums.
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