Why Nigella won't go vegan – and the stars who are

·4-min read
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 18: Nigella Lawson in the test kitchen with Karon Liu, the Toronto Star's resident food writer, making sesame roasted chicken from her new cookbook At My Table.
Nigella loves sesame chicken – and isn't ready for plant-based jelly. (Getty Images)

Veganism has taken over the world in the past few years, as concerns about climate change and animal welfare push what we eat to the top of the agenda.

Now, every supermarket has a dedicated plant-based aisle and there are vegan versions of every food, from chorizo to king prawns to stir-fry chicken.

But though the public are increasingly ditching meat in favour of vegetables and replacement products like pea protein and tofu, one very famous cook isn't so keen. 

Nigella Lawson tried going vegan for a fortnight recently, and concluded that she "doesn't see the point" in giving up animal products.

Watch: Communal Table: Jamie Oliver

She added that while she likes vegetables and also respects the vegan viewpoint, it's not for her. 

Nigella believes that "humans have the teeth for meat" and admitted she craved eggs within the fortnight, saying that without meat or dairy, she felt run-down.

"As far as I’m concerned I want to eat proper food," she said. 

"I don’t want to lecture anyone because I feel, well, I cling to the thing that we have the teeth for meat and so it’s natural for us to want to eat it... it’s an argument that a lot of vegans disagree with… I respect that position but I feel that I’m not ready."

Nigella Lawson revealed what she calls the microwave on 'Cook, Eat, Repeat'. (BBC)
Nigella Lawson is not going plant-based just yet. Or ever. (BBC)

More in tune with the growing vegan vibe is Jamie Oliver. The famous chef has announced that he will reduce or "eliminate" meat in two-thirds of new recipes, in a bid to go carbon-neutral over the next 20 years.

His hugely popular recipes will still use some meat, but he also pledged to cut down the amount used in individual recipes such as spaghetti bolognese. However, he failed to set a deadline for changing his approach.

Read more: We tried 14 vegan cheeses and ranked them just for you

A spokesperson for The Vegan Society said: “While it’s hugely encouraging to see well known food giants, such as the Jamie Oliver Group, making an effort to reduce the amount of meat they’re offering customers, it’s perhaps not as ambitious a pledge as others have already made. 

"It would be great to see the Jamie Oliver Group step it up a little.”

Others in the spotlight who are promoting the vegan cause include baker Freya Cox, just voted off this year's Great British Bake Off on Channel 4. 

Pile of freshly made chocolate zucchini brownies garnished with cocoa powder on a round wooden plate. Delicious chocolate zucchini brownies served.
Vegan brownies made with courgettes. They look just as good... (Getty Images)

The 19-year-old cook promised to showcase vegan baking, and created impressive challenges and showstoppers using aquafaba instead of egg white and replacing butter with a vegan alternative. 

Judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith were complimentary, but Freya went home last week.

Other advocates of the vegan lifestyle include actor Joaquin Phoenix, who used his Joker Oscar winning speech to promote the cause, asking the audience: "Why (do) we feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable?”

BEVERLY HILLS, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA - FEBRUARY 09: Joaquin Phoenix arrives at the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 9, 2020 in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Sipa USA)
Phoenix: Not here to make us feel good about our choices. (PA)

Pop star Billie Eilish is also a vegan, recently posting: "Leave animals alone. Damn," while Harry Potter actor Evanna Lynch is a campaigner for animal rights and says she stopped eating meat aged 11, after feeling "viscerally repelled by the idea of eating animal flesh”. 

Actor Elliot Page is also a vegan who often speaks up on behalf of animals in interviews and on social media. 

TV presenter Fearne Cotton has released a vegan cookbook, as has Made In Chelsea star Lucy Watson. 

Even veteran star Stevie Wonder is a convert. He turned vegan in 2016, saying: “(It's) helped my already good-looking self. I think that eating healthy is important.”

Billie Eilish arriving at the No Time To Die World Premiere, the Royal Albert Hall, London. Credit: Doug Peters/EMPICS
Billie Eilish is not here for your meat-eating nonsense. (Getty Images)

Read more: Alicia Silverstone on how she raises her son Bear by example: 'I'm not running around and shouting and getting angry'

Others have put their money where their mouths are, with Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton recently opening the restaurant Neat Burger, serving plant-based burgers. 

Actor Rooney Mara co-founded vegan fashion label Hiraeth and narrated Dominion, a documentary on animal welfare, with her partner Joaquin Phoenix.

Well-known vegan and animals rights advocate Pamela Anderson often appears in campaigns, and recently opened a pop-up vegan restaurant in France.

Lawson may not be ready to climb onto the vegan bus just yet – but plenty of others are already on board. 

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