by Michael Parrish DuDell
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Every now and then Ecorazzi sways from “traditional” celebrity gossip to spotlight issues we think are SUPER important. Now is one of those times!

One of the most famous vegan authors of our time, John Robbins, learned last month that he and his wife lost their entire life savings at the hands of Bernie Madoff’s dastardly Ponzi scheme. Now the Robbins family is facing a sudden and severe financial crisis and needs our help!

In a letter posted on, author Patti Breitman writes: “To economize, the family has rented out every extra room in their house and every spare space on their property. Still, it is not clear if they will be able to pay their mortgage or keep the property they share with their son, his wife and their two grandsons.”

While I’ve never met Robbins personally, Diet for a New America, Food Revolution and Healthy at 100 are staples on my bookshelf and have helped countless people (including many of our favorite veggie celebs) live a more healthy, eco-friendly life.

So now’s it’s time to give back! If Robbins’ words have helped you throughout the years and you’d like to say thanks, please send donations to John Robbins, c/o Patti Breitman, 12 Rally Court, Fairfax, CA 94930.

Let’s rally together and help a friend who’s helped so many!

  • Vegan Eating Out

    This is very sad :( His books make a good gift – a gave one to a boss at an old job and she loved reading it.

  • Leanne Mai-ly

    I’m in. That man is incredible… and his son started the camp that changed my life, and made me vegan.

  • fbr

    Sounds a lot like another email scam. Either way, it’s disingenuous to paint them purely as victims.

    If you invest your money then you risk losing it all without compensation. If they didn’t even know the four basic principles of investing, they should’ve never put their children’s inheritance at risk: 1) only invest what you can afford to lose, 2) only invest in instruments that you understand, 3) never put all your money in one place, and finally the common sense 4) if sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    Madoff lured investors by promising impossibly high returns, banking on their greed. There were enough people warning about him before, even people explicitly describing his company a ponzi scheme. If you put all your life savings into it without giving a second thought to why he’s promising such high returns and why people are calling it a scam, then you quite frankly deserve to lose your money.

    Furthermore, these people have apparently bought a bigger house than they can afford. Probably banking on its value increasing indefinitely and their investments delivering huge returns. This is the root cause of the current financial crisis and now they have to face the realities of having lived beyond their means.

  • parrish

    FBR- Seriously, dude? Seriously?

    In other news: the team at VegSource has reached out to us and offered John’s personal email address if you’d like to donate but don’t feel entirely comfortable going through a third party. If you’d like this information you can email me at!

  • fbr

    parrish, yes. Seriously. Do you want to challenge any of my statements?

  • michael

    I understand completely where FBR is coming from. In this financial crisis, there’s very little sympathy flowing for those that made very bad investment and lifestyle decisions.

    I do find it wonderful that people are willing to rally together to help out John and his family. I wish them the best of luck and hope that future financial investments are more varied.

  • parrish

    fbr- Nope! While we always appreciate your “challenging” points of view here on the Razz, you and I generally have completely contradicting ideas on…just about everything.

    I will say this: it takes the same amount of energy for a person to be compassionate as it does to be critical. John has dedicated his adult life to helping people lead better, stronger lives. I’m confident that we will see this community come together in powerful ways and help support somebody who has helped support us throughout the years.

  • The Science Commenter

    Oh FBR!

    I most certainly agree with #2: Only invest what you can afford to lose.

    I’m a safe asshole when it comes to investing. I always like to think of it this way:

    All that time and energy I put into putting up with people who get on my damn nerves, I’m sure not going to give away even a penny of it to something that’s overly risky just because there’s a chance of a higher return.

    Too many headaches to watch it go wasted!

  • e


    I swear you just come on here like those people I know who just want to argue every point a person makes. no matter what it is. hey did you know the sky is blue? I’m sure you’ll tell me it’s not.

    I guess the old folks who trusted the man with their money are to lose too? Shit you can’t trust the banks. If your bank went under and you lost money (it has happened FDIC isn’t fool proof) would you say it’s your fault?!

    I just lost my ENTIRE LIFE SAVINGS to a man named Jim Trabulse. yes I am young and was the youngest investor so I can re make that money but do people feel sorry for me? hell yes i trusted the man for years and years.

    So i take direct offense to your sensitivity (or lack thereof as always is the case with you on this board ;(

    Hey but at least you’re a constant reader..


  • fbr

    e, and if I agree with the argument in a story, why would I post? It would add nothing to the debate. But in any case I have argued points that defend the stories here too (see Prop 8 debate for example).

    Yes, banks have failed in the past and will fail in the future. Yes, people, including me, do defend themselves against this by not having all their savings in one place. We have never seen how a system like FDIC would cope in a systemic collapse of the banking sector (they’re designed to defend against isolated bank failures), so in the current situation it’s absolutely vital diversify even your cash holdings.

    If you’d trust your entire life savings to one man, then you should not be investing. Investing is something you don’t have to do, it’s a choice you make and you must carry all the risks involved – including the risk of criminal activity. Do I enjoy reading stories of people losing their life savings? Of course not. However, I also don’t feel like I should be bailing them out because if they invested I can assume they were aware of all the risks but chose to accept them.

  • clf

    I would have to agree with fbr on this one. I feel that I am an extremely compassionate person, and I donate a significant portion of my salary and my time to worthwhile organizations.
    John Robbins’ books have certainly been the most influential books I have ever read, and I do thank him so much for changing my entire outlook on how I live my life.
    However, you have to think, there are THOUSANDS of Americans out there right now who are also doing good work, making a positive impact in other’s lives and are probably in much worse financial situations than the Robbins family. And unfortunately, the root of their financial problems are much more complex and challenging than imprudent investing. I mean, come on, who really puts their entire life savings in one place? I learned to diversify my money in a high school business course.
    I do feel for his family, but he certainly has many friends and family who will help him during this tough time, and I’m sure they will come through it all shining. Unfortunately, I know I cannot say the same thing about those out there that will be living their entire life in poverty.

  • Pauly

    If you bought even one of his books, you’ve already donated to the cause. He wrote the books first to make money, and he did. If he could not properly manage that money, it’s not for others to feel sorry for him or to bail him out. The nerve of someone to even accept a donation in a case like this is absolutely horrible.

  • perspective

    I think Vegsource and the Robbins family should first disclose more information about their financial situation if they truly want help. There are vulnerable people out there who might learn of John’s circumstances and send in money that they themselves do not have! How many Americans have “savings”? What exactly did they lose? What is the estimated value of their home? What steps are they taking (other than the responsible action of “economizing”)

    Sensible questions. People have a right to know and there’s no shame in sharing this information if they are truly in trouble. People can they donate knowing it is indeed going to the right cause.

    There are children all over the world who are starving with few clothes and no decent shelter or water to drink, so let’s keep this in perspective please.

  • vegemanic

    It’s the “keep the celebrity rich” mentality. We want our celebrities to be “in the money,” even if we aren’t. So the most broke among us will chip in to make sure that this happens. Willie Nelson got back in the money in much the same way. I wish I had some funds to diversify. I had a few thousand in Ecotrust, but had to take it out just to get by. Can anyone send me some money, too? At any rate, what’s the deal with putting money in some instruments that you have no idea what they’re about? What businesses is your money supposedly supporting? Who owns them? What are they doing? What are their impacts on the planet and local communities? Ecotrust does all this research — clearly the Robbins family did not come close to conducting such due diligence. Perhaps John can write his next book about that.