2011 is nearly over, and what a whirlwind it’s been. A lot has happened in the past twelve months, and we’re pausing to reflect on some of the best moments. So pop open the champagne, put on some Auld Lang Syne and join us as we reflect on the Top 10 celebrity vegan moments of the year.

10. Martha Stewart’s Vegan Episode

In March, domestic diva Martha Stewart devoted an entire episode of her show to veganism. In addition to cooking vegan recipes, she welcomed vegan guests, such as Kathy Freston and Biz Stone. Stewart discussed her newfound aversion to beef, and all was going well until she added honey to a recipe. While some vegans were horrified by the addition of an animal product, many saw it as an educational opportunity and a chance to discuss whether or not honey is appropriate in a vegan diet. Stewart’s episode may not have been perfect, but at least she got the world involved in figuring out exactly what a vegan diet does — and doesn’t — include.

9. Mike Tyson Loses 100 Pounds on Vegan Diet

It came as quite a surprise when former boxing champ Mike Tyson announced he was a vegan. When a troubled personal life tainted both his personal and professional reputations, the heavyweight fell off the map. But with an entertaining cameo in the hit “The Hangover”, Tyson turned his life around and made a bit of a comeback. Proclaiming that he wished he’d been vegan since birth, Tyson made the switch because of his love for animals and his desire to be healthier. He told Jimmy Kimmel that he came from an obese family and wanted to break that cycle — and he did it, with a 100-pound weight loss!

8. Carrie Underwood Goes Vegan for Her Health

“American Idol” winner turned country superstar Carrie Underwood was a vegetarian for years before she made the vegan leap. The songstress grew up on a farm, and once she made the connection between the animals on the farm and the animals on her plate, she gave up meat altogether. In June, Underwood announced that she had gone vegan because she was lactose-intolerant.

7. Portia de Rossi Says It’s Harder to Be Vegan Than Gay

Vegan actress Portia de Rossi has an accomplished career, with starring roles on shows such as “Ally McBeal” and “Arrested Development.” Still, it’s her personal life that gets most of the attention — particularly her relationship with wife Ellen DeGeneres and their mutual love of animals and veganism. And although being openly gay in Hollywood is not without its challenges, de Rossi says that it’s her veganism that makes people uncomfortable. She told VegNews, “Listen, I think it’s more difficult to be vegan than gay. I think people have a harder time accepting it; people feel more uncomfortable with a vegan at their dinner table than they do a lesbian. It’s confronting. It’s kind of suggesting that what someone else is doing is bad or wrong, and it hits them on a more personal level.” But she doesn’t let other people’s attitudes get in her way, so props to Portia for standing up for her beliefs and pushing others out of their comfort zones.

6. Jessica Chastain Gets Saucy With Soy

Actress Jessica Chastain was one of the breakout stars of 2011. She appeared in six films this year, including “The Help” and “The Tree of Life.” When producers of “The Help” asked her to gain a few curves for the film, she did so while staying true to her vegan diet. By adding in extra servings of soy, which creates curves thanks to its high estrogen content, she filled out her costumes, all while remaining healthy and animal-free.

5. Anne Hathaway Stays Catwoman Slim

A longtime vegetarian, Anne Hathaway implied that a vegan diet helped her look slim and sleek in her Catwoman costume while filming “The Dark Knight Rises.” During an appearance on “Chelsea Lately”, she told Chelsea Handler that in order to keep the pounds away, she was living on “kale and dust.” While not the most ringing endorsement of veganism, at least her comments helped highlight the fact that a plant-based diet is a great tool for keeping excess weight at bay — not a bad thing to remember as we ring in the new year.

4. Oprah’s Vegan Challenge

Oprah Winfrey is one of the most influential people on the planet, by virtue of the fact that people do what she tells them to. People read the books she recommends, buy the products she suggests, and even elected the presidential candidate she endorsed. So when Winfrey undertook a week-long vegan challenge in February and asked her staff and fans to do the same, she created a mini vegan revolution. Although Oprah didn’t continue the diet, we’re hoping that some of the fans who tried it have maintained their animal-free ways.

3. President Clinton Still Vegan

Former president Bill Clinton gave the lifestyle a boost when he announced that he had adopted a vegan diet for health reasons. Although it’s a little unclear as to whether he’s 100% vegan, his commitment to plant-based foods and willingness to talk about it certainly lent some media attention to veganism. Clinton even went so far as to correct Matt Lauer, telling the TV host that being vegan “doesn’t suck.”

2. ‘Forks Over Knives’ Creates Celeb Vegan Explosion

The documentary “Forks Over Knives”, which argues that a plant-based, whole-foods diet is the best for our health, became a sensation, particularly among celebs. Highlighting doctors T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn and their theories that a vegan diet can help prevent diabetes, cancer and other maladies, the film spawned a slew of celeb vegans, from former vegetarian Russell Brand to actress Eliza Dushku to the original shock rocker, Ozzy Osbourne.

1. Everything Ellen

Animal-lover Ellen DeGeneres was the standout vegan celeb of Fall 2011. She kicked things off in August, when she launched a vegan website. News of her plans to open a vegan restaurant with wife Portia de Rossi came next, in October. And then she ended the year with an announcement that she was starting a vegan pet food line. And all of this was on top of being one of the funniest women on TV. Well played, Ellen!

There you have it: our picks for top vegan moments in 2011. But we also want to know what yours were. What vegan moments inspired you this year? And what are your vegan celeb predictions for 2012? Let us know in the comments, and have a happy and safe New Year!

About China DeSpain

China DeSpain is a San Antonio-based writer and blogger. She loves pop culture, animal rights, health and fitness, international travel, books and wigs. Follow China on Twitter: @ChinaDeSpain

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  • http://www.facebook.com/suzanneburke Suzanne Riege Burke

    Awesome! I’m happy to say that I went vegetarian on Jan 1 of this year and vegan in mid-March although I’m still working on replacing all non-vegan products. I related to what Mike Tyson said…I too wish I had been vegan since birth but better late then never.

    FYI…I believe I found an unfortunate typo in #5, it reads “…an animal-based diet is a great tool for keeping excess weight at bay…” should that actually read “…a plant-based diet…”?

    • Anonymous

      Whoops! Thanks for finding that error everyone! Fixed.

  • http://twitter.com/VegCuisine Jill & Mike

    I’d like to see the research that supports soy helping to give women “curves”. Phytoestrogens are actually less potent than the estrogens out bodies produce, and I’ve never seen any evidence that suggests eating soy helps people gain weight or produces a womanly figure.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=851885006 Jenny Lonussen

    I think Emily Deschanel deserved a mention too, showing that you can stay true to your Vegan lifestyle (and be healthy) while being pregnant and working long hours (she worked up until two days before the birth of her son Henry and looked glowing doing it!).

  • Danny Dalton

    There will be a huge amount of publicity based on the benefits of veganism in 2012, and much more focus on raw veganism for ultimate health.