Legendary actor Samuel L. Jackson hasn’t shied away from vocalizing his preference for—and the remarkable results he’s reaped from—vegan eating, ever since banishing animal products from his plate last August.
From announcing it on the Late Show With David Letterman in November, to reiterating it during an on-camera interview with Yahoo UK, from speaking about it with Metro UK, to talking to Ecorazzi in New York City last week, Jackson is nothing if not candid about his significant weight loss as well as his grand goal to live forever, both of which he attributes to adhering to a plant-based diet.
Given the “Captain America 2” star’s openness surrounding what he’s noshing on and why, we figured we’d take the opportunity to confirm a few outstanding details for our readers.
At Wednesday night’s Museum of the Moving Image salute to Kevin Spacey—which drew a number of Hollywood’s hottest to toast the “House of Cards” kingpin’s illustrious acting career—Jackson paused on his way out of 583 Park Avenue to quell our mounting curiosity relating to his new-ish and much improved health-inspired habits.
Asked what prompted him to ditch meat, dairy and eggs, Jackson pointed to Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, of “Forks Over Knives” fame: “Reading Dr. Esselstyn’s book,” he replied matter-of-factly. (We’re going to guess he was referring to the New York Times bestselling title “Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease.”) He continued, “Going to [Dr. Esselstyn’s] house and talking to him and his wife Ann.”
“And,” he added nonchalantly, “a desire to live forever.” The latter quote has made the media rounds since he first uttered the words during a Q&A last month, but we weren’t aware he was close with the Esselstyns and that they had a direct hand in helping him make this wise wellness shift.
So, what does the 65-year-old dine on now? “Lots of leaves, lots of beans. A lot of whole wheat pasta, brown rice and quinoa,” he spouted off without hesitation. Yum! (Whole foods make us hungry.)
As with any great change, we recognize there can be growing pains. Our ingrained tastes don’t evaporate overnight and maybe even eight months isn’t time enough to fully flush pangs for the familiar, however heinous. That’s why we weren’t taken aback when Jackson told us he sometimes misses hamburgers. “In-N-Out!” he exclaimed in a manner that implies perhaps he isn’t privy to the excellent mock meats on the market, for those moments of weakness when clean eating just doesn’t cut it.
Despite occasional cravings for a fast food fix, Jackson seems keen to keep up with the cruelty-free cuisine, telling us: “I think I might stick with it for a minute.”
Beyond immortality, however, we wanted to know what truly keeps this savvy veg celeb from faltering. (Hey, it happens.) “I feel great,” Jackson reasoned. “I have a lot more energy than I used to have. I sleep better. I like the way I look in my clothes better. I don’t cramp as much. I exercise better. I think my circulation has gotten better.” Phew! If this considerable list of personal improvements can’t convince carnivores to join Jackson—and Al Gore, Bill Clinton, James Cameron and Jason Mraz, among myriad more—in adopting a plant-powered diet, we don’t know what will.
Fortunately for Jackson—and for Ecorazzi—the sit-down dinner featured a vegan option, which we’re presuming he enjoyed before taking to the podium to recount films in which he shared the screen with Spacey. Jackson captivated the audience with entertaining anecdotes before clips from “The Negotiator” and “A Time to Kill” reminded everyone in the room of their respective silver screen skills.
Now if only Jackson could convince Frank Underwood—err, Kevin Spacey—to give up his barbequed ribs ritual.
Photo credit: Chris Bowman