Who Are The Most Influential Individuals of All Time to the Vegan Movement?

We Let You Decide via a Fully-Open Ballot

... and Here Are The RESULTS:

During the last quarter of 2000, we hosted a fully-open ballot so that you could tell us who has had the greatest positive impact on the vegan movement. Thank You for the hundreds of nominations received. The top 16 nominees, ranked by their percentage of the total vote (2% required), are featured here.

Disclaimer: While each person on this list certainly deserves the recognition they are receiving, it is also important to recognize that there are many others that have made very substantial contributions to the vegan cause. We certainly do not pretend that our nominees comprise the complete list of influential vegans!

#1. John Robbins (15.5% of total vote) -- The founder of EarthSave International and author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated book, Diet For A New America, John Robbins' written work and oral presentations have helped countless individuals make the change to a vegan lifestyle. Extraordinarily, Robbins eschewed a life of guaranteed wealth by choosing not to inherit his father's Baskin Robbins ice cream empire. Instead, he has devoted his life to educating the public about the devastating effects America's meat- and dairy-laden habits impose on the Earth and on human health.
#2. Neal Barnard, M.D. (7% of total vote) -- A pioneer in the field of health and nutrition, Neal Barnard has produced a substantial case for the positive impact of a vegan diet on human health. He is president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nationwide group of doctors that promotes preventive medicine and addresses controversies in medicine. He has also authored several books, including Foods That Fight Pain, Eat Right Live Longer, Food for Life, Turn off the Fat Genes, and others.
#3. Peter Singer, Ph.D. (6% of total vote) -- Since the 1975 publication of his groundbreaking book, Animal Liberation, Peter Singer probably has been the single greatest influence on the animal liberation movement. His cogent ethical arguments in opposition to the exploitation of animals logically lead one to a vegan lifestyle. Now a world-renowned philosopher, Singer is a Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He is also cofounder of the Great Ape Project, an international effort to establish legal rights for nonhuman primates.
#4. Howard Lyman (5% of total vote) -- Howard Lyman spent decades raising and slaughtering animals for a living, but in the late 70s a life-threatening illness inspired him to look at life differently. Today he is one of the world’s leading spokespersons for an organic, plant-based diet. When Lyman exposed facts about the risks of Mad Cow disease in the U.S. on the Oprah show in 1996, the cattlemen filed suit. But the courts acknowledged that everything he said was true, and he and Oprah Winfrey won the case. Lyman currently is president of EarthSave International, a nonprofit educational organization.
#5. Ingrid Newkirk (4.5% of total vote) -- Cofounder and president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Ingrid Newkirk is a tireless advocate of animal rights. With provocative campaigns such as "I'd Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur" and "Got Beer," Newkirk and her organization have grabbed the attention of the public, frequently putting animal rights into the spotlight. Newkirk makes no apologies for the poignant nature of these campaigns, explaining that they generate the greatest net interest in animal rights and vegetarianism on a limited advertising budget. Her success shows in the numbers, with the PETA membership being larger than any other animal rights or vegetarian organization on the planet.
#6. Mohandas Gandhi (4% of total vote) -- Hardly needing any introduction, Gandhi has taught us all well. His deep concern with ethics and nonviolence are fundamental to the vegan ideal. Additionally, his own example of civil disobedience proved that substantial change can occur by the fully nonviolent protest of unjust institutions. Of course, Gandhi was also a strict vegetarian, and he made clear that it is our "moral duty not to live upon fellow animals."
#7. Frances Moore Lappe (3.5% of total vote) -- In 1971, Frances Moore Lappe released Diet for a Small Planet. It sold over 3 million copies and shattered the idea the meat consumption is necessary for adequate protein intake. Lappe has been instrumental in detailing the relationship between world hunger and the squandering of grains to livestock by affluent societies that desire meat. Committed to solutions to world hunger and poverty, Lappe cofounded Food First, an institute for food and development policy, as well as The Center for Living Democracy. To date, she has authored 15 books and received 15 honorary doctorates from distinguished institutions.
#8. H. Jay Dinshah (3% of total vote) -- If there were ever a vegan truly ahead of his time, it was Jay Dinshah. In 1960, he established the American Vegan Society and became the voice for a humane lifestyle, urging Americans to refuse all products of cruelty, exploitation, or death of animals. In his 40 years devoted to promoting the vegan lifestyle, Dinshah was a prolific orator and writer. Some of his best-known works include Out of the Jungle and Here's Harmlessness , not to mention his countless essays and articles. Quite literally, Dinshah set the foundation for the growing movement of veganism in America today.

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