Originally known as a rapper, he became even better known through the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. After that, he made the jump to the big screen, and he has been one of the most popular movie stars ever since. But is Will Smith vegan?
No, Will Smith is not vegan. Although his son, Jaden Smith, has educated him on the negative environmental consequences of animal products, and he has been advised to eat a mostly plant-based diet to improve his health, he hasn’t given up meat and other animal products.
Will likes dogs
Since veganism is about animal rights, it’s important to note that Will enjoys interacting with animals, particularly with dogs.
He actually had a dog when he was little, but, tragically, that dog was involved in an accident, and the experience made him hesitant to get emotionally attached to dogs again: “When I was little, I was probably 9, and I had a dog that got hit by a car. So I was like, ‘That’s it! I’m not doing it. I’m not doing that whole, fall in love with dogs thing no more.’”
Nonetheless, he ended up with four Rottweilers early on in his relationship with Jada Pinkett Smith, years before they even got married. Two of those entered the household through Jada and the other two were given to him by Jay Leno.
Their dog trainer and personal friend, Cesar Millan, also noticed that Jada was more invested than Will: “She was able to handle four Rottweilers at once even better than her husband was. Will Smith was good with the dogs and they respected him, but Jada really put in the time and energy needed to be a strong pack leader.”
It wasn’t until he starred in the 2007 movie I Am Legend, in which he had to work closely with a female German shepherd named Abbey, that his perspective changed:
“Abbey’s owner and trainer, Steve Berens, patiently introduced us and gave us confidence in each other. That was it! I was with her all the time and we became the best of friends. I liked having her around and when the movie production ended, I wanted to keep her. I was no longer nervous of any sort of dog and kind of fell in love with her. Steve was also attached to her, though, and so she stayed with him. He did say that we had bonded really well, which was nice to hear. It was the end of the movie, but the start of a different approach to dogs for me.”
While using real animals in movies is not vegan, this is nonetheless an example of how spending time with animals can change our approach to them for the better. Unfortunately, most people rarely spend time with animals like chickens, pigs, and cows, which is why they don’t get the same consideration as dogs and cats.
When it comes to dogs and cats, Jada continues to invite more of them into their home. She even took home a stray cat from China once, and after finding out he was deaf, Will made sure the cat got a good home at the Deaf and Blind School:
Will’s environmental efforts
In 2013, Will and his son Jaden starred together in the movie After Earth. The movie, which is based on a story written by Will himself, is set in a future where humans have abandoned the earth because of environmental problems, but Will and Jaden’s characters revisit our planet a thousand years later. Unfortunately, the movie received mostly negative reviews, but it did provide Will with an opportunity to talk about his growing environmental awareness. In a conversation about it, he said:
“This film does exactly what I’ve always dreamed to be able to do, to be able to entertain and to also pose very interesting questions. And to do it with my son, it was wonderful for the two of us to become environmentally educated together. … One of the questions that was posed during the shooting was about what was the actual damage that was being done by, you know, human occupation of the planet.”
Many of the scenes were shot in Costa Rica, which Will contrasted with the “concrete jungle” he grew up in:
“I grew up with the idea that, you know, concrete was 80 percent of the environment. So, this opportunity was a huge eye-opener for me. … I wouldn’t say that there was a disrespect, but there was a lack of understanding. You know, I didn’t realize how delicate a tree or an environment or an ecosystem [was].
“Something that in the film industry we’ve been talking about is the footprint of your movie. When you take a movie into a space, you’re bringing food and you’re bringing trailers and you’re bringing generators and all of that. And just really in the last five or six years has that even come on my radar.
“So, I’ve become very aware of the movements of the things that I create and the companies that I’m involved with create in the earth. And I want to thank Jaden because it’s absolutely not something that I grew up with or was aware of.”
Two years later, Will and Jaden founded the company JUST Water. Jaden had come up with the idea years earlier, when he was surfing and noticed all the plastic bottles in the ocean. In his own words: “After seeing the amount of ocean pollution and the effect it was having on marine wildlife, I couldn’t stand there and do nothing about it.” Will supported the idea and helped Jaden execute it. “This was a company born out of a child’s love for the ocean,” he said.
JUST Water was set up to provide an environmentally friendly alternative to water in plastic bottles and aluminum cans. As Jaden explained it: “By packaging water in bottles made from paper and plant-based plastic, JUST Water is reducing the amount of harmful greenhouse emissions while helping to preserve the environment.”
Will and Jaden even encourage people to refill the bottles in order to reduce pollution even more. Here’s a video of Will doing just that:
In 2019, when the Amazon forest fires received worldwide attention, JUST Water teamed up with the footwear company Allbirds. They launched limited-edition sneakers made from sustainable materials and donated 100 percent of the proceeds to the Amazon Forest Fund, which was set up by Leonardo DiCaprio and a few others. Will explained the collaboration as follows:
“There is only one Mother Earth, and it’s on us to protect her. The Brazilian Amazon, our largest carbon sink, has now been burning for a month. We source JUST sugarcane caps from Brazil, so this hits especially close to home. Collaborating with businesses who are creating innovative, sustainable solutions are the key to our future, and it’s important that we support those brands who give back more than they take.”
The animal industries’ environmental impact
The animal industries harm the environment in many ways. The reason for that is that they’re inherently inefficient. Growing crops to feed to animals in order to eat the animals requires far more resources than growing crops for direct human consumption. That’s why the animal industries use a lot more water, fuel, and land than producers of plant-based products.
Worldwide, plant-based food provides 83 percent of all our calories, while animal products only provide 17 percent. But the animal industries occupy almost a third of all land on earth. That’s more land than the area of Russia, the United States, and Canada combined. And they’re actually a major driver of deforestation because they constantly need more land. A fifth of Brazil’s Amazon forest has already been cleared, mostly for cattle ranching and to grow soy to feed to animals.
When it comes to pollution, the animal industries generate both physical waste and greenhouse gases. Scientists have calculated that a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions come from food, and more than half of those come from animal products. This means that cutting out animal products is arguably the most effective action we can take on an individual level to combat climate change.
Jaden is aware of the negative environmental impact of meat and he has talked about it with his family as well. In 2018, he said that “some people in the family are vegetarian for two days [a week].” He didn’t specify if Will was one of those people, though.
Will’s health problems
In September 2019, an episode of the web television talk show Red Table Talk was released which featured the whole Smith family. The episode was organized by Will because he wanted everyone in the family to address their health problems.
In the episode, Will discusses his lack of knowledge about healthy diets. He starts off by talking about eating so many muffins and drinking so much alcohol on vacation that he ended up weighing 225 pounds, before mentioning that even when he’s in shape, he doesn’t necessarily feel healthy:
“I had the epiphany that I actually don’t know anything about food. All of the time that I had trained, and I know how to eat to make my body look muscular, but I actually don’t know how to eat to feel good. I don’t know how to eat to be healthy.”
He illustrates this with an example of when he played Deadshot in the 2016 movie Suicide Squad: “Deadshot was probably the tightest and the leanest that I’ve ever been, but I had headaches all the time. But I was like, ‘It’s cool, ‘cause I’m squeezing down, squeezing my body fat. I look great. I’m Deadshot. I’m Deadshot.’”
He also wonders about his use of blood pressure medicine: “I’ve been taking blood pressure medicine for almost a decade. … Do I have high blood pressure or was I eating myself into high blood pressure?” And he mentions “things that were preventative that [he] was put on for cholesterol.”
Other health problems he mentions are waking up “tired, with aches and pains,” being gassy, being constipated a lot and going three days without pooping, going to the bathroom five times in the middle of the night, and occasionally getting lightheaded and shaking a little when playing golf.
A plant-based diet can help Will
Three months later, in December 2019, a follow-up episode was released. The episode featured nutritionist Mona Sharma and Dr. Mark Hyman, who had physically examined the whole family, except for Trey (Will’s eldest son from a previous marriage).
In this episode, Will is informed that he indeed has blood pressure issues and high cholesterol, but also gut flora imbalances, leaky gut, and too much mercury in his body. He is also told that he’s lactose intolerant and that he’s sensitive to gluten and caffeine. And he is deficient in vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and magnesium.
Dr. Hyman tells Will that he can solve his health problems through a change in diet, and cutting down on animal products is a big part of that. He tells Will to cut down on fish to get his mercury level down, and to stop consuming dairy because he’s lactose intolerant. He mentions that 75 percent of the world’s adult population is lactose intolerant and that it’s “the normal thing, most of us can’t tolerate dairy.”
He also says: “You gotta basically eat the right diet, eat real food. Don’t eat crap. You know, and eat mostly plants.” Later in the episode, nutritionist Mona Sharma reiterates that meals should be “plant-focused.” She says: “There used to be this conditioning from society. We thought that most of our plate had to be meat, when really, it’s a side dish, right? You call it a condimeat, right?” Which Dr. Hyman confirms.
Will summarizes the main takeaway from the episode as follows: “So, number one is plant-rich. Number two is no fake food.”
While it is not explicitly stated in the episode, we actually don’t need any animal products in our diet at all. In fact, cutting them out completely can benefit our health, as long as our diet is balanced. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the largest organization of nutrition experts in the U.S., summarizes it as follows:
“It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegan diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.”
In their position paper, they also specifically mention that high blood pressure and high cholesterol are significantly less common among vegans.
Will still eats animal products
It’s unclear to what degree Will changed his diet after the episode, but he definitely didn’t give up animal products. A month and a half after it was released, in January 2020, he was asked in an interview what his go-to meal was, and he said: “Usual answer – grilled chicken, broccoli.”
And in April 2020, he released episode 10 of Will From Home on Snapchat, titled “What If Guy Fieri Had To Judge Your Food?” In the episode, he competes with fellow actor Kevin James in a “survival meal cook off” while restaurateur Guy Fieri gives them tips. Will and Kevin are both free to choose what they want to cook, and Will chooses to make a tuna casserole.
Hopefully, he will reflect more on the advice he has been given and realize that he’s better off without animal products. If he learns more about nutrition, the environment, and the exploitation of animals, he will find that cutting animal products out of his diet and life in general will benefit himself, the animals, and the world at large.
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