How Ellen DeGeneres Became a Vegan

Daytime talk show host Ellen DeGeneres is known for many things — her groundbreaking former sitcom "Ellen," in which her character came out as a lesbian, the fact that she dances in the opening of every episode of her show, and her veganism, which means she doesn't eat any animal products. The 54-year-old recently opened up to the Associated Press about becoming a vegan, and admitted that it was far from easy. DeGeneres, a native of New Orleans, a city that takes pride in its extravagant food, said she tried a vegan diet for the first time in 1997, but that the change only lasted six months. "I've always called myself an animal lover. And yet I ate them," DeGeneres said. "Until four years ago I would be driving past these cows on pastures, and think 'What a lovely life that is,' and I'd go and order a steak." It wasn't until 2008 that she gave up eating meat and dairy products for good. "Someone mentioned, 'If you knew what chicken looked like or you knew how chicken was made, you'd never eat it again,'" she explained. "Something snapped."

Aside from her — as Oprah would put it — "aha moment," DeGeneres also credits her personal chef, Roberto Martin, with helping her successfully adopt a vegan diet. He whipped up meals such as sliders with veggie patties, smoked tempeh (a meat substitute), and even a vegan version of the classic New Orleans dish red beans and rice. Ellen and her wife Portia de Rossi, who's also vegan, both contributed to Martin's new cookbook, Vegan Cooking for Carnivores.

Although the switch to a plant-based diet was difficult, Ellen is definitely embracing it now! She created a website last fall called "Going Vegan With Ellen" featuring meat- and dairy-free recipes and a list of vegan celebrities, such as Russell Simmons and Woody Harrelson. They're also reportedly opening a new vegan restaurant in the L.A. area soon.

If you're not vegan already, do you think you could ever make the switch?

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