Vegan Activist 4: Woody Harrelson

October 23, 2019

Vegan Activist 4: Woody Harrelson - Leafy Souls Vegan Blog Post

Harrelson has been a vegan for over 30 years. And over those 30 years, he has promoted veganism to co-stars and sources out vegan chefs for sustainability cooking. 


Many celebrities are involved in different activist organizations, but it's usually a donation here and a charitable write-off there. Woody Harrelson, however, is a devoted environmental activist who has put his money where his mouth is. He's especially concerned about deforestation and has spent years doing whatever he can to stop it from happening. Sometimes he's lobbied for governmental change. However, even for a famous person with a wad of cash, it can be headache-inducing trying to effect change via politics.

That's one reason Harrelson helped found Prairie Pulp and Paper. The name of the game is a sustainable paper made of 80 percent wheat straw waste. This special paper is named Step Forward Paper, and the business claims that every two boxes of it used in place of standard office paper save an entire tree. 

For some actors, being a paper salesman on the side might seem a bit demeaning, but Harrelson has described the thought of losing entire forests to clear-cutting as being "too painful" and reiterated he feels a personal responsibility to help turn things around: "We need to do something about this. "

When talking about what led to their big break, most actors will talk about the mentors they've had, the acting techniques they've learned, and the roles that propelled them to prominence. Harrelson, though, credits an entirely different kind of source. To hear him tell it, he became a star because of a random woman on the bus.

Going Dairy Free

Harrelson says when he was a struggling actor in New York many years ago, he was quite ugly. Specifically, he was always blowing his nose and had been covered in acne for years. And then a random woman on his bus took one look at him and diagnosed him as lactose-intolerant. She swore that if he quit dairy entirely, his nose and face would clear up in about three days. 

Harrelson was skeptical, but once he tried it, his face cleared up entirely. At the age of 24, Harrelson looked like a new man, just in time to be cast in his breakout role in Cheers. This incident not only kicked off his acting career but led to his skepticism about things everyone thinks are good which is just "bullsh*t advertising" and a "total hoax."

His Vegan Impact

In 2017, Harrelson joined with former Beatle, music legend, and co-founder of vegetarian movement Meat Free Mondays Paul McCartney, to encourage consumers to ditch meat just one day a week. The actor appeared in “One Day A Week,” a short, environmental film — narrated by McCartney himself — explaining the meat industry’s impact on the planet. And he continuously talks about the physical benefits of going vegan.

In addition to avoiding dairy (he's still listening to the advice of the kindly young lady from the bus, all these decades later), Woody Harrelson is a hardcore vegan. While this is easy enough to manage in his day-to-day life, it presents some interesting challenges for bringing his onscreen characters to life. 

One example of this came in the hit film Zombieland, in which Harrelson plays a character that is obsessed with Twinkies. How did they get the vegan actor to chow down on one of the most non-vegan snacks on the planet? Simple: they made him custom vegan Twinkies for the movie.

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