On the heels of the news that her ex-husband Liam Hemsworth is no longer vegan, Miley Cyrus revealed recently that she is also no longer vegan. Now, in a world where the entire West Coast is on fire and we’re trapped in a COVID spiral, we can’t help but wonder, is nothing sacred? Can’t we even have two previously outspoken celebrities stay committed to veganism, if not marriage?!
On the Joe Rogan podcast, Miley Cyrus explained that she was a strict vegan from 2013 to 2019. “My brain wasn’t functioning properly,” she said. “You can’t be vegan and be this quick. […] Some people can, I can’t.” She also was feeling lethargic and low on energy, especially while performing. This led her to start eating fish for omega-3: “Now I’m so much sharper than I was, and I think at one point I was pretty malnutritioned.”
The fallout from the vegan community has been swift. Many fans expressed disappointment over the lack of commitment to the animals, especially striking since she has said (on The Tonight Show) her original reason for going vegan was having a pet blowfish that would get excited when she’d come nearby. Contrary to many people’s assumptions, fish are highly intelligent beings that form social bonds, can use tools, and even recognize their own image in a mirror—something that human infants can’t do.
Something many vegans were quick to point out was that Miley Cyrus has been a serious drug user for much of her young life. In the interview, Cyrus says, “my whole family is a bunch of stoners.” To that, host Joe Rogan responds, “I know people who have literally lost their minds from marijuana.” According to the National Drug Institute, marijuana use “can cause long-term or possibly permanent adverse changes in the brain.” Studies suggest that marijuana during adolescence can cause “altered connectivity and reduced volume of specific brain regions involved in a variety of executive functions such as memory, learning, and impulse control.” About her own childhood and adolescence, Cyrus says, “I was smoking a lot of weed and taking a lot of shrooms, and I started going a little cray cray.”
She also talked about a serious brain injury that she sustained at age two, when her father put her on his back while going on a dirt bike ride, and she hit her head on a tree. So it definitely appears that Cyrus had other, preexisting reasons for her brain issues besides her vegan diet. I am wondering if she might have been able to cope with the issues better had she sought help from doctors, naturopaths, and nutritionists before jumping to eat fish again.
Having said that, I think criticizing celebrities and non-famous ex-vegans rarely does the movement any favors. It puts people on the defensive, which makes them that much more eager to justify themselves. The atmosphere of perfectionism scares off anyone who might otherwise be intrigued to go vegan. Also, Miley Cyrus has personally reduced harm and helped inspire others to do so for 6 years, which is more than what most people (famous or non-famous) do in the world. She describes herself as a pescatarian, which means she’s still not eating land animals. I would argue that vilifying someone who is making a substantial contribution only makes veganism seem like an unattainable ideal—when it is in fact joyous and healthy for so many of us.
Personally, I used to only supplement my vitamin Bs with nutritional yeast for the first 10 or so years of being vegan. After that, I introduced hemp seeds into my diet for Omega-3. Last year, I added iron supplements, and this year I started taking calcium-magnesium-zinc. I hardly think this means my diet is deficient, because I think I’d have to supplement just as much on a non-vegan diet—then on top of that, I’d weigh a lot more, have high blood pressure, and have other health issues related to eating meat. There is absolutely nothing wrong or “unnatural” with supplementing to get all the nutrients you need, and there’s everything unnatural about the way we raise and kill animals for food, including fish. Here’s hoping that people understand this about vegan diet and commit to it in the long run.
Also see: How A Vegan Diet Boosts Your Brain Health, According To Science
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Photo: Raphael Pour-Hashemi via Wikipedia Commons