Steve-O vs. Veganism

You might not expect the guy whose first stunt on the Jackass set was swallowing and regurgitating a still-living goldfish to go vegan, but it’s a weird world we live in.

An animal rights activist who has received multiple awards for his advocacy, it’s no surprise that Steve-O is an outspoken advocate for animals.

There’s a trend among people who become addicted to substances and seek treatment to implement a vegan lifestyle on top of their newfound sobriety. You might call it “going cold-tofurky.” Steve-O appears to have had a similar journey following his harrowing journey to the depths of drug addiction. He was a new man after successful treatment — and undoubtedly a better one.

Steve-O’s veganism is brought up in pretty much every interview he’s in. The juxtaposition of the jackass vegan is an interesting one to interviewers, and he gets to spread the message to listeners and readers. In this way, and through his other advocacy work, he’s likely convinced scores of people to vegan or otherwise reduce their consumption of meat and animal products.

But things got weird recently. It turns out Steve-O may not have been vegan all these years, despite allegedly stating in his book that he follows a “strict vegan diet.”

I could not find where Steve-O originally indicated that he doesn’t follow — or no longer follows — a vegan diet, but the below Instagram post was made in reaction to backlash from the vegan community about it.

The caption reads:

Fuck, vegans can be annoying. To all the combative, annoying vegans who are choosing to attack me for not forcing veganism on my cats, and for not being a strict, militant vegan myself (even though I haven’t eaten any meat other than fish for well over ten years), please consider that you’re doing more harm than good. Maybe stop working so hard to pit people who are on your team against you.

I’ve written about the dilemma of being a vegan cat owner, so I can certainly sympathize with that part.

There are some important factors to consider here. One of these is his reasoning for consuming fish, which he has not said as far as I am aware. Perhaps more important is the consideration of how often he eats fish. Does he eat fish every day? Once a week? Twice a year? I’ve written before about how difficult it is to nail down when someone is or is not vegan, and I think those same considerations still apply. If he eats fish once a year for whatever reason, he’s arguably still vegan. In fact, in such a case, it is far more accurate to say he’s vegan than to say he’s not.

And he’s a celebrity. Public figures like Steve-O can and do wield significant influence over others. I don’t know if it would be a good thing for him to say he’s vegan if he’s actually eating fish once a week or more, but if he’s eating fish once a month or less, perhaps the positive impact of his vegan advocacy outweighs the fact that, strictly speaking, he isn’t vegan.

No one likes to be lied to, but I think Steve-O is right about the vegans attacking him doing more harm than good. A cursory search of articles online about the feud between Steve-O and The Vegans suggests several outlets are chomping at the bit to write stories about what “those crazy vegans” are up to.

It doesn’t make much sense to focus our ire on someone who has probably done more for animals than any one of us instead of spending our time convincing the upwards of 98% of the general public that still consumes meat and animal products at virtually every meal.

It’s unfortunate that Steve-O may not have been entirely truthful about his veganism up to this point. He does not reveal why he eats fish, which might shed more light on the situation. But before attacking Steve-O, we should consider that he’s had an undoubtedly positive impact on animals, and that a puritanical crusade against him likely has a negative one.


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