Penn Jillette is a legendary magician, stage presence and vegan - a choice he originally made for health reasons before coming to embrace the cruelty-free ethics of the lifestyle.
In November 2018 he tweeted:
Happy thanksgiving y’all. This will be my first one that’s cruelty free. Not just vegan for health anymore. (this is not a holiday of healthful eating anyways)
— Penn Jillette (@pennjillette) November 22, 2018
The performer, who has been one half of the iconic duo Penn & Teller for four decades, switched to a plant-based diet several years ago – and wrote about his experiences, including losing over 100 lbs in weight, in his 2016 book: Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales.
Jillette, however, spent some time denying his new lifestyle choice made him a “vegan” – the Massachusetts-born entertainer was regularly keen to stress that his decision to eschew meat, dairy, eggs and animal products was a dietary, rather than ethical decision.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2018 and Jillette has begun to warm to the “vegan” label. In an interview with Las Vegas’ 13 Action News, the magician announced there’d be no turkey on his place for the holiday plate:
There’ll be stuff that looks like that. We’ll fake it. For a magician, it’s very good to be vegan because you have a lot of fake food. But made out of, like, plants from some other country. They’ll look like turkeys.
Jillette has been very happy with the benefits of his plant-based diet and, on Twitter, wrote that prior to his weight-loss:
I was fine with the way I looked. Not as happy with the way I felt.
Aside from veganism providing a positive in his own life, Jillette has influenced many people to adopt a similar diet. Kevin Smith, the Mallrats film-maker who suffered a massive heart attack in 2018, credits the veteran Las Vegas’ resident as the inspiration behind removing animal products from his own diet – a move which has resulted in huge weight-loss and a reported lower cholesterol level.
Penn Jillette, who was born in 1955, has established as a versatile performer throughout his career and his turned his hand to magic, acting, music, comedy, invention and book-writing. Best known for his stage and television shows alongside his long-time partner Teller, Jillette has delighted generations of fans through his deconstruction and subversion of magic tricks.
Image credit: By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America – Penn Jillette, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56867935