I find Russell Simmons fascinating from the perspective that he is a maverick in every sense of the word. He’s not just a successful business man, but he’s a legendary figure in the notoriously macho male world of hip hop, yet he’s a vegan, animal rights activist, and avid practitioner of yoga and Transcendental Meditation (TM).
It’s the vegan and animal right part of his lifestyle that has earned him the honor of PETA 2011 Person of the Year. He’s in good company, since last year the honor went to former President Bill Clinton for raising awareness about the health benefits of a vegan diet.
In a written statement, PETA says that Simmons earned the honor because “he tirelessly advocates for animals and sets a positive example for others by promoting a vegan lifestyle.”
Simmons is known for spreading the word on how his philosophy of compassion and his vegan diet has made his life better for it. You can’t accuse him of mincing his words:
“The horrible abuse of animals is the worst karmic disaster in the history of human kind,” said Simmons. “The work that PETA does to combat this catastrophe is amazing. I’m truly humbled to be chosen as this year’s Person of the Year but the praise should go to the hundreds of thousands of volunteers that are on the ground doing the work. I accept this honor on their behalf.”
Simmons’ clothing line, Argyleculture, is free of fur, wool, and leather. He has gone public with advocating people to report animal cruelty and wrote an open letter to KFC’s CEO asking them to improve their chicken slaughter practices.
Whether you are a vegan or not (I’m certainly not), or politically active in animal rights, Russell Simmons by all accounts is a man of principle and deserves respect for that.