According to the TED organization, one idea has the power “to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.” With this in mind, the well-respected Ted Talks offer a platform for certain individuals to share their ideas and spark change. The vegan leaders who have been granted time on the TED stage have graced the world with remarkable ideas and perception-changing speeches. Here, we feature the animal advocates, environmentalists, health and wellness experts, innovators, and scientists who educate, inspire, and empower us through their brilliant vegan ideas.
1. Ed Winters’ Every Argument Against Veganism
Approachable animal advocate Ed Winters offers poised, logical rebuttals to common arguments vegans encounter. He delves into many topics and expertly points out lapses in logic with anti-vegan arguments such as personal choice, cultural and historical norms, and nutrient necessity. Arm yourself with answers and the nay-sayers will be left speechless the next time they attack your vegan choices.
2. Leah Garces’ A Lesson In Turning Adversaries Into Allies
In this insightful talk, Mercy For Animals president Leah Garcés recounts embarking on a mission to end chicken farming with the most unlikely ally: a chicken farmer! In a time when it’s easy to fall into the “us versus them” mentality, Garces draws upon her personal experience to highlight the importance of empathy, engagement, and constructive conversation to bring about the change we want to see in the world.
3. Dr. Melanie Joy’s Toward Rational, Authentic Food Choices
Psychologist, sociologist, and award-winning author Dr. Melanie Joy discusses how even rational, caring individuals can stop thinking and feeling when it comes to our food choices. In her talk, she describes the dominant ideology of carnism—a term she coined that describes an invisible belief system that conditions us to eat some animals and love others. Send this to your dog-loving, meat-eating friends to see if they turn to the vegan side after watching Dr. Joy speak.
4. Dotsie Bausch’s Olympic Level Compassion
Dotsie Bausch is a force to be reckoned with. In her impassioned TED talk, the Olympic medalist recounts her life story from suffering from anorexia to becoming a professional cyclist and then a vegan. Bausch is now on a mission to educate and empower us all with the magic of her Olympic-level compassion as the executive director of her nonprofit, Switch4Good.
5. Dr. Carl Safina’s What Animals Are Thinking and Feeling, and Why It Should Matter
Renowned ecologist Dr. Carl Safina dives into the profound abilities of fellow species to think, show compassion, empathize, and perceive information from their environment—all faculties we tend to label as “human-like.” With bursts of sarcasm and good humor, he urges us to rethink what it means to be human. It’s a lot to grasp, but these thoughts are necessary to make room for compassion toward non-human animals.
6. Jasmin Singer’s Compassion Unlocks Identity
Why is it so much easier to practice compassion for others and not for ourselves? Activist, vegan, and VegNews Editor at Large Jasmin Singer implores us to treat ourselves as our grandmother would treat us—with compassion, kindness, and forgiveness. She reminds us that it’s okay to turn the love we feel for animals and other humans back onto ourselves. It’s okay to just be, no questions asked, no proof needed. Everyone deserves compassion.
7. Genesis Butler’s A 10-Year-Old’s Vision for Healing the Planet
Genesis Butler is an activist the world needs more of. Now a young teenager, she doesn’t let age stand in the way of her activism. She is passionate, charismatic, and even as a ten-year-old, knows what she’s talking about. Get the family involved and watch this talk together.
8. Isha Datar’s Rethinking Meat
Cellular agriculture expert Isha Datar educates her audience on how the way we consume meat today will impact the future of next generations and our planet. Datar has brought her vision for a sustainable food system to fruition by co-founding companies such as Muufrii (now Perfect Day), which makes cow’s milk without cows, and Clara Foods, which makes eggs without chickens. She is currently the executive director of New Harvest—a non-profit research institute that supports and accelerates innovation in cellular agriculture.
9. Kerry McCarthy’s Think Veganism
BBC radio presenter Kerry McCarthy’s talk is highly engaging and insightful as she describes the dysfunctional relationship people have with meat products. Despite an increasing awareness of the atrocities of factory farming, there is still vast resistance in the behavioral change front. How has the brain evolved to align our juxtaposed morals when it comes to meat? Give this talk a listen and find out.
10. Dr. Barbara J. King’s Grief and Love In the Animal Kingdom
Biological anthropologist Dr. Barbara King argues that the ability to grieve, love, and experience other complex emotions is not exclusive to humans. The concern over anthropomorphism—projecting our human experiences to non-human animals—deters some scientists from agreeing with Dr. King. In this powerful speech, she backs her claim with moving and compelling evidence of animal emotions and urges the audience to treat all animals with compassion and respect.
11. Leslie Bisgould’s It’s Time to Re-evaluate Our Relationship with Animals
A true pioneer, Canada’s first animal rights lawyer discusses ineffective animal protection laws and the weak language that allows for gaping loopholes. Leslie Bisgould specifically focuses on eliminating the property status of animals which would elevate their status in the eyes of the law. “What are the morally relevant differences between humans and other animals that make it acceptable for us to hurt them in ways that would never be acceptable to hurt one another?” she argues.
12. Lauren Ornelas’ The Power of Our Food Choices
Every meal we eat affords an opportunity to make informed food choices, and Lauren Ornelas is spreading the word. In this talk, she highlights the detachment many humans have when it comes to the knowledge behind how our food is produced. Send this video to a loved one who needs a little help connecting the porkchop on their plate to the pig on the farm.
13. Brian Kateman’s Ending the Battle Between Vegans, Vegetarians, and Everyone Else
Once we reach the vegan end of the rainbow, it’s so easy to let our passion get in the way of our empathy. How can the vegan community build allies and encourage our loved ones to make the transition at their own pace? This eye-opening talk by the Reducetarian Foundation president Brian Kateman stresses the importance of positivity and inclusivity when advocating for the vegan way of life.
14. Dr. Michael Greger’s Food as Medicine
Founder of NutritionFacts.org, Dr. Michael Greger discusses the phenomenal power of a whole foods, plant-based diet to prevent, treat, and reverse the most common ailments that plague the Western population. If it were up to us, this talk would be streamed in every high school health class.
15. Dr. Neal Barnard’s Tackling Diabetes with a Bold New Dietary Approach
Diabetes is an epidemic that impacts millions of Americans, and the culprit is … not sugar. Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine dispels this myth and others by advocating for a nutritional approach to diabetes treatment and prevention.
16. Dr. Michael Klaper’s The Most Powerful Strategy for Healing People and the Planet
The standard Western diet is rich in foods that propel preventable disease and burden the healthcare system. Despite this, a majority of research is aimed at symptom treatment instead of disease prevention. In this talk, Dr. Michael Klaper elucidates on the superior benefits of plant-based nutrition in comparison to current treatment models.
17. Bruce Friedrich’s Meat Without Animals: The Future Of Food
As the executive director and co-founder of the Good Food Institute, Bruce Friedrich knows that we cannot expect every person to give up animal products—the industry must meet them where they are at. Friedrich stresses the importance of government support for innovations in food technology to make way for a healthier, more sustainable food system.
18. Andras Forgacs’ Leather and Meat Without Killing Animals
Bioprinting innovator Andras Forgacs discusses how it is possible to bypass the need to slaughter billions of animals for hamburgers and handbags through bio fabrication and tissue engineering. He showcases samples of lab-grown leather and emphasizes the remarkable versatility of the technology. With science on our side, we can end animal suffering at the hands of humans.
19. Pat Brown’s Saving the Planet Takes Straying from the Herd
In this engaging talk, Impossible Foods Founder Pat Brown explains the motivation and science behind the inception of his plant-based foods company. Learn what led to the famous Impossible Burger and why Brown isn’t just stopping at beef. From Impossible Pork to dairy-free cow’s milk, Brown’s mission is to eradicate the use of animal products for food by 2035.
20. Susan Solomon’s The Promise of Research with Stem Cells
Patient-derived stem cells and personalized medicine can feed two birds with one scone, according to Susan Solomon. Founder and CEO of New York Stem Cell Foundation, Solomon speaks to the vast potential of using stem cells as an alternative to animal models in biomedical research. After all, human medicine should be tested on humans.
Shriya Swaminathan currently lives in St. Louis with her pooch Halley. She enjoys supporting local vegan spots and is having a blast volunteering at The Gentle Barn in Missouri.
Photo credit: Dotsie Bausch