one who travels indefinitely, with no long-term abode, while avoiding all forms of animal exploitation and abuse as far as is possible and practicable
early 21st century; from vegan - ‘a person who does not eat or use animal products’, and nomad - ‘a person who does not stay long in the same place’
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The Top 5 Most Influential Vegan YouTube Activists
14 min read
This post was written about 4 years ago, so most likely contains out-dated information.
This post is not my opinion. The list of amazing vegan activists just below is based on data collected from a large international survey we at Vomad conducted earlier this year.
Our 2019 Global Vegan Survey results showed that online videos (other than feature films) were the third most popular reason that vegans first seriously considered making the shift.
In fact, 1,841 vegans said that the first thing that made them seriously consider going vegan was watching a video clip online, and out of those, 65.7% or 1209 of them said they watched it on YouTube.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this all adds up to make YouTube quite a powerful tool for influencing peoples behaviour, and therefore not only something we can enjoy in our spare time, but also something to be utilised in our online and offline activism.
Even if you personally may not be into the following YouTube channels, some people who know will be, so the following list of the Top 5 Most Influential Vegan YouTubers for 2019 (and some awesome honourable mentions at the bottom) should be used both for your own enjoyment and as recommendations to your veg-curious friends.
Arguably the most influential vegan activist of all time and undeniably one of the most hardworking, Gary Yourofsky is the man behind the incredibly influential "The Best Speech You Will Ever Hear" YouTube video (embedded below) that to date has gathered over 5 million views, been translated into over 30 languages and turned more people vegan than any other video online.
The above life-changing talk was recorded without his knowledge at Georgia Tech university in 2010 during one of his many tours around North American campuses where he gave free lectures on animal rights, plant-based nutrition and the deleterious environmental effects of animal agriculture to any college student who would listen.
This video and its Question and Answer companion quickly gained popularity online and went incredibly viral due to Gary's infectious passion and seemingly limitless knowledge on all things vegan.
His heavy touring schedule between 1996 and 2014 - giving 2,660 lectures to more than 60,000 people, which evens out to about one lecture every 2.5 days for 18 years straight - has helped make Gary's most unique and inspirational videos his unforgettable six full length speeches. Below you can watch one of his most entertaining TV appearances.
Infamously controversial and brilliantly outspoken, Gary has been arrested 13 times and banned from five countries for random acts of kindness and compassion - before he changed his tactics and put all his efforts into direct education - but one thing nobody can take away from him is his remarkable dedication to defending animals and his unmatched impact on spreading the vegan message all over the world.
If fact, it was Gary's tour to Israel that sparked the massive animal rights movement there, resulting in Israel now being widely labeled as the world's most vegan country.
Gary left the online community in 2017 after announcing his departure on his now defunct Facebook page, putting a surprising end to his unwanted internet-fame almost as suddenly as he fell into it.
In his own words, he never wanted to be famous, he just wanted to help animals, and with his 2010 Georgia Tech speech still remaining nine years later to be the most influential vegan video clip online, there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that Gary Yourofsky has helped the most persecuted victims of this world as much as anyone else ever did.
Claiming the spot of one of the first vegan YouTubers ever, "Freelee the Banana Girl" quickly rose to internet-fame riding a new wave of controversy, sex appeal, animal rights, and an enormous quantity of fruit.
Having grown as a person and as a content creator over the last 10 years since she started making videos - now with over 750,000 YouTube subscribers and more than 925 uploads to her name - Freelee is pretty securely positioned as the second most influential vegan YouTuber ever.
Freelee began her YouTube career promoting a fully raw vegan diet - under the moniker "The Banana Girl" - which she later gave up for a more balanced mix of whole plant foods, but her unique voice for the animals and her wide reach definitely didn't end when her raw vegan diet did.
Being a career-YouTuber, Freelee puts out a lot of content on a lot of subjects, but some of her most popular video topics include "day in the life" and "what I eat in a day" videos, responses and reactions to other YouTubers, a wide variety of health, beauty and fitness advice, and more recently, tips on living a minimalist lifestyle.
Combine the frequent flaunting of her slim, almost naked body in her videos and thumbnails (resulting in as much attention from men as she gets envy from other women) with the very personal and intimate nature of the content of some of her videos, it's obvious that Freelee knows how to not only grab peoples attention but also how to build a loyal audience - two essential components to making a lasting influence.
Even through some questionable promotion of her diets and being the centre of some seriously petty controversy, the amazing amount of attention she continues to generate for veganism and the innocent animals she unashamedly speaks up for makes Freelee undeniably one of the most influential vegan YouTubers ever.
Ed Winters, aka Earthling Ed, has done more to further the cause for the moral treatment of non-human animals in the four-and-a-half short years he's been vegan than most people do in their entire lives.
Having only been active for half the amount of time as to the two people already mentioned in this article has not at all stopped Ed from developing one of the most approachable and effective styles of conversational activism the internet has ever known.
Earthling Ed, as he's known due to the name of his YouTube channel which pays homage to the confronting vegan documentary that turned him and many others vegan, first started appearing online doing street interviews openly discussing animal rights in a manner that has since become the "go-to" method that vegan activists use all over the world to effectively communicate deep ideas that most people never think about.
Since then Ed has gone on to produce the UK version of the documentary that turned him vegan, Earthlings, called The Land of Hope and Glory (which is available to watch free online), co-founded the animal charity and sanctuary Surge, began the The Official Animal Rights March which operates globally, written a free e-book on dealing with excuses against veganism that claims over 50,000 downloads, opened a plant-based and non-profit eatery in London called The Unity Diner and most recently started The Disclosure Podcast to chat about all things vegan with himself and various guests. As if that's not enough, Ed has also completed a TedX talk that is at this time awaiting release.
...and this is all on top of maintaining an active YouTube channel.
In April 2018 Ed uploaded a much anticipated formal speech to his YouTube account (the first video embedded above) which he had given to thousands of students across universities in the UK before perfecting it and releasing it online. In less than a year since then it has collected over 33 million views online across both Facebook and YouTube and turned almost as many people vegan as his street interviews have.
Ed's beautiful conversational debate skills have led him to be invited on numerous TV and radio shows to represent veganism and debate farmers and other animal harmers for the world to see, which, as you can watch in the video below, always ends up putting veganism in the best light possible.
His unmatched style of street interviews, his apparently effortless recollection of knowledge on all aspects of veganism, his relentless pursuit into a wide range of different varieties of activism all in the short time he's been vegan leaves me very curious as to what ripples Earthling Ed is going to leave heading into the future.
But regardless of what he may or may not do from here on out, the things he has already done have earned Ed Winters his spot on the list of Most Influential Vegan YouTubers as solid as anyone else's.
Erin's channel has a grand total of only 14 uploads, about 2/3rds of which are directly related to veganism. Don't let that small number fool you though, at this time she has over 237,000 subscribers and her channel totals more than 10 million heard-earned views for her unusually well-made videos.
Her videos include comprehensive looks at the dairy industry (embedded above), the egg industry, the wool industry, thanksgiving day and the astounding suffering it inflicts on turkeys, the absurdity of trophy hunting, an exposé on the laughable term "humane slaughter" (embedded just below) and the all-too-common hypocrisy of your friendly neighbourhood carnist (embedded last below).
Her uploads pack a heavy punch of hard-hitting journalism, compressing a lot of information into 5 to 20 minute clips that stand out from most YouTuber's content due to their well planned structure, captivating editing, appropriate music, sound effects and engaging visual cutaways reminiscent of someone well trained in video production - a refreshing change from most vegan YouTubers just hitting record and talking to the camera.
Not to mention that Erin herself is very easy to look at, she speaks with sublime clarity and sprinkles on just the right amount of humour to make the serious animal abuse issues she serves up perfectly palatable for the masses.
Erin Janus' popular and influential YouTube account is proof that quality is more important than quantity as she has achieved more in 14 videos that what other YouTubers have in thousands of uploads. Just one of her powerful videos is enough to warrant Erin Janus a secure spot on the list of Most Effective Vegan YouTubers, but when they're all taken together she really stands out as a uniquely effective content creator and vegan activist.
Just like Gary Yourofsky and Erin Janus above, James Aspey could make this list on the basis of one video alone: his famously relatable and heart-felt "Wake Up Call" speech (embedded below).
James shines brighter than most vegan activists because he ticks so many boxes. Just to name a few, he keeps fit which helps to bust the "protein myth" still surrounding vegansim with some people, he (nearly) always keeps his cool which helps him communicate his strong ideas most effectively, and, even though it might not sounds that flattering, he just always comes across as a normal Aussie dude, which serves to both keep him relatable and make veganism seem like a much more achievable and realistic lifestyle to the general public.
He broke his 365 days of silence on Australia's most popular morning show (video embedded below) and since then has been tattooed for 24 hours straight to raise money for charity, has made numerous mainstream media appearances, been very actively speaking the truth on his social media accounts and has been tirelessly spreading the love of veganism offline too by giving hundreds of free talks all over the world.
Which, by the way, our Global Vegan Survey showed that James Aspey's awesome public speaking skills made him the most influential public speaker, turning more people vegan from giving speeches than anyone else.
Most recently James appeared on Logan Paul's podcast Impaulsive to talk about veganism, which, aside from just being a very entertaining and informative chat to listen to, is a note-worth achievement because, if you don't know, Logan Paul has one of the biggest followings of anyone on social media. Just read the comments below the video to see how positively people react to James' activism for yourself.
James' YouTube channel is now run by himself and his girlfriend Carly. Together they cover a wider range of topics than anyone else on this list.
If this is your first introduction to James Aspey, then I don't know where you've been living, but I consider you lucky, because you have some great viewing ahead of you.
James leads by perfect example of how to effectively spread the love of veganism, never shying away from media attention and continually refining his own skill set to keep improving at what he has dedicated his life to after recovering from an eating disorder - advocating for animals - and he does it better than most.
Our survey results shows what most people already know, that James Aspey is undoubtedly one of the Most Influential Vegan YouTube activists of today.
Additionally, the YouTube video 101 Reasons to Go Vegan by James Wildman proved to be hugely influential. James is technically not a vegan YouTuber as he does not have his own channel, but he is an amazing activist nonetheless, giving free interactive Humane Education presentations for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. Just his 101 Reasons to Go Vegan speech was so influential that if he had been a dedicated YouTuber, this one video alone would have put him in the top half of this list.
Also not a YouTuber, Phillip Wollen, the ex-vice president of CitiBank Australia turned vegan activist and philanthropist has a truly epic speech uploaded to YouTube that he gave as part of a debate called "Animals should be off the menu" held at St James Ethics and the Wheeler Centre in 2012. Our survey showed this speech to be as influential as it was inspiring to listen to, no matter how long you've been vegan for.
Lastly, the general category of "graphic footage of animal farming and/or slaughter" was shown in the survey to be more influential than everyone on this page, aside from Gary Yourosfky, so don't forget to share any of that footage around and follow pages on social media that make a point to expose the graphic truth in the animal f(h)arming industry.