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Is Richard Attenborough a vegan?

Richard Attenborough was an acclaimed British actor, filmmaker and humanitarian known for directing the 1982 film Gandhi which won 8 Academy Awards. Though he was not publicly known to be vegan, some sources indicate he may have followed a primarily plant-based diet later in life.

Richard Attenborough’s Career and Activism

Richard Attenborough (1923-2014) was born in Cambridge, England and started acting in films in the 1940s. Some of his most well-known acting roles included Brighton Rock (1947), The Great Escape (1963) and Jurassic Park (1993).

In addition to acting, Attenborough was an accomplished director. His most acclaimed film was Gandhi (1982) which chronicled the life of Mahatma Gandhi and his nonviolent activism in India. Gandhi won 8 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director for Attenborough.

Outside of filmmaking, Attenborough was dedicated to humanitarian work. He served as the president of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. In 1993, he was knighted for his contributions to the arts. Attenborough was also a life-long activist for human rights and environmental causes.

Was Richard Attenborough Vegan?

Richard Attenborough did not publicly identify himself as being vegan or following a strictly plant-based diet. However, there are some indications that he may have adopted a primarily vegan diet later in life:

  • Attenborough was quoted in a 2008 newspaper article saying he did not eat meat anymore.
  • His close friend David Puttnam said in 2014 that Attenborough had been vegan for at least 20 years.
  • As an environmental activist, it’s likely Attenborough was aware of the environmental impact of meat production.
  • In his advanced age, Attenborough may have switched to a plant-based diet for health reasons.

So while there is no definitive proof, it seems reasonable that Attenborough followed a mostly or entirely plant-based vegan diet in the final decades of his life. This could have been motivated by ethical, environmental or health factors.

Attenborough’s Environmental Activism

Richard Attenborough was a dedicated environmentalist who advocated for climate change action and animal welfare. Some key points about his environmental efforts:

  • He was a patron of the United World Colleges movement which promotes peace, sustainability and service.
  • Attenborough served as vice president of Fauna and Flora International, the world’s oldest international wildlife conservation organization.
  • He narrated multiple BBC nature documentaries including Life on Earth (1979), The Living Planet (1984), and Life in the Freezer (1993).
  • In a 2015 interview, Attenborough urged immediate action on climate change before global catastrophe happens.

Given his passion for the environment, a vegan diet would have aligned with Attenborough’s values by minimizing his ecological footprint.

Attenborough’s Health and Longevity

Richard Attenborough lived an extraordinarily long life, ultimately passing away in 2014 at the age of 90. Some key facts:

  • He attributed his longevity to regular exercise and still swimming and hiking into his late 80s.
  • Attenborough survived a tsunami while filming on location in Thailand in 2004 at age 80.
  • He recovered from a stroke and continued directing films in his late 80s.
  • Attenborough remained sharp mentally even towards the end of his life.

A primarily plant-based vegan diet may have contributed to Attenborough’s health and longevity by providing nutrients for his active lifestyle while minimizing risk of chronic disease.


In conclusion, while Richard Attenborough did not publicly identify himself as vegan, there are several indications that he likely followed a mainly plant-based diet in the later decades of his life. This could have been motivated by ethical concerns for animals, reducing his environmental footprint, as well as health and longevity during his advanced age. Attenborough lived an extremely long, active life dedicated to nature, the arts and activism – pursuits that a vegan lifestyle would have supported. Though not conclusively proven, it seems probable the acclaimed director adopted a primarily vegan diet consistent with his values.