russell simmons and animal rights

Russell Simmons and Animal Rights

Russell Simmons may be most known as the iconic hip hop mogul who co-founded Def Jam Recordings, helped launch the careers of musicians that changed the landscape of American music, created his own fashion line, and started Def Jam Comedy.  What you may not realize is Simmons is also a practicing yogi, a vegan, a social justice crusader, and a staunch supporter of animal rights.

Simmons adopted the vegan lifestyle as his commitment to the practice of yoga grew.  The more he learned about the spiritual side of yoga, the more he came to believe strongly in living a compassionate life and not contributing to the suffering of animals.  Simmons acted on this commitment by removing all animal products from his diet and using his celebrity status as a platform to education and inspire others about yoga, meditation, and veganism.

When Simmons launched his clothing line Argyleculture, he kept the line free from fur, leather, and wool.  He became active with PETA, working to encourage companies like Kentucky Fried Chicken to adopt more human practices with the livestock they use for the products.  Simmons has also been a vocal opponent of NYC’s horse drawn carriages, calling the practice cruel. He is also opposed to using animals for entertainment or display, such as zoos, preferring to promote the practice of conservation in natural habitats.  

Simmons also encourages other celebrities to stop using fur.  In 2012, he urged fellow star Lady Gaga to stop wearing fur. Simmons sees fur as a symbol of cruelty rather than a status symbol.  He credits high profile women such as Michelle Obama, Tila Tequila, and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy for “marking a shift if human consciousness” for speaking out against the fur industry.

The compassionate treatment of animals means more to Simmons that simply not eating them.  It means working on their behalf to improve living conditions, ensure animals are treated humanely, and educating people about the many benefits of veganism.  As Simmons says, “There is always messaging in religious texts about how we treat other living species and how that’s a reflection of who we are today and how our culture is today.”  

Russell Simmons is best known for co-founding Def Jam Records and launching the careers of hip hop stars such as LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys.  Simmons’s company, Rush Communications Inc., includes over ten businesses and three non-profits. Simmons, with his partner Stan Lathan, has also produced television hits HBO’s Def Comedy Jam and Def Poetry Jam.  He has been a vegan for over 20 years.