Russell Simmons: From Hip-Hop King to Happy Vegan

(Photo: Corbis)

There are some people who have built such an empire that you know who they are — even if you don’t follow their brands or buy their products.

Such is the case with Russell Simmons.

He is a legend in the hip-hop music industry; he’s the founder of the Def Jam label, the creator of two popular fashion brands, and is even a recent YouTube sensation with his All Def Digital channel. Simply put, Russell knows a thing or two about building movements, getting fans, and promoting powerful messages.

But that’s just one reason I wanted to have him on The School of Greatness. In recent years, Russell has taken on a lifestyle makeover that is focused on holistic health — and a vegan diet. He has been just as vocal about this undertaking as he’s always been about his business ventures, and his newest book, The Happy Vegan, dives into all the reasons why.

When I asked him when and why he chose to stop eating animal products, he told me the story of watching and reading some powerful stories almost 20 years ago, including Diet for a New America, and he just knew he was done eating meat.

As he has learned more through the years about the environmental effects of factory farms and the treatment of animals in these production facilities, he has become even more convinced to eschew animal products from his diet.

Of course, I had to know what physical results he has seen in his own body.

He said he feels way younger and healthier now than he did 20 years ago. In fact, Russell pulled up an old photo of himself in his 30s that he had posted on Instagram a few weeks ago. He looked overweight and old. Now, in his late 50s, he looks energetic and completely healthy.

He also attributes his meditation practice, which he does before he eats anything in the morning, and doing daily yoga to his health and mental calm.

“I could out yoga you,” he told me confidently, and I believe him.

To hear our full conversation, listen below:

For more on Russell, click here.

Lewis is a pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur who hosts the top-ranked podcast The School of Greatness. He interviews the best and brightest minds in health, entrepreneurship, relationships and lifestyle. Follow Lewis on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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