International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo

John Lennon (1940-1980) & Yoko Ono (1933 - )

John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE (born John Winston Lennon; 9 October 1940–8 December 1980) was an English rock musician, singer, songwriter, artist, and peace activist who gained worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles. As a member of the group, Lennon was one of the lead vocalists and co-wrote the majority of the band's songs with bassist Paul McCartney.

Yoko Ono Lennon, born in Tokyo on February 18, 1933, is a Japanese artist and musician. She is known for her work as an avant-garde artist and musician, and her marriage and works with musician John Lennon.

  • In 1967 John started to share George Harrison interest in all things Indian and went with him to a talk by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (a speaker at the 1957 IVU Congress). Soon after that all the Beatles went to Bangor, North Wales, for a few days with the Maharishi. It is likely that John was vegetarian for a while at that time. In February 1968 all the Beatles went to the Maharishi's ashram in Rishikesh, North India, for about six weeks. They were certainly all vegetarian whilst they were there, however John left early, with Cynthia, and it is not clear what he was then eating.

  • From a 1980s interview with Yoko: "we [John & Yoko] went through macrobiotic, we went through vegetarian" - this apparently referred to the 1970s

  • everything below is from, posted by Louise :

    Someone was asking me if John Lennon was a vegetarian. Well, here is all the information I've been able to find on the subject.

    First we have a quote from a British teen magazine, in which John answered a questionnaire. When asked about vegetarianism, he said: "I've not come across it. If people want to eat nuts that's okay with me. I wish I could do it, the way I feel about animals." I'm not sure of the year this magazine was published but I would guess it was probably 1964 or 1965.

    Within another year or two, however, John's friend Pete Shotton said that John had stopped eating meat and would offer him vegetarian burgers and sausages whenever he visited him at his home in Weybridge. [Source: "John Lennon: In My Life" - Pete Shotton]

    It was around the same time that George Harrison also became a vegetarian, probably in 1967 for religious reasons due to his interest in Hare Krishna and the Maharishi. As far as I know, he stayed a vegetarian until his death.

    Returning to John Lennon now, his diet for the remainder of the 1960s and throughout the 1970s was mainly vegetarian, although he did occasionally go back to eating meat now and again.

    "I don't think animals were meant to be eaten and worn. We have enough resources to do without them. It's common sense to me that you shouldn't eat most of the chemically treated rubbish most people seem to stuff themselves with. The trouble is most vegetarians don't get enough protein. My diet's based on meal, bread which Yoko makes, rice and no sugar. We have honey if things need sweetening." - John Lennon

    May Pang, John's partner during his separation from Yoko in the mid 1970s said that "he'd also go through food periods - during Walls And Bridges, he was into my Sunday cooking of a total English breakfast". [which would normally include bacon etc.]

    John and Yoko were also macrobiotic, as they explained to David Sheff, who interviewed them in 1980 for Playboy magazine:

    SHEFF: What does your diet include besides sashimi and sushi, Hershey bars and cappuccinos?

    LENNON: We're mostly macrobiotic, but sometimes I take the family out for a pizza.

    ONO: Intuition tells you what to eat. It's dangerous to try to unify things. Everybody has different needs. We went through vegetarianism and macrobiotic, but now, because we're in the studio, we do eat some junk food. We're trying to stick to macrobiotic: fish and rice, whole grains. You balance foods and eat foods indigenous to the area. Corn is the grain from this area.

    This website has a great cartoon drawn by John Lennon in 1968 to advertise the macrobiotic restaurant, SEED:

    In his song "Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)" from the 1973 album Mind Games, John makes several references to macrobiotics:

    When I'm down, really yin
    And I don't know what I'm doing

    People who follow the macrobiotic philosophy believe that most things in life are either yin or yang. The way to achieve harmony is by the correct balance of yin and yang.

    Yin = The 'feminine' qualities of gentleness, sensitivity and spirituality
    Yang = The 'masculine' qualities of aggression, ambition and curiosity

    According to the rules of macrobiotics, foods that are either extremely yin or extremely yang should therefore be avoided.

    When I'm down, real sanpaku
    And I don't know what to do

    This excerpt from the book "All You Needed Was Love" by John Blake explains the meaning of the word sanpaku:

    "You," Yoko told John one day after gazing into his eyes, "are sanpaku".

    Sanpaku, she explained patiently, was a Japanese term meaning literally 'three whites'. If a person was sanpaku it meant that the irisis of their eyes were turned upwards so that white could be seen on three sides. The condition had been recognised for centuries in oriental countries where it was thought to signify poor physical and psychological health - caused primarily by an unwholesome diet.

    ...The two of them had together pored over photographs of the Beatles and realised that, though none of them were sanpaku in their early days, now all of them were.

    Yoko explained that sanpaku could be cured if the person followed a macrobiotic lifestyle and ate the right types of food. This led to John's lifelong interest in macrobiotics.

To buy Books, CDs or Videos by these celebrities, with commission to vegetarianism, go to:


Famous VegetariansBack to the Famous Vegetarians Index