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You may know Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey, the star of the long-running medical drama Grey’s Anatomy. On the show, she plays a renowned surgeon. But when it comes to her own health, she consults experts off the show. One such expert inspired Pompeo not only to go vegan herself but to bring her husband and three children on the journey with her.

The doctor who inspired Ellen Pompeo to try a vegan diet

ellen pompeo vegan
Ellen Pompeo in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ | Liliane Lathan/ABC via Getty Images

At a routine breast cancer screening, Ellen Pompeo made a distinct choice for her health — becoming a vegan. “I just went for my yearly appointment a couple of weeks ago and [Dr. Kristi Funk] told me about her book,” Pompeo told PEOPLE at the launch party for Dr. Funk’s book Breasts: The Owner’s Manual in 2018. “Since then my whole family has gone completely vegan.”

Dr. Funk is a well-respected surgeon, women’s health advocate, and author. She treated both Sheryl Crow and Angelina Jolie. She made it her life’s work to help women prevent, treat, and beat, breast cancer. Dr. Funk also founded the Pink Lotus Breast Center in Beverly Hills.

“[Dr. Funk] told me she turned her three kids completely vegan and I came home from my appointment with her where she basically gave me [the information] … and I said, ‘That’s it, we’re all vegan,’ “Pompeo shared.

How hard is it to switch to a vegan diet?

For Pompeo, switching to a vegan diet wasn’t hard at all. The Grey’s Anatomy star says the transition hasn’t been difficult, and finding new vegan recipes has been fun. For many people, trying to find food that contains no meat, no dairy, and no other animal products is so difficult they aren’t able or willing to sustain it. For Pompeo, this is clearly not the case.

“I don’t think it’s tricky at all — it’s actually easier because meat you have to cook it before it goes bad,” Pompeo explained. “Grains and lentils and rice and beans, everything’s in the pantry already. You just have to get vegetables, but vegetables stay good for a week — and I think we all feel better.”

What’s next for the Grey’s Anatomy star?


Ellen Pompeo Is Pushing for the End of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Fans know Pompeo as the star of Grey’s Anatomy, which holds the current title of longest-running medical drama on television. The show recently celebrated its 400th episode. But despite its continued popularity, Pompeo has long been upfront about her desire to leave it behind.

During an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Pompeo hinted at the show’s end. But she is OK with it going on without her. “It’s inspired so many generations of healthcare workers. So, I think for the young people, it’s a really good piece of content. And we’re going to try to keep it going for the young people, not necessarily with me, but keep it going beyond me,” she said.

During the interview, Pompeo called the show “exhausting,” noting that keeping it fresh was challenging. Not only has she starred in Grey’s Anatomy since the first season in 2005, but she’s added the roles of producer and director to her plate. 

In 2020, Pompeo deemed the show’s production model “unhealthy.” “The way we shoot television…everybody is so exhausted and overworked,” she told Variety. “Nobody should be working 16 hours a day, 10 months a year — nobody.”