Famous heads of state, athletes, artists, you name it. We have some of history’s most famous non-drinkers coming right up. You will find out the background to their sobriety, how they manage to do it, and hopefully, get some inspiration for your own life.
A teetotaler is someone who doesn’t drink at all. While we can trace the term back to 1830s England, nobody knows for sure where it came from.
One possibility is that the tee– was simply added in the front for emphasis – the total obviously standing for total abstinence.
Whatever the origin, the term was a reaction to the earlier temperance movement, which condemned hard liquors but allowed for milder forms of alcohol like beer and wine.
With that out of the way, let’s get into it: the top 10 teetotalers in history.
1. Donald Trump
Kicking things off, none-other than the 45th president of the United States, Donald John Trump. Now, when it comes to health matters, Donald is a mixed bag. He famously subsists on an atrocious diet that’s heavy in fast food.
Though he can have any food in the world, the guy’s favorite is McDonalds, believe it or not. He’s been known to eat two Big Macs, two Fish-filets, and a chocolate shake in one sitting.
This kind of menu clocks in at a combined 2400 calories.
Aside from Mcdonald’s, close aides to the president have revealed that on his private Boeing 757, there is also Kentucky Fried Chicken, pizza, and Diet Coke.
Having said all this, you might be surprised to hear that the man not only does not drink but also hates alcohol. And I mean hate with a capital H – no one else in our top five comes even close to him in terms of anti-alcohol sentiments and statements.
What is the reason behind this intense dislike?
Sadly, the former president’s elder brother, Fred, passed away from health complications related to alcoholism in 1981.
Freddy’s dream was to be a pilot, but from an early age, he faced tremendous pressure from his father to get involved in the family’s real estate business. In the 1960s, he completely left the company to become a pilot, something which severely strained his relationship with his father.
When his drinking got out of hand, he had to leave his pilot career. He died a few years later from an alcohol-related heart attack.
According to the Donald, his older brother begged him never to touch alcohol, and this is a promise he has kept throughout the years. Living drug and alcohol-free is a value that he tries to instill in his own children and the youth of the United States. Let’s have a look.
2. Blake Lively
Famous for her roles in movies including The Age of Adaline and Gossip Girl, Blake Lively is widely considered one of the prettiest women in Hollywood today.
In a recent interview with People magazine, the 34-year-old actress revealed the simple reason she doesn’t drink. She just doesn’t like the effects of alcohol.
Having said that, she added that she likes being part of the drinking culture, which is why she will often assume bartender responsibilities at the parties her husband, Ryan Reynolds, hosts.
In line with her abstinence from drinking, the beautiful actress launched her own brand of non-alcoholic sparkling beverages, Betty Buzz.
Her husband was also in the drinks business until 2020. That’s when he sold his own brand of gin for a whopping $610 million.
3. ADOLF HITLER
Hitler is one of the most famous health freaks in history. A staunch anti-smoker, he launched the first state-sponsored anti-smoking campaign in history. This was when scientists were starting to establish unequivocal ties between smoking and diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Towards the end of the war, German scientists also showed beyond doubt that smoking was responsible for thousands of soldiers’ premature deaths, further intensifying the campaign.
Among other measures, the state ran ads warning about the evils of smoking, and the practice was banned in many public places, including schools and cinemas.
Hitler also avoided meat, partly for ethical reasons, as he did not feel comfortable with the killing of animals for food. When attending banquets abroad, he would bring his own chef who prepared his vegetarian meals, often scrambled eggs.
He also never drank. Not just alcohol, but mostly nothing outside of mineral water. Though he never sponsored an anti-drinking campaign to match the tobacco one, he instituted strict punishments for drunk soldiers toward the end of the war.
Discipline was waning, and drunken unruliness was becoming a significant problem. On certain occasions, the penalty was death.
Yet, despite his health-conscious ways, Hitler could not escape the addiction trap at the end of his life. Research into the papers and private records of Hitler’s personal physician reveals that he was heavily addicted to prescription injections of methamphetamine and oxycodone.
On occasions, his doctors even prescribed opioids at the same time as cocaine, a practice known today in the street as speedballing.
4. Leona Lewis
The 37-year-old London native burst onto national recognition when she won the 2006 edition of Britain’s The X Factor.
After a massively successful debut single, Leona established herself as a megastar with the release of 2007’s album Spirit, which reached the number one spot worldwide. In the years since, she’s gone on to amass numerous other massive hits and even dabbled with acting.
In a 2010 interview with InStyle magazine, Lewis revealed to the world that she does not touch alcohol.
“I don’t drink. I haven’t for years. It tastes like hairspray to me – I can have a great time without alcohol. I don’t need that to get me up on the dancefloor, I’m there already. I’ll sometimes have a little Red Bull. That’s my little buzz.”
She went on to express her astonishment with the widespread belief that drinking is necessary to having fun, describing it as quote “a stupid mindset”:
A lot of my friends are like, ‘I need a drink to get on the dance floor!’ I don’t need that ‘help me to relax’ thing. If I’m around my friends, then I can really relax and have a good time, that’s all I need.”
Leona, I gotta tell you. I take my hat off to you. You hit it out of the ballpark. If only we had more role models like you.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo
One of the most talented and successful footballers of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo, recently returned to Manchester United following a three-year stint at Juventus.
During his first period in the club, from 2003 to 2009, Ronaldo cemented his reputation as one of the best players in the world. But it was the next eight years he would spend with Spanish giants Real Madrid that propelled him into the discussion of all-time-great.
Ronaldo’s accomplishments include an astonishing five Champions Leagues trophies, five Golden Ball Awards, and more national trophies and accolades than we can list here.
Yet what is even more astonishing is how the superstar manages to compete at the top level at 37 years of age. By this age, most top footballers are not only well and truly retired but have often gone on to become physically unrecognizable.
Think of another famous Ronaldo…
Instead, Cristiano continues to play for one of the best clubs in the world, where he remains their best player. Recently, he almost single-handedly carried them into the last 16 of this year’s Champions League. How does he do this? How is this even humanly possible?
A recent article in the Daily Mirror gives us a glimpse into the superstar’s health habits. These include a super clean diet rich in lean meats and vegetables like broccoli, a minimum eight hours of sleep, and even a hyperbaric oxygen therapy oxygen tank.
Unsurprisingly, Ronaldo doesn’t touch alcohol.
Alcohol, you said? The guy even despises Coca-Cola. In a famous scene from a press conference during 2020’s European championship, the footballer removed two bottles of Coke from in front of him, raising a bottle of mineral water instead.
Sadly, Ronaldo comes from a family ravaged by alcohol. His father was a soldier who fought in the Portuguese lost war against Angola.
He returned to his native Madeira, a broken man struggling for work and heavily addicted to alcohol. He died in 2005 before he had a chance to see his son become the best player in the world.
Ronaldo’s older brother, Hugo Aveiro, has also struggled with addiction. When he was only 16 years old, Ronaldo was already making enough money to cover the costs of his brother’s rehab center. This is something that their mother says might just have saved Hugo’s life.
Considered the father of India, Mahatma Gandhi is perhaps the most famous non-violent revolutionary in history.
In August of 1942, he delivered his famous “Quit India” speech, in which he called for the British forces to leave India and let the country decide its own fate. While the British quickly crushed that movement, it was clear to the world that it was only a matter of time before India would become independent.
Exhausted from the titanic struggle in the second World War, the British empire could eventually hold on no more, and in 1947 India and Pakistan were granted their independence.
In the vacuum left by the withdrawal of British forces, violent clashes between Hindu and Muslim forces broke out. Rather than joining the celebrations for his country’s newfound independence, Gandhi chose to appeal for peace and the end of intra-communal violence by fasting and spinning his famous wheel.
Some Indians would accuse Gandhi of being too lenient on the Muslims, and he would find his death at the hands of a disgruntled extremist India nationalist the following year.
As you’d expect by looking at the man and reading up on his life’s work, Gandhi was a man of moderation. Excesses like alcohol and tobacco had no place in his lifestyle. The guy didn’t even drink coffee or tea. Gandhi didn’t mince his words when it came to drinking:
“Drugs and drink are the two arms of the devil with which he strikes his helpless slaves into stupefaction and intoxication.”
Unfortunately, Gandhi did not live a completely disease-free life. On the contrary, he suffered from various ailments, including dysentery, appendicitis, pleurisy, and influenza.
His answer to all these health challenges was a strictly vegetarian diet, fresh air, exercise, and fasting.
7. Ernesto Che Guevara
Medical doctor, traveler, and revolutionary – regardless of what you think of his political ideas, it’s hard to find a more influential cultural icon than Ernesto Guevara.
In 1956, Guevarra was aboard a yacht along with Fidel Castro and 80 other armed rebels as they sailed from Mexico to Playa Las Coloradas in Cuba. Their goal was to overthrow Cuba’s military leader, Fulgencio Batista and establish a People’s Republic along the lines of the Soviet Union and China.
Batista had been tipped off to their arrival, however, and the landing party was promptly bombed by an overwhelming barrage from land and air.
Of the 82 men on board the yacht, only 20 survived. These included Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, and his brother Raul, the present-day leader of the country.
The 20 surviving men would go on to wage a guerilla warfare campaign for the next three years, steadily growing their forces until they would triumphantly roll into Havana in January 1959, marking the end of the civil war.
The rebels’ entry into Havana had been made possible by the preceding battle of Santa Clara. In that battle, 340 rebels led by Guevarra defeated massively superior government forces, which totalled close to 4000 soldiers.
After the war, Guevarra was a key figure in the new Communist government. He held key positions like president of the country’s central bank and minister of Industries. He left the country in 1965 in order to foment revolutionary movements worldwide, before his violent death in Bolivia two years later.
Though Guevara loved his cigars, he was an unrepentant teetotaler. In late 1958 and early 1959,while he was in charge of Santa Clara, he issued decrees regulating the use of alcohol.
In 2000, one of Guevara’s photographers, Alberto Diaz Gutierrez, took Smirnoff vodka to court over breach of copyright. The 72-year-old photographer stated he objected to the company using his photographs to promote alcohol, adding that quote “alcohol and Che Guevara have nothing in common.”
Smirnoff settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money, which Gutierrez said he would donate to charity.
8. Warren Buffet
Ranked number eight on the Forbes list of richest men in America, the “Oracle of Omaha” is arguably the most successful investor of all time.
With a net worth of 114 billion, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is one of the most revered and quoted investors of all time.
At its core, his investment strategy focuses on high quality business with proven track records and the potential to dominate their sector.
For example, his 2016 purchase of Apple stocks raised eyebrows. The company’s shares were considered by many to be overvalued, and Apple itself too mature to allow for significant gains.
It would turn out to be one of his best moves to date, his initial one-billion-dollar investment having quadrupled in the past six years.
At 90 years old, Buffet is showing no signs of slowing down. And it certainly helps that he never drinks or smokes. He also gets at least eight hours of sleep a day. Having said that, his health habits are far from perfect.
He openly admits to drinking at least five servings of Coca Cola a day, and like Trump, he’s a big fan of Mcdonald’s. Especially their breakfast menu.
9. Jessica Simpson
For the last two celebrities in today’s top 10, we have a pair of former drinkers turned teetotalers. Coming in at number nine is Jessica Simpson.
In November last year, the Dukes of Hazzard star posted this photo on her Instagram account. The photo dates back to November 1, 2017, when Jessica decided she had had enough drinking.
I needed to stop drinking alcohol because it kept my mind and heart circling in the same direction and quite honestly I was exhausted. I wanted to feel the pain so I could carry it like a badge of honor. I wanted to live as a leader does and break cycles to advance forward- never looking back with regret and remorse […].
She would add:
I can’t believe it has been 4yrs! It feels like maybe 2. […] There is so much stigma around the word alcoholism or the label of an alcoholic. The real work that needed to be done in my life was to actually accept failure, pain, brokenness, and self-sabotage. The drinking wasn’t the issue. I was.
In her 2020 memoir titled “Open Book,” the singer describes being sexually abused as a child. She says this, combined with the immense pressure of living under the constant spotlight of celebrity, led to her drug and alcohol dependency.
She described giving up alcohol as easy, adding she was mad at the bottle for keeping her quote “complacent and dumb.”
Needless to say, ditching the bottle was one of Jessica’s best decisions. She would go on to have her third child, Birdie Mae Johnson, and at 41 years old, she looks better than ever.
10. Stephen King
With over 350 million book sales to his name, Stephen King is one of the most successful writers in history. Starting with his first blockbuster novel, Carrie, published in 1974, King has gone on to write over 60 novels, picking up numerous accolades along the way.
These were capped off with the prestigious National Medal of Arts, which he won in 2015 for his lifetime contribution to literature.
Born in 1947 in Maine, King had a difficult childhood, with his father walking out of the house when he was only 2. As a child, King found a box of horror books that his father had left behind and was soon obsessed with themes of death, fear, and deformity. Oh, and clowns.
During his time as an English undergrad at the University of Maine, King turned heavily to drugs, including speed, LSD, and cannabis. A month before his graduation in 1970, he was arrested for disorderly conduct while drunk.
He struggled with low-paying jobs and an endless stream of rejections from publishing houses until he published Carrie in 1974. His writing career was all uphill from that point on, but as his writing career blossomed, his drinking and drug taking grew increasingly out of control.
By his own accounts, he would spend about three hours a day sober. The rest of his days were a haze of alcohol, cocaine, and a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit. His cocaine habit got so bad that he would stuff his nose with cotton to prevent blood from spilling on the typewriter.
Eventually, his wife Tabitha had had enough, and she presented him with an ultimatum: get clean or leave the house. And get clean he did.
It was a long and painful process, though, as he had to learn how to write sober for the first time in his career. Quote:
“Little by little I found the beat again, and after that I found the joy again. I came back to my family with gratitude, and back to my work with relief—I came back to it the way folks come back to a summer cottage after a long winter, checking ﬁrst to make sure nothing has been stolen or broken during the cold season. Nothing had been. It was still all there, still all whole. Once the pipes were thawed out and the electricity was turned back on, everything worked ﬁne.”
Thanks to the support of his wife and family, King was able to pull through, and he has spent the last three decades completely sober.
His latest book, Gwendy’s Final Task, was published in February 2022.