With all of the vegan baby buzz in the air, from Kat Von D to Amy Davis, mainstream media outlets are beginning to take an interest. Us Weekly recently interviewed actress Natalie Portman on why she went vegan and chose to raise her children on a plant-based diet.
The media site opened with one of the most pressing questions parents have when they discover they are going to have a child, “Why go vegan during pregnancy?” Portman made the switch while she was pregnant with her first child, Aleph, just over 7 years ago. The star read “Eating Animals,” Jonathan Safran Foer’s 2009 memoir about the livestock industry and the ethical considerations of meat-eating, which changed her perspective on what she considered food. Animal products no longer fit in with her new line of thinking.
She told US Weekly, “I think it just really made me aware of how the factory farming world doesn’t let us see what’s going on. It’s so hidden, and you’re not even allowed to talk about it. They sue people for even talking about the industry, and it’s because there’s a lot to hide. When you see what’s in the film, what’s been lost with the traditional farming …. American farmers have been really sacrificed at the expense of this kind of corporate model. Putting millions of animals into small spaces with terrible conditions and having them be sick. And then the human effect of, like, the pollution that it creates and the health problems it creates. It’s really hard not to want to change.”
However, Portman affirmed that she does not want for anything. “I have been able to find over the years really great products…There’s like tempeh bacon, you know, coconut yogurt, cheese made out of cashews and all sorts of delicious things that they’ve figured out that are great replacements for those things you crave.”
Portman instilled this lifestyle of compassion within her two children as well. Both Aleph (7) and Amalia (15 months) eat plant-based. She explained that her kids have gotten used to vegan food and that it “comes really naturally.” Portman did mention that sometimes the kids get inquisitive when they see their dad, Benjamin Millepied, eat animal products. Portman’s husband is not vegan, but the pair has found a system that works. When Aleph asks why his dad eats certain things and she doesn’t, Portman explains to him, “I became vegetarian when I was nine because, you know, you watch cartoons and animals have feelings and talk to each other and [… ]You think of them as, like, emotive creatures, not as dinner.”
The star also noted that she does not fight her husband or try to sway him to the vegan side. “I think that you always want to be respectful of other people’s choices. I don’t want anyone to ever give me a hard time about my choices.” She also mentioned that people tend to pick up on each other’s habits when living together, and she affirmed that Millepied has become “more conscious” of his food choices.
Portman’s latest work involves her narration of the new film, “Eating Animals,” which is now screening in select theaters.