following article was written by Lauren Gordon, who is PETA's celebrity
marketing coordinator and also a certified holistic health counselor.
Paul has starred in more than 70 feature films and television programs,
including the documentary Who Killed the
Electric Car? and the hit series Baywatch.
An outspoken animal lover and activist, Alexandra lives a vegan lifestyle and even has a clause in her acting
contract stating that she does not use makeup tested on animals. In the
exclusive interview below, Alexandra shares what inspires her to live
compassionately and gives tips for how others can help animals and the planet.
How long have you been
vegetarian/vegan? What inspired you to go vegetarian/vegan?I
became a vegetarian when I was 14, in 1977. I had read Frances Moore Lappé's
book Diet for a Small Planet, and I decided not to eat meat or fish
because of the cruelty aspect and the environmental effects of eating high on
the food chain. A year later, I read Peter Singer's Animal Liberation,
did a report on it for English class, and started wearing a button at school,
which read, "Lab Animals Never Have a Nice Day." When I was 26, in
1990, I stopped wearing leather, wool, or silk and put it in all my acting
contracts that I was not wearing fur nor using any makeup tested on animals.
year, I became a vegan. I have to say, I don't know what took me so long, and I
deeply regret all those years I kept a bit of dairy in my diet. I had thought I
wouldn't be able to do it, but once I truly decided, it was easy to stay vegan.
. . .
feel that my biggest accomplishment of 2010 was becoming vegan.
What positive changes have you
seen in your life since going vegan?For the
first time in my life, my diet lines up completely with my values. With that
comes a saner attitude towards food. I struggled with eating disorders for 12
years in my teens and 20s, so my reluctance to get dairy out of my diet stemmed
from a fear of feeling deprived and going back to acting out with food again.
Turns out, going vegan not only has helped the animals, it has helped me.
My bulimia stemmed from not being my authentic self, but being vegan is me expressing
more my authentic self. So instead of bringing up food issues like I had
feared, being vegan actually balances me.
If you could have any vegan meal
in the world, what would it be?I begin
every morning with oatmeal and half a scoop of Vega Sport Vanilla protein
powder. It just starts the day off right. And I love Fabe's double chocolate
chip cookies. I have a sweet tooth!
Why is it important to you not to
wear fur? How about leather, silk, and wool?Killing
animals is killing animals, and suffering is suffering. Whether it is leather,
wool, or silk, it is still exploitative. Our society justifies the killing and
suffering if it results in something utilitarian for us—fur is not cool but
leather is fine—but is that really the way to look at it? We don't need any of
those products really—there are cruelty-free alternatives to leather, wool, and
silk. So many more than 20 years ago! I basically wore sneakers and plastic
shoes from Payless back then, but nowadays designers and vegan fashionistas
like Natalie Portman and Pamela Anderson are providing us with beautiful
got married in 2000, I wore a dress made out of synthetic material, and someone
wrote to me saying that as an environmentalist, I was a hypocrite because it
took oil to make that fabric. I responded that sometimes my values collide and
I have to weigh the options carefully, but that relieving suffering of animals
was the priority to me. I added that the animal exploitation industries are
also unnatural and polluting, just more societally acceptable.
How do you incorporate your
cruelty-free lifestyle into selecting what cosmetics and brands you purchase?I have
had a clause in every acting contract for over 20 years that no makeup tested
on animals can be used on me. I only buy products that are OK'd in PETA's guide
to beauty products not
tested on animals. It is not
enough to have a final product not tested; I want there to be no testing at any
stage of development.
What do you do to speak out or
volunteer for animals? What advice would you give to others who want to help
lucky that pretty much in every interview I do, I am asked about my lifestyle,
so I always talk about my diet and animal rights views. Baywatch had a
product placement deal with Johnson & Johnson, but the props department
knew I would not tolerate having any of their products on my character's desk,
and in one episode when the producers had written me into a storyline about
Marine World, I asked that I be written out since they depicted that horrible
place as fun with happy animals in it. To their credit, the producers removed
me from those scenes. By walking my own path, I can open people's minds about
animal rights without preaching.
can we each do? First and foremost, we can look at our own lives and what we
purchase, and live cruelty-free. We have incredible power as consumers,
and the more we patronize vegan restaurants and buy animal-friendly products,
the more we will shift our society's values towards animal rights.
us needs to figure out how we are most effective as activists: Some of us are
best as role models, adopting animals and being vegan. There are also the check
writers, donating to non-profits like PETA. Others are letter writers …. Others
work best behind the scenes licking envelopes, answering phones, writing
letters, or organizing. Then there are the sign-wavers, who protest on street
the liberationists, who break laws to free animals. Every one of these types of activism [is] vital for every movement—none is less important
than the other.
the greatest pieces of wisdom I ever heard was from Ingrid Newkirk. When asked [what] the one thing is
people can do to save the planet, she responded: Kindness, kindness, kindness.
If we put kindness first, most of the world's problems would be solved.
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.