Vegetarian since the age of 9, actor Natalie Portman went vegan in 2011 and regularly uses her influential voice to help animals. We’re celebrating the star’s brilliant mind (did we mention that she’s also a Harvard grad?) and kind heart with her most inspiring quotes about being vegan.
During her speech in front of a group of 16,000 students at WE Day—a gathering and celebration of youth activists held in Los Angeles—Natalie addressed the connection between animal rights and other social-justice movements:
Only after I became active in women’s issues did I realize that my veganism was related to those very issues. Dairy and eggs don’t just come from cows and chickens, they come from female cows and female chickens. We’re exploiting female bodies and abusing the magic of female animals to create eggs and milk.
Sexism, ageism, racism: These prejudices all discriminate against other humans based on arbitrary factors such as skin color, sexual orientation, gender, etc. Like these ugly “isms,” speciesism is a toxic mindset deeply ingrained in our society that ascribes an inferior status to those who don’t happen to be human—and it results in violent consequences for animals.
Watch part of Natalie’s speech here.
Mothers are separated from children to create milk. Animals are sick and in crowded, prison-like conditions to make dairy and eggs. It doesn’t take a lot to draw the line from how we treat animals to how we treat humans.
On dairy farms, cows are forcibly impregnated to get them to produce milk. They’re separated from their young, typically days after birth. Some mother cows have even been heard calling for their calves for days after these traumatic separations occur.
So now lots of people make fun of vegans, right? Lots of people make fun of anybody who cares about anything deeply, right? But I’m here to say, it is always a great thing to care … whether it’s environmental issues, animal rights, women’s rights, equality, never be afraid to show how much you care.
Data show that Generation Z actually isn’t afraid to care and is significantly more engaged with animal rights issues than previous generations. Today, 79% of young people are regularly choosing meat-free meals, they’re drinking 550% more nondairy beverages than millennials, and they’re refusing to dissect.
When I read [Eating Animals], that was what made me become a vegan. I think until then, I had thought, “Oh, with eggs and dairy, you’re not killing animals. It’s just their natural byproducts.” But when I started learning about the conditions—and the environmental effect of all these animals and the impact on humans of having large groups of sick animals together, it really made me want to change immediately.
By going vegan, you can help save nearly 200 animals a year. It’s one of the most effective things that an individual can do to help save the planet and combat climate change. And on average, vegans live six to 10 years longer than meat-eaters—so in addition to helping animals and the environment, you can also help yourself.