A big change for an even bigger reason. Natalie Portman explained why she chose to become a vegan during her first pregnancy.
The 37-year-old actress read Jonathan Safran Foer’s critically acclaimed book Eating Animals while she was expecting her first child. Portman said the read changed her perspective about what she is willing to consume. “I became vegan after reading the book, and you know, [I have] been able to find over the years really great products,” she told Us Weekly exclusively at the New York premiere of Eating Animals on Thursday, June 14. “There’s like tempeh bacon, you know, coconut milk, yogurt, cheese is 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 — who narrates the documentary adaptation of Eating Animals — was obviously very affected by the book’s content: “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.”
Portman’s children — she shares Aleph, 7, and Amalia, 15 months, with husband Benjamin Millepied — follow her lead in the healthy eating department. “It comes really naturally because I think, you know, you tend to make one thing that everyone eats for dinner,” she explained. “We tend to eat vegan and vegetarian food in the house. It becomes like the normal stuff that kids get used to.”
Not everyone in the family is vegan, though. “There had been conversations because my husband is not vegan, and so my son has asked, ‘Why do you eat that and mommy doesn’t?’ And I talked to him about it, and it’s really changed. I think it’s very natural for children to relate to the stuff,” she said. “I became vegetarian when I was nine because, you know, you watch cartoons and animals have feelings and talk to each other and they’re not … You think of them as, like, emotive creatures, not as dinner.”
She and Millepied don’t go head-to-head over their dietary preferences either. “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,” the Black Swan star told Us. “And of course, living together, you end up influencing each other too. So I think he’s certainly become more conscious of where his food comes from.”
Eating Animals opens Friday, June 15.
With reporting by Marc Lupo
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