Monday, April 11, 2011

Veganism in the Media

In completely unsurprising news, another popular PETA-beloved vegan celeb has recently outed herself as having abandoned veganism. In an interview this morning with Atlanta-based Q100's "The Bert Show", actress Natalie Portman admitted that she resumed consuming eggs and dairy at the start of her pregnancy, citing nutritional concerns and convenience as her reasons for doing so:

"I actually went back to being vegetarian when I became pregnant, just because I felt like I wanted that stuff."


"I know there are people who do stay vegan," she added, "but I think you have to just be careful, watch your iron levels and your B12 levels and supplement those if there are things you might be low in in your diet."

"If you're not eating eggs, then you can't have cookies or cake from regular bakeries, which can become a problem when that's all you want to eat," she laughed.
(ETA: Portman was apparently described by Vogue magazine in an interview in December as a "vegetarian at home and a vegan when out", so although the media has been all over this story this morning, it's not exactly breaking news. It seems to be the first time she's gone into detail about it though, as well as the first time that she's blamed it on her pregnancy.

A lot of vegans get really excited when a celebrity starts self-identifying as vegan publicly, saying that it's "good exposure" for veganism. Unfortunately, what ends up happening is that every single word concerning veganism that spills out of a celeb's mouth is assumed by the public to be accurate (even when it isn't) and then when the celeb invariably hops off the bandwagon (and depending on the reasons given), the general public sees veganism as too hard, unhealthy, temporary, et al. This story is all over the news this morning and now we're going to have people thinking that vegan pregnancies are risky and that food cravings trump ethics.)


In a post last October, I wrote about a previous piece by The UWM Post's Sarah Hanneken in which she had attempted to correct various assumptions made about vegans. I came across another solid article by her this morning ("Vegan parents in the media"). In it, she criticizes mainstream media for choosing to malign veganism instead of sticking to the facts and of doing so to pander to the general public's hunger for sensationalism. She writes that
mainstream news media has become nothing more than a subset of the entertainment industry. They have mastered the art of storytelling – drawing in their subscribers with dramatic tales, complete with heroes, villains and urban mythology.
Using two news stories involving trials in which vegan parents were found responsible for the deaths of their offspring, she elucidates how bad parenting is simply bad parenting, pointing out how the media focused on a catchword rather than provide further significant details to accurately contextualize what occurred. It's definitely worth a read!


HappyGuy said...

How sad that Natalie will be polluting her and her child with dairy and eggs.

Alexandriaweb said...

It's kind of sad, but hey it's her choice what she eats.

Marty said...

There is nothing convenient about being a vegan. Nothing. We live by a set of ethics that trump ease. We read nutrition labels like mad scientists and download apps that tell us if unconscionable collections of consonants came from anything that was ever an offspring.

Every meal in a restaurant is an inquisition, 20 questions and a measure of trust and honesty of a not so basic knowledge of culinary ingredients. You have to make the Sophie's Choice of "it's good enough," or throw down the fork in defeat.

Every meal with non vegans is a kindergarden class and a series of inane, "yeah but what if you were ..." and "Is your watchband leather?" questions.

You know what, sometimes you just want to relax at dinner.

I totally understand the desire. I look at a slice of pizza and don't think, "Mmmm," but, "Why no Daiya or Teese?"

There is an undercurrent as I move through my day of smells and memories of good tastes that I can no longer enjoy without the thought, "Yes it smells good but what IS it?"

I have put up with aching feet because I vowed to buy no more clothing made from animals and my options are so limited that I bought a size just a smidgen too small rather than a size where my feet were swimming in a non leather shoe. I work outside and when it's raining outside I wear my old leather work shoes because they're more waterproof and fight the discrepancy between what I believe and want in this world and my need to not go through a day flying with wet cold feet. Hopefully in the future there will be a plethora of choices but we don't have that today. When I take the NYC subway to MooShoes I pass a THOUSAND shoe stores to buy ethically. Hardly convenient.

I understand being in a restaurant and craving something sweet after a meal of chips and salsa and there isn't one thing I can have. I do understand cravings.

There is nothing easy about being a vegan. Nothing convenient. There is one thing though, that at the end of the day we have that "they" don't and that is the satisfaction of living by our ethical commitment.

Marty's Flying Vegan Review

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

Good one Mylene. She never was a vegan, she never understood the vegan ethic. We have a vegan-since- conception baby living with us. He's almost 3. He is so healthy, big, smart. One can easily raise a baby vegan...if they do it right. A woman does not have to be a part of stealing baby calves from their mother at birth - to nourish her human baby. That is ridiculous.

toydoll said...

why would someone be a vegetarian at home and a vegan when out?

Elizabeth Collins said...

Marty I would just like to quietly remind you that it's not about YOU. I am not vegan for the "satisfaction of living by our ethical commitment."

I am vegan because I know what is happening to them, and I want it to stop happening to them, and change starts with me and therefore I can show others how easy, yes easy, it is. I understand that you need to vent and you need to be honest and tell things as you see it, and if there is any place to do it it is a place where other vegans are, but I sincerely hope you are not presenting this attitude to others who are not yet vegan. I ask sincerely for the sake of the animals that you please remind yourself what they are going through, by the million, every day.

Emma said...

Thank you for posting the link to the vegan parents in the media article :) It definately was worth a read.

DumbledoresAmy said...

Another thing to think about Marty (and others on the Abolitionist Forum have voiced this thought as well) is compared to movement in the past, we have it very, very easy.

People who stood up for slaves 200 years ago could be tortured, killed, thrown in jail and never heard from again, have their houses burned down...

I remember in one of my college classes, Global Slavery, we were all assigned a "lesser-known" abolitionist activist. I had such a hard time finding *anything* on my person that I started researching someone he worked closely with. I found that his peer's house was burned down early on in their work together so I concluded that my guy kept all his information under wraps so the same thing didn't happen to him.

What happened in during the civil rights period was just as horrific as what happened in the 1800's. The Civil Rights movement didn't even all that long ago.

DumbledoresAmy said...

What happened in during the civil rights period was just as horrific as what happened in the 1800's. The Civil Rights movement didn't even all that long ago.

People who helped others in desperate need during The Holocaust were killed if they were caught. Killed. For saving people.

There are many more instances, these are only the beginning.

What I do compared to these other *true* heroes (to me a hero is someone who risks their life to help someone else which these people did) my veganism is such a small, but still meaningful, commitment. I often think that if I won't even do this one thing (be vegan) how do I know I would do the right thing if it were much harder. I always like to think I would have been someone hiding fugitives or doing sit-ins. Veganism gives me some sort of proof of this.

I remember when I was at a museum this past fall, there was a storyteller describing in beautiful detail Susan B. Anthony and her struggles. I felt so moved I could have cried because I felt so connected to movements of the past. This storyteller impersonated all of the people telling Susan B. Anthony she was crazy but she didn't listen because she knew what was right and what needed to be done to make things rights.

DumbledoresAmy said...

I also find it ironic that a person would become less concerned about others' children and mother when they themselves are about to be a mother.

Is she really above making her own damn cookies?

Vanilla Rose said...

There are some celebrities whose work I admire and some whom I admire for other reasons. There is some overlap.

But I would never look to them for advice on how to lead my life!

@ Alexandriaweb: yeah, but the newly hatched male chicks who die so that Ms Portman can eat eggs don't get a choice. And surely she can afford to pay someone to make vegan cookies, cupcakes, pastries, whatever?

Didn't Ms Portman go to Harvard? She doesn't seem to have grasped some very simple concepts.

If everyone "listened to their body" 100% of the time, then nobody would do physiotherapy, nobody would overcome phobias and nobody would do anything in the short term that might help them in the long term.

jessy said...

i think what bothered me the most about her quote was this, "If you're not eating eggs, then you can't have cookies or cake from regular bakeries, which can become a problem when that's all you want to eat." it's the word want. she wants to eat those things, she doesn't need to. that makes me sad. supporting cruelty free bakeries should be "regular". this makes me sad for her - sad because she lacks compassion for non-human animals.

Shalini said...

Thats what i thought when i read this post. I m no cook but i make cakes for my bday every year and for my non vegan friends if they let me. It depends on your attitude how difficult you find it. In my country there are no products labelled vegan. Find out for yourself if you want them. No vegan fast food. But we are happy with home cooked fod. i have a friend who has vegan twins, 6 yr old. She was vegan b4 she was pregnant, during and even now.