“We’re exploiting female bodies and abusing the magic of female animals to create eggs and milk.”
Actress Natalie Portman described awakening to the realization that her advocacy for women’s rights should extend to female animals while addressing 16,000 students at an activist event in California this week.
Speaking at the youth-activism celebration WE Day in Los Angeles, Portman said that after she “became active in women’s issues” she realized her “veganism was related to those very issues.”
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“Dairy and eggs don’t just come from cows and chickens, they come from female cows and female chickens,” the “Star Wars” actress said. “We’re exploiting female bodies and abusing the magic of female animals to create eggs and milk.”
The feminist advocate, who has been a vegetarian since the age of 9 and a vegan for approximately eight years, drew parallels between the treatment of chickens and cows and the treatment of humans.
“Mothers are separated from children to create milk. Animals are sick and in crowded, prison-like conditions to make dairy and eggs,” she said. “It doesn’t take a lot to draw the line from how we treat animals to how we treat humans.”
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“Eat how you believe,” Portman told the assembled crowd. The “Annihilation” star also urged the future activists not to let the naysayers get them down.
“So now lots of people make fun of vegans, right? Lots of people make fun of anybody who cares about anything deeply, right?” Portman said. “I’m sure many of you have encountered that kind of commentary, too. But I’m here to say, it is always a great thing to care. And it’s the most beautiful thing to care, to have your heart open so much that someone else’s pain feels like your own, to care so much that you’ll spend your time making sure that change happens, and that’s why you are all here today.”
“Whether it’s environmental issues, animal rights, women’s rights, equality, never be afraid to show how much you care,” she added.
Portman’s remarks echo how, for many people, being vegan has strong political connotations. Veganism has come to mean more than just a niche lifestyle or a particular set of dietary restrictions.
Some liberals wear their veganism as a badge of honor for the purported commitment it shows to progressive causes such as the environment, sustainability and – in Portman’s case – feminism. On the other hand, the intersection of liberalism and veganism has long been a point of mockery for conservatives who see unflattering parallels – fanaticism, elitism, a disconnection from reality – between the two dogmas.
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