A while ago I briefly asked whether celebrity vegetarians really matter. My stance on the issue has lightened a bit, and I think that celebrities that truly stand for animal rights and follow veg*nism as a lifestyle day in and day out can be helpful in spreading the word. However, after chatting at lunch with Isa, Eric, and Huyen the other day, I think the problem is not in celebrity vegetarians, but the lists of celebrity vegetarians floating around the web.
The problem is that once someone even indicates that they’ve thought about vegetarianism, they wind up on the list and once they’re on the list, they’re there forever. Take Julia Stiles, who shows up on a bunch of the lists. She was a vegan for a short time, but then went so far as to totally discredit it on Conan and in interviews. Saying things like “I stopped being a vegan and then became a vegetarian. But the first meat I ate was not a hamburger” is just confusing… if she “became a vegetarian” what’s this about “the first meat [she] ate”? Shortly afterwards, she says, “So now I do eat some red meat but not all the time.” Well good for you, Julia. Congratulations on not being a lion.
But this isn’t about Julia Stiles. It’s about out-of-date lists and how the vegetarian community and animal rights organizations use them to try and claim legitimacy. Unfortunately, it works against us because of the inaccuracy of many of these lists. I understand that any list of this type can’t be kept completely up-to-date (until PETA develops a Vegetarian Registry or something like that), but perhaps less emphasis should be placed on what famous people are eating. The first time someone sees Michael Stipe eating a steak (and I swear I saw someone write that recently), the entire movement loses ground because then it seems like more of a trend diet or a phase rather than a compassionate lifestyle.
We don’t need famous-veg lists. Sure, when a real celebrity comes along and speaks out for animal rights, it helps things, but the AR/veg community can exist without them, so let’s not focus on publicizing our out-of-date lists of famous-people-who-may-have-once-been-vegetarian.
(Boy, I’ve been cranky lately, haven’t I?)