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Give Natalie Portman a Break!

Animal protection groups should not be the diet police

By Michael Mountain

I’ve never been pregnant, and I didn’t become a vegan overnight. So I’m in no position to render judgment on someone who’s having a baby and is having a challenge keeping up her vegan lifestyle at the same time.

Eighteen months ago, after reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals, Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman announced that she was going to take the next step from being a 20-year vegetarian and go totally vegan (no eggs, dairy and other animal products).

A few days ago, she let people know that she’s stepping back from that move, saying that she’s going to be including eggs and dairy in her diet, at least during her pregnancy.

While there have been mutterings and complaints coming from various animal rights quarters, I say give Portman a break. She’s different from so many in Hollywood, for whom caring about animals is often as much acting as anything else.
Plenty of celebrities make a big show of giving up fur, going veggie, and very publicly embracing the animal protection cause, only to renege on the whole thing when fame, fashion and fortune intercede. And some of them deserve all the criticism – dare I say contempt? – that comes their way as a result.

Portman, however, seems grounded – a thoughtful person who’s in the process of expanding her already-cruelty-free lifestyle but is having some challenges along the way. And the fact is it happens to most of us who make the same kind of commitment.

Portman wears no clothes derived from animals, and made her views very clear to the people at fashion house Dior when she accepted the role of Miss Cherie for Dior last year. “They’ve re-made all my shoes so I can wear Dior shoes without taking lives,” she said.

For anyone in the animal protection movement to complain and criticize about a serious effort like this will be nothing but off-putting to others who may be contemplating making a transition themselves. Eating healthy, cruelty-free food is very appetizing; being self-righteous about it is not.

Anyone who’s in the public eye and is using their celebrity status to do good can only benefit the cause when they run into issues, deal with them and use the experience to help others who may be facing similar challenges.

As the famous Biblical aphorism says: “Judge not that ye be not judged.” None of us is perfect, and none of us can ever live a 100 percent cruelty-free life. We all simply do the best we can.

What do you say? Do you see veganism as an ethical stance, a lifestyle that can be put on hold for a craving, or a personal choice others have no business weighing in on? Comment below or on our Facebook page.