Natalie Portman explains how her veganism relates to women's issues: 'We're exploiting female bodies'

Raechal Shewfelt
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Natalie Portman used to think about herself as a vegan and, separately, as someone who advocates for women’s rights. Not anymore.

“Only after I became active in women’s issues did I realize that my veganism was related to those very issues,” Portman told 16,000 students at WE Day California, a celebrity-packed celebration of youth activism Thursday at the Forum in Los Angeles. “Dairy and eggs don’t just come from cows and chickens, they come from female cows and female chickens. We’re exploiting female bodies and abusing the magic of female animals to create eggs and milk.”

Portman, who’s been a vegetarian since she was 9 and a vegan for about eight years, continued: “Mothers are separated from children to create milk. Animals are sick and in crowded, prison-like conditions to make dairy and eggs. It doesn’t take a lot to draw the line from how we treat animals to how we treat humans.”

Natalie Portman speaks onstage at WE Day California on April 25, 2019, at the Forum in L.A. (Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for WE Day)

The Annihilation star said she initially became a vegetarian because she “related to animals” as a kid. She went completely vegan because she learned it would be good for the planet, a way that she as an individual could make an impact.

“Eat how you believe,” Portman advised the students, who all earned their ticket to the show by making a difference in their communities. She told them not to let naysayers get in the way.

“So now lots of people make fun of vegans, right? Lots of people make fun of anybody who cares about anything deeply, right?” Portman asked. “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.”

Highlights from WE Day California will air Aug. 9 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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