With Friends Like These: Alicia Silverstone’s Damaging Comment Regarding Cheating on Her Vegan Diet

As The Opinioness, I’ve certainly earned that title with my opinionated nature.   Yet I try to be as non-judgmental as possible.  Really, I do.  Part of the reason I’m such a liberal is that I believe people deserve the right to decide for themselves how they choose to lead their lives.  But I have to admit that Alicia Silverstone, a celebrity I do genuinely like, recently pissed me off when she revealed to US Weekly that she “sometimes cheats on her vegan diet.”

In addition to starring in ‘Clueless’ and in Broadway plays, she’s known for being a vegan.  I was thrilled when she wrote her book The Kind Diet, a guide to living compassionately with some delish sounding vegan recipes.  I was even more excited when she launched her blog “The Kind Life” to continue the dialogue she started with her book.  It’s a fabulously inclusive way to engage readers – vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, flexitarian, meat-eater/carnist – wherever they are in their eating lifestyle.  She’s even gone on Oprah to discuss her fave foods.  But Silverstone recently burned some bridges with her “cheating” comments.  She told US Weekly,

“If I was at a party and there was a tray of cheese sitting there and I had had drinks, then I might have a bite.”

Veganism is not some passing fad.  It goes beyond a mere diet; it’s a philosophy and a way of life.  Besides not consuming meat and dairy, vegans don’t wear leather, wool or silk or use animal-derived or tested products/cosmetics.  Silverstone’s statement upset many vegans as they’re of the mindset: don’t call yourself a vegan unless you are vegan.  And while I admit this did irk me, this is not where she angered me.  Silverstone went on to explain that people are human (true) and make mistakes (even more true).  But the kicker is when she confessed,

“Being flexible that way makes more people comfortable.  If I’m rigid about it and I’m perfect, then no one is going to be able to be like me because I’ll be this icey, rigid thing.”

Whoa, wait a minute.  Icy and rigid?! Oh no, she didn’t!!  Way to be supportive of all your vegan fans.  Silverstone is not the first celebrity to renege their veganism (Hillary Swank, Zooey Deschanel) or vacillate between a vegetarian and a non-dairy diet  (Natalie Portman).  While she has galvanized many people to ethical eating, she also proceeded to put down many vegans (myself included) committed to leading cruelty-free lives with one careless comment.

Now I don’t tell people what they should eat.  People who know me are often surprised that I don’t go around mandating people’s diets.  While it would be wonderful if everyone were vegetarian or vegan, I believe that what we put in our bodies is an incredibly personal decision which people need to make for themselves.  All I can do is share my experiences and choices…and my fab cupcakes…and hope that people become more conscientious and compassionate in their food choices.  But numerous vegan myths swarm around. Joel Stein wrote about the new male “power vegans” like Bill Clinton and Biz Stone in Bloomberg BusinessweekHe claims that CEOs, athletes and celebrities choose veganism to be controlling, exclusive and as a “dating strategy.” While employing a satirical tone, Stein still perpetuates pervasive vegan myths.  There’s a stigma that vegans go around telling people how to behave and what to eat, as if they are the “Nazis” of the epicurean world.  But as I’ve written before,

“Many vegetarians and vegans don’t want to make you feel bad about that hamburger or drumstick you’re eating, they just want to share their knowledge and passion.”

If Alicia Silverstone, or anyone else for that matter, wants to nibble on cheese once and awhile, that’s their business.  But to perpetuate a stereotype and alienate the people and cause she claims to be a champion of is bullshit.  I wish she had taken the opportunity to discuss the benefits of being vegan or dispel some of the misconceptions out there.  But instead she chose to bash vegans and for what?  A shout-out in a tabloid magazine?  So people will like her??  Her statement allows people who hold stereotypes of vegans to nod their heads and believe that even a vegan thinks that other vegans are crazy.  Rather than building bridges, she inadvertently created divisiveness.  I hope that Silverstone realizes (and addresses on her blog) the damage she’s done.  For someone who’s living a “kind” life, this wasn’t a very “kind” statement to utter.


5 thoughts on “With Friends Like These: Alicia Silverstone’s Damaging Comment Regarding Cheating on Her Vegan Diet

  1. I don’t know that she is directly calling out vegans though it seems that way. Unless I know the intent, it’s kind of hard to make that judgment. Was her decision to be vegan made for ethical reasons or for health/personal reasons? If it’s the latter, I don’t really have a problem with her slipping a bit.

    Of course, this is coming from a guy that can’t wait to eat his next pulled pork sandwich (garnished with bacon).

  2. I never knew Zooey Deschannel was vegan.
    I went through a hardcore “Zooey” phase, where i watched all her movies: 500 Days (of Summer), Flakes, Gigantic, Winter Passing, Yes man…
    Then, abruptly, i stopped.

    I connect Alicia Silverstone with one of my favorite bands, Aerosmith, becoming unbearable.
    It wasn’t her fault, yet every video she appeared in, the song was horrible!

    I think, possibly, Alicia’s comments may have been taken out of context.
    I remember, my hero, Edward Van Halen, made a similar comment, something along the lines of:
    These people (Van Halen’s fans) can come to our shows, but it doesn’t mean i want to hang around them, in regular life…” (Thanks, Eddie).

    Alicia is peddling her Vegan cookbooks & cruelty free lifestyle to her followers, but at the same time, chastising them for being “icey” and “Rigid.” (Thanks, Alicia).

    Sometimes people say things with no intention to offend, but the words slip out, regardless.
    US magazine may have simply printed part of what she said.

  3. Hmmmm, you seem aware of the “to judge or not” conundrum, yet geeeeeeeez! Okay, Ms. Opionionessa, my three word reaction to this disguised rant of yours is “barf, barf, barf.”

    A more wordy response would be: What Alicia Silverstone did is cool, she’s right, and you prove her point. You are Ms. “icey rigid” Opinionessa. You have put yourself above others, even here you write: “Now I don’t tell people what they should eat…(but I) hope that people become more conscientious and compassionate in their food choices.” Which is it? You can’t hid behind bullshit rhetoric.

    Not only do I think eating animals is okay, I think it is better for humanity, we are natural omnivores. Go to the third world, where dietary restrictions lead to malnourishment (India), or in Africa, where lack of proteins found in meat are direct causes of stunted cerebral growth. You have the luxury to enjoy a vegan diet, and that’s your choice, but at best you are equal to omnivores, you are not “more compassionate” but rather “little Miss Privileged”, and you simply are judgmental and preachy.

    I’m not saying I’m not judgmental, it’s unavoidable when you have a strong opinion, but I don’t try to deny it with “I try to be as non-judgmental as possible” baloney.

    • I really do think that this whole article is stupid. People can eat however they choose and you say about trying to be as ‘least judgmental as possible’ yet this rant on vegan-ism is the epitome of that.
      I think it’s wonderful that Alicia Silverstone makes a great effort to abide with the kind life and i admire and respect her for that.

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