I first heard Loretta speak two years at the Gala and was totally blown away. I had been excited about animal rights for years, but had never once put the connection together between human violence and animal violence — specifically how the societal approval of one affects the approval of the other. Loretta didn’t make a speech this year, but I made sure we spoke before the evening was through.
Parrish: Hi Loretta. Now I gotta say before we start that I’m a little bias. I’m a big fan! I was here two years ago and I absolutely loved your speech. In fact, we met for just a second afterwards.
Loretta Swit: I know. I remember you.
P: No way. You remember that?
LS: Sure. And since you met me they have named a cow after me. There are a lot of animals out there named after me.
P: I know you’re very involved with animal rights. How did you get involved with Farm Sanctuary?
LS: Gene Baur found me. I’ve been in animal rights since before it had a name. I’ve always been involved with rescue/rehab, placement, whatever for animal rights. And he found me to take part in the campaign against the foie gras manufacturers. And that’s how we got to know each other. And I think we’ve been together now about three or four years. He’s pure. He has no other care in life except to make change. And it affects all of us. It affects the animals. It affects the people. When you affect one you affect the other.
I was watching a brilliant documentary called Shark World a few days ago. I’m watching this documentary which says that very simply, if you can not drum up any compassion for the predators, realize this: if they’re gone the rest of the food chain is gone and the ocean is gone and they supply 80 percent of the oxygen you breath. So basically you are dead! You better get some compassion going and think about what you’re doing when you kill sharks, dump the carcass and make soup!! What are you thinking? You need to learn. The big part of our job is education — getting that information out. The brightest thing I ever heard was: you only know what you know. Ok so now I have a lot of information so I get out there and say, ‘Listen up! These are the facts! Act on it!’ I count on the intelligence and compassion of people and they come through each time.
This didn’t start with these numbers. This has grown. My friend Mike Farrell runs Death Penalty Focus. I mean that started with a dozen people in a living room and now it’s a thousand person operation and being televised. People care. They want to know what’s going on!
P: And it’s people like you who are in the spotlight that have the power to reach the masses, so it’s great to see so many famous faces here. Now are you vegetarian?
P: Me too. How long?
LS: Oh I became a vegan in the 80’s.
P: You have me beat. I became vegan when I was 18 and that was 7 years ago.
LS: You’ll live forever! It’s a lifestyle!
P: And one I plan on keeping for the rest of my life! Thank you so much talking with me and I’m sure I’ll see you around one of these things soon.
LS: Great running into you darling. See you very soon I’m sure.