James Cromwell is an outspoken vegan and animal advocate. He has narrated Farm to Fridge, an eye-opening film about factory farming, and encouraged others to go vegan by saying “If you love animals, don’t eat them.” Now, the actor has opened up about his love for all animals and what inspired him to go from vegetarian to ethical vegan over 15 years ago.
Cromwell’s recent interview with TakePart explores his journey to veganism. He explains that he had been a vegetarian since the 1970’s, and it was his experience while filming a movie that led to his vegan diet. “I was doing a picture in Australia called Babe, working with a lot of animals and animal trainers. I cared about their welfare and then of course you have lunch and it’s all there in front of you, and I thought I should go the whole hog, so to speak. So I made that decision and kept that during the shooting. When I came back, I got involved with PETA, and of course the film opened and it was very successful.” Cromwell became involved with PETA’s campaign rescuing pigs from school 4-H programs, and then narrating films on factory farming of pigs and chickens, which led to his work with Farm Sanctuary.
He says of his Babe character Farmer Hoggett, “I think the character I played had an ability to see animals as sentient beings, with as much a destiny and a drive and aspiration as he had. That dichotomy is true of everybody. People eat unconscious of what goes into the making of the food that is in front of them.” He also discussed his views on having companion animals, “First, I disagree with two of those words—’to own’ and ‘pet.’ You can’t own another creature…They’re not pets. ‘Pets’ has a connotation that we’re a superior species and they are an inferior species. We’re here to take care of them because they can’t make it on their own. They are companion animals, hopefully, if they choose to be, and we certainly do not own them,” he said.
“The Artist” star talked about why he has chosen to oppose factory farming, and what everyone can do to no longer support the killing of animals for food. “To deny an animal its right to self-determination, its right to live out its life as it chooses in its natural habitat, that is an aggression; it’s an aggression against the planet and all other sentient beings,” he said. “Start with one meal a day, then up it to one day a week, then one week a month. Work your way into not consuming animals and animal products and inform yourself. It doesn’t take anything at all, and it’s very easy to do. Then you start to think, ‘What else?’ This process begins your consciousness.”
Most recently, Cromwell is advocating for racehorses by supporting retirement funds that would allow the horses to be retired to sanctuaries instead of being sold for slaughter.