13 July 2011

Portia de Rossi: It’s more difficult to be vegan than gay

Portia de Rossi, actress and author of the recent NY Times Bestseller Unbearable Lightness, is featured on this month’s VegNews Magazine cover with a full-length article inside the issue.

After distinguishing herself on the former series Ally McBeal and Arrested Development, de Rossi surprised the world with her revelation that she was a lesbian; shortly thereafter, she married love Ellen DeGeneres, creating one of the most popular and powerful celebrity marriages in the country. The farm on which the two live together is a noted sanctuary for many rescued animals, and they are both advocates for animal welfare, supporting causes such as The Gentle Barn and actively promoting veganism.

De Rossi, a vegan for six years now, talks about her experiences in the VegNews article. She believes “it’s more difficult to be vegan than gay.” She goes on to say that “people have a harder time accepting it veganism]; people feel more uncomfortable with a vegan at their dinner table than they do a lesbian.” Part of the reason is a misunderstood sense of blame. As De Rossi put it, “It’s confronting [when a vegan sits at an omnivore’s table]. It’s kind of suggesting that what someone else is doing is bad or wrong, and it hits them on a more personal level. … If somebody is sitting there eating a steak watching you eat polenta, they’re thinking that you’re trying to preach to them or you’re trying to convert them in some way. Whereas with being gay, I don’t think anyone’s concerned that that’s the agenda. “Hey, Mom, you also have to be gay. I’m gay and so should you be!” Certainly when I told her that I was vegan, it forced her to look at her habits.”

Given the certainty that De Rossi has had to deal with reactions to her sexual orientation over the years, her perspective about veganism is an interesting one, and one with which many of us in the vegan community might disagree. Sure, most vegans would love if everyone gave up meat, but being confrontational isn’t the best way to accomplish that goal. A more realistic approach through education and example (with media campaigns, delicious food, and inspiring films like Forks Over Knives, for example) is often a better means to get the message out and encourage others to adopt a plant-based diet. (At least, that’s my goal with my meat-loving husband). And individuals like De Rossi, half of a beloved Hollywood Power Couple, are the perfect role models to disseminate that message.

Ricki Heller would love to one day share healthy sugar-free vegan treats from her cookbook, Sweet Freedom, with DeRossi and her wife (who endorses the cookbook on her website).

Ricki Heller, PhD, RHN | @RickiHeller
Formerly the owner of a vegan bakery, Ricki adapted those recipes for her cookbook, Sweet Freedom: Desserts You'll Love without Wheat, Eggs, Dairy or Refined Sugar. She also writes articles about food for various publications and online sites. Find Ricki posting delicious, healthy recipes on her blog, Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/cdelriccio