Celebs Who Love Veg: Our Interview with Jackson Galaxy
Cat behaviorist, author and host of Animal Planet’s My Cat from Hell, Jackson Galaxy is someone used to being in the spotlight. Fortunately, he not only uses his talents to tame human and feline relationships, he also speaks out passionately about doing good in the world. In our interview with him, he talks about veganism, the circle of compassion and how to love all animals.
Why did you decide to go plant-based?
I decided to go plant-based when I met my wife Minoo seven years ago. I always had toyed with the idea, but in all honesty, was afraid to give up what I knew. Once I met Minoo, who at that point had been vegan for fifteen years or so, she showed me how easy it could be. She also pointed out that I said that I loved all animals, but only truly advocated for cats. That really was the deciding factor – to finally put my money where my mouth was and advocate for all animals. That made the decision a lot easier to make.
As a cat lover, what advice would you give others who love companion animals (like cats, dogs and rabbits) but have not yet made the switch to veganism?
It’s a tricky thing to ask people to take leaps. The one thing I would ask is to think about your “circle of compassion” and that if you love cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, etc., wouldn’t it stand to reason that you would also love other animals? The only difference being that you don’t live with one variety, but live with another. You would agree that your cats, for example, have an emotional life and feel deeply like we do. Just consider making choices – whatever that means to you – to protect those animals, as you would your cat or dog. What I’ve found – only speaking for me – is that by asking myself these questions in a non-threatening way, I was able to start making better choices on behalf of those animals.
I think people, in general, are very protective of their food choices, not to mention clothing choices or consumer choices. So just start by asking yourself questions and perhaps having conversations with those who have already made this choice. I just think that it makes sense to show the same love for all animals that we do for cats and dogs.
There are a lot of myths about being vegan, including that it’s hard to do so unless you live in a big city – what advice can you give people about eating plant-based considering you travel all over the country?
It’s getting easier and easier. I’ve eaten at some incredible restaurants over the past couple of years and they’re just growing every day. Sure, it’s a lot easier to eat vegan in the big city, as most have booming vegan scenes, but when I go to small towns, usually finding a Whole Foods or natural market at this point isn’t hard. I’ll go straight from the airport to one of these markets and stock up on supplies, just in case my hotel doesn’t have the staples that I would normally use, like soy milk or vegan butter.
Another thing is that most towns will have Thai or Indian food, and most of those places have vegan options. You can now find vegan options in so many different places – let’s not forget that over the past couple of months alone we’ve added Burger King, Carl’s Jr., and Del Taco. Even Baskin Robbins is introducing something new! There are restaurants every day that are adding vegan choices. As hard as it might’ve been two years ago, it’s not anymore.
As a celebrity with a very large platform, how do you want to use your influence to change the world for good?
What I try to do with the platform that I have is to promote mindful choices, as it pertains to our life with others on this planet – humans and animals. Of course, my platform speaks more to animals, so I use the platform to promote that message. One of the techniques that I use is in through-lines (themes), whether it’s in my show, my talks and most especially, my latest book (Total Cat Mojo). The through-line to that book was not about how to fix cats – it was about learning to live your best life with cats based on the knowledge that it’s a relationship. It’s give-and-take and, like any relationship, it’s mindful choices made to benefit both in the situation.
I like to remind my audience to question their commitment to their animals and remember that they are not things – they’re family members. Then you can walk down the path that I walked, which is: first I demonstrate my love for my cat; then I demonstrate love for shelter cats; then I demonstrate love for cats on the street, feral cats; then I think, “well, of course I love dogs, too” and now I’m advocating for domestic animals; and then I figured, “well, I love all animals. I love horses, pigs, cows – I love them all,” so why not advocate for all of them? To me, it’s a logical progression based on the compassion and empathy that most everyone that I know has for certain animals and then we just have to widen that out from there.
I use my platform to demonstrate a reverence for animals and to advocate for the very best relationship that you can have with the animals in your life. Make no mistake about it – when you make a compassionate choice regarding your consumer or eating habits, you are declaring that you have a relationship with those animals as well.
What’s your favorite late-night plant-based snack?
To be honest, whatever’s around! Though I’m not really a chocolate or sweet-things type person, so it’s rare that I’m going to seek out something sweet in the middle of the night. One of the things that I like to do is take vegan chicken strips and make a vegan chicken salad out of it – something very simple with Vegenaise, spices and the chicken strips. I’ll always have that on hand so I can have a good sandwich.
I’m also a big fan of grilled cheese and my favorite is using a combination of Follow Your Heart American cheese with Violife cheddar or Chao. Any combination of those cheeses, using also Myoko’s butter, makes for a heck of a grilled cheese sandwich.
Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp, the premier cat-advocacy event in the country for cat lovers of all stripes, is expanding and heading west for the first time to Las Vegas, NV, November 9-10. More information available at CatCamp.com.