Kevin Smith on Facing Backlash for Going Vegan: ‘I Took Away My Meat to Save My Life’

“When you see what is happening to these animals, you feel kind of powerless sometimes, like no one really cares, so it’s really exciting that we are going to bring a lot of awareness and make the world a healthier, happier place,” Kat Graham told Variety at the Mercy for Animals 20th Anniversary Gala on Saturday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

Mercy for Animals is an international non-profit animal advocacy organization that promotes veganism and conducts undercover investigations to expose animal cruelty at factory farms and slaughterhouses. Founder Milo Runkle said he was grateful for the amount of support the organization had received from celebrities including Joaquin Phoenix, who quietly slipped into the gala during the reception.

Kat Von D, who received the Hope Award at the gala, told Variety that she felt recent animal protection laws didn’t go far enough. “I think hiding behind the idea of things being cage-free is a joke,” Von D said. “There’s no humane way of exploiting an animal. It’s like he had an awesome life up until when we slit his throat. To me, it doesn’t make sense. I think the whole purpose of being an environmentalist in general is that you can’t do that unless you really contemplate what you are putting on your plate.”

Kevin Smith presented animals rights activist Lindsay Oliver with the Hidden Heroes Award alongside his daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, who he credited with inspiring him to adopt a vegan lifestyle following his near-fatal heart attack last year. Despite losing 70 pounds on his new diet, Smith said he receives a lot of criticism on social media when he posts about veganism.

“It’s to the point where I include a trigger warning,” Smith told Variety. “Whenever I post something about being vegan, they get pretty upset and say ‘I’m going to eat four times as much meat’ and I’m like, ‘See you in hell.’ I’m not saying you need to do this. I’m just responding to questions about why I look the way I look suddenly, so you have to be very careful about how you couch it because some people feel like I’ve had so much taken away, now you are going to take away my meat. Do what you want. I took away my meat to save my life.”

September 14th 2018. Los Angeles, CA.Mercy For Animals Celebrates its 20th Anniversary at their Annual Hidden Heroes Gala at The Shrine Auditorium in Downtown Los Angeles. Picture Shows Joaquin Phoenix
CREDIT: Rupert Thorpe/Mercy for Animals

Graham hosted the gala and was joined by some of her “The Vampire Diaries” co-stars including Persia White, who played her on-screen mother and who Graham said motivated her to give up meat, and fellow vegan Paul Wesley. Wesley told Variety that he was frustrated by the slow acceptance of climate change and the impact of farming, particularly in the Amazon. “Now that the Amazon is burning, now people are finally waking up and saying oh, maybe we should do something,” Wesley said. “It’s like, oh really? It took the Amazon burning down for you to pay attention.”

Wesley said he was encouraged by the attention given to climate change by some of the Democratic presidential nominees, but he wasn’t ready to endorse a candidate. “At the end of the day, I would really ultimately be happy with anyone but Trump. With that said, I’m encouraged with certain things that candidates say and discouraged with things that other candidates say. I haven’t quite figured out who it is that I’m 100% rooting for, but I love a lot of what Cory Booker has to say, I love Bernie. Any of these people would be incredibly competent.”

Graham also weighed on the Democratic primaries. “As an immigrant living in America, I want to make sure that we continue to uphold what makes America so great which is the melting pot and everyone from all over the world coming together to build a better future and that is what I think America is, so I’m happy to keep living here as long as we keep that going,” Graham said. “Diversity and acceptance. Those are issues that are really important to me. I’m a black Jew. Who do you think I’m going to vote for?”

Despite the recent spate of reboots and spinoffs, Graham told Variety that she wouldn’t necessarily be on board with a “Vampire Diaries” reunion. “Eight years is a long time. I don’t know. I’m always onto the next chapter,” Graham said. “Even when I was on the show, it was like what am I doing next?”

However, Graham immediately nixed the idea of a reboot with a new cast. “No motherf—– can play Bonnie Bennett like me, so that’s number one. Period!” she said. “It’s me or no one.”

More Scene

  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Watchmen

    Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Talks 'Watchmen,' 'Matrix 4': 'I’m Not Nervous At All'

    Yahya Adbul-Mateen II is facing some serious pressure. The actor is in the middle of a massive career surge, taking on roles in HBO’s “Watchmen” and the upcoming “Matrix 4” — and with those roles, the expectations of their fans.  “I have the responsibility of upholding something that was already done while also bringing in [...]

  • David Lindelof Watchmen Premiere

    'Watchmen' Creator Damon Lindelof Weighs in on Martin Scorsese's Marvel Criticisms

    Damon Lindelof disagrees with Martin Scorsese about his recent claims that Marvel movies don’t qualify as cinema. The director’s proclamation, along with the polarized critical reception of “Joker,” are the latest salvos in a long history of questioning comic book movies’ place in cinematic history. The lingering question: Can superhero fare be considered “high art?” [...]

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was [...]

  • Charlize Theron speaks at the GEANCO

    Charlize Theron Talks 'White Privilege,' Growing Up During Apartheid in South Africa

    Charlize Theron, during an onstage discussion with her “Gringo” costar David Oyelowo about philanthropy at Thursday’s annual fundraiser for Nigerian children’s educational and health program GEANCO, said she was a beneficiary of “white privilege” while growing up in Apartheid-torn South Africa. “I obviously am a white person who benefited from my white privilege,” Theron said [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content