Natalie Portman: Why my kids and I are vegan

A big change for an even bigger reason. Natalie Portman explained why she chose to become a vegan during her first pregnancy.

The 37-year-old actress read Jonathan Safran Foer’s critically acclaimed book Eating Animals while she was expecting her first child. Portman said the read changed her perspective about what she is willing to consume. “I became vegan after reading the book, and you know, [I have] been able to find over the years really great products,” she told Us Weekly exclusively at the New York premiere of Eating Animals on Thursday, June 14. “There’s like tempeh bacon, you know, coconut milk, yogurt, cheese is made out of cashews and all sorts of delicious things that they’ve figured out that are great replacements for those things you crave.”

Portman — who narrates the documentary adaptation of Eating Animals —  was obviously very affected by the book’s content: “I think it just really made me aware of how the factory farming world doesn’t let us see what’s going on. It’s so hidden, and you’re not even allowed to talk about it. They sue people for even talking about the industry, and it’s because there’s a lot to hide. When you see what’s in the film, what’s been lost with the traditional farming …. American farmers have been really sacrificed at the expense of this kind of corporate model. Putting millions of animals into small spaces with terrible conditions and having them be sick. And then the human effect of, like, the pollution that it creates and the health problems it creates. It’s really hard not to want to change.”

Portman’s children — she shares Aleph, 7, and Amalia, 15 months, with husbandBenjamin Millepied — follow her lead in the healthy eating department. “It comes really naturally because I think, you know, you tend to make one thing that everyone eats for dinner,” she explained. “We tend to eat vegan and vegetarian food in the house. It becomes like the normal stuff that kids get used to.”

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Natalie Portman out and about
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Natalie Portman out and about
WESTWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 13: Actress Natalie Portman arrives for the premiere of Paramount Pictures' 'Annihilation' held at Regency Village Theatre on February 13, 2018 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 13: Actress Natalie Portman attends the Los Angeles premiere of 'Annihilation' at Regency Village Theatre on February 13, 2018 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 05: Natalie Portman speaks onstage during The 2018 MAKERS Conference at NeueHouse Hollywood on February 5, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for MAKERS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 05: Natalie Portman attends The 2018 MAKERS Conference at NeueHouse Hollywood on February 5, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for MAKERS)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 1738 'Natalie Portman' -- Pictured: (l-) Mikey Day, Natalie Portman during 'Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards' sketch in Studio 8H on Saturday, February 3, 2018 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 1738 'Natalie Portman' -- Pictured: Natalie Portman during the opening monologue in Studio 8H on Saturday, February 3, 2018 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 20: Actress Natalie Portman attends the women's march Los Angeles on January 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 07: America Ferrera and Natalie Portman attend the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 7, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 07: (L-R) Singer Mariah Carey, actors America Ferrera, Natalie Portman and Emma Stone, and former tennis player Billie Jean King attend The 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 7, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Actor Natalie Portman (R) and journalist Jada Yuan speak onstage during Vulture Festival LA presented by AT&T at Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on November 19, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 10: Natalie Portman speaks onstage during the 31st Annual American Cinematheque Awards Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on November 10, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 07: Actors Natalie Portman (L) and Rashida Jones arrive at the L.A. Dance Project's Annual Gala at L.A. Dance Project on October 7, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
SANTA MONICA, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: Actress Natalie Portman arrives at the 27th Annual EMA Awards at Barker Hangar on September 23, 2017 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
TELLURIDE, CO - SEPTEMBER 02: Natalie Portman and Angelina Jolie attend the Telluride Film Festival 2017 on September 2, 2017 in Telluride, Colorado. (Photo by Paul Best/Getty Images)
TELLURIDE, CO - SEPTEMBER 04: Natalie Portman attends the Telluride Film Festival 2017 on September 2, 2017 in Telluride, Colorado. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 20: Natalie Portman attends the 'Planetarium' Japan Premiere at Shinjuku Wald9 on July 20, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Jun Sato/WireImage)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 19: Natalie Portman attends the Dior For Love photocall at Warehouse Terrada on July 19, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Jun Sato/WireImage)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 03: Actress Natalie Portman attends the Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2017-2018 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 3, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/WireImage)
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Not everyone in the family is vegan, though. “There had been conversations because my husband is not vegan, and so my son has asked, ‘Why do you eat that and mommy doesn’t?’ And I talked to him about it, and it’s really changed. I think it’s very natural for children to relate to the stuff,” she said. “I became vegetarian when I was nine because, you know, you watch cartoons and animals have feelings and talk to each other and they’re not … You think of them as, like, emotive creatures, not as dinner.”

She and Millepied don’t go head-to-head over their dietary preferences either. “I think that you always want to be respectful of other people’s choices. I don’t want anyone to ever give me a hard time about my choices,” the Black Swan star told Us. “And of course, living together, you end up influencing each other too. So I think he’s certainly become more conscious of where his food comes from.”

Eating Animals opens Friday, June 15.

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