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Actress Natalie Portman, already a vegetarian for twenty years, has decided to turn vegan after reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s book, Eating Animals. The book had such an impact on her that Portman also declared herself an activist, and penned a letter to the Huffington Post.

It was a big step for Portman, who is not one to seek out controversy nor tell other people how to live, but after learning about the torture that animals endure, and the consequences of farming them, she is speaking out:

“The human cost of factory farming – both the compromised welfare of slaughterhouse workers and, even more, the environmental effects of the mass production of animals – is staggering,” she writes. “Foer details the copious amounts of pig shit sprayed into the air that result in great spikes in human respiratory ailments, the development of new bacterial strains due to overuse of antibiotics on farmed animals, and the origins of the swine flu epidemic in factory farms. [Her own friends] had never truly thought about the connection between their environmental conditions and their food. The story of the mass farming of animals had more impact on them when they realized it had ruined their own backyards.”

Ethics, environment or common sense, however one wants to classify the discussion, Portman introduced an unexpected element into her argument: shame.

“I remember in college, a professor asked our class to consider what our grandchildren would look back on as being backward behavior or thinking in our generation, the way we are shocked by the kind of misogyny, racism, and sexism we know was commonplace in our grandparents’ world. He urged us to use this principle to examine the behaviors in our lives and our societies that we should be a part of changing. Factory farming of animals will be one of the things we look back on as a relic of a less-evolved age.”

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