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Mr Nasty shows his nice side!
Posted 1 April 2002
When Animal Aid heard that Pop Idol's Simon Cowell hates animal cruelty, we were not going to let the opportunity go to waste! We contacted Simon, and he agreed to take part in Veggie Month by adopting a vegetarian diet for a week. Here is a transcript of our interview:
How did you find eating a vegetarian diet for a week?
Easy. My advice would be to find food you like, like Chinese or Indian, because they prepare vegetables in a very interesting way and my notion of vegetarianism was always boiled cabbage, sprouts which I always hated when it's actually not as difficult as you think. It's laziness part of the time why you don't become a vegetarian.
What was your favourite veggie food?
Linda McCartney sausages were my favourite. They're much better than eating real sausages and you don't have to contemplate half way through exactly what's inside them. You can have vegetarian sausages, a bit of fried bread, tinned tomatoes. Delicious.
Do you think after this week you will think about becoming a vegetarian?
I will attempt to eat a lot more vegetarian meals.
How did your love of animals begin?
I was brought up with animals mainly dogs and my parents encouraged us at an early age to always respect and love animals. We had Great Danes, Razorbacks, Alsatians and they will give up their life for you literally. They are they to protect you. You will never find anyone/thing on earth more loyal than a dog.
Where did you grow up?
In Hertfordshire, Bucks.
Do you have any animals at home?
No, I can't with my life-style it's just impossible to keep a dog because a dog doesn't understand that you are going away on business and you can't break it's heart. You have to have stability and I cannot offer that at the moment. Although I'd like a rat, I like them, they've had bad press, they're the underdogs and a domestic rat is as cute as a hamster.
We read an article in which you said you were concerned about your health. Do you feel the vegetarian diet was any healthier?
I believe totally in mind over matter, I always have done and I believe that if you believe that something is doing you good then you feel better. The more vegetables you put inside you you are confident that you are doing yourself good. I actually feel better this week than I have done in a long time.
Do you think taking the veggie pledge will ruin your image as Mr Nasty?
(Laughs) Well I have to be honest with you, I have never done anything to build an image. I don't believe in my job you need an image nor do I even care about an image.
How did you become involved in the music industry?
I started at EMI Music Publishing as a post boy when I was 17 and worked my way up from there.
Is there much vegetarianism within the music industry? Is it hard for vegetarians?
Good question, probably not. I think you probably get it more from the artists than the people in the industry. A lot of the blame is the life-style. Canteens are fairly new and ours now offers a vegetarian option most days. It was really about just grabbing a sandwich where you could. I think in time it will be more for these reasons and moral reasons that will enable more people to become vegetarians. For most of my years working in a record company you are stuck in the office. A lot of companies moved out of London so you haven't got many sandwich shops or good sandwich shops nearby so it's hard.
Which animal issues concern you the most?
Where do you start? I think the treatment of pigs over the years is disgusting. They seem to be treated more and more like chickens, being cooped up in a pen, it's despicable. The treatment of dogs in South East Asia - it would be those two issues more than anything else.
What are your feelings on, say for example, vivisection?
Well I'm not an expert on science so it's difficult for me to comment. But when you hear about animals being bred and their vocal chords being cut so that they can't scream I mean it's just horrible. One thing for sure that I think any testing for beauty products is so unnecessary. There are so many successful companies selling good products without animal testing and it just goes to show they must know now what they can or cannot put in products I don't believe that you need it. Like the ghastly eye test they do on rabbits they should know what to put in these things by now. With regards to medical experiments there is always going to be a lobby to say that without it humans will die or whatever. I mean I don't know enough about this and if it really is necessary then you have to make it more humane.
What laws would you pass to improve the life of animals?
Like with hunting you have to start there because I think there are so many factors in this country and around the world particularly the meat suppliers who provide so much information on anti-hunting. Because I think that once you stop hunting then you have to question something else and I think this is one thing that the meat trade are terrified about. Once you address that concern and it's gone where do you look to next. I think that a lot of people who are protesting about anti-hunting have nothing to do with hunting at all. But at the same time you have to question what is crueler. I think I would rather be a fox than a pig at least then I would stand half a chance.
Are you a member of any animal charities/pressure groups?
I was a member of the IFAW but I haven't been active with that for a while now.
Hello magazine were so impressed with Simon's efforts for Veggie Month, that they published a version of this interview!