A tribute to Prince: vegan, animal defender, and an amazing musician

Posted on the 22nd April 2016

A tribute to Prince by Karen Dawn, who is an animal advocate and author:

We have all heard the shocking news that Prince has died. What much of the world has not heard is that Prince's extraordinary talent was matched by his compassion; he was a committed vegan animal rights activist.

Today as I listened to people sharing memories of him on KPCC [a US radio station], a caller noted that he was famously litigious when it came to protecting his image – quick to make people pull down anything he had not approved. Having heard that, I must share my own experience:

As I gathered celebrity photos and quotes for Thanking the Monkey, my handbook on animal rights issues, I often dealt with celebrities’ ‘people’, who could take months to respond to an easy request, and could not be relied on to be pleasant. When I approached Prince’s team to ask for permission to reprint liner notes from his album, Rave UN2 The Joy Fantastic, in which he detailed the cruelty behind wool, the affirmative response from the star came back the next day. But he wanted payment: two copies of the book when it came out.

Prince did indeed carefully control his image, and he clearly wanted animal rights activism to be part of it.

He received a Genesis Award [an award from the Humane Society of the United States that honors individuals in the news and entertainment media that raise awareness of animal protection issues] in the year 2000 for those liner notes. His acceptance speech is one of the highlights in the history of that awards show. He looked out across the room at all of the activists and said that he had received many awards but, ‘this has been a moving experience, just being in the room with all of you.’

Humility and genius are a wonderful combination.

I have posted a copy of those liner notes on Facebook and on Twitter so you can see the beautiful display and perhaps share it with the world. And I will share the text here, with a reminder that it was written before the common use of phone texts and the resulting shorthand. Prince was ahead of his time in every way:

If this jacket were real wool it would have taken 7 lambs whose lives would have begun like this…


Within weeks of their birth, their ears would have been hole-punched, their tails chopped off, and the males would have been castrated while fully conscious. Xtremely high rates of mortality r considered normal. 20 2 40% of lambs die b4 the age of 8 weeks. 8 million mature sheep die every year from disease, xposure, or neglect. Many people believe shearing helps animals who would otherwise be 2 hot. But in order 2 avoid losing any wool, ranchers shear sheep b4 they would naturally shed their coats, resulting in millions of sheep deaths from xposure 2 the cold.


Respect all of God’s creatures.


2 my mind the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being.’ – Mahandas Gandhi



We all know Purple Rain and When Doves Cry. Lesser known is Animal Kingdom, from the album The Truth, in which Prince sent up the Milk – it does a body good campaign and then explained:

“No member of the animal kingdom nurses past maturity
No member of the animal kingdom ever did a thing to me
It’s why I don’t eat red meat or white fish
Don’t give me no blue cheese
We’re all members of the animal kingdom
Leave your brothers and sisters in the sea”

Prince will be all over the news tomorrow and throughout the next few days. Because we know he would want his concern for the plight of animals to be part of his legacy, please, at least once, preferably far more often, leave a comment on a major media outlet website, or write a letter to the editor, sharing some of those lyrics or just the information that Prince was a longtime ethical vegan, who is mourned by the animal rights community. It would please him so.

Find out more about Karen Dawn

Photo of Prince by Micahmedia at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13466179

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