My love for animals made me vegan. People should not buy animal products.
You were a famous debutante, and then you became a vegan, interested and deeply involved in animal rights?
Yes, and I also became an actress and I still do movies. I have been surrounded by animals all my life and I am appalled by the way animals are treated. It is terrible and I had to do something. The world is such a crazy, mean, awful place for animals.
What are you doing?
I just bought a farm in Upstate New York, and try to do as much animal rescue as possible. Recently I rescued a lamb, named Belle. I got her from my neighbor, a farmer, Jeremy Peele. She was one of three, and he gave Belle to me. She is now trained, a little bit like a dog.
How many dogs do you have?
Eight dogs, a tortoise, a donkey and two cats.
What is your purpose?
My purpose is to try to educate people to understand with their own eyes how horrible the situation is for animals. If you want to buy meat, buy it from people like Jeremy, from somewhere the animals at least had a good life before being killed.
Do you eat meat?
No, never. Not since a long time.
Are animals particularly badly treated in the United States?
Yes, the EU is tougher in the way they control the treatment of animals, it’s much better in Europe. They don’t allow some treatments that they do allow in the States, and animals there seem to have a much better life.
How do you educate people about this?
People now realize, and have to realize, that organic food is much better. The only way is to stop people buying certain things.
You wrote a book called “Simple Pleasures”?
Yes, I tried to say in my book how easy and inexpensive it is to cook without animals.
How long have you followed a vegan diet?
Since twenty years. When I was growing up it was not as bad and horrible as it is today. People are now so much more abusive to animals.
You were a champion equestrian, why did you stop horse riding?
There were other things to do. I stopped when my mother died. It is hard to ride at a very high level and at the same time to do movies and other ventures. I always wanted to do movies, I studied to be an actress and I absolutely love it. I have done many films, and I just finished a new one.
Why do you like being an actress?
Because you go into other people’s lives and create other worlds. And this is fun.
At one time you were very social, are you less involved nowadays?
It depends. I will go everywhere for Peter Marino, who is a great friend of mine. I do things, but you don’t have to do things every day. For instance, I have just been in the country for two weeks.
Why have you never married and had children?
I never wanted to have children or get married. I was proposed to three times, but I have so much independence. Maybe because I am a Sagittarius, it was never the most important thing for me. I have lived with someone, but I don’t like the piece of paper, the legal thing, I never thought it was important. So many people divorce and are unhappy in their marriages. Nevertheless, you never know, and it’s not something I am against.
Do animals have a great place in your life?
I take them with me. Now, as we are talking, I have my little lamb on my feet. I generally travel with a white West Highland terrier.
Do the animals sleep with you?
Yes, they sleep with me, or where they want. They are well mannered, especially the big dogs. They are very well trained.
Where did you find your dogs?
I rescued them. People find you, it is amazing, and they call you. I found a Chihuahua in a garbage bag in California.
Do you campaign against people wearing fur coats?
Yes, and next autumn there will be a line of Cornelia Guest furs that are synthetic, obviously. Also Giorgio Armani has said, “No more fur in my collections,” and this is fantastic. You cannot put something that has been tortured on your back. If you want to buy a fur coat, just look at what happened to the animal. You have to understand what it means to wear animals or to eat them. When you eat it’s better to understand how things got onto your plate.
Are you a rebellious person?
I always have been. My parents let me be independent, and when I was little I stopped eating meat. They said fine, but then the doctor said I had to to eat meat. But I remember I convinced my father not to shoot anymore.
Were you influenced by your mother, the famous socialite “C. Z.” Guest?
I was more influenced by my father, but he died when I was 17.
Was your mother’s presence very strong in your life?
I was very stubborn and I was independent and stood up to her. But we were very close, even if we had some fights.
When you were younger you were part of the Andy Warhol crowd?
Yes, he was a friend, I remember when he came to dinner. I was a child, around 4 or 5 years old, and Andy came to my room. We talked, and he wanted to stay with me instead of going down to the dining room. At the age of 15 I went to The Factory and we became great friends. I remember, once in Newport we were on a yacht and a big storm came. It was terrible for Andy who did not know how to swim.
You were also a friend of Truman Capote?
Yes, especially my mother was his friend. He was sweet to me. I think all these people were fun. We went to nightclubs and they were also coming to riding shows, and I loved that.
Do you still have horses?
Unfortunately they passed away, they grew too old. Now I have a donkey who thinks that she is a dog. She is very sweet. I just moved into this farm. I love to go to California for movies, but my city is New York. I love New York, and nowadays you can also make movies in New York.
What about Donald Trump?
Politicians are all one worse than the next, but I don’t like to talk about politics.
Surely politicians could help your campaign to protect animals?
First of all people have to protect them. If people don’t buy animal products, that’s the way it should be.
What about teaching in schools and universities?
Kids see very well how creatures are treated.
What is your main goal?
I want to continue to be an actress and help animals. This is pretty simple, isn’t it?
You don’t go to nightclubs anymore?
I think it is in my blood. Instead of going every night, now I go maybe once a month.
What kind of friends do you have?
Some are in the public eye, some are not.
Is being vegan a contradiction?
No, you can still be glamorous and be vegan. To save animals I think is very glamorous. Glamour is to be free, and I do feel free.
So free that you posed naked?
Yes, I did, against furs.
What other interests do you have?
I like to travel, to see friends and to have fun working. As long as I act I am happy. I also like to cook. In the Spring I cook asparagus risotto. I cook for myself and I love Alice Waters, I think she is amazing.
When will your new film be out?
In the Fall I think.
What would you like to say in conclusion?
Educate yourself, and know where things come from.
Enjoy this interview? Share it with your friends.
March 25th, 2016