She’s still at the beginning of her career and she’s already one of the most iconic singer-songwriters of our time. Through her innovative style, she has become the youngest person ever to win the four main Grammy categories in one year. And, on top of that, she’s also a fashion icon. But is Billie Eilish vegan?
Billie Eilish identifies as a vegan, promotes veganism, and has even shared footage of animal cruelty on social media. For the most part, her lifestyle is actually vegan, but she overlooks certain non-vegan elements. For example, she still consumes honey, sometimes wears leather shoes, and occasionally rides horses.
Billie’s meat-free childhood
Billie was named after her maternal grandfather, Bill Baird, who hunted and fished. But Billie’s mother, Maggie Baird, and her brothers weren’t into that at all. So, they all stopped eating meat, including fish, as teenagers in the seventies. Maggie stuck with that decision. She said: “It was like a weight off of my shoulders … It was never something I strayed from or, you know, had a hard time with.”
Billie’s father, Patrick O’Connell, still ate meat when he met Maggie in 1984. And Maggie wasn’t able to convince him to stop right away, but when he got a job that forced him to cycle past a slaughterhouse every day, he realized that he didn’t want to eat meat anymore either.
Maggie and Patrick had their first child, Finneas, in 1997. Billie was born four years later, in 2001. Naturally, they also raised their children without meat. So, Billie and Finneas have never eaten meat in their entire lives.
They still ate other animal products, like dairy and eggs. Maggie has said that she was completely unfamiliar with veganism at the time, but she gradually learned more about the dairy and egg industries “and the cruelty involved.” That made her decide to cut those animal products out as well. “You know, once you really open your mind to knowing about it, it just [becomes] impossible to not go all the way with it,” she said.
After Maggie had given up dairy and eggs, the rest of the family followed. And Maggie said that even though they already lived meat-free, they still experienced “major health benefits” after giving up other animal products too: “The amazing thing was we all had health benefits, different health benefits. You know, you do it for the philosophical reason and then you go ‘wow.’ … That was a real plus.”
A few months after Billie had turned 16, someone on Tumblr asked her when and why she went vegan. She gave the following answer:
“i went vegan like four years ago. there were a lot of reasons. i love animals and i just think there’s no point in creating something out of an animal when the animal is already there. leave animals alone. damn. also im lactose intolerant and dairy is horrible for your skin and my skin is VERY aware of that.”
She was asked about it again in an interview in August 2018. In that interview, she explained that the transition had been easy for her because she was already used to not eating meat. And she found it hard to mention just one reason to go vegan “because there are so many reasons to actually be vegan.” Emphasizing the senselessness of eating animals, she said: “Why would you eat an animal when you could eat some chips?”
You can watch her full answer here. It starts at 1:40 and ends at 2:45:
How Billie avoids animal products in her diet
When Billie was still an upcoming artist, she didn’t have her own vegan catering when she was on tour. So, if she didn’t bring her own food, she had to find vegan food at the venues she performed at, which was challenging at times:
“It was really hard at the beginning. The first tours we did, I used to lose weight because I never got to eat, and it was not my choice. Like, it was just, like, we couldn’t eat anything almost ever. Especially in Europe.”
A 5-minute video which Billie recorded in June 2018 at Bonnaroo Music Festival illustrates this well. In the video, she shows off her vegan meal: fries with nothing. And you can also see her checking the ingredients of the snacks in her dressing room and finding out that most of them aren’t vegan:
She did say “Oh, and there’s Starburst, I can eat Starburst,” even though there was no vegan version of Starburst sold in the U.S. at the time, but that seemed like an honest mistake. And she said it before she had even checked the Starburst’s ingredients, so she may have found out that it wasn’t vegan off camera.
The video clearly shows that she was serious about avoiding animal products in her diet. And she continued to be serious about it after that.
The following year, in March 2019, she appeared on the show Hot Ones, where she ate vegan wings with spicy sauces. She also made sure to check that the milk she got was soy milk before drinking it.
Some of her followers were confused by a Snapchat story she posted a month later, though. In that video, she ate Flamin’ Hot Crunchy Cheetos out of the bag. That type of Cheetos isn’t vegan as it contains dairy. Nothing indicated that she had changed her views, though, so it was probably just a mistake. And there’s actually a vegan version of Flamin’ Hot Puffs Cheetos, so she may have gotten them mixed up.
Apart from small mistakes like that, Billie has continued to avoid animal products in her diet.
In June 2019, she celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Meat Free Monday campaign on Instagram. She said: “I just wanted to say happy birthday to Meat Free Monday. I’ve been vegetarian my whole life, vegan for five years. Help the world – I try.”
She has reiterated that she’s vegan many times since then. And she also got her own vegan catering while on tour, which made a huge difference. Commenting on that, she said:
“Now, we kind of gain weight when we’re on tour because we have so many people, and their whole job is to get us food and make sure that we’re fed and happy and stuff. And going to so many new places. I think it’s a really good time to be vegan, in life, because there’s a lot of places.”
On her last tour before the pandemic in 2020, she actually hired the same catering company as Paul McCartney: Eat Your Heart Out. And they didn’t just cook vegan food for her, but for the entire crew. Her mother said that the crew loved it and that it was the best food she had ever had in her life.
Billie still consumes honey
Unfortunately, there’s one animal product that Billie still consumes: honey. In an interview in March 2019, she explained that her mother gives it to her when she gets sick. So, her mother always brings it with her on tour. Billie seemed unaware that honey isn’t vegan.
The reason honey isn’t vegan is that honey bees make honey for themselves, it’s their food reserve to survive the winter, so we can’t just take it from them. One teaspoon of honey is 12 bees’ entire lives’ work. And after taking the honey, beekeepers often kill off the entire hive because it’s cheaper than keeping the bees alive without their honey.
On top of that, the honey industry also causes ecological problems. That’s because there are thousands of species of wild bees, and honey bees compete with these wild bees for the same food and can transfer diseases to them. Because wild bees are necessary to pollinate certain plants, any problem that affects them can cause a chain reaction in the ecosystem.
So, hopefully, Billie learns about this and gives up honey as well.
Billie speaks up for the animals
Apart from mentioning veganism in interviews, Billie has also used social media to speak up for the animals. The first time she did that was in June 2019, after she saw footage of an extensive undercover investigation into Fair Oaks Farm, the largest dairy in the U.S.
The dairy industry is linked to the meat industry. That’s because cows only give milk after they’ve given birth. So, cows are impregnated every year. Their calves are then taken away from them, and most of these calves are sent to the meat industry. The ones who stay in the dairy industry grow up to replace their mothers. But, after a few years, their milk production goes down and they get killed for meat as well.
So, Billie posted an Instagram story in which she said this:
“i keep my mouth shut most of the time about this because i believe everyone should do eat and say whatever they want.. and i dont feel the need to shove what i believe in, in anyones face.
“but man.. if you can watch the videos that i just posted and not give a fuck that its YOU contributing by LITERALLY EATING the creatures that are being fully tortured just for your pleasure.
i feel sorry for you.
“i understand that meat tastes good.. and i know you think you’re just one person and it ‘wont change anything if you stop’
but that’s ignorant and stupid.
“if you have half a brain, you should know ‘one person’ adds up
You can watch the video she referred to here, and we recommend you do. It’s only 4 minutes long:
While it’s easy to think that this kind of abuse just happened in one company and that animals in other companies are treated well, that’s unfortunately not the case. The standard practices in the animal industries are abusive. If you want to learn more about that, we recommend the free documentary Dominion. It’s narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, Sadie Sink, Sia, and Kat Von D.
In October 2019, the following tweet about mink fur went viral:
The tweet clearly resonated with Billie, because a few days later, she posted two pictures of a similar looking mink on her Instagram story. She captioned one of the pictures “just so you know… this is a mink. you bitches getting mink lashes and mink slippers disgust me lol,” and the other one “where yo heart at?”
A week later, she also asked her Instagram followers to watch this video about the wool industry. She simply posted “swipe up and watch this please.” The video is from 2006 and features the singer Pink:
Billie links climate change to diet
In the spring of 2019, Billie watched David Attenborough’s documentary Climate Change – The Facts. Since then, she has become more outspoken about climate change. And she doesn’t just raise awareness about it, she also offers practical advice.
A good example of that is the video titled Our House Is On Fire, which she made with actor Woody Harrelson in September 2019. In that video, they point out what viewers can do in their own lives to combat climate change. One of the tips Billie gives is “cutting out meat and dairy”:
Cutting out animal products makes a huge difference to our environment because the animal industries are inherently inefficient. Growing crops to feed to animals in order to eat the animals requires much more land, water, and fuel than growing crops for direct human consumption.
Worldwide, plant-based food provides 83 percent of all our calories, while animal products only provide 17 percent. But the animal industries occupy almost a third of all land on earth. That’s more land than the area of Russia, the United States, and Canada combined. And because they constantly need more land, they’re also a major driver of deforestation.
On top of that, they create enormous amounts of pollution. They generate physical waste, which leads to ocean dead zones, and greenhouse gases, which lead to climate change. Scientists have calculated that a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions come from food, and more than half of those come from animal products.
Billie has also said that her song “all the good girls go to hell” is about climate change:
“The song is not about the Devil and Hell and shit. … It’s basically metaphors for global warming and for climate change and stuff. And I think if you don’t look into it, you’ll just think it’s about fucking Hell and stuff. But, realistically, it’s about the world we’re living in right now.”
Her brother Finneas, who co-created the song, said:
“If there were a God and a Devil, if you believe that there are, the idea that humans have made such a mess of the planet at this point that they’re both talking to each other like, “What’s going on? Why did they do all of this?” That was an appealing concept.”
The music video shows Billie with wings falling out of the sky into an oil-like substance. In the first minute of this interview, she compares that to oil spills, and she also talks about the connection between some of the lines in the song, the fire in the music video, and the wildfires in California:
She released the music video in September 2019 with the hashtag #climatestrike and a personal note in which she asked people to take part in the climate strikes later that month. We’ll embed the music video here, in case you haven’t seen it or want to see it again now that you know that the song is about climate change:
On November 1, 2019, Billie and Greta Thunberg both joined the same Los Angeles climate strike. Billie said: “[Greta] is paving the way. … Hopefully, the adults and the old people start listening to us, so that we don’t all die.”
In October 2020, David Attenborough released a new documentary, titled A Life On Our Planet. In that documentary, he shares his concern for the state of our planet and explains how plant-based diets can help:
“When it comes to the land, we must radically reduce the area we use to farm, so that we can make space for returning wilderness. And the quickest and most effective way to do that is for us to change our diet.
“The planet can’t support billions of large meat-eaters. There just isn’t the space. If we all had a largely plant-based diet, we would need only half the land we use at the moment. And because we would be then dedicated to raising plants, we could increase the yield of this land substantially.”
When it was released, Billie actually had the opportunity to ask him a question. She asked him how he personally coped with seeing so many animals go extinct, and he admitted that he felt desperate.
Billie promotes vegan food
Sometimes, Billie promotes vegan food without even trying. For example, when she gets invited to a cooking show, her episode automatically becomes a vegan food episode, simply because that’s the food she eats. This episode of Bad Canteen from April 2018 illustrates that well:
But Billie also actively promotes vegan food. In March 2019, she teamed up with Uber Eats to do so. Uber Eats posted a list of six restaurants and chains on their website that served only or mostly vegan food. One no longer exists, but the others were: ATX Food Co. (Austin), Cafe Gratitude (Los Angeles), Love Life Cafe (Miami), By Chloe (New York), and Araya’s Place (Seattle). Billie gave an interview and a concert to promote them:
In early 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent measures started to affect every aspect of society, Billie’s mother, Maggie, set up a project called Support + Feed. The idea was simple: People could donate to Support + Feed, and the donations were used to order food from vegan restaurants and deliver it to people in need. That way, donors could help struggling restaurants and people in need at the same time.
Billie supported and promoted the project, she even delivered some of the food herself. And the vegan cooking show New Day New Chef released an entire season covering Support + Feed on Prime Video, which Billie appeared in as well. In this trailer, Billie’s mother presents it herself:
Billie encourages adopting animals
Billie has grown up with companion animals. In 2019, she had a dog, Pepper, and a cat, Misha, who were both rescues. That year, she also gave an interview while playing with puppies, to encourage people to adopt a companion animal from a shelter instead of buying one from a breeder or a pet store:
In 2020, when she was staying home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she decided to foster two puppies from the shelter Angel City Pit Bulls. She posted a video of her and the puppies on Instagram with the caption: “if you’re looking for tings to do while we’re all stuck at home 👀👀👀 foster some babiiieesss”
A month later, she had gotten so attached to the puppies that she decided to adopt one of them herself. And she made sure that the other one got a good home as well. Here’s a picture of her with the puppy she adopted:
A poorly phrased comment
In August 2019, Billie gave an interview in which she said “I don’t give a fuck what you eat, eat whatever you want” and added that vegans who were “in everyone’s faces” should “shut the fuck up.” Some vegans interpreted this as if Billie didn’t care about animals after all and was actively discouraging people from speaking up for them.
However, in context, it looks like Billie simply wanted to say that pushiness can backfire. She said in the same interview: “I’m vegan. … I have my own reasons for not eating [animal products], and I have my own beliefs, and I have my own feelings of wanting to save animals and save the planet. And I’m not gonna force anybody to do that because I wouldn’t want them to force me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna try to make the world a better place.”
Of course, it’s impossible to actually force anyone to be vegan, regardless of how you talk about it. And with innocent animals’ lives and the environment on the line, a case can be made for a more assertive approach. But regardless of what the best approach is, it’s clear that Billie does care about animals and doesn’t want people to eat them. So, it would be unfair to keep holding this comment from 2019 against her.
The difference between zoos and sanctuaries
Because Billie likes animals, she also takes opportunities to interact with them when she’s traveling. Unfortunately, however, not all of these interactions are vegan.
When it comes to animals who aren’t domesticated, the vegan position is that we should leave them alone as much as possible. Animals deserve to live in freedom, and if that’s not an option, then they should live in an environment that’s as close to their natural environment as possible, so they can exhibit natural behavior.
Zoos aren’t vegan because they keep and breed animals in captivity just so humans can look at them. Animal sanctuaries are vegan because they simply take care of animals who can’t be released into nature, and they put the animals’ wellbeing first.
The problem is that many organizations intentionally blur the line because they get more visitors when they appear more animal friendly. For example, Billie was in Australia in 2018, where she visited Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and took a picture holding a koala. However, koalas get stressed when strangers hold them. That’s why it’s illegal in multiple Australian states. So, even though the word “sanctuary” is literally in the organization’s name, they still encourage behavior that they know is not in the animals’ best interests.
Later that year, Billie also visited a so-called “pet café” in South Korea. Although the name makes it sound harmless, it’s actually worse than a zoo. Raccoons and other undomesticated animals are kept in these cafés, which couldn’t be further from their natural environments, while people who know nothing about these animals come in every day to touch them and take pictures with them. Even cafes with only cats and dogs often don’t live up to basic animal welfare standards.
Like many people, Billie seemed completely unaware of the harmful effects these places have on animals. She didn’t have bad intentions. But, nonetheless, when she visits a venue with animals, especially with a camera crew, she’s automatically promoting that venue. So, hopefully, she looks into it more and sticks with animal shelters and real sanctuaries in the future.
One of those real sanctuaries is Farm Sanctuary, which actively encourages people to go vegan. Billie and her parents visited Farm Sanctuary in November 2020:
Billie occasionally rides horses
When Billie was about ten, she wanted to ride horses, but her parents couldn’t afford it. So, she started working at a local stable in return for lessons. She bridled and brushed the horses, was a horse camp counselor, and also “did, like, jumping and everything, all that.” But after two years, she stopped because she wasn’t being taken seriously. “When you’re not rich at a stable, everyone is like ‘Shoo,’” she said.
Her interest didn’t fade, though. She even played video games like Just Cause and Red Dead Redemption just because she could ride horses in them. And there was one horse at the stable who she remained attached to, Jackie O: “I was literally in love with this horse. … But then this other girl with more money wanted to ride her. … But even after I stopped riding, I came [to the stable] just to be with her.”
In April 2019, after not riding horses for a long time, Billie went on a horse trek in New Zealand. She realized she wanted to ride horses again. So, when she got home, she went back to the stable where she used to work and got a “half-lease,” so she could ride Jackie O again.
Not long after, in August 2019, she was at a music festival in the Netherlands, and there happened to be some horses near the artist compound. An interviewer saw her petting the horses and asked her about it. She said: “Horses are, like, one of the only things that I would say bring me peace. … I try to be around horses as much as I possibly can because it just makes me calm and pleasant.”
With regards to horseback riding, she said: “Recently, I’ve just realized I kind of need it, at least just to be around horses. So, I’ve tried to get back into it a little bit, but not, like, on a show level or whatever because I don’t need that. I just want to be around the animal.” The interviewer responded: “And horses don’t need that either.” To which Billie said: “No, they don’t. They really don’t.”
You can watch the full interview here. She talks about horses during the first 3 minutes:
There’s no doubt that Billie genuinely loves horses and wants to treat them well. And she even acknowledges that show jumping doesn’t benefit the horses. But she doesn’t yet see how this actually applies to all forms of horseback riding.
Horseback riding is often presented as the activity for people who love horses, so it’s not strange that Billie has never questioned it. But the essence of horseback riding is climbing on top of an animal and making them do what you want. Horses don’t benefit from having to carry a human around who decides for them in which direction they should walk, whether they should walk or run, when they should stop, and when they should jump. In fact, horses who haven’t been broken in don’t even allow it.
For those and other reasons, horseback riding is not vegan. But there are plenty of other ways to interact with horses that are fun for everyone involved. So, hopefully, Billie will continue to spend time with horses, but without riding them.
Animals and animal materials in Billie’s videos
Allowing animals to live their lives in the most natural way possible is directly at odds with using them for entertainment, including art projects. Doing so is therefore not vegan.
Billie hasn’t always been aware of this. For example, in June 2018, she appeared in a video to talk about Instagram accounts she followed, and she showed a picture of a Nike shoe that had been cut in half and turned into a miniature aquarium. It had a fish in it. But instead of commenting that a fish shouldn’t be kept in such a small, unnatural space, she presented it as an inspiring art project.
And she has also used animals in her own art, specifically in the music video for “you should see me in a crown,” which featured real spiders. At one point in the video, a spider crawled out of her mouth. She has confirmed that this was real as well:
Bringing animals to a studio and putting one of them in your mouth for a music video isn’t vegan. The vegan way to achieve the same effect would be by using animatronics or CGI.
“I said I wanted to make a video where I had a spider crawl out of my mouth, find someone, and they found someone. But, but, it wasn’t just that. I wanted to find someone who was not abusive to them. I wanted to find someone who knows what they’re doing, treats them well. I wanted to first of all find out if it was okay to do that. And not, like, that spiders hated it. Turns out spiders actually love being in really dark, like, wet places. He was chilling.”
With regards to animal materials in Billie’s videos, we think the wings she wore in “all the good girls go to hell” were made with real feathers. Billie simply said “feathers” when she referred to them, they looked real, and we have seen no indication from her or anyone else that they weren’t real.
While we would like to give Billie the benefit of the doubt, the reality is that there’s no industry that produces man-made feathers. The number of people who want to wear feathers but don’t want to wear real ones is so small that no company specializes in them. If something looks like a feather, you can assume it’s real. Even those labeled “artificial” are still real feathers, just ones that have been dyed.
So, in all likelihood, these feathers came from actual birds. The two main ways in which feathers are obtained are by plucking live birds or by killing birds and then taking their feathers. In the second scenario, the rest of their bodies are usually sold for meat or leather. Billie may be unaware of this, but the feather industry is just as cruel as other animal industries.
Hopefully, we’re wrong about Billie’s wings. But if we aren’t, then we hope that she will use CGI if she’s ever in a similar situation. Or she could request that faux feathers be custom made for her outfit, like Miley Cyrus did for her “Don’t Call Me Angel” music video.
Billie occasionally wears animal materials
Most of the clothes Billie wears aren’t made of animal materials. And even clothes that look like they might be made of leather, wool, or other animal materials could easily be vegan, as there are vegan alternatives to all these materials that look identical.
However, in November 2019, Gucci tweeted a picture of Billie while mentioning that she was wearing a custom wool shirt:
So, she definitely wore wool on that occasion. What’s strange about that, though, is that it happened only two weeks after she shared the anti-wool video on Instagram. So, it’s possible that she wasn’t aware that she was wearing wool.
But even if that was a one-time mistake, there’s no way around the fact that she wears leather shoes. In March 2019, she went sneaker shopping for a show and pointed out multiple models that she owned which were at least partly made of leather. And she has also worn leather Gucci sneakers on various occasions.
Because she has never talked about it in public, it’s hard to say if it’s a conscious decision or if she’s just unaware. On the one hand, it’s common knowledge that leather is the skin of an animal and that it’s often used to make shoes, so it would be strange for her to be unaware of that. On the other hand, given Billie’s desire to avoid harming animals, it would also be strange for her to be indifferent about it.
Either way, there are many fashionable shoes that are made without any animal products. So, she doesn’t need to wear leather shoes. Hopefully, she comes to this realization as well.
Billie’s signature ukulele contains bone
In September 2020, Billie released her signature ukulele:
Unfortunately, however, one part of this ukulele is made of animal bone. We reached out to the manufacturer to double check the information, and they confirmed that it’s actual bovine bone. So, it’s not a vegan instrument.
Of course, Billie may not have been aware of this. It’s possible that she only worked on the design and didn’t pay attention to the materials. Although, both from a vegan standpoint and from a music standpoint, it would make sense for her to pay attention to the materials used for her signature instrument.
Billie’s lifestyle is close to veganism
We’ve pointed out all the non-vegan elements in Billie’s life because it’s relevant information, but it’s important to realize that most of these elements are not part of her day to day life. Billie isn’t buying shoes three times a day, but she is eating three meals a day, and those meals are vegan.
We make the most difference by changing our daily habits, and those are exactly the habits that Billie has changed. She has made and stuck with those changes as a teenager while her life changed more drastically than most people’s lives ever will. And she has promoted animal rights to millions of people. She deserves credits for that.
Given how hectic her life is, one can understand why she hasn’t thought all her decisions about animals and animal products completely through. Hopefully, she will think about it more and adopt a completely vegan lifestyle.
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