Kate Bush's Thoughts on Vegetarianism

I asked if people were interested in Kate Bush quotes about Vegetarianism, and got an overwhelming response. So here's a bunch, they're from my 'Lectronic book Cloudbusting - Kate Bush In Her Own Words, which is available on the Genie computer network and in the Love-Hounds archives (the international Kate Bush Computer Network - rec.music.gaffa). It's pretty long so if you're not interested hit "N" now!

If vegetarians are against the killing of animals for food, why don't they object to them being killed for leather?

I think there are a lot of vegetarians who are against animals being killed to make leather, and they do go out of their way to wear rubber and plastic shoes and belts, but I think that there is a practical side to it, as well. Leather is very warm, and it's nice to look at, but it does require a lot of effort for most of us to make a different choice from the normal, and I find myself that I do wear quite a few leather shoes. Not that I consciously buy them because they're made of leather, but I do have a few, and I think it's something to do with the tradition of leather being used in clothing. But there's no excuse for the mass production of leather, and I think it comes down to effort and how far you really want to go. It's up to you in the long run.

You are a vegetarian and yet you wear fur coats. Why?

I don't wear fur coats. I haven't got one. I don't own one and I don't believe in wearing them - I may have occasionally been in photos with one, but it wouldn't have been mine. It would have been one that I'd borrowed because it was very cold; for instance in Switzerland, when I did the Abba special. [In fact, as far as I know, that was the only time Kate has ever been seen in a fur. - IED] But I don't believe in people wearing fur coats, I think it's very extravagant and again, I think people don't tend to associate the clothes with the animals they come from, especially the rare animals that some of the coats are made of. You can get incredibly good imitation ones now - I've seen ones that I thought were real fur and they weren't. They're really fantastic, and they cost less, too.

Do you follow vegetarian recipes from books, or do you make up your own?

I do follow recipes from books, but I find that normally I don't stick to them, especially if I haven't got all the ingredients, and I tend to substitute different vegetables. If I'm feeling really brave, occasionally I base a meal on a recipe and make the rest up. Cooking is quite a logical thing, really, and you soon learn the things that go together - what works and what doesn't.

You say in interviews that you don't eat meat because you don't believe in eating life. But you eat plants, and they are living things. Why?

I do eat plants, and I know they're living, and I'm fond of them, but I think you have to find your own level. I could live on pills, but I don't think it's very human to do that - that is something we dream of in the space age: food without texture or mass. I don't think plants mind being eaten, actually. I think they'd be really sad if no-one paid that much attention to them. I appreciate them very much for the things they give me. I'd be very sad if there weren't any vegetables, and normally it isn't the actual plant that's killed - it's the fruit or vegetable that's taken off. I think this is the purpose of plants, that they grow to be eaten. The only problem is that it has become a very mass-produced market, again, and that the really natural, unchemicalised environment doesn't really exist. Too many chemicals are used on plants, but while there is a demand for brightly coloured food in pretty packets, that's how it will carry on. But you can get fresh, organically grown vegetables. You can grow them yourselves, and if you look around and ask, you'll find that there are a few shops and some local farms that sell vegetables that have not been grown in chemically fertilised ground. (1980, KBC 5)

I just couldn't stand the idea of eating meat - and I really do think that it has made me calmer. (1982, Company)

People probably eat so much pre-packaged food because it's always so easy to get in shops, and they don't connect it with live animals. If they actually had to kill the animal themselves, they would probably have great difficulty in doing it. People who live and work with animals can be aware of what they are doing when they kill an animal. They realise that they're going to be eating it, rather than it being sent off to be sold in supermarkets. On some levels this seems to be all right, because it's on a one-to-one basis: you feed and look after the animal for a certain length of time and then it repays you by becoming your food. But it's the mass-production of living creatures just to be eaten, and the fact that people aren't really aware of what they're eating, that I don't like.

These days it seems more and more probable that fish are likely to contain pollution - which can't do you any good - as they have no choice but to eat all the muck that's in the water. But hopefully people's general awareness is getting much better, even down to buying a pint of milk: the fact that the calves are actually killed so that the milk doesn't go to them but to us can't really be right, and if you've seen a cow in a state of extreme distress because it can't understand why its calf isn't by it, it can make you think a lot.

Working in London, I often have to go past meat markets, and when I see all those people working in there with blood all over them, and dead animals strung up from meat-hooks, just waiting to be devoured, it's like something out of a horror film. When I realised that, I didn't want to eat meat any more. I became more conscious about the things that I did eat. I think this helped me to learn more about food, because I had to start thinking what the nutritional value of something was, and I'm still learning about things I didn't think I could eat, which is really good. Just the discipline of not eating meat is a very good thing. It's like giving up anything you like - it hurts at first, but then you feel much better for it. I don't know whether it was just me, but when I first became a vegetarian I was really hungry a lot of the time, but I'm not now, and I wonder if that's because my stomach has adjusted. When you eat meat, you do tend to eat more than you need, and the body has to work a lot to break it all down.

It's interesting how the traveling that I've done reveals things about people's diets. In many European countries it's very hard to get something that hasn't got meat in it. There was one instance in Germany where I asked for a bowl of tomato soup and, having been assured that it contained just tomatoes, I tucked into it. But about halfway through the soup I could see all these lumps floating around at the bottom, and of course they were all meatballs. They just naturally do things like putting bacon and meatballs into vegetable soup, without even thinking about it. So many shops are meat-oriented: it's all sausages and pies, and the only other things you can really get are just potatoes and salads, when there is such an enormous variety of non-animal foods that can be eaten. Looking forward to a breakfast of toast and marmalade, and then getting a couple of slabs of cold meat and white bread pushed under your nose, isn't the way I like to start my day.

Japan seemed to be more vegetable-oriented. They take great pride in their vegetables, although they're greatly into fish, and this is causing them and the dolphins a lot of problems. I found Australia very meat-oriented, too, and this might have something to do with it being such a young country, and it's true that meat does give you a lot of energy. I suppose there was a time when a slab of bacon fat for breakfast might have been necessary for somebody working in a heavy manual job. But I've found that if I keep an eye on the sort of vegetarian food that I eat, I don't have any problems about dancing and singing on it.

It all comes down to looking more closely at the sort of food you are just used to having and saying to yourself, Do I really need to eat this, or is there something that will be better for me? The more people who get into good vegetarian food, the easier it will be for us. If I go into a restaurant with friends, and they settle down to a feast of meat and sauces and so on, I usually end up with salad and chips - which is OK, but that's about as far as most restaurants can go in the direction of vegetarian food. (1980, KBC 5)

She is kind to animals, refusing to eat or wear them, but gives in to a fish dish occasionally.

Once, that would have been impossible for me. But later I decided we have not to be so hard on ourselves or other people in terms of eating habits or anything else. It's like me and smoking. It's such an awful thing to do, it's so obviously bad for us, but we gaily carry on. I've cut down a but I can't kick the habit. (1989, You)

I like to cook, vegetarian stuff mostly, although we do eat fish sometime now, and I'm always trying to give up smoking but can't. (1989, Daily Mirror)

Well, what sort of diet do you keep? Are you anything special?

Ah, well I'm vegetarian. But I'm not very good about what I eat, actually. I'm not that disciplined. I like chocolate and rubbish. But I love vegetables.

But why are you a vegetarian?

Because I don't believe in eating life. I try to avoid eating life as much as I can. I mean there are things that I eat that probably have fat in them, and that. And, to a certain extent, I wear certain leather things. But I just don't believe in us considering ourselves so superior that we just go around killing everything and eating it.

Were you brought up this way?

No, no. None of my family are really vegetarian. But it's just something I feel strongly about.

You don't think it's just a phase.

[Laughs] Aye! [Laughs and pauses.] (1979, Personal Call)

Kate, how long have you been a vegetarian, all your life?

No, I haven't. It's about five years now.

And what made you decide in the first place?

Well, I think ever since I've been quite young I've always felt, not bad, but a bit guilty about eating meat because the fact that animals are killed and in a lot of cases in a very necessary way, you know, where it's a big exploitation of animals. And one day I just had this feeling and tried to a bit of meat and this feeling - it was so raw that I just identified immediately with the fact that it was an animal. That this thing was alive and it had been killed for me to eat it and I thought, "no, I'm not into this." So I thought I'd become a vegetarian. And I didn't have a clue, I had no idea what I could eat all I knew was that people didn't eat meat or fish. And I used to eat a lot of chocolate, so I lived for the next week off chocolate and tea.

Well that's not very good...

Well, no. This is what I thought so eventually through meeting other friends that were vegetarians and books and things I managed to get a diet together. And it's fantastic, because when I ate meat I wouldn't touch vegetables, I hated them. But since I've become vegetarian I'll eat really only vegetables, you know. So it's really broadened my diet.

Now, in front of us here you've got some of your favorite vegetarian dishes. Is this the sorta typical thing you'd serve if you have friends coming 'round?

Yes, it is really. My sister-in-law in fact cooked this. She's made a selection of salads, but probably what I'd do is just put it all in one, just make a big salad. But it is what I would cook.

Let's have a look at this one first. This is vegetable, what sort of vegetables are in here?

Well, you've got carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, onion, and peppers.

And they're just sorta cooked in their own juices.

Yes, she did them just naturally. Home cooked them all. She even cooked them in [marlma ???] - that's like a good gravy substitute and soy sauce is very good. All sorts of things.

That's going to be served with it?

Brown rice.

And how do you cook the brown rice?

It's very easy, really, you just boil it in water and salt.

It's really nutty and crunchy.

It's wonderful, it's so good for you. You know, it's the real stuff.

Now, this here, what's this mixture because this really does look interesting?

Well, that's roasted sunflower seeds and sesame seeds and they're in soy sauce.

I see. So it's a little bit of soy sauce just to give them a flavor, and roast them. And how do you eat them.

Well you just kinda like just sprinkle them over salads, which is fantastic.

I see.

But in fact it's quite nice by itself. It makes you feel a little bit like a parrot. [Interviewer laughs] But they're really good.

And this here?

That's yogurt with cucumber, and chives on top, and it's got garlic in it.

And what would you serve that with?

You'd serve it with a salad, just put it over the salad or on the sides, sprinkle in. It's very good with honey.

This salad here, what's this from?

It's called a waldorf salad...

Of course!

[??? inaudible]

They ran out of waldorfs!

Yeah! But I put waldorfs in it!

[Laughs] But it looks like a [harfast ???]

And celery and walnut with mayonnaise. That's fantastic, actually.

Yes, that looks lovely. And I notice you've got the skins [??? inaudible] salad.

Well they're so much natural goodness in skins that you just throw away and it's really silly, because there's half the goodness there.

And you also get so much more color.

I think so, yeah.

Well that looks really interesting, that one next door. What's in there?

Well there's oranges, been sprouts, brussle seeds, and water [??? clam]

And would you put a dressing on that?

You could do, yeah. I personally don't plan to dress mine so much.

And you've just got the cool flavor.

Well, I [??? inaudible] that's a very fresh salad, that one, it's very [??? inaudible]

Lovely. And what's next store?

Well, this is yogurt with honey.

And does that go with the fruit salad, or...?

Yes, it does. You could use it separately, but it's obviously designed [??? just like a cream]

What have you got in your fruit salad?

It's fresh fruit, which I think is the only way to make fruit salad. I can't believe that people make them out of [??? tunes], you know it's so wrong.


This [??? can] is something that my sister-in-law made up. You put concentrated apple juice in it.

Oh that's good.

And it's fantastic, because it sets everything up and it's such a fruity taste.

And instead of using the dreaded sugar.


And you've got some nice hazel nuts in there that have been soaking in the juice, which must give it a nice punchy texture.

Yeah, I think it's very good to put nuts in fruit salads, before you put them in cakes. They are things that I think people miss out because they think nuts in chocolate - or, you know, there's a very selective area where you can use nuts, and I think you can put them in anything.

I agree. And so you're quite happy with your vegetarian diet, so you'll go on being a vegetarian.

I really hope so, yeah.

And you're quite into cooking now, I think.

Yeah, I love cooking. One thing I find hard is getting the time. And also sometimes when I cook and I make like phone-calls and that so by the time I've come back with the phone there's this sizzled thing sitting in the oven.

[Laughs] That's what cookery a

't find good vegetarian food.

Maybe if there was vegetarian fast food available people might be more tempted to turn to...

Yeah! But then it would be not good for you, would it? It would be rubbish. (1982, Unknown BBC interview)