Enchanting audiences as a mermaid in the 1984 romantic comedy Splash, Daryl Hannah, 49, continues to create memorable film characters. The impassioned environmental activist also keeps busy vlogging about planet- and animal-friendly topics on her website, dhlovelife.com. Her championing of eco causes has even gotten her arrested, twice: in 2006 for protesting the commercial development of an urban farm in South Central Los Angeles, and last year for rallying against mountaintop removal in West Virginia. Hannah talked with us from her solar-powered, off-the-grid home in the Rockies.
Q: What prompted you to become a vegetarian at age 11?
A: On weekends my family, who lived in Chicago, would travel to Wisconsin and stop at this restaurant I didn't like, so I'd wait in the car while everyone else ate. One night, bored, I got out of the car and walked around the parking lot. I noticed this truck full of calves and bonded with one in particular, who kept kissing me. After about an hour the truck driver came out of the restaurant. I asked him what the calf's name was, and he said, "Veal, tomorrow morning by 7 o'clock." That was it: I could no longer disassociate the creature from what was on my plate.
Q: How did your eco-conscious website evolve? What are your aims for it?
A: Originally, I created dhlovelife.com to be a TV show, but I became uncomfortable with the networks' constraints and less-desirable advertising partners. I learned about (vlogging) and thought, what a perfect outlet to get the information out without interference. My hope for the site is that it continues to expand organically and to become a full-service, trusted guide, providing inspiration and resources for ethical, mindful living.
Q: What inspired you to vlog about vegan junk food?
A: I grew up on junk food, and for me and millions of other Americans, it's comfort food. I wanted to say those cravings can be satisfied with real food, food that grows in the ground or from trees. Treats can be good for you when made with whole, organic fruits and vegetables!
Q: Your vlogs are a mix of serious information and whimsical presentation. Why is taking a light-hearted approach important?
A: It's so easy to feel overwhelmed, hopeless, and apathetic when you take in the gravity of the crisis facing us. It's crucial to inspire as well as inform.
Q: What fortifies your activism?
A: My love of life and the wonderful creatures on this amazing planet; some of them are humans.
Q: With so many wrongs that need righting, how do you choose your fights?
A: They choose me. I don't really plan these things—I just become compelled by compassion, love, the survival instinct, and a heap of hard-core data.
Q: As a longtime champion of the environment, what gives you hope?
A: The planet seems to have an immune system. So many things in nature help bolster it so it can recover. Our species is definitely a problem, but we can be incredibly imaginative and inventive. I've come across some of the most amazing people, who are creating better ways for us to be productive in life and not just consumers. We need a serious change in our priorities, no doubt, but as people get informed, they do make wiser choices and insist on change.