This September, Emily Deschanel, 33, begins a sixth season playing forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan on the Fox TV series Bones. Unlike Brennan—described by Deschanel as "very guarded emotionally"—the star and coproducer of the show is happy to talk about her life behind the scenes. Vegetarian since age 13, Deschanel went vegan a few years later.
Q: Were your parents and sister (actress/musician Zooey) supportive of your decision to go veg?
A: My family was always supportive—with teasing. My dad would joke about it, saying things like, "These are pork potatoes." He made jokes all the time, still does. But sometimes I think they all eat less meat because of my decision.
Q: In an early episode of Bones, Brennan says she's a vegetarian. Was that your idea?
A: I can't remember if it was my idea or not. I didn't want her to become vegan—and she's a vegetarian for health reasons, not because of animal rights. It's important to keep a separation between actor and character. I do always ask for episodes touching on animal rights in some way. And I ask that there's a character to present the case for animals in every episode.
Q: What's your strategy for maintaining a vegan diet?
A: I think planning ahead is really important and definitely worth it.
Q: Is it true that you have a soy allergy?
A: It's more of a soy intolerance. I got tested, and when I took soy out of my diet, my stomach issues resolved. I can have little bits of it now.
Q: What's your favorite dish to prepare?
A: I just made the Lemony Roasted Potatoes from Veganomicon. I cooked the potatoes with the skins on. They were so good!
Q: What's your ideal vegan meal?
A: It depends on my mood. I used to love seitan piccata; now I'm into soups. I find soups so comforting and delicious. And I love dessert. I try not to eat dessert too much, but if chocolate's involved, I'm going to have it.
Q: How do you act on your commitment to animal rights?
A: I'm a supporter of Farm Sanctuary, PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), and HSUS (Humane Society of the United States). My main concern is farm animals because it is such a huge industry. People don't even know what they are supporting by what they eat. So I do what I can to get awareness out about that. I host events, give money and time, and write letters of support. With PCRM, I wrote a letter in support of the Great Ape Protection Act (introduced in March 2009 in the U.S. House of Representatives), which calls for releasing apes from federally (owned or controlled) laboratories.
Q: How have you "greened" your lifestyle?
A: I drive a hybrid car. And my home is fairly green. Going vegetarian or vegan is certainly a way to lessen your footprint on the Earth. It's upsetting to me that so many people think of themselves as environmentalists and still eat meat and dairy products. I think it's something people should be considering given the emergency situation we're in regarding water supplies, global warming, and the destruction of ecosystems. There's a lot of overlap between animal rights and the environment.