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Fans of the Plain White T’s appreciate the band not just for their dynamic stage presence, but also for their honest and heartfelt lyrics. Of course, lyrics are often misconstrued as reality, but we’re here to tell you that vocalist Tom Higgenson is the real deal. In fact, he actually thanked us for interviewing him, explaining, “This is great because I’ve always wanted to do something like this with PETA, but I never really knew how or never really tried.” Intrigued? Well, keep reading to find out why this veggie sweetie says, “Seeing is believing.”
Why are you interested in animal rights and working with peta2?
When I was in high school, I had this obsession with Christy Turlington, and I had her “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” poster. That’s how I first learned about PETA. So, that campaign—yeah, it definitely works!
So all it took was a poster, huh?
Well, that was my first awareness of PETA. Then in 1998, I had a talk with a friend that was vegetarian, and he just made me think about things a little bit different. Like, just because someone else can kill an animal for you and cut it up and do all the disgusting dirty work, all I have to do is walk into McDonald’s and order it and then I can eat it. I couldn’t ever kill an animal and do any of that stuff, and I wouldn’t want to—thinking about it like that just kind of weirded me out.
Then, it was funny, a few days after that conversation, I was at Burger King and I was eating my Whopper or whatever, and I bit into a bone. Just thinking about that bone being part of a frickin’ cow—it just obviously grossed me out. I’m like, well, screw this. I’m not going to eat meat any more, and I haven’t eaten it since.
Do you have any advice for people who are thinking about going vegetarian?
I still eat the same kinds of things I used to but without meat. So I think that if you love animals and deep down are sort of just over [eating them] or think it’s wrong and not the right thing to do, then just stop doing it. It’s really not as hard as people think.
What do you like to eat when you’re on tour and on the road?
Anywhere you go, you can eat something. Do you guys know what Panera Bread is? They have delicious sandwiches, and you can always just get a veggie sandwich. And, you know, that’s just great for you and it tastes great. Or go to Chipotle and get a veggie burrito with beans and stuff. Everywhere I go, I can eat peacefully. I have never had a problem finding something to eat. Sometimes you have to modify it a little bit, like if you go to Taco Bell and want a frickin’ double-decker taco, you just get it without meat and with rice instead.
What’s the best way for peta2 to make people more aware of how animals are treated?
I think that the ads that you guys do are great, like that one that I had. And I’ve seen some ads in magazines since then, like the one with Simple Plan doing a no-fur campaign. The idea of it seems a little bit cheesy, but it’s very effective—it worked for me, and I’m sure there are tons of kids out there [who] say, “What’s PETA? That seems cool.” Videos are also very effective—my friend saw a video about factory farming and stopped eating meat immediately afterward. Seeing is believing. Sometimes people don’t want to think about stuff like that or don’t care to think about stuff like that until it’s really just thrown in their face.