Pro skater Scott Bourne is easily recognized by his solid black, tattooed full sleeves and is admired for his strong work ethic and integrity. However, Scott is also known for his strong opinions, so we decided to give him a couple of solid outlets to voice his thoughts on vegetarianism. Scott and his dog, Deebo, agreed to star in our latest vegetarian print ad with the plan of opening eyes to the rampant cruelty that takes place behind closed doors on factory farms. The ad was photographed for Scott and PETA by Joe Brook.

How old were you when you started skating, and how did you progress?

I got my first board when I was about 5. [M]y brother [and I] used to skate out in front of our house. We had no idea about skateboarding whatsoever. Tricks consisted of pulling each other back and forth down our street with a ski rope and a bike. Shortly after that, we moved to a farm in North Carolina. From then on out, we were the only house at the end of a dirt road. I took every chance I could to spend time at my grandparents’ house. There … my brother [and I] continued the ski style of skating, eventually building a small jump ramp with a log and a piece of plywood. All of this was done on an early plastic fiber flex-type board. It wasn’t until I was in sixth or seventh grade that I got a real pro deck and set up.

Who are your favorite riders?

It changes from time to time and for different reasons. Let’s say I have no favorites. I am just sick of seeing the same thing over and over again. If I had favorites, it would consist of those who are creating, not imitating. Skateboarding has really begun to lose its creative side. It’s so competitive now. Everyone is out to prove they can do what the next guy has already done. Do your own thing.

I know you went vegetarian at 15…. what made you go vegan?

When I was 15, I heard a … song by KRS-One, on the album Edutainment. My good friend Tom Summey had the album. I was never into rap music, or hip-hop for that matter. At the time, my life was surrounded with the sounds of the Dead Kennedys or Bad Religion. Tom was somehow determined to find something I would bite into outside of punk rock. Edutainment was it. KRS-One wrote a song about the meat industry and factory farming as a whole. He speculates that we are addicted to the meat industry for many reasons, but the main one being the drugs they [feed to] the animals. He also speculates about the transferral of violence through consumption. At the end of the song, he speaks of a book by Alisha Mohomad called How to Eat to Live. Then he says, “If you think you’re not addicted to meat, try to stop eating it.” At the time, I was also into the sober, straight-edge, punk mentality. I took his challenge just to see if I could really stop. Then I read the book he suggested and from that day forth, I haven’t eaten meat. I am that kid–the one who had his life altered by a KRS-One song. A few years later, I went full-on vegan.

The skateboarding scene seems to embrace vegetarianism and social justice more than others. Why do you think that is?

Possibly because there are a lot of young people involved. When we are young, we scream the loudest. We also have ideals that we can change the world. We have not been tainted just yet. Most of the people you see on the pro level are young or have been involved since they were young. So, you have a lot of young, idealistic people who, through skateboarding, have a voice–a voice that can be heard. When you are a child, you already know a great number of things. It is the adult world that teaches them out of you.

The first time a gun was ever put in my hands, I was told to shoot at a squirrel, as if the squirrel were merely a target. I didn’t want to do it. For some reason, I already knew that this type of killing was wrong. I intentionally missed the squirrel. As adults, we do things that we can not imagine as children. The major influences in skateboarding come from children–children that have had a free reign–they have not had the gun put in their hands and[ haven’t been] told what to do with it. Instead, they are creative and open to the world they live in, and through professional skateboarding, their voices have become worldwide.

Is there a specific issue in animal rights that is particularly important to you?

The things I could say about the modern American animal farmer, as well as fruit and vegetable farmers, would be quite appalling. We are lost. We are poisoning everything we come in contact with–the air, the soil, the water. Our own bodies are so full of preservatives from the foods we eat that they no longer decompose after death. A human’s shit can actually poison an [ecosystem]. It doesn’t break down. The earth won’t even take it back. We are not only destroying the quality of these animals’ lives, but creating our own slow suicide. And yet, man believes himself to be the caretaker of the planet. Go figure!

What is your strategy for eating on the road? What are your favorite foods at home and on the road?

On the road, especially when you go international, you just have to accept certain things. Maybe from time to time you have to eat something that you normally would not eat. The thing to keep in mind is that you ultimately know how you feel and consume. I have found that many of the reasons [why] I do not do things in America [don’t apply] in other countries. For instance, most of the vegetables you get in Europe are primarily organic, even if they don’t say it. This whole vegetarian/vegan thing is all about you-no one else. Don’t let other people tell you what to do or [what not to] do. You make compromises every day-just make sure they are your compromises.

What is in your CD player right now?

Mozart’s Concerto Number Five. It’s a record.

What advice would you give your fans about getting active for a cause?

There are no causes-don’t get active in anything. Live your life your way and it will be the greatest statement you can make. If someone asks you a question about that life, answer it. Do not get distracted by other people’s protests … . I am convinced that the strongest statement you can make is by living a life-your life. There are very few people who think for themselves. Your life will be a greater statement through example than any [whole] movement could ever provide. In order to be part of a movement, someone has to lead, and someone has to follow. Follow no one.