Talented, sexy, intelligent, sassy, versatile, gifted … all are words that probably come to mind when you think of Kristen Bell. But if you know anything at all about her, you’ll add “compassionate” and “vegetarian” to the list as well. In fact, she was voted the “World´s Sexiest Vegetarian” for 2006 in PETA´s annual competition. One of the busiest actors in Hollywood these days, Kristen can be seen on the small screen, the big screen, and the stage, too, and in her spare time, you’ll likely find her hanging with her canine crew, rescuing stray animals, and eating at some of L.A.’s hottest veg restaurants. We were fortunate enough to steal a bit of her free time for a brief chat, so check out what she has to say about being vegetarian, why she won’t wear fur, and the importance of rescuing homeless animals.

What prompted you to go vegetarian?
I have always been an animal lover. I had a hard time disassociating the animals I cuddled with—dogs and cats, for example—from the animals on my plate, and I never really cared for the taste of meat. I always loved my Brussels sprouts!

What is your favorite vegetarian dish? How are your veg cooking skills?
I try to have a few Morningstar “sausages” every day. They are my favorite and give me all the protein I need! They have wonderful options like “corn dogs” and “buffalo wings,” and they are all so healthy. I love pasta, so I add tofu or textured vegetable protein to the sauces I make along with a ton of veggies!

What are some of your favorite places to get a good vegetarian meal in L.A.—or elsewhere?
Real Food Daily is wonderful as well as Madeline’s Bistro on Ventura. Madeline’s is a bit fancier than most vegetarian places I’ve been, but it offers an elegant dining experience with plenty of vegetarian options.

What issue involving animals is dearest to your heart, and why?
Dog and cat overpopulation is a huge concern of mine. The pounds and shelters are so full of animals who need a loving home. I understand the allure of buying or breeding a purebred, but so many wonderfully loveable mutts are killed each day because they don’t have homes. I have three shelter rescues, and they are all adorable and perfect. I would encourage people to open their hearts to the mutts who need them rather than contribute to the overpopulation problem. Animals are wonderful additions to the family—no matter what mixture of breeds!

Tell us about your animal companions.
I have one small dog, Shakey; one medium dog, Lola; and one large dog, Sadie. Lola and Shakey come from the East Valley pound in L.A. Sadie is a Hurricane Katrina dog. I met her while visiting the Helen Woodward Animal Center in San Diego—the best shelter ever! Sadie stole my heart. She is 12 years old and just wants a comfy home to rest in. She is a wonderful addition to our family!

What would you say to people who wear fur and don’t care that animals are the victims of this “fashion” trend?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but the reason why I don’t wear fur is because I don’t believe animals have to be hunted, raised, or killed for fashion. People have to look at the big picture. A collar of fur for a human meant suffering and death for an animal. It’s just pointless.

Last season, Veronica was determined to solve Lily’s murder. Because she has accomplished that goal, things have changed and her focus has shifted. What are your thoughts on the direction that the show is now taking?
Last year was about Veronica’s self-exploration and self-discovery. She dealt with many personal issues and grew up a lot. This season Veronica becomes more of an observer—many more people in the town are introduced, so the cast is much larger and the story lines are more complex.

Can you tell us about some other projects that you have on the horizon?
I have a film called Pulse coming out in July that I’m excited about, and I’m about to start shooting a film called Fan Boys, which is about kids who are obsessed with Star Wars. It’s basically Swingers for nerds. It’s hysterical!

What is your message to your fans about having compassion and getting active to help animals?
Humans and animals were meant to inhabit the Earth in harmony. Too often we take for granted that we are supposed to protect and care for animals, not exploit them.

Our thoughts exactly, Kristen. Now do some investigating of your own and try vegetarianism!