Leigh Silver is so adorable that you want to pick her up, swing her around, and give her a big hug … and then she’d kick your ass. This California girl might sing songs about fun and sun, like her hit song “Summer Waves” from MTV’s Surf Girls, but when it comes to fighting for animal rights, Leigh’s no lightweight. Read on to find out why she went vegetarian, what she likes about demos, and which PETA campaign she likes best.

“Hi. My name is Leigh, and I am the lead singer for a band called The Bitter Things. We are a rock-pop-punk-alt band, if you will, from Los Angeles. I would say it’s kinda like the Foo Fighters meets old-school No Doubt with a touch of Blink meets The Donnas. You can check it out at www.bitterthings.com. The other members of my band are Andrew, drums; Jake, guitars; and Cordell, bass. The band has been together since mid-2001, but this is a relatively new line-up with the addition of Jake. He is just a few months in, and Andrew … has been in the band for almost a year now. The new energy and feel is great. I am really enjoying the band right now. Highlights presently include getting play on MTV last summer on Surf Girls and Camp Jim, getting my first magazine cover last year, as well as beginning to get FM radio play and fan mail from all over the country. I am also excited because I recently shot a calendar. I’m gonna have my own calendar—that’s sooo cool.”

Leigh Silver

Was there any one thing that made you go vegetarian?

“Well, I have always been against eating veal. So, that’s where it began. I saw those little veal calves and read some literature, and I have never eaten veal since. Then I stopped eating red meat. It was a gradual process.”

Why do you feel strongly that eating veal is wrong?

“I remember seeing a picture of a baby veal calf in a tiny, tiny cage, and the leaflet talked about how they are fed things that make them sick to keep their skin soft. [T]hey live in their own excrement, they never see the sun [or] frolic in a field, [and] sometimes [they don’t even] get to stand up. I think that veal calves are just treated so cruelly. And I cannot support cruelty. Not when an animal has no voice to be heard. Someone has to stand up and speak for them.

“That baby veal calf was born to be food. That is the most horrible thought. Never to have any fun, freedom, life … no California sunshine … no fun with mom outside on a lazy afternoon, just a dark cage [that’s] not big enough to stand in, surrounded by excrement and vomit … but ‘boy, will that meat taste good.’ [The calves are] looking for a friend, another animal, something positive in the most awful place [w]here death just may be better than life. What kind of life is that?

“Animals need our help. They should have good, clean, healthy surroundings and be allowed to live. Isn’t that why we are all put on this Earth? To at least experience it? Even a baby veal calf should get to have that right.”

How do you incorporate vegetarianism and animal rights into your everyday life?

“Well, mainly, I try to be the best me I can be to all I come in contact with. Then I try to always be helpful to animals and take care of them—[e]ven insects. I believe every … living, breathing thing [has] a purpose, and I would never harm another of God’s creatures. So, I just try to take that spirituality with me and share with others around me, hoping to spread light and knowledge to all while trying to not be overbearing and still allow people the freedom to make their own choices.”

Have you ever been to a protest or tabled or leafleted or done any other kind of animal rights activism? If so, what did you do? What was the public’s response like?

“I have been to protests and tabled before. … People want to know. And most importantly, knowledge is power. If people are not informed, they cannot make a choice.

“It’s always interesting to watch the people read the literature and look at their faces. How disturbed are they? Do they believe it? Are they scared? Do they think it’s funny? Normally, that just means they have not decided quite how they want to accept how they are feeling when they read it because accepting that you are disturbed means deciding if you are ready to make a difference. Because, really, we are a society of one. … [I]f everyone in the world decided to do their part to make this world a better place, what grand things could we accomplish? It’s the separatist attitude that I am just one person, what can I do? Well, it takes one person. Stand up!”

Do you have a favorite PETA campaign?

“I love ‘I Am Not a Nugget.’ That little chicken is sooooo cute. But it shows something—she’s a little chicken. She is a cute, furry living thing. She deserves life and light and sun like anyone else. It is not up to me to decide that that cute little chickie should die.”

Do you have any advice for new vegetarians or people who are thinking of going vegetarian?

“Read above. Then decide you are ready to make a difference. You may just be one, but you have the power. Go make a difference. There is strength in that. Feel what is right in your heart and abide by it. Stand UP!”