The season finale of the Oxygen channel’s “Running Russell Simmons” airs Tuesday at 10/9c. Running’s had only six short episodes, but Simmons’ vegan assistant, Simone Reyes, has had opportunities to demonstrate her values about animals on the show. Vegetarian Star conducted an exclusive interview with Simone, learning this beauty looks just as good in a naked PETA protest as she does behind a desk and computer, as she’s also the author of two books on pets.
Tell us about your journey to veganism.
I joined the animal rights movement about 15 years ago by hooking up with a local, pretty radical group called Activists For Animals. We were small, but loud and powerful. AFA did a lot of on the street grassroots protesting. When I first joined I was still wearing leather shoes…that changed immediately. I became a hard core activist after my first “fur walk” with that group. We yelled at fur wearers and put stickers on their backs that said, “I’m an a**hole I wear fur.” Radical, yes, but it was a great introduction for me. I’m a Leo so we like to do it up big.
You’ve written two books on astrology for pets. That’s a different one! Tell us more about that. If my cat is a Sagittarius, what does this mean about kitty?
I love astrology and I love animals so it made sense to me to pair the two. Let’s see…typically a Sagittarius kitty is adventurous and playful. No animal enjoys being alone but cats born under this sign get especially lonely so definitely get him or her a rescued buddy or at the very least spend more time at home whenever possible. (Simone’s books, Astrology for Cats and Astrology for Dogs, are available through Amazon.)
How did you hook up with Russell Simmons? Did you know he was a vegan before you started working with him and did the fact that you both are ever come up before you got hired?
I was part of the Beastie Boys crew. We all hung out together…connected through David Scilken who we lost way too young. Russell was absolutely NOT a vegan when we met, nor was I. This was in the early days of Def Jam. We didn’t live our lives fully awake until much later. I became vegan way before Russell did.
Favorite eco-friendly fashion brands.
Yes! Cri De Couer , Olsen Haus, Stella McCartney. I also get great tips from www.girliegirlarmy.com that always has new designers showcased who are offering cruelty-free options.
Tofu, tempeh or seitan.
I love tofu! I love tofu sour cream and tofu cream cheese. I love tofu ice cream. I always add tofu to my salads. I’m powered by tofu, no question!
Favorite vegan or vegetarian celebrity.
That’s a tough one. ANY celeb who uses their voice for the animals gets mad respect from me. Of course Russell (@unclerush) is my favorite but I am crushed on Ellen DeGeneres and Joan Jett right now. They rock!
Favorite veg-friendly restaurants.
In LA, I’m pretty obsessed with Veggie Grill and M Café. In New York, I love Candle79 in Manhattan and the V Spot in Brooklyn. And I love Lula’s Sweet Apothecary for dessert…all vegan treats…yum!
Favorite vegan meals to make at home from scratch.
I don’t cook. Terrible, I know. I’m great at ordering in though…lol! All my vegan spots are on speed dial. If pressed, I can make a mean veggie chili but it’s not often. I simply don’t have the time. My time is spent running Russell.
Obviously, you’ve worked with PETA and a demonstration you participated in was shown during one of the “Running” episodes. Do you have any other animal rights/welfare/charity organizations you’re fond of and why.
I’m a huge supporter of the Animal Liberation Front. I’ve sent money to their support groups and letters to prisoners. I also love Mercy For Animals, Farm Sanctuary and Animal Acres. The undercover investigations are SO important. Big businesses don’t want you to see the abuse that lurks behind their glossy advertising such as “happy meals.” C’mon! Any group that pushes the limits and gets info out to the public to educate them on what goes on in factory farms can count on me as a fan. And as you said, PETA is the leader of the pack. Many groups in animal welfare are amazing. They are the trench workers and we need them so desperately but PETA is going to win the war. They are changing minds and getting kids involved which is the future of our movement. I love them.
What do you see yourself doing with the veg movement in 1, 5 and 10 years from now?
I see myself smiling in 1, 5 and 10 years from now if my twitter (@simonereyes) is any indication of the shift that is happening. Every day I get tweets from people asking about how they can eliminate meat and /or dairy from their diets…some for health and some for ethical reasons. I see more people interested in rescue and more resisting fur. You may have seen on @runningrussell I got a tattoo on the show on my shoulder that says “Animal Rights Activist,” which I think shows my commitment. I will fight for animals until the day I die. I’m very fortunate to work alongside a man that shares my vision. Together I think we are unstoppable. One day all animals will be liberated from suffering and enslavement. No, I won’t get to see this in my lifetime but just having faith that that day is coming fills me with joy, hope and the desire to keep my head down and keep working toward that day. And when it comes…somewhere, I will finally be at peace.
Photo: PR Photos
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