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Paul McCartney is an advocate for many charities and causes. Besides raising awareness for breast cancer (his late wife, Linda, died of breast cancer in 1998), there’s one cause that sits closest to Paul’s heart, animal rights. However, Paul didn’t become a true animal rights activist until he became a vegetarian. All it took was a glance out a window.

Paul and Linda McCartney taking a stroll around the English countryside, 1984.
Paul and Linda McCartney | John Williams/Getty Images

Paul McCartney and his wife Linda became vegetarians after an awkward experience

Growing up, Paul was a meat-eater, mainly because it was tough being a vegetarian in post-war England. You ate what your parents handed to you, without complaints. Like every English person, he loved his Sunday Roasts. When he entered The Beatles and had a little extra money kicking around, Paul could have become a vegetarian, but he was so busy in the 1960s that he didn’t really give food much thought. It was just sustenance.

Paul’s first brush with the vegetarian lifestyle came when The Beatles stayed in India, learning meditation. However, Paul didn’t ultimately become meatless until 1975. The way Paul tells his conversion story, it all started with a roast dinner and an awkward encounter with his farm animals.

When Paul and Linda sat down for their meaty dinner, they casually looked outside their window to see their lambs happily galloping away in the fields surrounding their home, High Park Farm in Kintyre, Scotland. After glancing at the animals and then at their plates of meat, they both decided it was wrong. From that moment on, they became vegetarians.

“It was like, the penny dropped. The light bulb lit up. We thought, we might just give this up,” Paul told the Guardian. It was Linda who really got the ball rolling with converting the whole McCartney clan into vegetarians, though.

Paul McCartney and his wife Linda at their farm near Campbeltown, 1971.
Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney | MSI/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

Linda got creative with her dishes

Being a vegetarian in the 1970s was not as easy as it is today. So preparing a family with meatless meals every night was hard work for Linda. Most of the time, she had to be creative with what she served.

According to AreTheyVegan?.com, Paul said the family started to have fun with vegetarianism. “You know, wait a minute, what can we do for Christmas? I wanted to be able to do things, like traditional father things. Here I was, newly married with a new family on the way. So, at Christmas I wanted to carve something. So, as we didn’t have a turkey, we didn’t have a roast, we invented stuff. Linda invented kind of a macaroni turkey. It was like a macaroni cheese, and we let it go cold, and then you pull it out, sort of heat it up, and I’d slice it. You know?

“So, I mean, we had some pretty goofy things. But you know what, it was good fun. It was great. We enjoyed it. It tasted good. And so it allowed us to, you know, enjoy the whole thing rather than just think ‘uh, we’re vegetarians now, life has ended,’ you know?”

Soon enough, Linda started a food service for family and friends who also converted to vegetarianism. In 1989, Linda published her first cookbook, and later, she started her own company, Linds McCartney Foods.


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Paul started Meat Free Monday

One of the biggest reasons why the McCartney’s became vegetarians was compassion. They wanted better for themselves, the animals, but also the planet. After Linda died in 1998, Paul vowed to continue her work in animal activism, but that’s extended to taking care of the planet now. He started Meat Free Monday in 2009, which proposes that if non-vegetarians go without meat only one day a week, it could help the planet in a big way.

“If you ask people to go completely vegetarian, it may be too challenging. This wasn’t asking so much,” Paul told the Guardian. Paul thinks Meat Free Monday is definitely something Linda would have supported. There’s a bunch of reason why Paul has remained a vegetarian, but knowing Linda would be proud is one of the most rewarding things.