A warm welcome, esteemed viewers, to this program of Vegetarian Elite. Today we are featuring Grant Aleksander, a US actor whose brimming talent has led to nominations for three Daytime Emmy Awards and seven Soap Opera Digest Awards, one of which he won in 1999.

Grant has garnered critical acclaim, especially for his leading role as Phillip Spaulding for three decades in the daytime television drama “Guiding Light.” The well-known series is credited by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest running soap opera in television history.

In addition to being among the finest actors, Grant is also a spiritual person who cherishes the lives of all beings. For me, it always came down to if I had the choice to kill an animal for food or eat something else instead, I would always eat something else instead. My wish isn’t so much for the four-legged animals, it is more for the two-legged animals – that we find a way to look at ourselves as human beings, as a part of something. Animals have that ability to just love freely and openly, asking nothing in return.

Grant Aleksander was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1959. Throughout his illustrious career spanning three decades, he has acted in such diverse productions as “The Crucible” and “The Glass Menagerie,” as well as in title roles for both “Manson” and “Hamlet.” He has been seen on stage in Baltimore for “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” While in Los Angeles, Grant has had guest roles on several primetime television series, including “Hardcastle and McCormick,” “Who’s the Boss?” and “The Fall Guy.”

I’ve spent most of my time as a professional actor working in soap operas or daytime dramas, the longest period on one show, called “Guiding Light” which has recently gone off the air, but was on for spanning six decades. And I worked on another show, “All My Children,” for about three years. If you have a really good story that you tell over a long period of time, that’s usually what hooks people.

And “Guiding Light” always had very good actors. They told stories that connected with basic people at very fundamental levels. They told stories that engaged people. We told these stories in real time with very, very well developed characters. And I think that’s why people liked them.

The versatile actor has also been in a number of films such as the comedy “The Big Bad Swim,” and “Tough Guys” with legendary Hollywood icons Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas.

Making movies is vastly different from doing most television work. Doing nighttime television is similar to, is shot in the style as film and there’s more time. When you work sort of in the trenches of TV, particularly if you’re doing three-camera video, there’s no time. You get a script in your hand and you learn it overnight and you generally only get one or maybe two takes to get it out. So you have to really make your choices quickly, you have to have a good memory.

When you work in TV, you are geared to do your best work right away. Making movies is wonderful from the standpoint that you’ve got this script that someone took a lot of time to craft. So a lot of problems that you’ll find in working in TV at all its levels, you don’t find working on a film.

Despite his successful and busy career, Grant decided to return to school to complete his Masters of Fine Arts. This was motivated by his desire to fulfil a promise to his parents and to be able to teach young actors in the future.

I was at NYU (New York University) and I dropped out because I got an agent and I was starting to get work. I was very, very lucky that whenever I was looking for work, I found work. But my parents were very unhappy that I dropped out in my junior year. I promised them that I would eventually do it, and after our show went off the air, I had the time to be able to get back to it.

Some of my most favorite times working on the [soap operas] were when you would have the newest group of young kids that would come on and you’d stand back and watch them start trying to figure out what was happening. And then you’d blink and all of a sudden they were incredible. And you know, somewhere along that line, you would see them making these little discoveries. And there was just nothing that was more satisfying to me then to be able to pass on something that somebody gave to me when I was a young actor.

Aside from being known as a dedicated actor, Mr. Grant Aleksander is thoroughly respected for his compassion for animals. The long-time vegetarian is an active supporter and campaigner for several worldwide animal welfare organizations, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States. Along with his wife Sherry Ramsey, an attorney and vegetarian, they work tirelessly for the welfare of ill-treated and abandoned animals. As humble as he is talented, Grant credits the work they do together to his wonderful wife.

My wife does all the heavy lifting in terms of the real animal working in the family. She’s an attorney with Humane Society and she’s in charge of cruelty prosecutions, which is a horrible job, with the subject matter that she deals with all the time. She has to watch videos of people doing horrible things to animals. People call her from all over the United States when they come across a case of animal cruelty, so they’re never good calls.

She’s got this enormous heart, but she has found a way of compartmentalizing the aspects of what happens in these cases so that she can figure out what law is in place to prosecute people for these crimes. She finds the way to use laws that are on the books to make people pay for doing horrible things to animals. And not only that, she goes around the country and she trains prosecutors and she trains judges about laws because they vary state to state. She’s an expert in state law and in federal law and how to apply it. I’ve loved animals my whole life.

I always had dogs when I was a kid. My dog would just give me unconditional love and it’s the only real source of unconditional love that you get on the planet because they’re so pure. We have a lot of rescue animals and taking care of them takes a lot of time and lot of love and a lot of effort.

And the worst part of it is when you have a lot of animals, losing them frequently, that’s the most difficult part. But they give so much love and so much joy. We rescue animals when they come, when we find them in a road. If I have a second to think about my life before I die, it’ll be one of few things I know I’ll be really proud of.

Incidentally, Sherry was also the person who helped Grant realize that he needed become a vegetarian again.

And I saw these little pigs in this pen, and the little baby piglets looked like little puppies. And I said, “Oh God, you’re so..,” I was bending down and I put my hand up to the thing and one came over and snuffled me. And my wife leaned down right next to me and very softly said, “He still eats you.” And I swear this little pig turned and looked at me, like... And for me, I realized I can’t do this anymore. And…

And you’ve been a vegetarian for how long?

A vegetarian for, let me see, probably getting close to 30 years now, maybe 26, 27 years something like that. I know it makes me healthier. There’s no question in my mind. It’s kind of always a voice that’s inside of you.

I remember when I was a kid, my mom took me to, she was just trying to save money. We went out to a meat packer’s to get our cuts of beef. And it’s the first time, I think I was five or six years old that I made the connection between the steak that I’m eating and this animal that it’s coming from. And it just horrified me and I don’t remember how long I refused to eat meat. . And then, my mom ground it up, put it in spaghetti and before long it was sort of not something I thought about for another 10 years.

And then, Sherry and I get together. And she started saying, “I just don’t think I can eat this anymore. I want to stop doing this.” And I was reluctant at first. But my wife is extremely good putting things in just fundamental, that’s why she’s a great attorney, in fundamental arguments of logical fairness.

And for me, it always came down to, if I had the choice to kill an animal for food or eat something else instead, I would always eat something else instead. So to be eating food that someone else has killed for me, just makes me a hypocrite. (Right, yeah.)

Most of us in our society become further and further removed from our food source. It’s not good for our health, and it’s not good for us ethically or morally either, because it allows us a level of distance and cover.

We don’t want to think about the unpleasantness, children starving or kids that have cancer or old people that are shoved in a wheelchair into a corner, or veal calves that have their necks strapped into a crate and are not allowed to move so that their flesh can be pale and tender for a veal piccata. We don’t want to think about those things. That’s why we very often call meat something else. We call it a hamburger. We call it a veal. We don’t call it what it is because we’re trying to disguise it even further so that we don’t have to really deal with the consequences of those actions.

You’re destroying the environment that your children are going to inherit. For every pound of beef that is produced, what you do the groundwater, the methane production, the pesticides that are used on the feed, the antibiotics that are used to prevent disease – all of these, all of those arguments can be very potent because they affect a human being’s living circumstances.

Right. Exactly. Yeah. And what is your wish for the animals in this world?

My wish isn’t so much for the four-legged animals, it is more for the two-legged animals – that we find a way to look at ourselves as human beings, as a part of something, and not as masters of something. A lot of it goes back to eating meat. This is where it gets touchy talking to people because as long as you’re killing animals for food, it’s very difficult to treat them humanely. Because you’re essentially saying that their life does not have a value that is worth preserving. (Exactly.)

Matt Scully wrote a great book, and he is a great example. Matt was a speech writer for George Bush Matt’s a big animal guy. And he wrote this book called “Dominion.” It’s a faith-based belief and in his case, that God has given us dominion over these creatures. And because we have dominion, it’s incumbent upon us to treat them humanely.

On August 27, 2011 Grant Aleksander joined four other veg Hollywood stars as the Masters of Ceremonies for Supreme Master Television’s 5th Anniversary extravaganza, featuring “The Real Love” musical and the legendary Don McLean in concert. This grand event at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium featured Oscar-, Grammy-, Tony-, and Emmy Award-winning artists who came together in honor of Supreme Master Ching Hai’s dedication to uplifting our world.

It’s my pleasure to be here. It’s all new to me. I didn’t really know very much about the group until they asked me to come, but I’m very impressed with all the work that you do. I think everything that I see the Supreme Master Ching Hai is doing. I’m for peace and love anywhere you can find it, you’re to spread it, to all living things.

Hi, I’m Grant Aleksander.
And you’re watching Supreme Master Television.
Be Veg,
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2 Save the Planet.

Thank you, Grant Aleksander, for being a shining example for humanity and our co-inhabitants. We are grateful to you and your wife Sherry Ramsey for your outstanding efforts to make the world a kinder place for humans and animals. We wish you both continuous success and countless blessings in your endeavors.

Gracious viewers, thank you for your presence today on Vegetarian Elite. Coming up next is Between Master and Disciples, here on Supreme Master Television. May your noble heart be the guiding light in all your paths.