Although many fans strongly identify Michael as a meat-eater due to the "KFC" story Magic Johnson told at the singer’s memorial, Michael was actually a vegetarian for the majority of the adult life. The anecdote refers back to to when Michael still ate chicken but had already given up on red meat.
By the time finished his Bad album was when he became a full vegetarian for ethical reasons. Michael praised vegetarianism in his autobiography, Moonwalk (1988), saying “I’m a vegetarian now and I’m so much thinner. I’ve been on a strict diet for years. I feel better than I ever have, healthier and more energetic".
Due to Michael’s disinterest in food and his struggles with anorexia, doctors would often ‘prescribe’ Michael animal foods to help him gain weight. It is now known that a vegetarian or vegan diet is just as nutritional and filling as a meat-filled diet, and Michael could have easily put on the weight from plant-based foods. He was unhappy with this arrangement, and although he did eat meat throughout his life, it was never willingly. Michael said “I don’t like eating anything that used to be alive and now it’s dead on my plate. I want to be a strict vegetarian, but my doctors keep trying to throw in chicken and fish” (Michael speaking to Rabbi Schmuley Boteach 2000-2001 in the Michael Jackson Tapes).
In the Michael Jackson Tapes, the Rabbi also tells his readers that “When his son Prince said he wanted to go fishing, Michael answered, ‘I’ll take you fishing one day as long as we throw the fish back in the water afterwe catch it.’”
Michael mainly followed a vegetarian, often vegan, diet. Kenny Ortega said in 2009 that Michael’s favourite meals included: “vegetarian lasagna, steamed broccoli, nut loaf or tofu with chilli sauce”.
Michael explained his vegetarianism by saying he viewed animals as his friends, and he loved them, so he didn’t want them to suffer. “I find in animals the same thing I find so wonderful in children. That purity, that honesty, where they don’t judge you, they just want to be your friend.“ During his life he gave generous donations to animal charities.