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The Most Controversial Part Of Bones Isn't What You Think

Bones was a much-loved addition to the television landscape for 12 seasons between 2005 and 2017, despite the fact that a number of on- and off-screen controversies attached themselves to the TV show. These include the time stars David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel brought a wage dispute to the courts, as well as the unexpected death of Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley) in the series' 10th season (we're still not over that). 

One of the show's controversies had to do with Deschanel's pregnancy, and we're not talking about the way Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan's relationship with FBI agent Booth jumped from one night of passion to a fully-fledged relationship with no narrative in between — although that has garnered plenty of criticism over the years. Pregnant women experience deep scrutiny, especially those in the public eye, and when Deschanel became pregnant for real, the fact that she was a vegan and stayed so during her pregnancy suddenly became an issue that everyone wanted to weigh in on. Deschanel's vegan diet became a controversy as divisive as anything Bones has ever experienced.

Bones star Emily Deschanel has been a vegan since the age of 17

In a 2019 interview on the Switch4Good podcast, Emily Deschanel shared that she'd been a vegan for 25 years at that point. Her journey began when she saw the 1991 documentary Diet for a New America, based on a 1987 book by John Robbins, at a high school event that also included doctors debating the healthfulness of dairy and meat. She had adopted a plant-based diet by the time she was 17 years old.

"It's all about the impact on the environment that meat and dairy has and factory farming has on the environment, and what it does to the animals, how horribly they're kept, and how horribly they're treated and killed for us to eat," the Bones star said on Episode 5 of the Switch4Good podcast (starting at the 9:30 mark). "And then it's about how it affects our health. It was always the triple-whammy that really affected me."

The vegan lifestyle itself is controversial, of course. Many of those who adopt a plant-based diet do so for ethical or health reasons, and scientists have done studies showing that vegan diets can both improve health (Discover Magazine) and help the environment (ScienceMag). However, vegan diets done badly can also lead to negative health outcomes, so they aren't for everyone, per Harvard Health. People get especially bent out of shape if vegans try to enforce a vegan lifestyle on others — especially dependents, such as children and pets. In 2013, a kitten almost died in Australia after its vegan owners fed it a diet of potatoes, rice milk, and pasta (via the Melbourne Herald Sun). In 2019, per The Independent, a Florida couple was charged with murder after making their children adhere to a diet of only fruits and vegetables, leading to the malnutrition and death of their 18-month-old son. 

Emily Deschanel had a vegan pregnancy and now has vegan children

As a result, Deschanel's vegan pregnancy divided Bones fans in online communities such as Reddit, although some of the most potent threads criticizing her for her diet no longer exist. Salon reported on a People story that had comments like "a vegan diet is not natural," "veganism is the new eating disorder," and "meat eaters are just angry people." Clearly, it's an issue that sparks emotional responses in people who, hopefully, all have the baby's well-being in mind.

But Deschanel stayed strong on her path, and she had a resource that other vegans, such as that poor couple in Florida, maybe don't — a professional dietician, who altered her diet for her needs with fewer carbs and more vegetables (via Sydney Morning Herald). "Saying no to meat makes me feel stronger inside; I feel aligned with my morals and ethics," she told Ladies Home Journal (via Salon). "I still have to defend myself because people don't understand it. As a pregnant woman especially, people will say to me, 'You must eat meat and dairy.' You really have to tap into your self-esteem whenever people try to convince you you're making the wrong choice."

Nevertheless, the actress had a healthy child named Henry — and got pregnant and did it again in 2015 with her second son, Calvin (via Hello!). That pregnancy was also written into the show. By 2018, her then-six-year-old first son had adopted a vegan lifestyle, just like she did. "It was his choice to become 100 percent vegan," Deschanel told Us Weekly"He's kind of like the little vegan police now. I have to watch what he's doing socially so he doesn't alienate people!" She said that her kids had been vegetarian from birth, and that she and her husband, David Hornsby, talk to the children about why their diet excludes animal products. 

Interestingly, Deschanel's sister Zooey Deschanel, also an actress, was pregnant in 2015, too — only, unlike her big sister, she has gone on record with Elle saying that she failed at veganism and got pretty fed up with her pregnancy diet.