James Aspey is one of Australia’s best known vegans. Having beaten cancer, he decided to get healthy and went vegetarian. His journey led him to become vegan, and to his Voiceless365 campaign for which he took a year’s vow of silence in support of voiceless animals. Here he tells us about his journey and life as a vegan and animal rights activist.
Tell us how and why you decide to go vegan?
I decided to go vegan when I realised that by being vegetarian I was still paying people to exploit, mutilate, torture and slaughter animals for foods and products I could easily do without. Contributing to such cruelty was far from the kind, peaceful, compassionate person I strive to be. Once I was convinced I could be healthy as a vegan (in fact, healthier!) there was nothing left to it but to do it. And it’s easily one of the best things I’ve ever done. Pretty much every vegan I’ve ever spoken to agrees.
What does being vegan mean to you?
Being vegan is the most normal, chill thing I can think of. It’s simply about causing the least amount of harm possible. When you consider how horrific it is to be the one suffering, it should follow that one of the most important things we can do in life is to reduce our contribution to the suffering of others. To me, it is also about seeing animals as more than just property or products. They are individuals, with their own hearts and minds. They are our fellow ‘Earthlings’ and are part of our Earth family. It’s about recognising that their life matters and giving them the most basic respect of not using, abusing and killing them for foods and products we can easily do without.
Do you think that veganism is a legitimate future for mainstream living?
Veganism is the ONLY legitimate future for mainstream living. Animal agriculture is completely unsustainable and destroying this planet. We will either choose to be a vegan world or we’ll be forced to. Aside from the necessity in going vegan, it is so easily achievable by absolutely everyone. The cheapest foods in the supermarket are vegan. All the nutrients you need are found in plant foods. It is healthier. The meals are absolutely incredible, with millions of recipes to choose from and all your old favourite meals can be veganised. It is more peaceful and increases the overall respect of other sentient beings. And best of all, it is achievable now, to each and every one of us, with a few *simple* changes to the foods, clothing and products we purchase.
What are the benefits of veganism from a health perspective?
By consuming only plant foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes) you are avoiding huge amounts of saturated fat, cholesterol, higher doses of hormones and pesticides, and most obviously avoiding animal protein, which is a carcinogen. Studies show you are likely to have less nutrient deficiencies, extend your life and reduce your chance of dying from 14 of the 15 top reasons for death, including heart disease, diabetes, cancers and more. And many world record holding, elite athletes prove that being vegan can help you attain the most impressive athletic achievements.
First the sugar tax, now people are talking about the possibility of a meat tax…Is this necessary to make a real impact?
I don’t believe a meat tax is necessary to make a real impact, but it will be one of many things that helps make the chopped up corpses of dead animals seem even less appealing than they already are.
What made you decide to do Voiceless365?
I felt compelled to do Voiceless365 because desperate times call for desperate actions and there is certainly no group more desperate right now than the billions of animals all around the world awaiting their execution at the slaughterhouse. I believed I could make a difference and help contribute to making this world a better place in my own, small way. So I went for it and never looked back.
Did you ever just open your mouth without thinking?!
I accidentally spoke about 6 times, when a couple of words slipped out without me thinking – usually first thing in the morning before I’d had the chance to remind myself that I was in the middle of a vow of silence… But I never deliberately spoke for the entire 365 days.
How do you stay fit and healthy on a daily basis?
Every 2-3 days I go for a run, surf, bike ride, skate or do some weights. I choose exercise I enjoy and play music at the same time or listen to an audio book.
What’s next on your campaign calendar?
Next… It’s a surprise that I’ll be announcing in the coming weeks. It’s going to be something worth watching, something I imagine is going to cause me a great deal of pain and something I’m not even sure if it is possible to achieve, but the animals are great motivation and I’m going to give it my absolute best effort.
To find out more about Ere Perez: www.ereperez.com
Source: Inspirational Vegan: James Aspey