It was, in a sense, a fundraiser, an event I usually hate (mild description) to attend. This dislike hearkens back to my earlier days as the wife of a business man who was often obligated to attend these dress up events, to which I would be dragged along. Typically we would eat a fancy, over the top dinner, bid in a silent auction and hobnob with people we hardly knew. I always had this uneasy feeling that it would be much better for these so called worthy causes to ditch the event and just ask patrons to donate an amount equivalent to the cost of planning and hosting these “un-fun and tedious” evenings. I don’t go to them anymore, especially now that I am vegan and do not support raising money for the study of human diseases through useless and cruel vivisection and experimentation on chimps and other species.
But, on April 11th of this year, I found myself sitting in a huge conference room at the Shaw Center in Ottawa, with my daughter and 2998 other people, waiting excitedly for Jane Goodall to tell the story of her life in a talk entitled, Journey From the Jungle. The event proceeds benefiting The Jane Goodall Institute, tipped the scale at $100,000. There were no fancy dresses, idle chit chat or banal posturing, so I was a happy camper.
I decided to go for several reasons:
I do not know a lot about Jane Goodall and was curious about her work.
I am amazed by the longevity of her career and by her seemingly indefatigable commitment, even at the age of 82.
I heard that Jane is vegetarian and I wondered why an “animal lover” would not be vegan after studying and championing the cause of chimps for most of her adult life.
I love (and I mean love) spending alone time with my daughter.
The evening began with a welcome by two native Canadians, who thanked the earth for its bounty. Included in this thankfulness was a prayer to the fish for their willing sacrifice in nourishing us, a bit of a sticky wicket acknowledgement in my view. I have great respect for the history and long held traditions of all nations, peoples, races, classes, as long as other beings, both human and non, are not intentionally sacrificed when alternatives are available.
When Dr Goodall took the stage, we were introduced to a casually dressed, pony tailed, octogenarian. Jane is both soft and well spoken and clear in her message, born of her years of experience observing and studying chimps in Africa.
From this informative talk and further research, I learned that:
Jane’s mother was instrumental in encouraging her young daughter to work hard and to follow her dreams, particularly that of going to Africa.
Jane’s main goal was to study wildlife in general, but after meeting Dr Louis Leakey, she fell into her life’s work of studying and advocating for chimpanzees.
From 1960 to 1986 Jane studied and interacted with chimpanzees in Gombe, Tanzania, at which time she left her beloved chimps to travel the world, with a view to informing people about the threat facing this now endangered species, all due to habitat destruction, hunting and disease.
Jane travels 300 days a year and is never in one place for more than 3 weeks at a time.
The Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education and Conservation was founded in 1977 and exists today to foster Jane’s various programs aimed at:
1) educating children about conservation & sustainability.
2) providing indigenous people encroaching on chimp habitats, the education & tools to thrive without endangering their closest neighbors.
3) offering care to injured and displaced chimps.
4) spreading a message of hope for all species and the earth on which we live.
Jane decries the production and use of palm oil by humans because of the enormous cost to wildlife and the rain forests.
Jane is vegetarian (not vegan, sadly) and urges people to reduce their consumption of meat because of the inherent cruelty to animals in factory farming, as well as the resulting environmental devastation of the planet. In her own words, Jane says:
Well I’m not a vegan because traveling to so many weird places in the world it’s very hard to do.
If we went back to the days when cows wandered in the fields and we just took a little from them it wouldn’t be such a bad thing, and it certainly would make a vast difference to the methane gases produced.
Share 98% of their DNA with humans.
Can catch human diseases, “which may be mild in humans but lethal to chimps”.
Population in their native Africa has, in the last twenty years, declined from 1,000,000 to 300,000.
Are omnivores, who eat mostly plants, but will also eat insects, and eggs, will hunt monkeys and other small animals.
Make and use tools, “such as stones to crack nuts, twigs to probe for insects or honey, spears to hunt small mammals, and wads of crumbled leaves to sponge drinking water from hard-to-reach places”.
Have a well developed social and family life filled with emotion, love and sometimes brutality and domination meted out to their own social group.
Have a natural lifespan of 50 years.
Annie’s Vegan View
She and her institute provide needed care and rehabilitation to chimps negatively affected by human encroachment and loss of habitat.
Jane has a vast store of hope in the human race and particularly in individuals speaking up and making a difference. These voices will save persecuted species everywhere and in doing so, save ourselves and the planet from eventual destruction and extinction.
Jane believes in sustainability, both in the plant and animal world and this is where our views differ. I believe that sustainability is valuable only when it does not include the use of other species by humans, wherever possible.
Jane stands out as a beacon of hope for other species and the planet, even though this vegan does not suport her stance on vegetarianism.
May all beings be happy and free.