Jane Goodall with Mr. H

Jane Goodall with Mr. H

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.

Woodcarving of David Greybeard: Jane's Chimp Friend

Woodcarving of David Greybeard: Jane’s Chimp Friend

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.

Chimps:

Chimps in their Natural Habitat

Chimps in their Natural Habitat

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

Jane Goodall is a pioneer in the study of chimps and their behavior and I am pleased to know that she and her institute no longer interact with chimps in the wild, but rather just observe.

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.

Anne

 

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8 thoughts on “Jane Goodall: Pinup Girl for Vegetarianism and Sustainability

  • April 19, 2016 at 5:37 pm
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    Wonderful summary of a much needed fundraiser for Jane Goodall’s foundation which I would also have loved to attend. I also wish more people would go vegan but still applaud vegetarians for taking that important step in the right direction.

    Reply
    • April 20, 2016 at 4:56 am
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      Hi Emily,
      Thank you for weighing in. I am glad that you found my article interesting. I believe that it is possible to admire Dr. Goodall’s life work without supporting her decision to be vegetarian and not vegan. Unlike some other celebrities and noteworthy people, such as Ellen DeGeneres who says she is vegan and then profits from a clothing and shoe line that contain wool and leather, Jane is honest about her stance on vegetarianism.
      I do believe that veganism is the moral and ethical baseline and this is where humans need to be in order for other species to survive, thrive and be free. I am hopeful that Jane will reconsider her choices, make the connection and send out the message from her powerful platform that she is vegan and that veganism is the way.
      Take care,
      Anne

      Reply
  • April 19, 2016 at 6:02 pm
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    Very informative. Thanks Anne😄

    Reply
    • April 20, 2016 at 4:57 am
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      Hi Judy,
      You are welcome and thank you very much.
      Take care,
      Anne

      Reply
  • April 26, 2016 at 12:35 pm
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    This vegan cannot criticise Jane Goodall for not being vegan. She is astounding. Vegetarian with a vegan heart, is my estimation of her. Pragmatism is the only thing that stops her being vegan – she basically admitted that. It’s clear that her abiding passion is wildlife, especially chimpanzees. If everyone did what she does – eat at least a veggie diet and fought tirelessly for conservation, we would have a very different sort of world. Thanks for this blog, Anne. I think you have probably inspired me to support her work in some way, as I love wild animals above all,and resent bitterly human encroachment on their territory for no reason but greed for resources. I love Jane’s gentleness and her hopefulness. It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

    Reply
    • April 27, 2016 at 9:39 am
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      Hi Carol,
      While I support and promote veganism, I cannot help but admire Jan Goodall and her lifelong dedication to animals and conservation. To have seen what she has seen, to work as she has and continues to work, to maintain hope in the human race’s ability to effect change is very inspirational to me.
      Jane has stated that if she did not travel extensively she would likely be vegan. She does not, like other celebrities, trade on veganism and is very up front about who she is and why.
      As regards criticism of her because she is not vegan;
      I have seen some hateful things said about her in social media and there is never any excuse for this. – NEVER!
      I am glad that you enjoyed this article and that this may lead you to support her work in some way. From interacting with you on Facebook, I have re evaluated how we maintain our property in order to protect the wildlife living there. And for this I thank you. We are all hear to learn and as long as we are open to doing so, we can drastically reduce the harm we create for other species and the earth.

      Take care,
      Anne

      Reply
  • April 30, 2016 at 5:54 pm
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    Jane Goodall (what an apt surname) rocks! Yes, I would prefer she be completely vegan (“vegetarian with a vegan heart” by cushpigsmom is a great summation), but if half the population did even half of what she does, our world would be a different place. But maybe one day, eh?

    I have one of her books, co-authored with Marc Bekoff (also not read yet, surprise surprise), called The Ten Trusts. Some of the trusts include: rejoice that we are part of the animal kingdom, teach our children to respect and love nature, be wise stewards, refrain from harming life, praise and help those who work for animals, and act knowing we are not alone. Should be good reading! 🙂

    Reply
  • May 1, 2016 at 11:59 am
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    Hi Friend,
    Vegan is always my line in the sand, but I admire Jane for her work and her continued effort. I respect her because she is up front about why she is not vegan and is not using her life, her work or her dedication to sell anything for personal gain. I like to think, as she said, that if she did not travel extensively to remote places as she does, she would most likely be vegan. She is honest and I like that in her.
    The book sounds interesting. So much reading to do, so much to learn. Time is running out on the clock.
    Take care,
    Anne

    Reply

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