Why Jane Goodall is a vegetarian.

     Last night at a dinner party a group of us were engaged in a heartfelt discussion about wildlife, habitat destruction, and climate change when the hostess announced, “Dinner’s ready. There’s pulled pork, and barbeque beef.”

     I couldn’t help but notice the irony that the very same people who were, only moments earlier,  emotionally charged about the state of the planet were now consuming the very thing that is the number one cause of habitat destruction and climate change: meat.

     As I piled my plate with salad, coleslaw and potatoes I wondered why it’s so difficult for most people to change their meat-eating habits. My own commitment to avoiding meat has certainly involved some twists and turns over the years.


How Jane Goodall became a Vegetarian

     It probably comes as no surprise to you that Dr. Jane Goodall, the most famous animal advocate in the world, is a vegetarian.

     It was reading about intensive farming in Peter Singer’s 1970’s book, Animal Liberation that opened her eyes.

     Mine too.

     Jane Goodall says of her conversion to vegetarianism that she had never heard of a factory farm before and as she turned the pages of that book she became increasingly incredulous, horrified and angry. At the time she was a meat eater. “Chimpanzees eat meat and I hadn’t understood the horrors of what these animals raised for food suffer until reading that book,” she says.

     She can still remember how she felt when she closed Singer’s book. She says she thought about the delicious pork chops that she loved, the heavenly smell of frying bacon in the morning, and all the roast chicken, casseroled chicken, and chicken soup that she had enjoyed during her life.

      From then on when she saw meat on her plate, unless it was from a free-ranging animal, she thought only of pain, fear, and death.  So it was clear: “I would eat no more meat. Overnight I became a vegetarian.”


Becoming a vegetarian (and vegan) is a process

    I too became a vegetarian after reading Singer’s book in high school. But sometime later, during the protein diet craze of the late 90’s, I convinced myself that my body needed meat proteins so I began eating free-range animals believing I was no longer causing incidental harm to the animals or the planet. I now know that isn’t true. I now know the planet can’t sustain the amount of meat humans currently consume, no matter if they are raised free-range or not.

   “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 in factory farming,” says food author and activist Michael Pollan. “Our meat consumption can be sustainable with the amount of people and livestock we have in the world today if all of us agreed to eat only 2 ounces of meat per week.”

     I recognize, for many people, giving up meat completely is difficult. But if we allow ourselves to really know and face the facts of how these animals are raised and slaughtered, what factory farming is doing to our environment, and to our health, if we allow ourselves to take that in, I believe most people would either opt for drastically cutting their meat consumption and eating only free-range animals when they do eat animals, or giving up meat altogether. These days I don’t eat any beef or pork and rarely eat any other meat. On the rare occasion I do I often know the rancher and how the animal lived it’s life. 

Saving Wild photos
‘Sheepish’ @ Susan Shapiro Fine Art

   Jane Goodall says, “one of the most important changes we can make in our own lives is to change the way we eat.” It’s also one of the most important changes we can make for the planet. Good for all!


Featured image: Painting of cows @Susan Shapiro Fine Art

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8 Replies to “Goodall walks her talk for Animals and the Planet”

  1. so true. so hard for me as a type O blood type to give up meat.
    of course I can but its so hard. I eat less meat than I used to.
    I have a place in Montana and all the killing of bears and wolves would
    end if there was not a market for cattle.
    que lastima,
    hugs, gary

  2. Well, talking out of my heart…….no meat after the war…..little meat later…..
    Then a lot of meat……..many years….traveling a lot……….L
    Now living australia, my daugther being a VET, we all stopped eating meat and I don’t miss it a lot….
    I love to cook and use the same spices for cooking vegetables…….tastes good, very good……..
    Once in a while I ,,,break down,,,,and eat a hotdogs with onions ??? Bad cat !!!?
    I used to live in the Austrian ALPS, way up for 10 years……the deer were hunted at the ,,feeding places,,,,,?????
    I fed a mother fox with three limps and three cubs !!!
    When YOU LOVE animals, YOU cannot eat them !!!!

  3. So nice to hear your journeys with meatless diets. Thanks for sharing Gary and Helga. Eating less and less meat is the first goal and then if your blood type, etc allows for it, no meat. I was told that my body can not absorb iron from any other source than meat so when I was strictly vegetarian for 12 years I was severely anemic. But I have found a balance now because there are lots of sources of vegetable protein and only once in a blue moon does my body feel like it must have a meal of fish or bird or bison.

  4. Great post Lori! Since reading Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma in college, I haven’t eaten beef. Maybe for those who consider going ‘cold turkey’ to be too challenging, a small step at a time can certainly make a difference and makes you more likely to change in the long run than changing everything at once. There are also some great meat substitutes out there for adventurous people willing to try new foods!

  5. 54 years as a vegetarian for me. Raised on a farm I started objecting to meat at age 7 and was by 11 my parents accepted I wouldnt eat it. My doctor told me it was immpossible to live without meat. There has been a social price but I’m happy with my decision. To do other than what I beleive is right would have diminished me. I think of animals as persons of another species. Some have been great friends.

  6. I so enjoyed reading this piece. You are brave and wonderful for writing this truth. Many conservation organizations shy away from the facts around the damage our meat-eating culture creates.

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