When it comes to vegan activists, you'll struggle to find anyone more passionate than James Aspey. Just ask the group of vegans who have raised enough money to bring him over from Australia this week to inspire even more people on this side of the world.
So who is James Aspey? I discovered him a couple of years ago at the start of my vegan journey when he took a 365 day vow of silence and travelled around Australia to raise awareness for animals and promote peace over violence. This incredible act made headlines across the globe, and James's appearance on Australia's most popular morning TV show went viral when he broke his silence and spoke his first words in over a year. If you haven't seen that clip, you can watch it here.
Vegans all have their own journey to finding this lifestyle. My own story is similar to that of a lot of vegetarians who switched to veganism as soon as they found out the truth about the dairy industry. For a long time, I was under the illusion that dairy farming was okay because the cow wasn't being killed. However, I very naively didn't realise that cows are forcefully inseminated and calves are taken from their mother within hours of their birth and slaughtered for veal. If you still drink cow's milk, then I seriously encourage you to read up about it because it really is a cruel and inhumane industry.
James's own journey to veganism is quite unique. The 29 year old was diagnosed with leukemia when he was just 17, and told he only had 6 weeks to live. He beat cancer after 3 years of chemotherapy, however during this period he was also partying a lot and abusing drugs. It wasn't until he met a wise Indian man who told him eating animals was bad karma that he went vegetarian for 7 days before cutting out all animals products from his diet. And the rest is history.
This week, James lands in the UK to take part in a number of events and talks to open people's eyes to the suffering inflicted on animals so they can end up on your plate or to be made into the pair of shoes on your feet.
On February 21st, he will be taking part in a Save Movement Scotland vigil outside the Sandyford Abattoir in Paisley. He'll stand alongside a fantastic group of activists who regularly bear witness to cows and sheep there who are being sent to slaughter. He'll join the grassroots volunteer group Go Vegan Scotland for a workshop on the 25th February and then stand shoulder to shoulder with Earthlings Experience Scotland members in Glasgow on 26th February for a demonstration. He's also booked to give a series of inspirational public talks in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, before travelling down south for a Manchester Pig Save vigil and talk on 27th and 28th February.
It's safe to say his schedule will be pretty busy while he's here, and it couldn't come at a better time. There's no denying that veganism is on the rise. People seem more accepting of it now that they ever have before, and more people want to know the truth about the meat industry.
So all that's left to say is THANK YOU to James for flying across the world, and for all the hard work of my fellow vegans who raised enough money to make it possible. I cannot wait to stand beside you all on Sunday with the Earthlings Experience and hopefully inspire more people to embark on their own vegan journey.