There's an Australian guy, James Aspey who decided to take a vow of silence for all of 2014. He's currently travelling around promoting the vegan cause.
He took some time out to answer my questions - via email of course!
Why did you decide to take a vow of silence for 365 days?
I wanted to see what it would be like, had never heard of anyone else doing it before - which added to the appeal and made it an exciting adventure into the unknown. I figured if it intrigued me, it would intrigue others and that way I could use it to draw attention to a cause I am passionate about - animal rights and veganism. Also, animals have no voice. If they did, I'm sure they would be treated very differently. The sacrifice of my voice was a way of connecting the issue with the world's voiceless victims.
What do you hope to achieve with your goal?
My goal was to raise awareness of the horrific plight of animals used for clothing, food, entertainment and vivisection. To help people connect with the fact that the animals they love and the animals they eat, in the ways that matter, are the same and should be treated with equal consideration and respect. Also to show how healthy, satisfying, varied and delicious vegan food can be. To demonstrate how easy and beneficial going vegan is for ourselves, for the planet, and most obviously, for animals. To help people realise that every time they purchase a product made from the torture and slaughter of an animal, they are equally responsible for the treatment of the animal as the person cutting throats in the slaughterhouse.
What has the response been like so far?
I regularly receive contact from people who have or are transitioning to a vegan lifestyle because of the Voiceless365 campaign which fills me with confidence that my sacrifice has been worthwhile. Sometimes I get emails from people who I'd consider the most unlikely ever to go vegan, saying that is exactly what they are doing. It's always a great combination of shock and inspiration.
Those who, for whatever reason, haven't made the decision to transition, have at least learned more about the plight of animals and the level of awareness has definitely been raised. Most people have never thought about it before - I hadn't - and many have never had a conversation with a vegan before, so it's been a great opportunity for me to use my blog as a way to describe my thoughts, and the thoughts of so many others, for all to read and discuss.
What’s the message you want people and activists to take from your mission?
To try to understand how much pain, suffering and violence our neighbours on this planet are going through for no better reason than we enjoy the way they taste. There are delicious vegan alternatives to almost every type of non-vegan food you can think of and we can live and thrive without animal products. There are millions of people doing it. From some of the most intelligent minds in history, to some of the world's most elite athletes. It has never been more easy.
Animals are conscious, feeling beings, just like us. Please question why on one hand, you are against animal cruelty and would go out of your way to stop someone hurting an animal, yet on the other hand you are contributing to putting animals through some of the most horrific, violent situations you could imagine by purchasing products made from their torture and slaughter.
Another world is not only possible, it is easy, accessible now, healthier and incredibly satisfying. The change begins with each one of us and the way to do it is to go vegan, then educate others and help them to do the same.
How long did it take to plan this?
I had the idea in the first week of 2013. I spent the rest of the year reading books and studying animal rights while creating a plan of how I was going to travel the country during a vow of silence. It was easy to plan, the hardest part was committing to a year long vow but regardless of what my head told me on numerous occasions, plus the opinions of some friends and family, I knew I had to go through with it and as usual, going with my gut was the right thing to do.
What other vegan people helped you with the project?
People have offered places for me to stay as I travelled around the country, invited me to protests, shouted me meals, and helped me with my website and social media pages. Recently, the van I'd been travelling and living in broke down beyond repair, leaving me with no option but to abandon it. Since then many followers have donated towards a bike which I'm currently using to cycle the remaining 6000km (about 3728 miles) around Australia. I've had friends helping me in many ways and they've helped take a lot of weight off my shoulders.
What are your future plans?
Once I have completed the 365 day vow of silence and cycled all the way to Sydney (assuming I can make it), I plan to work on a vegan app I recently had an idea for. Also, my ultimate dream is to give lectures on animal rights and veganism so I will be working on perfecting a speech and figuring out how I can deliver it to as many people as possible. For work, I'll continue my job as a Personal Trainer which I've been doing for the last 8 years and through that, continue educating about the health and many other benefits of a vegan lifestyle.
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- Published: 10 October 2014
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