Recently I’ve wished happy birthday to Drs. Esselstyn and Campbell, two plant-based eaters who are vibrant and active at 80 years old. Yesterday I saw another plant-based eater still very active at age 80 – Jane Goodall.
She spoke to a full auditorium at Dominican College here in San Rafael as part of a lecture series by the college and local bookseller Book Passage.
She was talking about her new book Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder from the World of Plants. The book (which I haven’t had a chance to read yet) has sections on her love for nature, the men and women who over the centuries discovered the wonders of plants, how we have used and abused plants, and thoughts about the way forward.
During the conversation between the owner of Book Passage and Jane and her co-author Gail Hudson, they talked about Jane’s grandmothers garden, where she began her fascination with the natural world; the explorers who risked their lives to discover and learn about new trees and plants; her Roots & Shoots program to get young people involved in learning more about and caring for animals, plants and the environment; and about the troubling patenting of seeds and other living things by corporations and its impact on farmers around the world.
During a question about the environment, she talked about meat and meat production.
After visiting a slaughterhouse, the next time she saw a piece of cooked meat all she saw was “fear, pain and death.”
She talked about the amounts of methane – more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide – produced by the millions of animals raised for slaughter. As more people from developing countries start eating more meat products, forests and jungles are being cleared for meat production. This is destroying natural habitats for native plants and animals.
She also raised concerns about the amount of antibiotics used to keep these animals alive until they are slaughtered and how that is making all antibiotics less effective.
When someone in the audience asked what we can do about this, her answer was “It’s simple, don’t eat meat!” Which elicited enthusiastic applause from the audience. She said how much better she feels since she has stopped eating meat.
“At the age of 80, I couldn’t imagine being able to travel and speak 300 days a year if I still ate meat.”
According to sources I found, Jane is vegetarian, not vegan, because she has found that it’s hard to be vegan given how much she travels. She told one audience that if she was at home all the time she would eat all vegan.
At the end of the talk they brought out a birthday cake (her 80th birthday was on April 3rd) and we all sang. Jane shared with us how the chimps would have reacted to the cake. It was wonderful.
I’ve been very pessimistic lately about the state of the world. When I look around, I see so many issues that need to be addressed and very little action on any of them. However, after seeing all that Jane has done and continues to do in so many areas, and her willingness to spend so much of her time spreading her message of hope, I know that there are steps all of us can take to do our part to change the world. Starting with the attitude that anything is possible.