In the afterglow of Brother Wolf Animal Rescue’s amazing three-day VeganFest earlier this month and based as well on my own tracking of the “veganisphere” more broadly, a couple things stand out to me. For starters, it seems the frontiers of veganism in the U.S. are being pushed these days by three groups: 1. Young kids and teenagers, who are easily among the most articulate, passionate voices and committed activists around; 2. athletes of the most rigorous kind, as in endurance athletes, NFL players and Olympic gold medalists; and 3. African-Americans, including many in the first two categories (young people and athletes), plus high-profile celebrities and regular folks.
What touches me deeply is that those we heard from at the festival were vegans not only for health reasons or competitive athletics, but also for the animals. Research shows that people who are “ethical vegans,” namely, out of compassion for other living beings, are the ones who stick with it for a lifetime.
Another standout at the Fest for me was Dr. Garth Davis, medical director of Mission Hospital’s Weight Management Center. If you want a voice who is both accessible and nerdy to the extent that he is informed by many hundreds of reputable studies on the impact of diet on our health — and no, not those paid for by the meat, dairy and poultry industries! — he’s your man.
We also saw promising early signs of … cooperation across diverse social-change movements. Animal welfare attorney Jay Shooster detailed how a number of leading human rights advocacy groups in the U.S. have adopted a vegetarian or vegan policy for their events. As renowned New York University law professor Margaret Satterthwaite wrote to him: “The human rights community is beginning to recognize that our solidarity must extend to embrace not only all people, but also animals, the Earth and our environment.”
Lest you think this shift is happening only in Asheville (keepin’ it weird) or even just the U.S., be assured that vegan associations, new vegan foods and other products, and eateries are springing up in every corner of the globe.
The (r)evolutionary train has definitely left the station. Hop on board!
— Cynthia Sampson