A supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) lies on the pavement next to the Centre Pompidou modern art museum, also known as Beaubourg, to raise awareness on World Vegan Day, in Paris, France, November 1, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
"If we took all the animals and replaced them with humans, we have recreated Auschwitz," prominent Australian animal rights activist James Aspey told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday over a vegan breakfast in Tel Aviv.
Aspey is in Israel for the 5th annual Vegan Congress of Israel, set to be held on Thursday and Friday in Tel Aviv, where he will give a talk titled How to Have Peace in a Violent World.
Aspey talks of speciesism and asks, "Why do we think it's OK to kill a chicken and not a dog, while other societies think it's OK to kill a dog but not a cow?" The answer, he says, is that culture has normalized violence against certain individuals: "What we have done is created death camps all over the world, an industry built on forced breeding, confinement, enslavement and execution."
"Conclusive peer-reviewed scientific studies prove that animal products are totally unnecessary for our health or survival and we actually increase our chances of living a longer, healthier, disease-free life by consuming only a plant-based diet," he continues, pointing to a 2009 American Dietetic Association study by way of example.
Aspey states that there is not one essential nutrient from animal products that can’t be found in plant sources, and asserts that there are delicious vegan versions of all popular meals.
"We should look past species and stop discriminating. All beings deserve respect, not just humans and not just dogs, dolphins, or whales. While you are still purchasing animal products, you are the oppressor and all harm done to animals before they end up on your plate is on your hands," he told the Post
Detailing the environmental damage caused by animal products industries, Aspey is confident that a vegan world would be healthier, more sustainable and “we could put a stop to the biggest genocide against the most vulnerable that has ever been.”
Aspey, who travels the world delivering speeches, will over the next couple of weeks speak at the IDC Herzliya, Ben Gurion University and Tel Aviv University.
The passionate 31-year-old activist has beaten cancer, drug addition and bulimia, and replaced it with a healthy vegan lifestyle which which aspires to educate and inspire others. He is known for having taken a one year vow of silence, having cycled 5000km, and having being tattooed for 25 hours in his quest to raise awareness for animal rights.
“Ultimately I’m trying to lift people up and share knowledge that has changed my life and saved so many others,” he says.
"The vast majority of people are paying someone else to mutilate and murder animals for food that we don't even need and are actually better off without. We are creating and condoning a more violent society and these victims are as innocent and vulnerable as children. They can feel, suffer, they eat, sleep and have a family - they do all the things that we do - and we abuse them worse than we abuse the worst child molester. That's very wrong," he asserts.
Aspey points out that studies have found a connection between violence and against animals and violence against people, specifically that slaughterhouse workers are more prone to violence. This was found by University of Windsor criminology professor Amy Fitzgerald in 2010, and by the Australian Society and Animals journal in 2013.
This is Aspey's second time visiting Israel, and like any high profile figure coming to the country, he has had to defend his choice of travel to critics on social media, some who have accused him of being a hypocrite. He, however, points out their hypocrisy in their silence when he travels to other countries. "Nobody told me to boycott the USA when I went there and look at what's going on with guns over there," he points out.
"If I was going to boycott a place because of the violence the country is responsible for I would have nowhere to live, because humans and animals are killed in my country and every country, and personally I'm opposed to violence against all species," he emphasizes.
"I don't agree with violence at all but that doesn't mean I'm going to boycott a country if I have an opportunity to talk about how to create peace there," he adds.
He also opines that advocates of banning religious slaughter based on animal rights arguments are “missing the point.”
"We shouldn't be looking for the right way of doing the wrong thing - a lesser of two evils is still evil. There is no compassionate way to kill someone who doesn't want to die,” Aspey says.
Aspey's golden rule is similar to a key Jewish principle that one should "love your neighbor as yourself."
"Veganism is about treating others with the respect that you would want to be treated yourself," he says.
Continuing to embrace Jewish terminology, he concludes that he sees the vegan movement as an or la'goyim
(light unto the nations).
“In the Jewish spirit of tikkun olam
(repairing the world), veganism is the most practical, far-reaching choice we should all make as consumers for a more peaceful world,” Aspey says.