James Aspey: Activating Vegans in Hawaii
James Aspey is an Australian animal rights activist known for his 365-day vow of silence “to raise awareness for animals and promote peace over violence." James travels around the world telling his story and inspiring millions of people both offline and online through his social media content about going vegan. He advocates for treating others with respect and brings a non-judgmental, compassionate, and compelling perspective to activism that reaches people’s hearts.
James “increases the peace through education, encouragement, and inspiration.” He, along with his partner Carly, visited Oahu for their first time on an activism tour to spread their light and ignite the vegan community here in Honolulu.
The tour kicked off on June 5th with the Cube of Truth hosted by AV:Honolulu in Waikiki. It was a peaceful demonstration in which vegan activists stood in cube-like formation with screens featuring standard-practice animal exploitation. This triggered the curiosities of many bystanders, sparking conversations about animal cruelty issues and their vegan solutions.
The main event of the tour was Hawaii’s first-ever screening of Dominion, followed by a Q&A with James and Carly. Dominion is a ground- breaking animal rights documentary that questions the morality and validity of humankind’s domination over the animal kingdom. Around 200 people showed up to the screening, which was successfully held at the UH Manoa Art Building Auditorium on June 6th.
Admittedly, the documentary was difficult to watch as it exposes the perverse ways in which humans use and abuse other species with whom we share the Earth. As we are faced with hidden camera, drone, and undercover footage of what actually goes down in the these industries that exploit animals for food, scientific research, to fashion, entertainment, and beyond— we areIt forced out of our heads and into our hearts. These devastating images evoked a spectrum of emotions in the crowd including sadness, anger, disgust, fear, and for some, empowerment.
Many tears were shed for our animal brothers and sisters that night. It was together that we leaned into the discomfort of facing the often unseen, ignored, and ugly truth about humankind's unjustified dominion over our fellow creatures. It was together that we felt responsible for the mess we’ve contributed to for years, and the urgent need to work together to rectify it.
However, as James reminded us it is not all just doom and gloom. The good news is this: The animal holocaust doesn’t need to exist at all. We each need to make a conscious decision to not to support the problem. One of the simplest ways is by going vegan. Through the vegan lifestyle and mindset, we can be the change we wish to see and be part of the solution instead.
You can watch the Q&A following the film with James Aspey and Carly Taylor here.
The following day of June 7th, James offered a free talk that was open to the public at Iolani School. Once again, Senator Mike Gabbard showed up to show his support for the Good Food Movement. Senator Gabbard gave another surprise commemoration in honor of James Aspey’s “work as a prominent voice for young people while promoting the vegan lifestyle grounded in a foundation of morality and ethics.”
By sharing his story of physical, mental, and spiritual healing through veganism, James encouraged each and every one of us to look within and question the inherent exploitation evident within our inherited values of eating animals. We were reminded that most people don’t agree with animal cruelty, so it is less about changing people’s minds and instead about directing them to live more aligned to their values.
James also shared a video with the crowd about the reality of Australian Animal Agriculture, which is up to standard with most of the Westernized world. The talk ended with so much Aloha as the crowd sent James off with a standing ovation.
Watch the full talk here.
The last leg of the tour was a special outreach workshop for vegan (and pre-gan) activists, hosted by The Good Vibe Center. James emphasized the power of social media as a tool to effectively reach people in our network of connections. If we all shared an occasional photo, video, or post with the online world, we can catalyze this movement by consistently spreading awareness until it catches like wildfire.
Awareness is a foundational step toward change, and with this knowledge comes responsibility. By eliminating animal products in our lifestyles and our plates, we stop buying into these industries that perpetuate cruel practices. By constantly questioning our relationship to other beings that belong on this Earth just as much as we do, that want to live and love as we do, we can spark meaningful conversations and forge genuine connections with each other and the natural world around us. By speaking our truth and sharing our stories, we can (hopefully) inspire others to do the same.
We are committed to co-creating a world that thrives on cooperation rather than domination, protection and respect of our fellow animals rather than their exploitation and abuse. The animal liberation is essentially a social movement, presently linked in a chain connected to liberation movements of the past and future.
Which side of history will you be on?
We’re all in this together. Let’s continue the good work, sharing our stories over good food, and spreading the movement.