Plants for Peace, an on-campus organization, hosted inspirational speaker James Aspey in Wilson Auditorium Monday Nov. 12 in an event titled “Choosing Compassion over Violence”.
Aspey is an Australian animal rights activist; known for going vegan and taking a twelve month vow of silence to bring awareness to animal cruelty. He has a strong social media presence and following of loyal fans.
At the age of 17, Aspey was diagnosed with Leukemia. Told that he only had six weeks to live, Aspey was fighting for his life and he made it out alive. After working as a physical trainer, he met a man who changed his whole perspective on life. The man told Aspey, an avid meat eater, that, “Eating animals is bad karma.” Not wanting to to have bad karma, and believing in all else that the man said, Aspey began his vegan journey and his new way of life.
After taking his vow of silence, Aspey biked 5,000 km across Australia to show that someone can be vegan and be healthy. He encourages people to have compassion for animals and acknowledge that we are all animals of this earth. Going vegan is not only good for a person’s individual health, but it is good for the health of the world. “We feed these animals six to twelve times more food than what we take from them in food,” said Aspey. “Meanwhile, 20,000 children every single day die of starvation. We could end world hunger if we redistribute this food to those hungry mouths.”
Mary Harris, Professor of Communication, is the director of Plants for Peace and has planned 50 events for the organization. Plants for Peace is a non-profit, non-sectarian educational organization. The organization meets three times a semester, and the programs are always free. The events and programs hosted by Plants for Peace feature nutrition experts, health-care professionals, creative plant-based cooks, discussion forums on ethical issues, book reviews, and films. Although the group is based on campus, the events are open to all individuals.
“It is not just a student organization and you do not even have to be from Monmouth County,” said Harris. “We get people from all over the Tri-state area who come to our events.”
Professor Harris and Plants for Peace reached out to Aspey a few years ago, and he was already booked. Luckily, Aspey was set to speak in New York and was able to stop by Monmouth to share his experiences.
Harris has been vegan for ten years and has even raised her three year old son completely vegan. Harris has quite a lot of respect for Aspey and the work that he does.
“I think that it takes a lot of courage to talk about some of this stuff that is not so common in our society but is becoming more common,” said Harris. “He engages with people so compassionately…I think that’s what the world needs more of.”
James Aspey is full of inspiration and simply wants people to know that anyone and everyone can go vegan. It is as simple as choosing almond milk over cow’s milk, and making other smart choices in the supermarket.
Be sure to follow Plants for Peace on Instagram @plants.forpeace for upcoming events!
PHOTO TAKEN by Caroline Mattise