My thoughts on Jane Goodall’s visit to Central Oregon

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I went to hear Jane Goodall speak again today. It felt like I just seen her, because I went to the “live” movie event less than two weeks ago. I didn’t really want to arrive early and sit around forever in a crowded place with a bunch of strangers (although I should have known I’d end up running into a handful of people that I knew), so it was pretty full by the time I arrived and I ended up in the back row. Which was fine, because it was on the aisle—and I like the aisle because I can get up and move about without climbing over people (just like on an airplane). I couldn’t actually see Jane very well, but I could see her clearly on one of the giant screens, which is kind of why it felt the same as the movie event.

Jane was inspiring, articulate, outspoken, and funny as always. After all—she’s like the Mother Theresa of the animal kingdom—but it wasn’t quite as intimate of a setting as a few years ago when she was in the high school auditorium, and I wasn’t quite as star-struck as the first time. (Chimps, Inc. and JGI did a great job with the venue though—it was just the right size and everything seemed very well organized).

Having been a student of biology and animal behavior, I do always wish Jane would talk more about the specifics of her research along with the big picture of how we’re treating all animals in captivity. She does talk about animals in captivity in passing (circuses, zoos, etc.) and talked at length in response to a question today about Chimps in medical research. But she’s more pragmatist than optimist when it comes to fighting for Chimps to be abolished completely from medical research, and she defended some zoos (while saying others should be closed).

Jane Goodall is noticeably silent on factory farming and food. She only mentioned in passing that when she was a child (in telling a story she’s told many times about hiding for hours to observe how a hen lays an egg) that there was no industrialized agriculture then, like there is today. Jane is a known vegetarian, however, she doesn’t seem to think it important to talk about or relate what’s going on with the billions of captive farm animals, to what is happening with the relatively small number of captive primates. (Any animal caged for life is going to suffer immensely.) And of course, I recently learned that she’s helped to set up a program in Africa for villagers to raise chickens for food (instead of bushmeat). I don’t understand the disconnect. I have a huge respect for Dr. Goodall’s contributions to our understanding of chimpanzees and animal behavior and cognition, and for her philanthropic programs around the world through the Jane Goodall Institute, but imagine if she were to use her world renown and position as U.N. Ambassador of Peace to further advocate for peace and justice by talking about the benefits of a plant-based diet to the planet and the animals! To me, it is so integrally related.

BTW, my Vida Vegan Con t-shirt was a hit again. I had several people ask me about the conference who were very interested in All Things Vegan as well. One vegan couple had come down from Portland to see Jane and they’d not even heard of Vida Vegan Con (surprising) or the show (not so surprising)!

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