How John Robbins Saved My Life And How My Fellow Vegetarians And Vegans Are Helping Me Carry On

As you can see from the category choices in the right sidebar I have a “Ramblings” and a “Rantings” section. It’s hard to be vegan sometimes, at least it is for me. The pain I feel having become aware of the atrocities that humanity daily heaps upon animals is sometimes too much to bear.

I think that many of you can understand that. Perhaps we as vegans and vegetarians feel more deeply are more sympathetic and empathetic about the plights of others. The sting of injustice hurts exquisitely and leaves it’s mark on me daily.

So sometimes I lash out at folks being self centered or foolish or downright cruel as in the example of Mark “Shameless” Zuckerberg.

And sometimes I use strong language on this blog too when I’m trying to shout into the wilderness of suffering doggone it πŸ˜‰

But this is not about my close brush with suicide. I have not felt suicidal when confronted with the egregious amount of animal suffering that I encounter in my daily life as a vegan, and as an ethical vegan to boot.

But I know that there might be many of our comrades in the vegetarian and vegan community who are suffering deeply with the pain of this awakening awareness. Especially the young’uns. I want to share with you today how John Robbins saved my life.

When I was 20 years old a neighbor gave me a copy of “Diet for a New America”. I read the book in one sitting and was moved by John’s honesty, integrity and compassion as he came through in those pages.

I became vegetarian overnight and within about 6 months I was vegan. I have never looked back. And Diet for a New America is a book I still give as gifts to folks seriously curious about my vegan and vegetarian lifestyle.

What got to me through John’s books was the integrity and emotional lives that I got a sense of through his 5 chapters in Part One of that vegan bible. His approach was soft and kind and gentle and it worked and I am sure that many of us in the vegetarian community owe a large debt of gratitude to John.

And as I stay up to date with his writings and works, he has never wavered from his compassionate approach. To me he is a man of deep values, an enlightened spiritual soul and in fact a “guru” in the truest sense of the word.

I have had the fortunate opportunity to meet John Robbins in Calgary about 15 to 20 years ago. He is in person as he is in writings and speeches. Kind, considerate, compassionate and a real humanitarian.

I’d consider him one of our vegan “saints” if I can use such a term. At least for me he has been both fundamental and inspirational in my vegan journey. I admire him greatly and I’m deeply grateful for his leadership and guidance not only to me and the vegan and vegetarian community at large.

No, I’m not fawning over him, just trying to give you some insight and perspective into the presence he has been in my life as a vegan.

So when things get hard as they do in our care and concern over animal suffering I think about John Robbins and I ask myself: “Self, WWJD?” πŸ˜‰ What would John do? And then it helps me put the pain into perspective. It helps me to quench my hot coals of anger and frustration.

And there has been lots of that. Back in my early 20s I started the first vegan and animal rights movement at the University of Calgary in Canada. Those were the halcyon days. Actually they were anything but carefree and peaceful.

Thanks to many of the animal rights groups out there including MFA, PeTA and both AAVS and NAVS, I was able to populate the campus with video showings, tabling and a host of other activities including demonstrations and potlucks.

But it was hard. It was hard dealing with subject matter. It was especially hard to watch the videos of abuse in slaughterhouses and laboratories and pet shops. It was also extremely difficult dealing with the ignorance of some people.

To this day I find it very difficult to watch any videos about animal experimentation, abuse or neglect. Like a burn victim, my soul is sensitive to the touch of those horrors.

But the pain is not unbearable because I think about WWJD? The pain is a shared experience thanks to you my vegan and vegetarian brothers and sisters. Knowing that we are in this good fight together steals my courage to carry on. Knowing that I do not cry alone at animals in the cage, that we have a shared rage is the balm that soothes the sorrow in the spirit.

So thank you John Robbins for helping me open my eyes. For letting the truth come in and shine a bright light in the dark corners of my ignorance. And thank you my vegan and vegetarian friends wherever you are. Whether you are in a cage (prison) or behind a barricade or in the line up at the grocery store. We soldier on and our work will bear fruit.

Be strong, be plant strong. Be brave and courageous in the face of misery. The mute give thanks in different voices. The Great Spirit is aware of our valiant choices.

Namaste my friends πŸ™‚


  1. Dear Jason,
    it was so good and uplifting to read your feelings about the suffering we all go
    through, thinking and knowing what the dear beasts are going through.
    John Robbins has had a great influence on me also and I think he is in the saint
    realm. May he keep up this wonderful work and may his family be OK.
    Have been a vegan for thirty odd years and am a bit long in my fragile vegan
    teeth, but am very proud to be this way and keep doing many of the animal and
    vegan activities I’ve always done. The vegan message is getting stronger here
    in Oz and there are many great young people who feel the passion and hurt that
    we do, but I really want it all to be right for the animals IMMEDIATELY!!!
    For a kinder world, Brenda G. Coffs Harbour , NSW, Australia

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Brenda.

      Wow, vegan for 30+ years that’s amazing. I understand exactly how you feel when you say you want animals helped “IMMEDIATELY”. I feel exactly the same way. The pain and suffering seems to go on and on and on. Yet when I look back, it has only been in the last 60+ years since Donald Watson helped coin the term vegan.

      And in America they’ve only had racial equality for for 40+ years. This gives me hope.

      And your comments give me hope. We’re in this fight, scraping in the trenches for each inch together. And that bolsters my spirits πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Brenda,

      I love hearing from my fellow vegans. We lean on each other and make progress!

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