From working as a student at KFC to director of ProVeg, it has been an eventful journey to veganism for Jimmy Pierson!
The teenage me would not believe what he’s reading here. I used to eat meat every day, rarely looking at the menu before routinely ordering steak and ale pie. As a student I even worked at KFC. Now I’ve found purpose and meaning in life working for animals by promoting veganism as a director for the new international charity ProVeg. So how did that happen?
I was never an animal lover. I never had companion animals growing up and never wanted to play with the cute puppy in the street or stroke next door’s cat. It was only after I stopped eating animals that I felt a sudden, strong connection with them.
It was one of those rare seminal moments, one that realigned my priorities entirely and replotted the rest of my life. Now I’m awake to the exploitation in animal agriculture, their pain and suffering, and feel compelled to help others see the injustice of it all.
My consciousness first stirred back when I was a lawyer in London, working for a big city firm, which started acting for a pharmaceutical company. My colleague casually dropped into conversation that they tested on animals; a fact that didn’t sit comfortably with me. A few years later I discovered the horrors of the dairy industry. I’d had no idea. The documentary Earthlings sealed my decision: I was going vegan.
My work, then as a football journalist for a broadsheet newspaper – which had been the realisation of a childhood ambition – started to somehow feel trivial. I needed something more meaningful, to contribute more to society. I had to start helping farmed animals full time. So I did.
With my journalism background, I was able to get a job at The Vegan Society as its Media & PR Manager. Cue my next significant event: on my second day, I was introduced to a volunteer called Laura. We now live together in the beautiful vegan oasis that is Todmorden in West Yorkshire, with our amazing 10-month-old, Seren, who is thriving on a vegan diet.
In our personal lives, Laura and I try to portray veganism as normal, mainstream, easy and enjoyable. We aim to be positive role models, supportive of others rather than judgemental or preachy. We make sure we’re well-informed, and take every opportunity to share the most delicious vegan food with omnivores!
As a parent and spokesperson for the society, I went on Channel 5 to debate the panel and callers about vegan diets for children and expectant mothers. Society is slowly beginning to accept that veganism can give children the very best start in life.
I took full advantage of the media’s growing thirst for vegan-related content, and helped increase positive media coverage by over 400%. It was a hugely successful time. It was here that I was introduced to Sebastian Joy, who was founding the first truly global pro-vegan organisation called ProVeg.
Welcome to veggieworld
I’m now the UK Director of ProVeg, a new international food awareness organisation launching in April in four different countries: Germany, Spain, Poland and here in the UK, based in Manchester. There are plans for wider growth, both inside and outside of Europe in 2018 and beyond. It’s such an exciting time for the movement!
Our mission is to reduce the global consumption of animal products by 50% by 2040. We’ll do this by making a plant-based lifestyle even more attractive and accessible through media work and campaigns, which will be innovative and effective.
As part of this we’re bringing VeggieWorld, one of the biggest and oldest vegan festivals in Europe (held in 13 different cities), to the UK for the first time.
There’ll be stalls full of food and fashion, a food court, inspiring talks from the best speakers, cookery demos from leading plant-based chefs, plus children’s activities and a start-up vegan business clinic.
VeggieWorld London is at Kensington Town Hall on 8-9 April. I’ll be at the ProVeg stand, so come along and say hi!