This month marks 60 years since Dame Jane Goodall first ventured into the wilds of Gombe, Tanzania, at the tender age of 26 to study the behavior of chimpanzees. She has devoted her life to species conservation and campaigned tirelessly for a healthier environment.
Jane is an icon of our era. Among her groundbreaking discoveries are that chimpanzees have personalities, use tools, have wars and can eat meat—all of which made us question our own behavior as closely related great apes.
She established the Jane Goodall Institute, and her Roots and Shoots program now operates in more than 100 countries to encourage young people to be compassionate, helping people, animals and the environment.
When I first read about Jane’s work, I was amazed anyone could get so close to animals—in her case chimpanzees—to understand their minds, society and lives. For several decades, my research attempted to do the same for intensively farmed animals.
Jane and I ended up in the same philosophical place: committed to exposing the horrors of factory farming, and proudly vegetarian because of the damage eating meat does to animals, the environment and to people eating the end products.
With this in mind I relished the prospect of meeting Jane. She gave us all unique insights into the inner lives of one of our closest relatives, chimpanzees, as well as pioneering a compassionate approach to animals, a cause very close to my heart.