As one of the media partners of VegFestUK Brighton, taking place at Brighton Centre on February 27th and 28th, we are doing one special series of interviews with celebrities and special guests that will be speaking or performing during the event.
First time I was in contact with Dr Casey Taft I didn’t even know he was a Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. I’ve written here around five years ago to send Vegan Publishers, his vegan-themed publishing company, a pitch for what I thought it would be a great book. That didn’t happen but All About Vegan Food became a supporter of Vegan Publishers and I was very happy to see his name for the talks of VegFestUK Brighton this year.
With this interview I got to know more about this vegan professional who, besides running a vegan business, is an “internationally recognised researcher in the areas of trauma, family communication, and violence prevention, winning prestigious awards for his work from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
What inspired you to go vegan?
I was on a plant-based diet for about 10 years before I truly went vegan. I started it for health reasons because I had destroyed my immune system during graduate school due to extremely poor self-care and some bad habits. I do feel that the plant-based diet is primarily how I was able to overcome my health issues that the medical doctors were not able to help with. It wasn’t until I spoke with a vegan friend of mine, however, that I truly came to grips with the injustice that we inflict up on animals, and she challenged me on my ethics in a straightforward way. I knew she was right and I went vegan right then and there and never looked back. I asked my wife to join me and she agreed, and we’ve both been fully vegan ever since.
How the idea of Vegan Publishers was born? How’s the publishing doing all these years? Do you see the interest in vegan books growing in America?
My wife and I had been wanting to start a vegan business for a while, and had been tossing all kinds of ideas around. We decided to begin a publishing company because I had a fair amount of experience in academic publishing and writing, and my wife had background in illustration and art. So we thought that we might be able to combine our efforts and start a business that could help elevate the voices of vegan advocates. We’ve only been in existence for three years now, and we’ve learned a ton. We definitely have seen increased interest in vegan books and veganism in general, and we’re thrilled to be part of the effort to raise vegan awareness.
You’re a Professor working within areas such as trauma, violence and abuse. You believe that “the prevention of violence towards animals are a natural extension” of your work. Considering how much work we still need as a species to end violence and abuse among ourselves can you see we expanding that to all living beings in a near future?
I believe that we’re going to have to find a way to turn this thing around or else all life on this planet is in big trouble. I don’t know that we will ever end all violence and abuse on this planet, but I do see things going in the right direction. In my work to end domestic violence and work directly with those engaging in the violence, I have seen big changes in how healthcare systems are responding to the violence. In fact, I’m currently traveling the country training folks at different hospitals how to implement an anti-violence program that I helped develop. When I begun doing this work about 15 years ago, dealing with domestic violence perpetration in healthcare systems in this systematic way did not really seem possible. I have similar optimism when it comes to ending violence towards non-human animals. I’ve recently been flooded with emails from non-vegans asking for help in going vegan. I think that we’re on the verge of seeing massive change.
How do you see veganism getting mainstream worldwide and specially among celebrities?
I honestly don’t believe that celebrities will have much to do with the spread of veganism. For the most part, celebrities have been giving the wrong messages about what it means to be vegan, to be perfectly honest. The important work that is being done is happening at the grassroots level. People educating other people about veganism is what’s going to help this whole thing go mainstream, and it’s happening already.
You will be speaking at VegFestUK Brighton this February. What will you be sharing with the people there?
Building on my last response, I want to help everyone become better vegan advocates. The way that we communicate with others when it comes to veganism can make the difference between whether we can help others go vegan or not. So I want to bring my perspective as an anti-violence psychologist with expertise in behavior change to the animal advocacy movement. I think that there is so much valuable knowledge to be gained from the clinical psychology field that for some reason has never been applied to animal advocacy.