Latest update: 30 Jan 2021 – to add detail on Panama.
Written: 25 Jan 2021
Trigger warning: talk of the Holocaust.
This blog post was originally written in 2016 and was a positive take on James Aspey’s vegan activism.
Recently I’d been wanting to delete it… here’s why I haven’t:
After all that has come to light in the last few weeks with the clearly very problematic James Aspey, I decided this old blog post may have some fairly good SEO; it would be a shame to simply delete it. Instead, I’ve decided to use it as a place to collect information from a whole lot of other vegan activists and house it here. A “what the heck is up with James Aspey content hub” if you will. A TLDR of what has happened this month.
So far it’s covering:
- James’ alleged neglect of a puppy in Bali which led to its death
- James’ insistence on using the word Holocaust
- James using his algorithm boost to ask for money which he is allegedly spending on a cryptocurrency pyramid scheme.
- James and his wife Nicky visiting an animal tourist trap.
I saw James speak in 2015 and loved his no-bullshit, calm collected way to get the vegan message across to people. I’ve shared a few things from him here and there over the years but he hadn’t popped up on my socials for quite some time now. A few controversial posts that received a lot of engagement boosted him back up into my feed a few weeks ago. It made me pay attention, and not in a good way.
Did James’ negligence lead to a puppy dying?
Here’s a quick summary of events in Bali:
A bali dog rescue group (different to the one noted below) offered to take the puppy and put her with a lactating mum, but James turned them down. He continues to claim he did the best he could. He didn’t. Giving her to an experienced rescue would have been the best thing he could do, rather than (with no prior experience) attempt to care for it in the most important period of her young life for social media likes.
11 Jan: James posted photos of the puppy at 4am, asleep on his chest as it was the “only place this puppy will stop crying”. People in the comments were concerned that she didn’t have appropriate warmth but their comments were brushed off or ignored. People continued to ask him to reconsider the rescue group’s offer of a lactating mother. All of these comments were deleted.
He later posted saying he found Mum and another puppy and had taken them to a vet.
17 Jan: James posted asking for people to donate to BARC 4 BALI DOGS – in the video he is with the mother dog ‘Soy Soy’.
23 Jan: James replied to a comment of mine on Instagram (and many other people’s comments) saying “they’re in good hands”. Note that I specifically asked about “the” puppy.
On this day James left Bali for Panama, flying Business Class after asking his followers for money (more on that below).
25 Jan: After many comments from concerned followers James posted a long explanation of what had happened with the puppy ‘rescue’ and confirmed that the white puppy had died “some days” after being reunited with her mother.
BARC 4 BALI DOGS also did a post (which has a very different tone/writing style to their other social posts) stating that she had died “a few days” after being reunited.
So what happened between 11 Jan and 25 Jan???
If the puppy died a few days after being reunited with her mother you would assume this would be between 11 Jan and 14 Jan at the latest. So on 17 Jan James posted about raising money for BARC, but the puppy had already passed away and he hadn’t let people know?
Why did he continue to tell people the puppy was “in good hands” up until 24 Jan, only to tell us today that she had died almost 2 weeks earlier?
I messaged BARC myself today and asked them when the puppy died. They blocked me and were deleting comments from others asking questions. They now have comments turned off on the post. What do they have to hide?
The video James posted today also raises some questions. A video by Sarah W Fox (below) dissects the video and shares a direct message with BARC where they state that James did the wrong thing taking the puppy from its mother. She also determines that something is up with the timelines and James has been lying to his followers.
I’m honestly dumbfounded how this person can say he cares about animals. Put yourself in his shoes. If you found a newly born pup what would you do? Surely common sense would see any person, vegan or not, hand the puppy to an experienced rescue group who had lactating mothers who could feed the pup colostrum.
James Aspey insists he needs to use the word Holocaust when it comes to animals.
Before I get into this I want to make it clear that I believe that veganism should be intersectional. If you’re not familiar with what this is, The Plant-Based Bride explains that; “intersectionality is an understanding of the interconnected nature of all forms of oppression; from racism, sexism, classism, ableism, speciesism, and beyond.”
So with that in mind…
James recently spent around two weeks arguing about his choice to use the word ‘Holocaust’ to explain what is happening to the animals. This included directly arguing with Jewish voices and telling them to “get over Hitler”.
Some examples of James ignoring and arguing with Jewish voices (click for larger size):
While James has gone to town deleting comments and blocking people who disagree with him, he has allowed comments such as this to remain on his page:
Even if this comment was just missed by James (though it’s likely Facebook removed it due to antisemitism), it goes to show how dangerous using this language can be, and the types of people you attract.
I’ll also just leave you with this argument James made in regards to “All Lives Matter”:
So – rather than cover why he shouldn’t be using this terminology, there are a few vegan accounts, including the makers of Dominion, who have done that better than I can so I’m sharing those below (which I agree with).
View this post on Instagram
Also, this perfect open letter to James Aspey, by Martin Pugh.
What has also been interesting in is how he used his algorithm boost to ask for money to fly business class to Panama to allegedly buy into a cryptocurrency pyramid scheme.
Did James Aspey scam his followers into giving him money for a pyramid scheme?
After James had an algorithm boost from the engagement on his controversial Holocaust posts, he dropped a few posts asking for money for an “amazing opportunity I’m trying to take advantage of, and the more money I can put into it the better, and it’s a moment of urgency”. When people asked what the money was for he refused to answer.
One person asked if the money was for a sanctuary. His claim? “Bigger than that”.
He told another that the money was to “end the animal Holocaust ASAP” but later backpedalled on that claim, while also mentioning the “bigger than that” sanctuary comment.
These comments have since been deleted.
In a few comments he even seems to hint at some trickle-down animal activism – hey guys, donate some money to me to invest and I’ll spend it on crypto, so then when I’m rich the animals might get some!
Pretty soon people started to put the pieces together that he was likely going to Panama (a tax haven) to buy into a cryptocurrency pyramid scheme….
The Cranky Vegan has summed this up beautifully below:
What has James been up to in Panama?
So after his business class flight to Panama, what has James been up to? Just “bein gangtaz”, hanging out by the pool, doing one TV appearance that outed his investment interests and promoting an animal tourism trap passing itself off as a “rescue and rehabilitation centre”.
The TV appearance:
On 27th January James appeared on Nex Panama (which he claimed to be the biggest news channel in Panama, it’s not), being interviewed about his activism. At the beginning of the interview the interviewer says:
“además para aprender más acerca de la oportunidad inversión que se llama ‘The Energy Web'”; that James is in Panama is to find out about investing in the energy company Energy Web.
James has been deleting any comments from his social accounts that mention Energy Web. He also reposted an edited version of the interview to his YouTube and social accounts with the mention of Energy Web removed rather than linking directly to the news story or interview.
The “rehabilitation centre”
I’ve been vegan around the same length of time James has. Generally, when you become vegan you have already been, or become, educated on the breadth of issues facing animals; including zoos and ‘sanctuaries’ like the ones that allow selfies with tigers in Thailand. There’s been a lot of mainstream media round why animal tourism is bad news for animals. ABC News says that:
“Basically if you can ride it, you can hug it, you can have a selfie with it or if it is performing for you then it is very likely that that animal has suffered cruelty.”
So when James and Nicky visited a “rescue and rehabilitation centre” with a hostel and bar attached to it, who allowed them, as untrained tourists, into cages to handle exotic animals – why didn’t alarm bells ring? The place allowed daily visits for people to do pre-COVID, some of the photos on their social media are just awful. The footage posted by James and Nicky (now deleted) would worry the majority of people, vegan or not, as would the reviews online and photos posted to the owner’s personal Facebook page.
Make up your mind for yourself:
These animals are used for photo ops. Any ‘sanctuary’ which allows you to touch wild animals for a social media pic is not legitimate, and when people raised this comments were deleted, people were blocked and told they were ‘haters’ for caring for animals.
Other animal activist groups spoke out about the visit like:
Coast To Coast Animal Friends on Facebook
Today – 30 Jan, James and Nicky deleted their videos and James posted a new video, saying they are investigating the centre and throwing the owner under the bus. To be fair, this is the first time James has admitted to making a mistake; but why did they not look into the place before they went as any vegan would do? Why did they not immediately realised that it was bad news? Why did they engage with exotic animals, giving them no chance of rehab and promote it constantly on their feeds and stories? Why did they argue with people who raised their concerns, putting them down and telling them they’re uneducated – when they themselves were clearly unaware of what they were supporting?
It was only when some people called them out and you faced a backlash that they began ‘looking into things.’
The owner of the centre, Dorothy, is clearly confused by the backpedalling too. Nicky is quick to chime in, but the question remains – why did it take getting called out to question the place?
James talks about how he’s never really been an animal lover in his own talk. It really makes you wonder; does James Aspey really care about the animals? I know I’m not the only one asking.
There is so much more I can add… and I will continue to.
I want to thank the vegans who are documenting this and capturing what has been going on – James’ ex-fans are growing with over 10,000 Instagram fans lost in the last month + thousands of Facebook followers. He needs to take responsibility for his actions and people need to stop funding him and fund people who are really helping animals.