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Jason Gillespie blasts dairy industry in his new vegan avatar

Amit Sinha
851   //    08 Jun 2016, 16:15 IST
Jason Gillespie
Jason Gillespie is currently coaching English county Yorkshire

Former Australian fast bowler and current Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie slammed the dairy industry and questioned the use of balls made of leather in cricket during an interview that has ruffled quite a few feathers in the cricketing world, particularly those of Yorkshire’s sponsors’ Wensleydale Creamery, whose logo adorns the county's shirts.

In a frank interview with the Yorkshire Post, the Australian, who represented the national team in 71 Tests and 97 ODIs, revealed how and why he took to Veganism and expressed his disdain for dairy products in his new avatar. He said that he initially adopted the lifestyle for health reasons and got closer to it following the death of his father.

“That year after he died I was kind of in no man’s land. I just started to do a bit of research on health and nutrition, then I watched a couple of documentaries.

“There was one in particular, Earthlings (the Joaquin Phoenix-endorsed film looking at mankind’s use of animals). It started as a health thing, but after watching that I couldn’t be a part of a society which treats animals the way we do.”

He also revealed that Veganism has made him look into all aspects of his life. Gillespie said, “Things like clothing, for instance. I’ll go to the St Gemma’s Hospice shop if I need a new shirt. That money goes to charity, I get a recycled shirt and I know someone’s not in a sweatshop getting 10 cents an hour to allow me to wear a T-shirt with a logo on it.

However, the part of the interview that wasn’t to go down well with Yorkshire’s sponsors came later when Gillespie said that he hoped for the dairies to be shut down. “These slaughterhouses, dairies and piggeries, zoos.

“It’s cruel and it’s speciesism (the idea humans have greater moral rights than animals) at its very worst and I don’t want to be part of it. Hopefully one day the dairy industry can be shut down. I think it’s disgusting and wrong on so many levels.”

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When reminded about the association of the county he coaches with Wensleydale Creamery, he said, “Yes, they are a sponsor.” He added, “But it doesn’t mean I agree with what they do. It’s out of my control just like the fact that cricket balls are made of leather. There’s nothing wrong with standing up for what you believe in.”

Sandra Bell, the marketing manager of Wensleydale Creamery, said the Yorkshire coach had never raised any objection with the company over its sponsorship. “That’s a very bold statement and I need to understand a bit more about what he’s actually trying to say there,” she said.

Minette Batters, deputy president of the National Farmers’ Union and a beef farmer, didn’t hold back and called Gillespie’s comments as ‘outrageous’. He added, “I imagine he’s paid a sizeable salary to coach (the Yorkshire team) and all these clubs are reliant on sponsorship.I would love to know if he’s ever actually visited a dairy farm. In this country we have such high standards of welfare.”

Jason Gillespie isn’t the first figure in cricket to have spoken against the use of leather in making of cricket balls. Earlier, umpire Dickie Bird had also raised concerns about the same and had advocated a trial run of synthetic balls in the game to make it more animal-friendly.
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