Jordi Casamitjana, the author of the book “Ethical Vegan”, interviews Captain Paul Watson, the eco-vegan Master of direct-action, about his latest book “Hitman for the Kindness Club” and veganism

It was an honour.

Since I was a teenager back in Catalonia I have heard about his daring actions.  In the late 1970s, when the Spaniards’ grip on Catalonia began to loosen after the Fascist General Franco had died, teenagers like me began to learn about what was happening in the outside world, and many began supporting campaigning organisations we had not been able to access before. One of them was Greenpeace, and I became one of its supporters — I remember the excitement of receiving the first membership card. As a subversive young Catalonian challenging the status quo, I was quite attracted to the daring actions brave Greenpeace activists were taking to protest the destruction of the environment and its inhabitants. 

However, a few years later, I learnt that a new organisation based on a more interventionist direct-action approach (urgently needed to protect the many marine animals being killed all over the world), was upstaging Greenpeace. The Canadian Captain Paul Watson — who I did not know at the time was one of the co-founders of Greenpeace — founded a new conservation organisation, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and he was doing actions far beyond what Greenpeace activists would have dared. He was being very effective in implementing “aggressive non-violent” tactics, and getting the reputation of being a modern “pirate” — with all the romanticised notions this concept carries. He was rocking many people’s boats and becoming very effective in saving animals in peril, in particular marine animals such as seals and whales. 

Over the years, the Sea Shepherd movement kept growing and achieving tangible successes, and Captain Paul Watson became a legend among conservationists. In 1998 he was named the recipient of the Genesis Award for Lifetime Achievement, in 2000 he was listed as one of Time Magazine’s Top 20 Environmental Heroes of the 20th Century, in 2002 he was inducted into the US Animal Rights Hall of Fame by the Humane Society, in 2007 he was awarded the Amazon Peace Price by the president of Ecuador in 2007, in 2012 he received the Medaille de l’Etoile Polaire (Polar Star Medal) Jules Verne Adventures Award, and in 2019 he was commended by Connecticut’s Governor Ned Lamont for “50 years as an environmental conservation activist.”

When I became a vegan in 2002, I learnt that he was also vegan, which is what made me realise that there was an environmental gateway that led to veganism (in addition to the animal rights, health, social justice, and spirituality gateways). So, when I was offered the opportunity to interview him regarding his new book “Hitman for the Kindness Club”, a memoir about his many adventures over the years, I felt that it was a great honour.

A few days ago I interviewed him about it, and we also talked about his new organisation, the Captain Paul Watson Foundation, created last year after he left the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and his views on veganism and the world.

It was a fascinating conversation. 

 Journey to the Sea


Captain Paul Watson has been associated with several conservation organisations over the years, but his identity as a nautical captain has been with him all this time. His latest book beautifully explains in detail how he became a captain as each chapter moves from 1961 to today describing his professional career as a conservationist and animal rights activist, but I wanted to hear it again from him. This is what he told me:

“When I was 17, I ran off with the Norwegian and the Swedish Merchant Marines. I spent a couple of years there, and then I was in the Canadian Coast Guard for a couple of years. In 1971, when Greenpeace was organizing the campaign to go to Amchitka Island to protest nuclear testing, I was pretty much the only one with sea experience. So, I served as first officer on that voyage, and then first officer on all the other voyages following the campaigns to protect whales. And then, in 1977, when I set up the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, I became captain of my own ships. 

I left Greenpeace that year because I was a campaign leader on the expedition to protect baby harp seals in Labrador, and there was a point where a sealer was about to kill a baby seal, so I rushed forward and grabbed the club out of his hand, threw it in the ocean, picked up the seal, and took it to safety,  but Greenpeace — which is sort of based on a Quaker philosophy — said that was unacceptable. They accused me of stealing the man’s property and destroying it, and I said, ‘Well, I was there to save seals, nobody was hurt, and the seal was saved.’ They voted me off of the board for that reason, so I left and set up the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society with the philosophy of what I call “aggressive non-violence”, which means that we’re going to aggressively intervene but we’re not going to hurt anybody. And in 45 years of doing that, I never caused an injury to any single person. 

But I left Sea Shepherd a year ago, in 2022, because the organization got taken over by people who wanted to change the course, to become more compromising, more mediocre, less controversial, less confrontational, and I said I couldn’t accept that direction. So, I set up the Captain Paul Watson Foundation to carry on the strategies and philosophies that I had started way back in 1977. We’ve got our first ship and we’re getting a second vessel. Fortunately, a lot of the crew and many supporters came over with me, so we can continue to do what we’ve been doing all that time.” 

The Sea Shepherd movement is composed of several entities/organisations run from many countries, but one of them is called Sea Shepherd Global which is not the same as Sea Shepherd US, which some may have thought was the headquarters of the movement — although it seems it is more complicated than that. It is a confusing structure from an outsider’s point of view, so I asked Captain Watson for some clarification:

“I wanted Sea Shepherd to be a movement, not an organization, and that’s what it was becoming, but Sea Shepherd Global decided that no, they’re going to control this, and they dismissed me when I disagreed with that. They dismissed Lamya Essemlali, the president of She Shepherd France when she disagreed with it.

Sea Shepherd USA got taken over by this Florida property developer who registered trademarks around the world without telling anybody, and then, suddenly said that he’s in control of everything. And so, he’s in conflict with Sea Shepherd Global. But Sea Shepherd Global will have its own problems. 

The situation right now is that you have Sea Shepherd USA, Sea Shepherd Global, and then the groups that are still supporting me are Sea Shepherd France, Sea Shepherd Brazil, and Sea Shepherd UK has become the Captain Paul Watson Foundation UK. Sea Shepherd Germany, Italy, and Australia are with Global. 

It’s a big mess, but I wouldn’t mind, except that they’re suing us saying that we have no right to use the logo and the name, which is strange because we haven’t used the logo or the name. But what they’re trying to say is that my name is so intimately connected with Sea Shepherd that it’s causing problems for them. Well, that’s not my problem, that’s their problem. But they’re basically trying to say they own me. Last year they offered me about $300,000 a year just to shut up, post nothing, say nothing, don’t do any lectures, just be quiet, and I said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to be doing that.’ So, at that point, this Florida property developer said to me, ‘Well, you know, you’re an employee‘ —  well, actually his exact words were ‘ You’re a F**g employee, you do what you’re told.’ And I said,  ‘No, I don’t think so, that’s not the kind of person I am.’ 

So, I set up this organization, and I don’t get paid now. I turned down $300,000 to take an unpaid position, but I’m still true to our original goals, objectives, and philosophies.”

The Hitman for the Kindness Club 

Hitman of the kindness club by Captain Paul Watson

Captain Watson is a prolific writer, having authored or co-authored more than a dozen books, including Urgent! (2021), Death of a Whale (2021), Orcapedia (2020), Dealing with Climate Change and Stress (2020), The Haunted Mariner (2019), and Captain Paul Watson: Interview with a Pirate (2013). “Hitman For The Kindness Club: High Seas Escapades and Heroic Adventures of an Eco-Activist”, is the title of his latest book, published by Groundswell Books in 2023. In the publicity for this new memoir-style book spanning from 1961 to 2022, we can read, “This riveting collection of essays captures the spirit and moxie of one of the most iconic environmentalists of our times. Follow his evolution from a young boy in rural New Brunswick, Canada through pivotal life-changing moments that brought him to the realization of his life’s work: to defend and protect the natural world.”

I just read it before the interview, and I loved it. I very much like the fact that the chapters are short and in chronological order with the year very visible at the beginning because he has done so much that it would be easy to get lost or to confuse one operation with another. With chapters covering just a year or a few years only, this structure helps to follow through the story, making it an easy and enjoyable read. No chapter is boring. They are all quite vivid and dramatic, with the bad guys, the victims, the good guys, and a happy ending in most of them. Whoever may be tasked to write the script for the feature-length movie of the captain’s life (something the book says has been in the works for a long time) will have a hard time selecting which adventures should be shown, and which not — as there are so many that could work well in a movie. 

Another fascinating thing about the book was the discovery of the other direct-action operations he had done beyond those involving seals and whales. For instance, animals in laboratories, trees, native American communities, the fur trade, and even foxhunting (yes, British readers would be pleased to learn that he once was part of a Hunt Saboteur crew in Scotland). The title of the book may be intriguing to some, so I asked him to explain it:

“When I was eight years old, I was a member of a group in Canada called the Kindness Club, and that was a group that was founded by a woman named Aida Fleming. She was the wife of the governor of New Brunswick in Canada, where I lived, and she put out this newsletter to children to be kind to animals. The honorary president of the Kindness Club was Albert Schweitzer, who was considered a great humanitarian at the time. I was a member of the Kindness Club and got all the literature, and my mother encouraged me to love animals and be kind to them. And so, I became involved with anti-trapping and anti-hunting. When I was in my 20s, after leading the first campaign to protect harp seals on the east coast of Canada, my friend Al Johnson and I were driving back across Canada and we stopped in Fredericton, where Aida lived, to talk with her. She was happy to see us. As we left, she said, ‘You’ve become the Hitman for the Kindness Club.’”

Another thing I found amazing when reading the book was how many times he got away with “sticky” situations that could well have ended in a very unhappy way. Situations such as freeing captive animals, sabotaging logging operations, damaging fur items, cutting fishing nets, ramming into vessels and even sinking half of the Icelandic whaling fleet. Situations where someone could have been hurt but nobody was. Situations where he could have ended up in prison for a long time, but he never did. Situations where he could have been sued and had to pay a lot of money in compensation, but he never did. In fact, despite his “aggressive non-violent” interventionist direct-action operations through decades, he is proud to say he never hurt anyone, he was never convicted of a felony, and he never lost a big litigation case. I asked him how he managed it. 

“I think you have to operate within the boundaries of the law, and also the boundaries of practicality. I understand the law, but the law is very fluid. There’s international law, local law, maritime law. We mainly go after illegal activities anyway, but I try to look at it from the point of view of the law. Like, for instance, in Newfoundland, when I stopped the drag trawlers out of the Grand Banks, I was charged with three counts of Mischief, but my defence was the United Nations World Charter for Nature, which the judge told the jury they had to take into account. And so, I do always have some sort of legal defence in going into these things, and I’ve never been convicted of a felony. But yeah, I have been arrested, but I think being arrested is just part of being an activist.

You just have to be careful and have a good strategy going into any of these conflicts, and sometimes you just have to go for it. When I ran the pirate whaler Sierra, I was brought before the port captain in Portugal and charged with gross criminal negligence, and I said there wasn’t anything negligent about it, I hit that ship exactly where I intended to hit it, it was on purpose, and the judge laughed and he said, well, I don’t even know who owns that ship, and until I do, you’re free to go.

One of my crew members said, ‘If I knew you were going to get away with it, I would have been there too.’ I said, ‘Sometimes you just gotta do it, knowing that there’s no way out.’ It’s a miracle how many times the way out presents itself. I think that having the courage to do something actually opens up the possibility of ‘getting away with it,’ as you call it.

They have to take into account what the consequences are going to be for them, so when we sank half of Iceland’s whaling Fleet in 1986, they refused to charge me. I had to fly to Reykjavik and demand that they charge me, and they didn’t. They just told me to go back home, and the Minister of Justice said, ‘Who does he think he is coming into our country and demanding to be arrested, get him out of here.’ Because they knew that to put me on trial would be to put themselves on trial. To me, the courtroom is a forum, it’s an extension of what we do in the field, and that’s where you get to bring this thing to the attention of the public and to test the laws. So, we won all of our civil cases in the courts, and we won the criminal cases too. I think those are worthwhile. You just have to be willing to fight them.” 

I told the captain that, in my mind, he is a Master Tactician. Any cause or campaign has three dimensions: Logistics, Strategy, and tactics. I cannot imagine anyone better at the latter. I asked him if he agreed. 

“I think I’m good at opposing whalers and sealers. My weakness was that I trusted and delegated to too many people and ended up getting betrayed. I should have been more cognisant of that possibility, but I guess I was just too trusting of people. I do try to come up with ideas. For instance, Sea Shepherd France. The dolphins were being killed by the by-catch of the French fleet, and the bodies would come ashore and just lay rotting on the beach out of sight, out of mind. Sea Shepherd France said, ‘Well, nobody knows about it; how can we get people to be aware of that?’ and I said, ‘Pick up the bodies, truck them to Paris, and put them in front of the Eiffel Tower; put them on the steps of the National Assembly; put them on the steps of the European Parliament,’ and that’s what they did. That’s what got the attention.

You have a moral obligation to intervene against an injustice. What is violence? To me, violence is the taking of the life of a sentient creature. If a man’s about to shoot an elephant with a gun, and you snatch the gun and destroy it, to me that’s an act of non-violence. You’re destroying an inanimate object to save the life of a sentient being and that’s really what it comes down to. I think anything is justified to save a sentient being if it doesn’t involve actually causing injury to another sentient being. The machinery is disposable.”

The Journey to Veganism

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In all my interviews with vegans, I always ask about their journey to veganism because I find the answers very interesting. This is what the captain replied:

“There were a lot of discussions in the 70s when I was with Greenpeace about veganism. Some of us, a minority, were vegetarian and when I set up a Sea Shepherd and got the first ship in 1979, I made it all vegetarian. That means that every crew member had to be vegetarian when they were on the ship because that’s all the food that we were going to serve. And in 1999, I changed that to vegan. So, it was vegetarian for 20 years and then vegan for the last 23 years. I don’t know what they’re doing now, whether they’re still doing that or not, but my ships today are still vegan.

I think it’s ridiculous to say that you’re trying to save lives in the ocean and at the same time eat meat. Even when you eat meat you’re eating fish, because 40% of all the fish that has been caught is being fed to factory farms, to chickens, to pigs, whatever, in the form of fish meal, or to domestic salmon farms, so uh there’s a big contradiction there. And so, I think we have to set an example.

Today, my crew do not have to be vegan or vegetarian to join, because you get a lot of engineers and people like that who aren’t going to do that, but they have to be vegan while they’re on board because they don’t have any other option, that’s compulsory.

The transition to vegan ships wasn’t difficult at all. It was more of a philosophical thing. I think people who are young, people today who are vegans, tend to think, ‘Well, that’s just naturally the thing,’  but back in 1980, nobody knew what a vegan was. I would jokingly say that it was like they were from the planet Vega or something. I was working with the Fund for Animals and the Royal SPCA, and I remember I went for a dinner with the RSPCA and  I ordered an omelette because they were ordering all kinds of meat things, and they said, ‘Is that all you’re eating?’, and I said, ‘Yeah, because I am vegetarian’,  and they just thought that was very strange. 

I think what’s happened is that society has evolved, and veganism is now pretty much mainstream. I’m in Paris right now, and I remember 20 years ago in Paris you couldn’t find a vegan restaurant anywhere, but now, it’s pretty easy to find. And that’s pretty much anywhere in the world. So, it’s been a remarkable evolution of acceptance. I remember 10 years ago I was in southern France and I noticed that they had a veggie burger on the menu in this restaurant, which was very unusual then. I said, ‘Oh, you got a veggie burger,’  and the waiter said, ‘We are tired of American  and British vegans coming here and just eating French fries.’ I guess the consumers there dictated the market in that way. We’ve come a long way. I mean, back in the ’70s or ’80s, nobody heard of almond milk, or soy milk, or rice milk, or Macadamia milk. We got so many options today, it’s unbelievable. And now, we’ve got Impossible meat, we’ve got Beyond Burgers, we’ve got all kinds of things that are happening. I just think it’s been a remarkable progress, like a real Revolution, and it’s a global one too.”  

I also asked Captain Watson about how important is that the environmental movement embraces veganism. This is what he said:

“There’s a number of ways of looking at it. Animal rights is just one thing, environmentalism is another. The factory farming of animals for meat production is the single greatest contributor to groundwater pollution, it’s the single greatest contributor to dead zones of the ocean, and it’s the single greatest contributor to global greenhouse gases, so it’s amazing people haven’t drawn out those links. And also, the other problem we’re having is factory farms are a vector for our zoonotic transmission of viruses, and they keep them under control by killing millions of animals every year, putting them down to keep those viruses from getting out. We’re also seeing the transmission of zoonotic viruses from salmon farms to wild salmon populations, and that is a major problem. There simply isn’t room for 8 billion meat-eating primates on the planet Earth. It’s simple, it just comes right down to that. 

I was doing a debate one time and they said, ‘But Watson, you’re so alienated from reality that you don’t understand we come from a hunter-gatherer background,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, well, how many gathering societies are you a member of? Everybody’s a member of a Hunting Society but I don’t see anybody going out gathering acorns and picking up roots. So, if you really want to go in that way, then you should be doing the whole thing,’ but, of course, it’s all very selective. When people say. ‘You know our roots, we were meat eaters at one time,’ I say, ‘Yeah, we’re talking about the Palaeolithic, when it was really down to a question of survival, but it’s not necessary anymore. In fact, not only is a vegan diet easy, but it’s healthier, it’s good for the Earth, it’s good for animals, and it’s good for people.’

If you look at any science fiction movies, or Star Trek, or anything like that, the future is vegan, everybody’s vegan in these things, and I think it’s because the writers understand that’s the Natural Evolution of things, that’s the way it’s going. It makes ecological sense, and it’s also the evolution of compassion towards other species.”


Colorful coral reef with many fishes and sea turtle. By Vlad61 via Shutterstock (364461629)

Captain Watson is not only a conservationist, an activist, a master mariner, an author, an educator, an eco-vegan,  and a Master Tactician. He is also a poet and a philosopher. He has often written about his view of the reality of the world and humanity, and he has even created a new Church based on ecological principles. He explains: 

“I established the Church of Biocentrism because it’s sort of an alternative to anthropocentric religions. Almost all religions are anthropocentric. That means that they’re based on the premise that we’re the centre of creation. It’s all about us, the whole world revolves around us, and biocentrism is the idea that no, we’re part of everything, we have to live in harmony with all other species, and everything is interdependent. It’s based on the three basic laws of ecology: the first is the law of diversity, that the strength of an ecosystem is dependent upon diversity within it; the second is the law of interdependence, that all species within an ecosystem are interdependent with each other; the third is the law of finite resources, that there’s limited growth because there’s a limit to carrying capacity. And when one species steals the carrying capacity from other species, that causes diminishment in diversity and interdependence, and that leads to ecological collapse. That’s really the foundation of the Church of Biocentrism. 

I like to describe it this way: I tell people the Earth is like a spaceship and it’s on this incredible voyage around the Milky Way galaxy at incredible speeds. Every spaceship has a life support system, and that life support system provides us with the food we eat, and regulates climate, and temperature, and it keeps everything running. The air we breathe. And that life support system is run by a crew, a crew of Earth citizens who keep everything running, and that doesn’t include us. We’re the passengers, and we’re having a wonderful time amusing ourselves, but what we are doing is we’re killing off the crew, we’re murdering the crew, and there’s only so many crew members you can kill before the machinery begins to fall apart. And that’s what’s happening right now. 

Since 1950, there’s been a 40% diminishment in phytoplankton populations in the sea. These are the aquatic plants that provide 70% of the oxygen in the air we breathe and sequester enormous amounts of CO2. If phytoplankton disappears from the planet, we die; nobody lives on this planet. Life does not exist without phytoplankton, it’s the foundation of everything. And, also, we’re totally dependent upon worms, and bees, and fishes, and trees. We can’t live on this planet without them.

A reporter from Fox News, Brit Hume, called me up once and said, ‘I heard that you said in a lecture that trees, bees, and worms are more important than people,’ and I said, ‘Yes, I said exactly that.’ And he said, ‘How can you say something so outrageous?’  I said, ‘Because they’re more important than people because they can live here without us, but we can’t live here without them. We depend upon them, they don’t depend upon us, and I think that is the definition of what species are more important.’ And then he said, ‘That is totally an anti-Christian point of view,’ and I said, ‘Oh yeah, really? That’s just another anthropocentric way of looking at things.’ 

The whole world was biocentric at one point and indigenous cultures in many places today are biocentric, but with the development of Agriculture, the development of hierarchical systems and everything, we transitioned from biocentrism to anthropocentrism, which is more convenient. Therefore, we created the gods, and the gods are just created like us. That’s what bothers me about religion. Every single religion is all about us. That is illogical.”

I also asked the Captain whether humanity adopting veganism and biocentrism would solve all problems, but he seemed skeptical about whether everyone would eventually embrace these philosophies. He said this about humans: 

“One of the problems with human beings is a thing called ‘adaptation to diminishment.’ As things become more diminished, we just simply accept it. For instance, in 1965, if I were to have told you that you’d be buying water and plastic bottles and pay more for that water than the equivalent amount of gasoline, you would have looked at me like I’m nuts. Nobody was going to do that. But here we are, people just adapted to it. The same with, for instance, the fish orange roughy, which was a very big commercial fish in the 1990s. You don’t hear about it anymore. Nobody even thinks about it, the reason being that they overfished it, because an orange roughy takes 45 years to become sexually mature, and lives to be 200 years of age. They couldn’t keep up with their demand. Compare that with a salmon, which takes four years to become sexually mature, and then dies. We treat all fishes the same, although they’re completely different, but we just lose one species and we adapt to it. The northern Cod fishery collapsed in ‘92. It’s never recovered. And we just move on to something else.

If you go into a restaurant in Paris or New York, you can order turbot now. When I was raised in the East Coast fishing Village in Canada, turbot was called a garbage fish, nobody ate it, it was very unpalatable, and nobody liked it, but now, that’s the fish you get in a restaurant.  I just saw the other day they’re harvesting jellyfish, for God’s sake! I don’t know what they’re doing. In the ocean, after we’ve removed this species, we move on to something else. That’s adaptation to diminishment.

The other problem we have is the Economics of Extinction. As species become scarce their value goes up, therefore increasing the demand. Like for bluefin tuna, or things like that. As somebody raised in a fishing village in Eastern Canada, I find it absolutely incredible the costs of fish in the markets today that people just adapt to.  I was raised in a Lobster fishery town where lobsters were actually free. You could always tell the poor kids in my town. We were the ones who went to school with lobster sandwiches, and we tried to trade them for bologna or peanut butter.” 

What is Happening Now?

Image from Captain Paul Watson Foundation. 356252404_6708486749185174_3780342896752576938_n

Although I have been writing about whaling in the last few months, I did not want to lose the opportunity to have an expert on this subject putting me up to date about what is the current status of anti-whaling campaigning, as well as the campaign to end the killing of seal pups in Canada for their fur. Captain Watson gave me a good summary:

“We’ve made a lot of progress since I began. We stopped whaling in Australia, Chile, Peru, and Spain. About 90% of the world’s whaling has been shut down, and no whaling is taking place in international waters now — it could resume but right now it isn’t — so whaling is now restricted to the territorial waters of Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and Japan. The worst, the most egregious, is Iceland, and that’s why we went there this summer. We’ll be going back next summer, and the reason is they’re targeting endangered fin whales, Others are going after other kinds of whales that are not endangered — still bad, of course — but Iceland is the worst offender right now. We went there this summer, and within a couple of hours of our arrival, they put a temporary ban, so there wasn’t much we could do. So, we went on to the Faroe Islands to disrupt the killing of pilot whales and dolphins there. The temporary ban is over, and they might go back to whaling, but we aren’t in a position to get there until next June to shut it down again, which we intend to do. But I think anti-whaling has been a success story overall. We just sort of need to clean up the last four countries. 

Regarding the seals in Canada, since we began there’s been a lot achieved. The quota for seals right now is 40,000 but they’re not going to kill that many, only about 10%, and the reason is there’s no market. We destroyed the market. They can’t sell the seal products anywhere. The government subsidises it to the tune of 20 million dollars a year, to go out and kill 40,000 seals, if they can get that, and then they just stock the pelts up in a warehouse in Newfoundland hoping one day they can sell them, but commercially, the seal hunt has been shut down, although it still continues as some sort of glorified welfare program in Canada. The reason I don’t go against it right now is that the Canadian government would love nothing better for me than to go against it because they need me to provoke that nationalistic fervour and get everybody all fired up — to go kill more seals. So, we are leaving it alone for the time being, but a lot has been achieved.” 

I asked the Captain what is the status of his new foundation, very recently created. He said the following: 

“I have to rebuild and reorganize, and it’s coming along quite well. The Captain Paul Watson Foundation is now registered in the US, Germany, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, and Australia. The Sea Shepherd UK changed its name to the Captain Paul Watson Foundation UK, and we’re still working with Sea Shepherd France and Sea Shepherd Brazil. 

Within a couple of months of leaving Sea Shepherd, I got a new ship, thanks to John Paul DeJoria, who’s been a longtime friend and supporter, and he’s been a long-time animal rights supporter too.  Then I got a lot of the crew that I’ve worked with over the years. We’re doing pretty good. Sea Shepherd got a lot big thanks to Whale Wars and all those kinds of things, but when they ousted me they took the assets, and the support list, and the ships, and everything. What they didn’t take, and what they don’t have, is the courage, the passion, and the imagination, to do what needs to be done,  and that’s why you’re not hearing very much about them right now. They’re just doing government partnerships and basically sold out. 

Our priority projects right now are to return to Iceland and prevent them from going whaling next year, to shut down the killing of pilot whales and dolphins in the Faroe Islands, and to oppose the super trawlers off the coast of France and Ireland. There are many smaller projects, such as protecting the river dolphins in Amazonia, but I find it’s best to concentrate on a couple of priorities. You don’t want to get too spread out.” 

I must confess, I was a little bit starstruck when I interviewed Captain Paul Watson. Although he was perfectly friendly and down to earth, I was not able to dig deeper into what exactly made him switch from vegetarian to vegan because I think I did not always ask all the right questions, or interrupted him to go back to something he referred to, as there were so many interesting facts in everything he was saying that it felt greedy for my part to push for more—that’s when you can tell I am really a writer rather than a journalist. 

I was starstruck not because he may be a celebrity of sorts — anyone can be a celebrity, no matter what they have done — but because it somehow felt magical to be in front of a person who has been successful against all odds so many times, and who has saved so many sentient beings not just by avoiding hurting them, but for actively sabotaging the actions of those who aimed to hurt them. A person who, despite immense pressure for decades, has maintained his integrity intact and has never lost sight of who he works for — non-human animals. 

He had the audacity to do what nobody else dared to do, and he was successful. And he did it again and again. That feels a bit otherworldly to me. But I know that, in reality, he is the opposite. If anything, he is one of the few humans who has earned citizenship of Planet Earth.

A true compassionate Earthling who got the respect of a harpooned Sperm Whale he tried to save, well back in 1975, some 65 miles off the coast near Mendocino, California.

That’s the kind of honour worth getting.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.