Jason Neil Gillespie is a vegan and former Australian cricketer. While known as a fast bowler, he was also pretty handy with the bat. Born in 1975, he achieved a Test double century, hitting 201 runs in 2006 – setting the record for the highest score by a night watchman (a lower-order batsman who is put in bat higher up the order than usual near the end of a day's play).
He took 259 wickets in 71 tests for Australia, the Telegraph described him as a “terrifyingly fast bowler”.
Jason turned to veganism when he was 38 after his father collapsed and died of a heart attack in front of him, prompting a search for a healthier lifestyle. He also became a tireless campaigner against animal cruelty. He has said that becoming a vegan transformed his life.
Jason told the Yorkshire Post:
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. 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 has criticised the use of leather balls in cricket and it was this, along with his criticism of the dairy industry, which thrust his veganism into the media spotlight. Talking about the dairy industry, he was quoted as saying:
It’s cruel and it’s speciesism [the idea that 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.
As he was coaching the Yorkshire team at the time, he responded to questions about the side receiving sponsorship from a dairy, saying:
Yes, they are a sponsor 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.
His comments had angered both his sponsors and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and drew criticism from elements of the Press. This has often seen him labelled “outspoken” and highlights the difficulties vegan celebrities can find with their portrayal in the media.
He recorded a video for Veganuary’s 2019 campaign on the top of leather which you can watch below: