Jane Goodall & The Indomitable Human Spirit

Jane Goodall 
Jane Goodall Institute 

United Nations Messenger of Peace
Explorer-in-Residence Emeritus, National Geographic Society
Member, Advisory Council, Save the Chimps
President, Advocates for Animals
Hubbard Medal, National Geographic Society
Founder, Roots and Shoots

by Kaki Flynn

After being forever changed by talks given by Dr. Sylvia Earle, who gently implores us to remember that "Fish are Friends Not Food",  The Cove director Louis Psihoyos that hits us with uncut photos of dolphin families being slaughtered and herded, and ocean technology geek James Cameron who makes it clear that his record-breaking inventions built to explore the ocean aren't much good if there is nothing left to see, I began to seek out other explorers that care as much about taking care of our earth as they do exploring it.

Since that time, I've sought out interviews with world leaders like Earle, Cameron and Psihoyos who are making it clear we need to change our eating habits not just for ethical reasons but for planet-saving reasons.

These explorers completely changed my life in a day-to-day way by inspiring me to leave animals off of my plate and replace those foods with a plant-strong diet; it's my personal contribution to fighting climate change.

We all bring our own instrument to play in this life, this is mine.

While there are many different sources for getting accurate numbers on just how much water you save, by simply eating plant-strong I'm able to keep 25 gallons of water a day from being contaminated.

Combined with other commitments to the environment like not using toxic chemicals; it's amazing how much one person can contribute.

The fact that many of the greatest inventors were also plant-strong made the case for making this my personal contribution to to the earth an easy one.

Dr. Jane Goodall is, like Earle, another powerful but gentle soul that spreads her message of compassion for all of us.

Dr. Jane Goodall has changed the lives of many, through her research in the world of the chimpanzees that serves as a reflection back at ourselves for how humans treat the world, to the now 300 days she spends on the road working to inspire others to take care of our planet.

While most people know Dr. Goodall for her love of chimpanzees; she has an equal passion for ocean life.

This makes sense, since the breaths you take, whether you are in the jungle or a corn field in Kansas or standing knee-deep in a lake in Florida - come from the ocean.

And, of course, the dolphins, as Goodall says in the following video, are just as intelligent as the chimpanzees:


I had the chance to meet Dr. Goodall at an event put on by the Morgridge Family Foundation.

"As we understand more and more how damaging we have been to the planet, scientists are inventing more and more innovative projects so that we can live with less of an impact, paying attention to the small choices based on what we eat and wear, and where they came from," said Dr. Goodall.

She clearly has a strong passion - and faith in - young kids.

She emphasized that a message to them should not be of gloom and doom.

"They must be inspired to understand there are solutions, and that we can start when they are tiny little kids," she added, saying that she believes in the "indomitable human spirit" and people that don't give up, no matter who laughs at them.

"I like the way she talks to kids, and adults," said John Morgridge, who, along with his wife Carrie, brought Dr. Goodall to a Denver, Colo., event specifically to inspire teachers and kids.

"Roots and Shoots empowers little kids. I ask kids how they would solve problems," said Dr. Goodall.

She talked about some of her early influences, including her work with Louis Leakey.

He taught her much, said Dr. Goodall, with a big lesson being, "make mistakes and don't give up."

Before Leakey became her benefactor and mentor, her thoughts about animals came from the library.

"I couldn’t afford a bike," she said,  "And certainly not a car. There was no television. There was radio. Dr. Doolittle came into my life at about 8 years old."

"I had just enough of my pocket money to buy Tarzan of the Apes, and I read it from cover to cover," she said, referencing the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel.

"I fell passionately, platonically in love with Tarzan," she said. "What did Tarzan do? He married the wrong Jane!"

Books like that, combined with her love of animals, strongly influenced Goodall even at that young age.

"I wanted to go up, move to Africa, and live with animals. Everyone laughed at me. WWII was happening."

"The biggest drawback for me was that I was the wrong sex - I was a girl - so everyone laughed. 'So forget this nonsense about Africa,' they all said. 'But not my Mother!"

Dr. Goodall's mother believed in and encouraged her.

"I worked as a waitress to earn my fare - by boat, the cheapest way to travel back then."

And, the rest of the story, as most of us know - is a life long passion that has transformed the way we view chimpanzees, and ultimately ourselves and the world around us.

"We use and abuse so many millions of animals everyday - I won’t go into the way we abuse all of those animals, because we know that. Once we understand we are not the only beings with feelings on this earth, that will change," said Dr. Goodall.

Why would Dr. Goodall leave her beloved jungle?

"The chimpanzee’s needed protection. I saw them getting medical testing," said Dr. Goodall, who realized that based on that and other problems, protecting them meant having to leave the jungle; she now gives over a 100 speaking engagements a year.

She worries about some teenagers, who seem apathetic, and even some that felt like giving up, and even some that felt like there is nothing we can do to make a difference.

A photo posted by Travel+SocialGood (@travelplusgood) on

"When I see what has been done to planet earth since I was a child," she said.  "That we have gone so far in climate change. That we have gone so far in the destruction of our ecosystem, and in its diversity."

 "When I hear young people say that there is nothing we can do, I realize one thing is clear: If our young people give up, we have no hope, because if you have no hope, then you don't care what you do."

"There is the quote that talks about how we borrow the earth from our children. That's not true, is it? We aren't borrowing from the earth, we are stealing from it."

Ocean Friendly Eats
As far as recipes go, Dr. Goodall does have a favorite.

She told Vegetarian Times author Michael Kaminer about it.

"I was literally in the middle of nowhere, in a forest in the northern Republic of Congo, visiting people studying chimps."

"We were out one evening in the forest with pygmy trackers. They picked these orange mushrooms, along with a large leaf from a low-lying plant—. I have no idea of its name. They cooked them together; the leaves made a kind of broth. It was absolutely delicious, and the vibrant orange and green colors were so beautiful. And it was definitely vegetarian."

Dr. Goodall wrote the forward to this book, so we trust completely that these recipes are amazing! Of course, for the tireless Dr. Goodall, we can't just have one recipe, we need a whole book of them:

Vegan Fusion World Cuisine: 
Extraordinary Recipes & Timeless Wisdom from the Celebrated Blossoming Lotus Restaurants

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