PETA UK’s 2014 Person of the Year: Tony Benn Continues to Inspire

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Politician, activist, MP and vegetarian Tony Benn may be gone, but his legacy of compassion will long be remembered. To commemorate his lifelong commitment to protecting animals, both within and outside the political sphere, we have named Mr Benn as our 2014 Person of the Year. During his 47 years in office, Benn came to the defence of animals many times, voting against fox hunting in Parliament, protesting against laboratories that conducted cruel experiments on animals and practising what he preached every day by adhering to a vegetarian diet. Described by Labour Party leader Ed Miliband as a “champion of the powerless”, Mr Benn topped a 2006 poll by the BBC’s Daily Politics naming the public’s leading political heroes. “Mr Benn was an outspoken defender of justice, and his advocacy for animals helped open eyes, hearts and minds”, says PETA founder Ingrid E Newkirk. “He has left a lasting legacy of respect for animals, for which we are deeply grateful.” PETA Tony Benn After hearing news of the accolade, Michael Mansfield QC told PETA, “I often stood alongside Tony at meetings and marches on a variety of issues linked to the need to promote justice. His enduring enthusiasm and powerful rhetoric inspired action. Above all he recognised that the violation of animal sanctity was invariably committed by the very same people and in the same manner as the violation of human rights. I know this particular award would have held a special meaning for him”. PETA teamed up with Mr Benn on several campaigns, including calling on the Ministry of Defence to end the killing of bears for The Queen’s Guard’s fur caps. And he opposed vivisection, stating “[t]he tide is turning fast against those who still cling on to the view that experimentation and testing of drugs on animals is valid and necessary”. He was also a vegetarian, explaining, “I never liked meat, and my son Hilary, 30 years ago, said: ‘If the world ate the grain instead of feeding it to animals and killing them, there would be enough food for everybody.’ That moment my wife and I became vegetarian and I never touched meat since”. Since our early days, PETA has taken inspiration from one of Mr Benn’s most celebrated quotations: “First they ignore you, then they say you’re mad, then dangerous, then there’s a pause and then you can’t find anyone who disagrees with you”. His legacy still inspires us today, and we’re proud to end 2014 by recognising his many accomplishments. Gone, but never forgotten.
Photo: Tony Benn” by Glastonbury Left Field | CC BY-SA 2.0


  • Brien Comerford commented on December 30, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Brian May has irrefutably been England’s most proactive animal champion for the last seven years. He has articulately denounced hunting, trapping, overfishing, the massacre of badgers, hedgehogs, hares and foxes, animal vivisection, dogfighting, bullfighting, cruelty to cats, the horrible fur industry, the poaching of rhinos, elephants, lions and tigers, dastardly shark fin soup and the ex[ploitation of animals in the name of science, sports, fashion, entertainment and food. He respects the lives of all animals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians.

    Brian May fervently galvanizes, energizes and supports animal activists, wildlife conservationists, endangered species preservationists, vegetarian advocates and food animal liberationists. He is a musical and animal rights icon.

    • Carole Buchholz commented on January 21, 2015 at 6:13 pm

      I watched him being interviewed on RT TV. Dr.May certainly is a very knowledgeable man, and is also very inspiring.

    • Shaun McGrath commented on January 22, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      Is this the same Brian May who played ‘God Save The Queen’ on Buckingham Palace roof, for the Queen’s Jubilee Concert in 2012?

  • EoinKoenigBaio commented on January 5, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Great man

  • steve johnson. commented on January 21, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    If there were more people like: Tony Benn: Brian May: Vivienne Westwood; David Attenborough and Paul McCartney to name just a few, then the world really would be a better place.

  • Susan Groom commented on January 21, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    I assume that Brian May is a Vegetarian, maybe a Vegan, he is a very well informed person, and also a wonderful musician. If only everyone worldwide were Vegetarian better still Vegan.

  • Claudia Rivera commented on January 21, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    Congratulations to England sounds so could to have someone deeply involved with wildlife and demonstrate with facts the commitment to animals around the world. I´m from Guatemala, and it´s such a shame how the enviroment and animals are declining with no laws and just a few people really involved. So, my admiration to Mr. Tony Benn!!!

  • rita uljee commented on January 22, 2015 at 10:56 am

    so good to learn about these passionate persons who in there own way have/ and are defending animals,do hope that i`ll see it happen to the rest of the world soon
    one can hold a dream can`t we?

  • Barbara Edwards commented on January 22, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    I would like to commend people like David Bithell who was the mayor of Wrexham 2013 to 2014 in Wales.
    He discovered that the mayor robe had real animal fur trimmings and attachments and denounced it, preferring to wear a smart suit and the mayoral chains, because of his whole hearted support for animals. The day may come when others will follow in his footsteps.
    He is a very brave and sincere gentleman

  • Nicholas gagola commented on January 25, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    We all need to join forces with these inspirational people, and finally kick the cowardly hunters into touch, and as for eating innocent animals, don’t get me started.

  • PAUL commented on January 26, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    a great man with a caring heart, an inspiration to us all.

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