The Power of Two

Vegetarian Times | February 2009

Ecologists, authors, filmmakers—and married couple—Michael Tobias and Jane Gray Morrison are no strangers to teamwork. They’ve collaborated on dozens of projects, including the recently published Sanctuary: Global Oases of Innocence, which celebrates some of the world’s purest havens of biodiversity. Recently, Tobias and Morrison, who are vegetarians, talked with us about treading lightly and compassionately.

Q Much of your work focuses on preserving biodiversity. How do you view the relationship between environmentalism and vegetarianism?

A JGM: Ideally environmentalism and vegetarianism would be inseparable. That day may come, but meanwhile, we must be grateful for the contributions of the many successful environmentalists who are not vegetarians. I think the process of recognizing the importance of practicing compassion in as many vital areas of our lives as possible may be incremental. Occasionally, there’s an epiphany that leads to a sudden and complete lifestyle change—as there was for me.

Q How did vegetarianism become a defining element for you?

A MT: I recognized from the age of about 3 that other creatures were at the terrible mercy of human beings. This was a dreadful revelation that left me horrified at being a member of the human species, but also enthralled with the challenge of doing everything in my power to help others, of all species. For me, this is also the promise of vegetarianism. It is the beginning of an ecological journey back toward paradise, which is the essence of this world.

Q How would you say you complement each other’s work?

A JGM: Michael has inspired me by his example of compassion in action. He’s on fire and on a mission. I prefer subtle persuasion, or influence through example. As a team, with the same beliefs but different approaches, there’s a tension to balance our delivery of the message. We each remain true to ourselves. We constantly learn from each other. Somehow it all works.