Do we really have an impact as just one person? Ed’s story shows that we absolutely do, and the scale is all up to us. A vegan educator widely known for his viral YouTube channel where he debated with non-vegans on the street, Ed’s work focuses on the environmental impacts and ethical implications of our diets. In the last 12 months alone, 33,248 people have signed up to go vegan through his content. In his 100+ speeches, Ed Winters has spoken at over a third of UK universities, at every Ivy League college, and companies such as Google, Meta, and LinkedIn.
For the majority of people, according to Ed’s experience, the harm that’s caused to animals is something that is unconscious, ignored, or hidden, and we don’t spend anywhere near enough time reflecting and analyzing what is that we do to them. He himself became vegan in 2014 after reading the news that 1,500 chickens had been killed in a truck crash. Shocked and dismayed by the suffering of the birds, he realized that they’d been destined for his plate. Unable to ignore this suffering, and not wanting to be a part of it any longer, Ed decided to go vegan to align his actions with his values. It definitely hasn’t been easy or effortless. “Creating a YouTube channel and setting up the camera for the first time and conceptualizing a video and making notes and then filming and editing the video and uploading it – that was definitely the first big leap.” All of his firsts, including first time publicly speaking or debating people in the streets, eventually snowballed into where he is today – a lesson to all that without five seconds of courage, there might be no impact.
“Ultimately, my goal is shifting our perception of ethical food to one which is solely plant-based,” he adds. In order to make that vision possible, he consciously works on making his deep and thorough research digestible and understandable for everyone – a key activist skill he continues to master. Ed’s also big on enjoying your life, especially as an advocate for hard-to-digest topics: “Obviously, with work related to issues of suffering and harm, trying to alleviate or minimize the existence of these things, it can be very hard at times. We’re dealing with disturbing issues that are huge in scope. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s very important at times to do things that you enjoy, to nurture other parts of our identities and personalities—watching films, spending time with friends—and not feel guilty about it.”