A vegan activist is now helping to manage Israel’s animal welfare policies.
Vegan Tal Gilboa, founder of Total Liberation (formerly known as Israeli Animal Liberation Front), is now the animal rights advisor to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has served as Prime Minister since 2009 and also held the position from 1996 to 1999.
“I asked Tal Gilboa to advise me on animal rights issues, a subject that has gradually become closer to my heart,” the politician said in a video.
Gilboa said the decision was “a historic day for animals.”
“The readiness that he and his family expressed over the past year to help animals left me with no doubt that together, we will make history!” Gilboa wrote on Instagram about the “brave and historic step.”
It’s not the first time a politician in the Middle Eastern country has looked for better animal welfare standards.
Last year, Israel’s public security minister Gilad Erden urged that live animal shipments from Australia to Israel be stopped after undercover footage revealing animal cruelty was released. Erdan said the footage showed “serious abuse” of animals.
This year, in April, vegan legislator Miki Haimovich of the Blue and White Party requested that the leather-covered seats in parliament be swapped with ones that “are not made from the skin of animals,” she said in a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
“This way, the Knesset would set an example (as it has been pioneering in many other ways, for example installing solar panels on the roof of the building) of preventing the exploitation and suffering of animals,” Haimovich added. She also offered to fund the swap herself.
Israel and Veganism
Plant-based, cruelty-free living is rising in popularity in Israel. In 2010, around 2.6 percent of Israelis were vegan or vegetarian, according to Forward. This figure had doubled by 2018, with at least 5 percent being vegan.
Earlier this year, the country appointed its military’s first vegan chief of staff, Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi. Plant-based military members are becoming more common; the Israel Defense Force is said to be the most vegan army in the world. The number of vegans in the army increased 20-fold in three years, marking a 1,900 percent increase in the number of serving members who don’t eat animal products.