Each December, vegan lifestyle magazine VegNews names its favorite places, products and people, from Restaurant of the Year to Cookbook of the Year to Person of the Year. And in 2014, it's making history with the latter choice.
For the first time, the popular publication has named a nonhuman as its Person of the Year: Esther the Wonder Pig. If you're unfamiliar with Canada's porcine celebrity, she's larger than life (literally).
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Adopted by Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter as a supposed "micro-pig," Esther grew to 670 pounds and totally transformed her dads' lives in the process. Jenkins and Walter ended up transitioning to veganism, raising the money to purchase a farm, and opening an animal sanctuary: Happily Ever Esther.
Esther's charm and widespread influence led VegNews to dub her a hugely important figure in the vegan movement.
"Each year VegNews magazine chooses a Person of the Year who best embodies the spirit and aspirations of veganism; the individual who, over the last year, had the largest impact toward promoting the ideals of a cruelty-free lifestyle," explains Joseph Connelly, founder of VegNews.
"In 2014 no one loomed larger (figuratively or literally!) than Esther the Wonder Pig, reaching people around the world with her charisma and smile while changing hearts and minds about the beings we eat."
As her dads wrote on her Facebook page (which has a whopping 228,835 fans), "We hope this page will make you take a minute to reevaluate some of your daily choices, such as bacon for example. We always seem to prefer the 'I'd rather not think about it' approach, but if you took just a few minutes to learn how brutal life is for these loving, intelligent, and compassionate animals, I know it would change your mind and maybe even convince you to give a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle a chance."
There's no question that Esther is opening people's eyes to the fact that pigs are so much more more than pork.
"As a global movement to confer personhood to nonhuman animals is rapidly building steam, the editors of VegNews believe it is time to recognize that not all people stand upright and walk on two legs," Connelly adds. "Esther joins past esteemed recipients including Rory Freedman, Kathy Freston, Heather Mills, Tal Ronnen, and the Vegan Athlete as our 2014 Person of the Year!"
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahgetshappy.