9th October 2003
For immediate release
Julia Stephenson Becomes Patron of Viva!
Challenging her media image of the shallow, shopping 'It
- girl', Chelsea author, one-time parliamentary candidate
and socialite, Julia Stephenson, has become patron of the
animal campaigning group, Viva!. She joins Hayley Mills, Benjamin
Zephaniah, Wendy Turner-Webster and Michael Mansfield QC in
her new caring role.
After entering a pig farm one night with Viva! and seeing
for herself the cruel realities of the meat industry, Julia
recently took part in a television debate against a pig farmer
and attacked conditions in factory farms (Weekend with
Rod Liddle and Kate Silverton). She was also seen on BBC2's
Chelsea Tales discussing her feelings about animals,
her vegetarianism and how her beliefs fit into her privileged
Julia is part of the Vestey family owners of the Dewhurst
chain of butchers shops. It is from meat that her fortune
comes and so Julia is an unlikely rebel for an even more unlikely
cause. However, she takes the position calmly and with understanding:
"I'm aware that my economic freedom comes from the very
thing I find so hard to stomach. I have both gratitude and
respect for my forefathers but times have changed and the
meat industry is now one of unprecedented brutality, where
compassion and health considerations are totally abandoned
in favour of greed and profit."
Julia's petite stature, blonde hair and elegant beauty seem
to have diverted attention from the deeply sympathetic and
considerate activist within. From the age of 14 she has been
campaigning for animal rights and appealing to people's consciences.
She began by bombarding butchers with leaflets and coercing
her father's factory staff into signing petitions, and now
uses her beliefs as plots for her current novels. On accepting
her role as patron - a very different title to those her family
are used to - Julia said: "I feel proud that I have been
able to see the truth behind modern farming, and even prouder
to become part of an energetic organisation such as Viva!
who are motivated by a love of animals rather than a hatred
of people for eating them."