Kingston Zoom Walters, affectionately known in the animal rights community as King Zoom, has been vegan since birth. Born to a compassionate and highly intelligent vegan mother, Ms. Gillian Walters, King has become the manifestation of a truly loving childhood.
He grew up learning about gardening fresh fruits and vegetables and living a sustainable plant-based lifestyle. The family never visited zoos or aquariums except to protest, and he was schooled in the art of reading labels, particularly on food and personal care products. Also consistent with the family’s belief system, their companion animal was an adopted boxer. Purchasing animals, as a commodity, from a breeder or store was not a consideration.
“I knew I would never hurt my dog, so why would I want to hurt any other animals.”
His activism began at the age of 7 when he would set up lemonade stands and donate the money to local animal rescue centers.
At this point, he had already accumulated more knowledge than most adults about the horrors of animal exploitation through persistent research and reading and was compelled to do something about it.
Living along Canada’s British Columbia Coast, which is known for its dense Orca population, King Zoom sought to tackle a local problem. For school, he presented the story of Tilly (Tilikum), the infamous killer whale who drowned three trainers at SeaWorld. Unfortunately, Tilly died on January 6, 2017, nevertheless, his compelling story came to inspire the movement to end aquarium captivity.
King Zoom’s interest in Orcas led him to campaign for the ban of Cetaceans in Captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium. He handed out pamphlets and asked people to not purchase tickets. Some people responded with indifference, some were mad, but one family literally tore up their season passes and joined him in the protest. “That was exciting!” he said.
He furthered his efforts by speaking at the park’s board meeting to encourage them to pass the ban, which eventually was passed after years of hard work. In addition, he also wrote letters and sent videos to Canadian Senators asking them to pass Bill S-203. That historic bill set out to ban the sale of Cetaceans in Canada passed in 2019.
“I like to think of myself as an activist for all lives that are oppressed. I believe that all oppression – of animals, humans, and the planet – is all connected. The waste created from animal agriculture is directly linked to the climate crisis, and the pollution often makes nearby neighborhoods sick. Rainforests are demolished to make way for land to raise cows for food, killing indigenous peoples and wildlife. We must stop raising and eating animals, for the health of humans and our planet.”
Having been homeschooled since the 4th grade, King Zoom has not battled with the lack of healthy school lunch options like most children do. King Zoom’s mother, made the very definitive decision to home-school her son. This, she says, was based on many reasons, but most importantly so that her son’s education be founded on truth – about our food systems, indigenous people, and black history.
King Zoom’s activism and learning about exploitation have been a cornerstone of his education. Projects that have come out of this intuitive arrangement include his YouTube Channel which he created in 10th grade and his brand new cookbook which he just launched this year titled Quarantine Cookbook – Plant-Based Recipes to Save Our Planet (BlurbBooks).
His first speech took place at the Victoria Vegan Festival to a crowd of over 1,000 people. “I was extremely nervous and shaking, but when I got up to speak and heard the support of the crowd, I knew I could do it.” At the Utah Animal Liberation Conference, where he opened for PeTA’s Ingrid Newkirk and told his story accompanied by a slide show; he received a standing ovation. He also spoke as part of a panel of speakers with another young activist from Toronto, Canada, about what it was like to be a child activist.
As part of the Animal Hero Kids program, he received the Kind2All Award in Florida and spoke when the Extinction Rebellion locked down the Burrard Bridge in Vancouver.
His other speaking engagements have included ALC online, Voices for the Voiceless Summit, Sunshine Coast Vegan Festival, Animal Liberation, Veg Expo Vancouver, Roaring Silence, Capilano University VegFest, and Vegtoria, to name a few. His most memorable experiences were interviewing Jane Goodall when he was just 10 years old and working alongside Academy Award winner James Cromwell on a direct action, at one of the largest pig breeding facilities in the U.S.
King has also been on the front lines of a number of historic protests, marches, direct actions, and rescues. In June of 2019, he traveled with over 100 activists to Reichardt Duck Farm in Petaluma, CA. They stormed the farm to protest the cruel conditions for the birds, some even chaining themselves to each other in solidarity. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s office along with other neighboring law enforcement agencies detained 10 protestors for trespassing and eventually, 98 activists were arrested. Imagine how much courage it took for him – at 15 years of age – to participate in such an emotionally charged event.
But courage and patience are not things King Zoom lacks by any stretch of the imagination. During a City Hall meeting, discussing a new hospital to be built, he waited for over two hours to be called to speak. When he was finally called to the podium, King Zoom spoke on behalf of the animals and asked that animal testing labs be left out of their plans.
“I wasn’t sure they were listening, but it felt good to know that I could speak up for the animals.”
His passion for animals and being a voice for them hasn’t stopped him from marching right into a Whole Foods Market and disrupting business as usual. Standing near the “dead animal sections,” as he calls it, claiming the animals as his friends, repeating as customers pass by “These are my friends, please don’t eat them!” Yet another thought-provoking form of activism.
“Veganism to me means not contributing to the harm of any individual from a bug to a tree to a cow, pig, dog, or human. It is not about being perfect, but once you know the truth you can act, and I believe we have a duty to do so. Veganism to me is about love and respect for all living beings.
Covid-19 and the climate crisis are direct signs that animal exploitation is the reason. I actually think a lot more young people are on board with veganism; they just need the support and the information to speak out. It helps to have a support team.”
King Zoom understands that adults can be defensive when they are approached about veganism; “I approach people with kindness when I tell my story” he says. Because of this inherent kindness, he seems to exude with absolutely no effort, he has inspired so many to make changes in their lives.
His advice to adults: “Be kind, be a role model and think about future generations to come.”
He urges us to be congruent with our beliefs and actions. “It doesn’t make sense that here in Canada we have a new Canadian Food Guide that has eliminated the dairy category, yet our government still subsidizes the dairy industry. We all need to lobby our governments and urge them to transition to a more sustainable plant-based food system.”
Presently he is supporting the Indigenous land defenders who are taking direct action at Port Renfrew which is the unceded territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation (Children of the Sea Foam). Their initiative is to stop the logging of old-growth ancient Red Cedar where the threatened Western Screech Owl lives, as well as thousands of other species, including the hummingbirds, deer, and the ecosystem, all of which cannot be replaced.
He is also working on the Nation Rising campaign to end animal agriculture subsidies. By meeting with local MPs and sending emails asking them to end animal agriculture subsidies he is encouraging government to shift billions of dollars away from subsidizing harmful food system practices and invest in healthier plant-based alternatives.
This summer he is organizing a group in his city of British Columbia to distribute free vegan meals to people who are houseless.
Lately, with the pandemic canceling most if not all speaking events, he thought he would create something to not only stay busy and continue his work but also inspire others; he published his own cookbook, Quarantine Cookbook – Plant-Based Recipes to Save Our Planet.
His book, published by BlurbBooks and available here is full of original recipes from mushroom omelets to raspberry cheesecake. It includes tips on nutrition, meal planning, and prep, organic shopping, and how to stay positive during these difficult times.
King and his mother have done several presentations on self-care. Something he says is extremely important to the life of an activist. At such a young age he has a very clear understanding of self-care and how vital it is for us in the animal rights movement. He recognizes the toll that animal rights activism can take: the sights we see daily and the empathy we have for the animals who are victimized every day. We need balance to counteract the heartache we feel so often from our work. In Quarantine Cookbook, King talks about this; he calls it “King Zoom’s Positive Vibes”. At home, he and his mom cook meals together, conduct research together, and plan strategies on how they can spread the message of veganism together; this he really enjoys. He also recognizes that not all kids are lucky enough to have a vegan mom and a family that supports them.
He encourages other children who want to live a vegan lifestyle, “Gather resources, videos, books, pamphlets, maybe a few podcasts. Whatever you can think of that your family will be open to. Watch a movie together and discuss it afterward. Cook a vegan meal together. Explain all the health benefits of plant-based eating. Challenge them; ask if they would try going plant-based for a week. Maybe encourage them to bear witness-that makes a big impact. Just do not get discouraged if they do not turn vegan right away, remember you are planting a seed.”
His advice is as good as any adult’s I have heard. Let’s all keep our eye on King Zoom. He and others like him ARE the future of The Animal Rights Movement and Planet Earth. I feel that, with King, animals do have someone really special in their corner. Stay golden King Zoom!
To follow King Zoom, find out more about his activism, his plans for the future, and how you can get involved use the links provided below.