Cause of death unknown
Sam de Brito, 46, an internationally syndicated author and columnist known for acerbic comments about vegetarians and vegans before becoming a vegan himself, was found dead on October 12, 2015 at his home in North Bondi, a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
The cause of death was not immediately known, but “Police are not treating his death as suspicious or a suicide,” wrote Sydney Morning Herald crime editor Nick Ralston, adding “Sam de Brito’s family described him as a wonderful and devoted father to his young daughter Anoushka,” age five, who was the subject of his last column.
“Confessions of a vegan”
De Brito wrote relatively little about animals and food issues, but among his most read and most widely distributed columns was “Confessions of a vegan,” published on August 3, 2014.
“Even saying the words ‘I’m a vegan’ still sounds alien, while the sense of shame I feel for my past sneering at these gentle people endures,” de Brito said.
“I realise I was once the bully I despised,” de Brito continued, “imposing my will upon creatures simply because evolution has gifted me a place at the top of the food chain. Even worse I would smirk while spooning the misery of other creatures into my mouth and disparage people’s attempts to explain why it might be wrong.
“Once the light goes on and you realize the food you so blithely eat actually causes massive, life-long, completely avoidable suffering to billions of animals, it’s not an easy epiphany to un-think,” de Brito acknowledged.
“A supermarket never looks the same. Butcher shops become very dark places. The perversity of using smiling anthropomorphized animals to advertise packages of their own body parts grows almost chilling.
“You also realize most vegans aren’t doing it for dietary or faddish reasons but out of compassion and a sense of fairness.
“Many also love the taste of meat, eggs and cheese (I certainly do),” de Brito confessed, “but realize you can easily survive and thrive without contributing to the almost unfathomable pain and distress inflicted on animals by factory farming.
“The enlargement of moral sympathy to include both genders, all races, most religions, the disabled, the poor –– even animals and the environment, might one day be judged the defining virtue of humans who lived in the 20th and 21st centuries,” de Brito predicted.
The column “Confessions of a vegan” was illustrated with paintings by Melbourne Gold Coast artist Jo Frederiks (several of them republished here), and concluded with a plug for her September 2014 exhibition entitled “Animal Holocaust.”
De Brito returned to food issues in one of his last columns, ripping into the heavy-on-meat “paleo” diet on August 29, 2015.
“All men are liars”
Summarized Ralston, “De Brito’s career as a writer spanned more than two decades. He worked in TV, film and newspapers. He also wrote five books including No Tattoos Before You’re Thirty, The Lost Boys, and Hello Darkness. He began writing his ‘All Men Are Liars’ column for the Fairfax media syndicate in 2006.”
Recalled Australian humane philanthropist Phil Wollen, whose Winsome Constance Kindness Foundation is named after his late mother, “Sam was a man of contradictions, gentle and sometimes harsh; confronting and cooperative; sometimes predictable, more frequently surprising. I once said that he was the ultimate democrat. He treated everyone equally brusquely! And by definition, equally kindly.
“I am deeply grateful for Sam’s public support of the animal protection movement in general, and veganism in particular,” Wollen wrote in a brief eulogy. “He was an outstanding journalistic beacon in a drab media landscape where powerless, brutalized animals are ignored or trivialized by flaccid, banal reportage.”