Beloved poet and animal advocate Benjamin Zephaniah died early Thursday morning (December 7) at the age of 65.
A post on Zephaniah’s official Instagram account said he was diagnosed with a brain tumor eight weeks ago. His wife was with him throughout his short illness and by his side when he passed, according to the post.
A vegan since he was a teenager, Zephaniah was a vocal advocate for animal rights. Recently, he condemned the UK’s badger cull and made a music video encouraging people to go vegan.
In December 2022, he wrote in The Guardian: “I am vegan because I love animals.” In the same article he said his New Year’s Resolution was to stop saying he didn’t eat meat and tell people he didn’t eat animals.
Zephaniah wrote more than a dozen books of poetry as well as several novels, children’s books, and plays.
But his creative talents didn’t stop with the written word. He acted in a number of film and television productions and released several albums. He also collaborated musically with artists including Sinead O’Connor and British house duo Swayzak.
As well as his animal rights advocacy, Zephaniah was known for a great deal of other activism. He spoke out against homophobia in Jamaica, where his mother was from. His experiences of racism featured in his writing and he collaborated with anti-racist group Newham Monitoring Project.