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Who is Yootab Zarei, VeganNation’s Global Ambassador in Iran

VeganNation’s global ambassadors are in charge of spreading the word and bringing vegans all over the world together, reaching places and people who are not necessarily aware of their potential to make an impact. We have ambassadors in Germany, the UK, the US, South Africa, India, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Israel, France, and Spain and recently reached an incredible milestone with our new ambassador in Iran, Yootab Zarei. Yootab, a Singer, Sculpture, Poet, Environmentalist, Cultural Heritage, and World Peace Activist shares her compelling story, allowing a glimpse to Iran from her perspective and life-long experience. “I feel a responsibility as an artist to reveal the truth, even if it’s very bitter,” she says.

“The worst possible time for a woman to be born in Iran”

Yootab was born in 1974 in Shiraz, one of the oldest cities in Iran, known for its beautiful gardens and rich history. She grew up in a strict Islamic household together with her two sisters and three brothers. “It was the worst possible time for a woman to be born in Iran,” she says. During the 70’s, a campaign of civil resistance in Iran developed into an uproar and resulted in the 2500-year-old Persian monarchy being overthrown and replaced by the Ayatollah regime. During the years following the rise of the new government, the country, that was once a pro-western, liberal, progressive nation quickly became a reportedly undemocratic, closed-off Islamic republic. As part of the religious climate taking over, women’s rights were abated as new regulations and laws restricting their freedom and independence arose.

At the tender age of twelve, Yootab was married off by her family to a much older man, as was and still is traditionally practiced in some part of Iran. “I was born in a place where women are not allowed to create their destiny” she proclaims. “I was not able to study what I wanted, to sing or even decide whom I wish to spend my life with. The government created laws that made us cover our body and hair with black materials resulting in the covering of our mind and independence”. The marriage lasted for twelve years until she was finally able to convince her family to let her get a divorce. Yootab then started a new chapter in her life, fighting for the ability to have her voice and opinions be heard. “I was trying to make my own unique destiny and ignore all the darkness that was surrounding me and my country.”

A New Dawn

In 2003, Yootab left Iran for South Africa where she started aviation studies, aspiring to become a pilot. Her new surroundings and new found independence allowed for her longtime love for animals and the planet to surface. “My marriage and that time in my life made me feel very lonely. I felt like the animals, trees and beautiful sky were my friends, there to protect, me and listen to me”. Yootab started using art in various forms, to advocate that special bond. In 2011, during a visit to Cape Town, she met Dawn MacFarlane, who inspired Yootab to take her love for the planet to the next level by becoming a vegan. “There were no Vegans around me Until I met Dawn in Cape Town while on a volunteer mission of the United Nation Association of South Africa. I found out that I cannot talk about caring for the environment and mother earth without practicing it first hand. I decided to go for more sustainable foods and Veganism To start the change I was looking for from within”.

Fighting For Change

Yootab returned to Iran in 2011 to fight for the causes she believes in. She is advocating for human and animal rights and global peace through her activism, art, and music. As women are not really allowed to sing in public in Iran (only to an all-woman audience), she records her songs undercover.

A few months ago, Dawn and her husband, Ian, had once again made an impact on Yootab’s life by introducing her to the VeganNation family. “I feel blessed to be connected to VeganNation and share this global effort as an ambassador in Iran. Each ambassador is a real world peace advocate, trying to change the world with compassion, something my country desperately needs”.

The hardships of being an environmentalist in Iran have caught recent headlines with multiple arrests of activists and the suspicious death in prison of Kavous Seyed-Emami, an Iranian-Canadian university professor and a prominent environmentalist. Seyed-Emami ran the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation (PWHF) and died in the Iranian prison, in what authorities claim to be a suicide. A claim disparaged by Seyed-Emami’s family. Yootab is not letting these troubling times discourage her from following her life’s mission. “My vision is a world where both animals and human beings are free. A world without exploitation or cruelty against any living beings”.

Having an Iranian ambassador and breaking geographical borders is what VeganNation is all about. Our global community gives a voice for everyone, regardless of their place of birth, religion or gender.

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Isaac Thomas

Isaac Thomas

CEO and Co-Founder VeganNation, bringing with him 17 years of entrepreneurship experience in acquiring, developing, consulting, and leading visionary projects.

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