If you don’t have time right now to watch the video, I’ve highlighted key quotes from it at the end of my post. Thanks to Laura Marie for posting the full transcript.
The Man, Message and Method
Gary is an interesting figure. He’s charismatic, passionate and delivers stirring speeches filled with eye-opening facts and radical yet logical, thought-provoking analogies that make his arguments hard to refute. He says he’s not a politician, so he doesn’t use euphemisms or sugarcoat the ugly reality of factory farmed animals. Bacon is pig flesh, eggs are hen periods, honey is bee vomit, and milk is cow secretions (BTW, milk has pus—and even if it's pasteurized, it's still there). Some may find him abrasive, but to me, he’s merely telling people (particularly non-vegans) the hard truth—the grisly, gory facts.
His message: have compassion, empathy and respect for all living things. His method: shock value. Gary, who’s Jewish, is famously known for comparing slaughterhouses to the Holocaust (a parallel drawn from a quote by the late Yiddish writer, Nobel-Prize winner, and profound voice for the animals, Isaac Bashevis Singer, who wrote in the Letter Writer, “In relation to them [animals], all people are Nazis; for the animals it is eternal Treblinka.”).
In an interview with Metro.co.uk, Gary says, "Singer's indictment is probably the most damning statement ever made about humankind. It establishes the fact that violence is violence and murder is murder even if the victims have beaks, horns, gills, feathers or fur. Animals were the first victims of slavery, oppression and murder, which is how humans perfected these psychotic techniques for use on each other." He further supports that belief saying, "The fact that Heinrich Himmler, the Gestapo commander who created the Jewish Holocaust's gas chamber system, was a mass murderer of chickens before orchestrating the mass murder of humans makes the aforesaid point impossible to impugn."
Speciesism: The Root of All Evil
Gary frequently talks about the problem of speciesism, which is far worse than racism. He defines species-ism as “the unethical, unprincipled point of view, that the human species has every right to exploit, enslave and murder another species.” It’s the idea that we as humans believe we’re more superior than all other species on this planet—that our lives, needs and selfish desires trump the wellbeing of other species.
It couldn’t be more opposite: all species on this planet are and should be seen on the same level. According to Gary, “discrimination is evil on its foundation” and that we can’t be selective about what is evil and what is not. He says that “speciesism IS the root cause of racism, sexism, heterosexism, classicism, and every other evil ‘ism’ that exists.”
Highlights from “Best Speech You Will Ever Hear – Gary Yourofsky”
I’m coming back to this video of Gary’s speech because it truly is the most effective gateway to becoming vegan. I was blown away when I first watched it. I was vegetarian but it inspired me to finally make the full commitment to veganism. In fact, in that first week of being vegan, my boyfriend and I re-watched Gary’s speech to inspire us to stick with it.
My challenge to you to watch the video in full still stands, but here are some of the more compelling, thought-provoking quotes from it:
“…if you think there is such a thing as humane slaughter. I’m curious, do you also think there is such a thing as humane rape? Humane child molestation? Humane slavery? How about humane holocaust?”
“What is your definition of a holocaust? Is it a massacre of human beings, or a massacre of innocent beings?”
“Every year in America, without mercy, we murder 10 billion land animals, and 18 billion marine animals. Not for health, survival, sustenance or self-defense. People eat meat, cheese, milk and eggs for 4 reasons: Habit, Tradition, Convenience, Taste.”
(It's important to note that tradition does NOT mean it's ethical. Think about it: In America, it's tradition to have cats and dogs as pets, not to eat them, which is the culture in other countries.)
“…if we all understand that animals use their eyes to see, ears to hear, noses to smell, mouths to eat, legs to walk, feathers to fly, fins to swim, genitalia to procreate, bowels to defecate.. I’m always perplexed that most people don’t believe that they can also use their brains to think, feel, be rational, be aware and be self-aware.”
Brainwashing and Blinders
“…if somebody was mean to an animal in front of us when we were little, we would have screamed and cried. And that’s because we all used to understand right from wrong, when it came to the treatment of animals. Until somebody told us, and taught us differently.”
“…hatred, in its purest form, is a learned behavior. Racism. Sexism. Heterosexism. Antisemitism. Misogyny. These are all learned behaviors!...So species-ism is no different.”
“When you examine any form of injustice, whether humans are victims or animals are victims, please remember the victim’s point of view. …when YOU’RE not the victim, it becomes pretty easy to rationalize and excuse cruelty, injustice, inequality, slavery, and even murder. But when you’re the victim, things look a lot differently from that angle.”
“…if you choose to eat meat, cheese, milk and eggs…you are obligated to see the pain and suffering you are causing. But if you do feel the need to turn away or close your eyes during this video, you might want to ask yourself a question: If it’s not good enough for my eyes, then why is it good enough for my stomach?”
“How would you feel, if the day that you were born, somebody else had already planned the day of your execution? That’s what it’s like to be a cow, a pig, a chicken or a turkey on this planet. I think this type of behavior is inexcusable, an unbecoming of a species that claims to understand right from wrong.”
“98% of animals who are abused and killed on this planet, are abused and killed by the meat, dairy and egg industries…And in America, from birth until death, each meat eater consumes around 3000 land animals, and thousands of other marine animals. Those are USDA stats.”
Humans as Herbivores, Not Carnivores/Omnivores
"Are you aware that physiologically the human body is actually 100% herbivorous? Plant eaters. The length of our intestines are somewhere between 7 to 13 times the length of our torso, our trunk. That’s the same length of all herbivore animal intestines on this planet. ... We grind and chew when we eat. If you grind and chew when you eat...you are an herbivore. The jaws of carnivores and omnivores can only go up and down, vertically, rip and swallow, there’s no chewing, grinding, side to side action."
"...when we’re born, young and growing up, we’re all born vegan. We just acquire a taste for meat, cheese, milk and eggs after their forced down our throats during childhood. ... Eat what comes from the earth. ... Protein, calcium, iron, potassium, all the B-vitamins, you have an original source, and it ain’t the animals. ...people eat animals AFTER the animals have already eaten from the earth. ... Stop filtering your nutrients through somebody else’s body. It’s illogical and irrational."
"I know about the other things that can lead to an ailment, But the 4 main factors [of our main diseases like heart disease, most cancers, diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity] are found inside of meat, cheese, milk and eggs: Cholesterol. Saturated fat. Trans fatty acids. Animal protein."
The Dairy Industry Myth
"...when I travel the country, boy meat eaters pull me aside all the time and say: Hey Gary, we eat meat cause you get everything you need from meat. All the vitamins, all the minerals all the nutrients. Well how come in this meat, cheese, milk, egg eating society that we all live in, every city has not only 1, but 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 vitamin stores?"
"I thought everybody was getting calcium from the animal products. That’s what the meat and dairy people say. « Newsflash! » You don’t. Animal protein won’t allow it. Animal protein makes your blood acidic, so your body takes calcium phosphate out of the bones. Phosphate to neutralize, calcium gets excreted through the urine."
Root Cause of World Hunger
"Root cause of world hunger – meat eating societies. 65% of the worlds grains are set aside every year to feed 53 billion land animals that are killed every year on this planet."
Quitting Meat for Ethics, Not Taste
"I LOVE THE WAY MEAT TASTES. ... I did not stop eating this stuff because of a ‘taste’ issue. I stopped for ethics. Morality. Decency. Compassion to the animals that I share this planet with."
"How come this stuff [soy chicken, soy bacon, etc.] is considered gross to most people… but meat? Meat’s got five components...blood, flesh, veins, muscles and tendons – the cut up corpse of a dismembered body. How does meat not qualify as gross and disgusting to everybody?"
No Such Thing as Happy Dairy Cows
"Did you know that 90% of hamburger meat in America comes from the dairy industry? When cows no longer give huge amounts of milk after 3 to 7 years – slaughterhouse, no exceptions. If ever given a change, cows can live to be 18 to 25."
"In order for a female mammal to give milk, she has to be pregnant. Every year, every cow on every dairy farm is raped! A long steel device, shoved into their vaginas to inject them with bull semen, or sometimes they use a bare hand. This forces the milk flow. And after she gives birth, babies are stolen. And let me tell you something, the worse scream I have ever heard, and I’ve heard them all first hand."
"Worst scream I have ever heard! : A mother cow on a dairy farm, as she screams and bawls her lungs out day after day for her stolen baby, to be given back to her. And I can only imagine, the same scream every woman in this room would make, if somebody held you down after birth and stole your newborn baby from you."
"And when we’re done weaning, we never need one drop of milk ever again. No species on this planet needs milk after they’re done weaning."
Check out the video below of the FAQ session that followed Gary's speech at Georgia Tech.