First off, I would just like to say, I find Gary Yourofsky to be one. angry. man. He travels to spread his angry message to youth. What is his message? Become a vegan and I’ll give you facts to back it up. It’s not the anger that I took offense to, though it highly agitated me, but the way he presents his message as facts without actually providing the facts.
Teachers have this activist with a long history of going to jail for breaking and entering come to ‘educate’ our youth. In my opinion his speech is not education, but an empassioned, guilt-trip where he orders and chastises the students to be vegan because the alternative is to violent, because all meat-eaters are violent.
He tops it off with a few thought-experiments, presented erroneously as facts. For example, if a two year old child is given an apple and a live bunny in it’s crib and chooses to eat the apply, then clearly humans are not innately carnivores. It’s a clever thought experiment, but NOT fact. Because of course, we assume that the child will not grab the bunny and take a bite.
Gary Yourofsky presents short films where animals from feedlots are slaughtered at slaughterhouses and treated abusively at what he calls ‘mom and pop farms.’ It comes with the order to not look away from the gory video. And don’t just feel sad, but do something. And the only thing to do about it is to never eat meat. A video does qualify as evidence but it comes with his statement, ‘trust me, these aren’t isolated incidents.’ His other facts primarily comprise of him saying, ‘trust me, there are facts to support this,’ however, he never does provide the facts to support his arguments.
At one point he says, there are scientific studies to support that humans don’t need meat to be healthy. He goes on to talk about how people have shown him studies about needing meat for health. Yet, he states, overall, there are 2x the studies for vegan diets vs. diets where protein comes from meat. More studies implies better information? What about the soundness of the studies and the types of studies. Some studies are not meant to provide evidence, but to provide a direction where future study may be warranted. He never goes into any detail about any of the studies.
I object and take offense to the entire format of his talks – his audience is college students who are there not by choice, but for a class, where he is invited in to speak and to educate. He gives all these non-facts disguised as facts when he really doesn’t provide any sound information at all. (Sometimes that happened in my university classes, too, and I took offense then, too.) On top of that, he bases his entire talk on telling people they are violent and cruel if they eat meat.
It is commonly known that being vegan is essentially for personal beliefs, and people don’t tend to argue or chastise vegans but respect them for it. It occurred to me that eating meat is also based on a personal belief system that animals were created by God to eat. There are also kosher laws about how meat is treated and blessed during the process of becoming food. Yet where is the respect for these personal or religious beliefs?
I believe we were also charged with caregiving the creatures of the earth – in other words, not to waste them or abuse them and to respect them for what they provide for our earth and for us. I find practices of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to be abhorent on many levels – from conditions to environmental to nutrition. Which is why, I primarily eat from organic farms. This may not be a perfect solution, but I much prefer to see animals grazing and spread out in natural surroundings. In the future, I want to visit local, organic farms to fain first-hand knowledge as to how these animals are treated and what they are fed. And there are several farms within twenty minutes from my city. I think this will make a great future post!
I take offense to someone calling me violent because I eat meat, and I take extreme offense to people saying they will give me facts and only pretend to give facts. Beyond that, eating in a vegan way needs to be planned for because there are some nutrient challenges and to stay healthy, one needs to know them. It’s a big deal to tell people to do this and then give them fake-meat options, like Gary did. You can’t replace meat in the diet with soy or wheat and msg and expect to be healthy. Youth need education and facts, rather than attempts to scare and frighten and shock them into a lifestyle change as a form of activism. I also take offense to that.
Convincing people to be vegan, if that is your mission, can be done in a loving, educational way. Isn’t being loving, compassionate and educational important values, if not THE central values to a vegan lifestyle? I think so, but I’m not vegan.
Here is a link to Gary’s speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=es6U00LMmC4&app=desktop
Here is a link to some real facts on a vegan lifestyle and how there are challenges that need to be planned for: http://www.wedge.coop/newsletter/august-september-2011/vegan-diets
Here is another link, shared by Jann Arden on her official facebook page, to a non-gory video used to convince people to stop eating meat along with an article with some facts: http://freefromharm.org/animal-cruelty-investigation/saddest-slaughterhouse-video-ever-shows-no-blood-or-slaughter/