In July of 2010, vegan and animal-rights activist Gary Yourofsky stood before a classroom full of Georgia Tech students and gave the filmed lecture that has eventually become YouTube’s most viewed vegan speech.
The video wastes no time in setting the stage for what’s to come. It begins with scenes of Gary in handcuffs, being led away by police as he says with the unwavering confidence of a committed activist:
“Breaking laws, from Jesus Christ to Nelson Mandela, from Rosa Parks to Martin Luther King, laws have always been broken to facilitate substantive change.”
While his lecture covers considerable ground, here are some highlights:
About 30 minutes into his presentation, Gary makes a promise:
“Find a two-year-old child, place the child in a crib; in the crib put… a live bunny rabbit and an apple. If the child eats the bunny rabbit and plays with the apple… I’m gonna… buy everyone in this room a brand-new car.”
But he’s sure it’s one he’ll never have to keep — because“humans possess ZERO carnivorous instincts, ZERO omnivorous instincts… we’re all born vegan.”
In support of this assertion, he offers an anatomy lesson:
“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! That’s the same length of all herbivore animal intestines on this planet.”
The intestinal tracts of natural carnivores, Gary explains, measure only 3 to 6 times the length of their torsos “… so they can push through quickly, decaying and rotting animal flesh.”
Short digestive systems allow meat-eaters to consume:
• animal protein
• saturated fat
• trans-fatty acids
without ever developing clogged arteries.
One very personal reason for Gary’s passionate veganism? His grandfather, father and uncle died of heart attacks. His grandfather died of a stroke.
At the time of the speech, his step-father was taking seven prescription drugs to control heart disease. And his girlfriend’s father had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
He puts the blame for all that death and disease squarely at the feet of milk, meat, cheese and eggs.
Near the end of his talk, he turns his spotlight on the horrific animal abuse that had occurred on an Ohio “ma-n-pa” dairy farm. After showing the class undercoverfootage of the abuse, he confronts them:
“This happens because you wanna buy those products. Yeah, that guy is a scumbag for doing that, but he is doing that because YOU wanna eat what comes out of her body.”
The choice, he insists, is simple: “Be radically kind” or“Stay radically cruel.”
Among radical vegan activists, there’s no doubt that Gary is the real deal. The popularity of this speech doesn’t come from a polished delivery or positive message, butcomes from Gary’s unwavering, heartfelt belief in his causes and his rock-solid grasp of the facts supporting them.
I understand the desire to turn a blind eye to the difficult issues he discusses. But avoiding uncomfortable realities is not good. It only takes about an hour to watch the video.