by Jackie Alexander (Gainesville Sun)
The way to describe livestock raised to produce food for humans is slavery, rape and murder, said longtime animal rights activist Gary Yourofsky.
“I want you to think about if the moment you were born someone had planned the day of your execution,” he said, “because that’s what it’s like to be a cow, turkey or pig on this planet.”
Yourofsky, founder of Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today and Tomorrow, spoke to Professor Naima Brown’s social problems class at Santa Fe College about living a vegan lifestyle.
“Thou shalt not kill,” he said. “There’s not an asterisk next to that commandment.”
Yourofsky said he’s been arrested more than a dozen times and banned from five foreign countries. He also gave a lecture Tuesday at the University of Florida.
Brown said that some people believe the meat and dairy industry are social ills.
“On the other side, there are people who believe what (Yourofsky) does is a social problem,” she said.
Yourofsky showed a video depicting conditions inside various farms and slaughterhouses, likening it to slavery.
“Do you think they get manis and pedis and tummy rubs?” he asked.
Humans aren’t carnivores or even omnivores, Yourofsky said. From intestines to teeth to genetic makeup, humans were built to be herbivores, he said.
“You’ve been duped,” he said. “They’re killing you, they’re killing animals and they’re killing the planet.”
Yourofsky said vegetarians are also to blame for suffering, as they eat milk and cheese.
“I think there’s more cruelty in a glass of milk than a steak,” he said. “Every time you have a glass of cow milk, a baby cow does not.
Audience member Milo Neelands began to ask if there is a middle ground diet that is a “cruelty-free” way to eat locally grown meat. Neelands, a botany student, settled on “cruelty reduced.”
“A local murder is not better than a murder that happened in Nigeria,” Yourofsky said. “There’s no middle ground in being cruelty-free.”
Neelands said Yourofsky’s speech was compelling.
“My idea of an ethical diet is slightly different and a little more inclusive,” Neelands said.
Yourofsky said people have been conditioned to eat meat and that children wouldn’t harm animals. Children’s stories are full of cartoon animals, he said.
Brown said the lecture forced students to evaluate their lifestyles.
“We don’t want our children to know about slaughterhouses,” she said, thinking back to when she first learned of them. “It was tough to understand.”
But his speech won’t help change all people, Yourofsky said. Some students think that preaching peace, occupying Gainesville and sporting a “coexist” bumper sticker makes them environmentalists.
“That is not getting involved,” he said, recounting a time he freed hundreds of minks from a farm.
Although he’s proud of his record, Yourofsky said he’s stopped demonstrating — and wishes more animal activists would as well.
“In this day and age, demonstrations do nothing,” he said. “Nothing works but teaching somebody.”
“I am not here to be your enemy,” he said.