I felt compelled to write this blog post following a discussion thread which took place on Vegan New Zealand Facebook page yesterday and also following on from an unpleasant altercation which happened to me two days before on the Vegan humour Facebook page.
Gary Yourofsky is an example of a bad vegan role model. Someone who for reason of some likely high level sentimentality towards animals and convincing rhetorical arguments about the value of being vegan has gained something of a 'cult' following. I'm not saying there is anything bad about being vegan, since I am one myself and I think there is wonderful potential for self development in this and making a positive impact. I think good healthy Vegan advocacy is also a great thing as and when appropriate.
What concerns me about Gary Yourofsky is he would seem to fall into a category of person whereby Veganism becomes such a leading force to the exclusion of all else. As if someone who drives an electric car for example while at the same time doing some thing noble would somehow be able to get away with doing whatever they wanted, criticise and show such disdain towards the rest of humanity who for ever reason don't want to do that. This is a stance which in my view and I feel in many people's views hurts the movement. This is in the sense of Vegans being seen as a bunch of maddies and also not promoting Veganism in a healthy way which is devoid of such things as sexism, racism, homophobia etc etc.
It was 3 days ago when I posted on Vegan humour in response to a post where people were putting across and commenting that everyone should be vegan since rice and beans is obviously so cheap and it was nonsense to say it was too expensive. From memory I may have even liked the post then in my comment wrote how I thought the post contained some truth for sure although we needed to be aware that Veganism was very white male in how it is put across. I quoted my friend who lived in Tuvalu and how there it was impossible to be vegan due to almost a standard dish of rice and fish. My friend said it was one time she swayed on veganism and felt ultimately it was of the best compassionate choice. After saying that I was immediately hit with comments of calling me 'narrow minded' twice as someone started telling me how true the original post was. Their post was immediately hit with several likes. They then started to say how Thailand had a lot of Vegan selection of food so therefore I was incorrect. I wrote a coherent response referring to how white privileged Veganism can be as we know it and promote it and it is important to check that. I referred to an article I found very easily through a google search to display this. I was then called 'a fucking idiot' by another poster. A third poster then joined in talking about how I was implying that a black person couldn't be vegan and that what I was saying made no sense since there were more female than male vegans in America. I eventually had to bow out and block 3 peoples as I felt I was being bullied then someone else stepped in and supported my perfectly reasonable point.
I say that in background because although Gary Yourofsky had nothing to do with that conversation it was his type of rhetoric which is certainly linked to this terrible Vegan militant closed minded way of viewing things that we need to move away from. An image of the race horse wearing blinkers comes to mind (apologies for the non vegan example). It was yesterday when I came across a post this time on Vegans New Zealand. It came from a comment supporting Gary Yourofsky and a series of respondents followed it. There was incredible amount of evidence showing things he had been saying of a terribly negative nature. Now to be clear these were not cherry picked items like someone cutting and pasting that someone called someone a 'dick' on a Facebook post and using that to discredit someone. These were absolutely incredibly distasteful pieces of rhetoric showing the way he feels and thinks about people and the world. I will give some examples here and I want you as the reader to really take a breath and search inside yourself what you actually think of someone who says these kind of things. The first here was presented by me to someone as I discuss more below. There were other examples on the page. The rest were posted the day after on a facebook friends page who I assume was still annoyed from the blind following this man seems to have. Now I'm just presuming here (unless he's made huge apologies) he does not see anything wrong this. Keep in mind this is a public figure on Veganism speaking about things. There are many but here are just a few for the purpose of this. You may get the general idea after the first. It's not necessary to read them all which is why I have closed them off but they are there if you want to really read them all which do seem from all I have seen to really just be a snapshot of what he is like.
Exhibit 1: From a facebook conversation in which a poster says that he had a friend over who started to go on about plants having feelings. Gary's response is 'Next time SPIT in her face and kick her in the cunt'. I'll add that his comment here was liked by numerous people. Here is the link https://www.facebook.com/therealgaryyourofsky/posts/933861400001617?hc_location=ufi
A beautiful collection of others posted by a facebook friend.
"Deep down, I truly hope that oppression, torture and murder return to each uncaring human tenfold! I hope that fathers accidentally shoot their sons on hunting excursions, while carnivores suffer heart attacks that kill them slowly. Every woman ensconced in fur should endure a rape so vicious that it scars them forever. While every man entrenched in fur should suffer an anal raping so horrific that they become disemboweled. Every rodeo cowboy and matador should be gored to death, while circus abusers are trampled by elephants and mauled by tigers. And, lastly, may irony shine its esoteric head in the form of animal researchers catching debilitating diseases and painfully withering away because research dollars that could have been used to treat them was wasted on the barbaric, unscientific practice of vivisection."
"I am a proud advocate of violence as EVIL people deserve NOTHING but evil in return. Only a fatuous fool who is concerned about politics would advocate pacifism."
"While my lifestyle and lectures are based on compassion, those who refuse to stop harming animals force me to support 'eye for an eye' and 'by any means necessary' philosophies."
"Rapists, murderers and child molesters should be vivisected, executed and dissected, allowing researchers the opportunity to gather useful information that would actually benefit human health for a change."
"I think his penis and balls should be seared off with a cuticle remover slowly, and then I think two skewers should be shoved into their eye sockets, dragged into another room. And then I think their penis and balls should be dipped into diarrhea and puke. They should be given the option of eating that and then they can save their lives. And if they do eat it, I want to take a gun, put it between their eyes and say ‘I was just kidding’."
What I found amazing on the Vegan New Zealand page which I linked back to what had happened to me on the Vegan Humour forum a few days before was this incredible following for him and this almost transfixed militant nature around Veganism. As if somehow he could just say whatever he wants and that's okay. I quoted the first post I put above to a female poster to show what he was like to which she said 'What do you find wrong with that?' I directed them to the very well thought out posts of a strong feminist friend of mine and a well worded post by another friend on the thread because to be honest I barely knew where to start. Also I did not want to be involved in the drama I had on the other forum prior. The person then wrote 'I'm with Gary all the way !!!!' Again this was liked by several people.
It seems important again to say that being Vegan and saying good things about Veganism does not make someone a good person. Being Vegan is a positive thing, maybe not for everyone but certainly for some people and a path for personal growth. Being Vegan itself is not an end point. To identify it as such to the exclusion of all else is incorrect in a sense of a developing a healthy personality and being able to advocate properly. I'm sure every Vegan including me have been through an angry phase. We can't believe what people have done and we want others to wake up to and lift the veil and to join us. That's all fair but it's a phase that in my view should become integrated into character where we can be well managed and to promote Veganism in a way that is constructive and healthy and inclusive.
There were some quotes on the forum yesterday that said that some people may respond to Gary's approach who can't be changed by more 'hippy' kind of way of relating. Well there is something to be said that a more narcissistic attitude can cause political shifts to happen quicker. I ultimately disagree however that such an approach really over time does overall good. If you think of a grounded person, someone centred, talking and discussing they simply do not have that kind of Narcissistic nature. Being grounded too and compassionate is not 'hippyish' but is actually centred and is a way in my view to have the most and best influence and the way to be a true role model. If we take for example Gandhi (actually a vegetarian) who was able to create so much positive change through kindness and compassion. Veganism is a movement of compassionate living. It would seem to me in the case of Gary Yourofsky that he isn't particularly compassionate at all. It's more of a sentimentality and anger around the abuse of animals which charges him forward and he gets this following from people who don't have a solid sense of themselves and really think through the kind of person he actually is and what he is actually saying.
Take a think about role models and qualities you value in a person....
I personally think of honesty, kindness, compassion, integrity, strength. It would seem that our man here is showing little or none of these. Certainly not on my role model list anyway.
A facebook friend today said that Gary Yourofsky is like the Donald Trump of Veganism. I felt this made total sense. Similar to Donald Trump it seemed that his mentality was not based on guiding through example and being a role model. Rather it was based on latching onto people's fear and weak points which I feel is why we get this cultish tunnel visioned following who are not actually stopping and thinking for themselves. It seems to me the same as the way Trump latches onto a concern people have about immigration then saying 'Well lets build a wall' !!! Then his following are like 'Yeah!!!!!!!!' . It's not based on a grounded heartfelt viewpoint which therefore makes him as a role model totally inappropriate.
If you are following him I would encourage you to seriously take a step back and question how he talks. He should take responsibility to be a good role model if he is in that position and so far he has shown he is anything but. Take your own power back.
In therapy we often talk about the relationship between the narcissist and co narcissist. The Narcissist prays on the weak points and insecurities of others and that is the kind of following he has and the way people I feel are being mislead to think this is okay. There is some element of 'Stockholm Syndrome' taking place where people protect and defend him in an unquestioning way. I encourage you to research into that too. Take your power back. Recognise what a great thing you have done in becoming Vegan and then demand and challenge role models to behave in a socially admirable manner, something our man 'Gary' here is clearly not doing.