In the last couple of weeks, the animal rights movement has lost one of its most passionate advocates.
No, I’m not referring to Ex-Vegan YouTube drama star Joe Vegan, but to Gary Yourofsky, whose exit from the animal rights movement has been much quieter than Joe’s. Yourofsky is widely credited with setting off Israel’s intense vegan revolution, and his speeches and demonstrations have changed the minds of thousands around the world.
The night I decided to go vegan, one of the (many) videos I saw that influenced my decision was Gary Yourofsky’s “Best Speech Ever”. This speech (found in various incarnations around YouTube) has influenced tens of thousands of people to go vegan.
Gary Yourofsky Retires from Activism
On March 30, Yourofsky wrote his “Final Social Media Post” on Facebook. After declaring his intention to abandon activism, he clarified a number of comments he’s made in the past. I appreciate that he took back a number of controversial statements, including that there are “no vegan rapists”. He also apologized for his characterization of the Palestinian people and his assertion that a vegan world would be a peaceful world. He now recognizes that while veganism is the right thing to do, it can’t eliminate human depravity. Veganism, he confesses, is about the animals, not about us.
Unsurprisingly, Yourofsky doesn’t back down on his more misanthropic statements, but I wouldn’t expect him to. He refers to humanity as “the nastiest, filthiest, deadliest parasitic-organisms to ever infect The Universe.” He also condemns pacifists.
Now, I’m one of those non-violent vegans that Yourofsky simply can’t stand. But I admire him, and his influence on the animal rights community has been tremendous. But I also understand how years of intense activism could take its toll on a person. Yourofsky certainly deserves a break.
Philosopher and animal rights theorist Tom Regan (who passed away earlier this year) stated in a recent interview that his biggest concern about the vegan movement most is activist burnout. Activists cease work every day from sheer exhaustion.
Yourofsky’s most well-known disciple is probably Emily, the Bite Size Vegan here on YouTube. Emily has been going through her own version of activist burnout. But I hope with a little rest and relaxation she’ll be right back on top of things. Still, it goes to show how prevalent activist burnout really is.