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The Hard Truth: Why Be Vegan? | Gary Yourofsky’s Conversion Story

Sometimes the most powerful testament to a vegan lifestyle is hearing the conversion story of a formerly resistant non-vegan.  Most of us vegans started out eating meat, dairy, eggs, and honey and vegan activist Gary Yourofsky was no different.  He was stubborn and set in his ways.  It wasn't until he decided to face the reality behind the food on his plate that he started to make a change.  In this interview, Gary shares his powerful confrontation with the truth: he literally came face-to-face with the atrocities of the animal products industry by spending six weeks in a pig slaughterhouse.  And what he saw there changed him forever.

To hear his full answer, be sure to watch the video, but here is a nugget:

“I saw the pigs at the slaughterhouse, I knew I had to make a decision.  Was I going to be their friend or their enemy?  I chose to be their friend and not their enemy.  I did not want to be a two-legged devil to these creatures anymore.  There's a quote from a bishop from Britain, William Ralph Inge.  In an 18th century sermon, this man actually said, ‘we have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so horribly, that beyond a doubt, if they ever formed and organized religion, the devil would be depicted in human form.'  It breaks my heart to hear that statement because it cannot be impugned.”

I'd love to hear your story of conversion, if you're vegan, and whether your vegan or not, I'd love to know your thoughts on the issues brought up in this interview segment.  Let me know in the comments!

And stay tuned for more installations of Gary's interview series. I'll be posting behind-the-scenes footage and questions that don't make it on the main channel to the VIV Area here: get the password free when you sign up for the Nugget Newsletter!  Just use the form at the bottom of this post :)

See ya next nugget!







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  1. EconDemocracy on November 17, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Painful parallels here: she was told quietly “I know you’re right” but they continued to do and say the same thing, only here the “they” are non-vegan vegetarians…sad, emotionally painful, but worthwhile to listen:

    “Hypocrisy, Cognitive Dissonance, Vegetarianism and Atheism”


    Also I think we Americans especially can learn from her and perhaps from her Australian culture how not to water down our feelings but at the same time not to go just to an “angry place” of outrage only…listen to her strength, her going to a place of deep sadness without going right to, or only to, a place of fury and outrage and anger, which seems so common (and by which I’m not immune from being contaminatef by either, I admit) but so common especially in our American culture and media..

    I do disagree with her indirectly implying that vegetarians are just hopeless …I think that was just one example, her personal interaction…there are some like that…but not all are like that…In fact I think vegetarians are one of the top if not the number one under-utilized audience for vegan outreach to….

    And just to share a personal story, many years ago, around 1999, and it was very iffy to mention AR at all but I mentioned just a very least-controversial point to a colleague over a meal saying that well, at least most people agree that it’s wrong to kill and eat a chimp, so whether one agrees or not on “where to draw the line” that’s at least a point of agreement to start with.

    And the fellow says, no, he thinks it’s ok to kill and eat a chimp. I could have fallen out of my chair, with shock. I didn’t know what to say but it’s a good thing I didn’t go into “shout at him” or anything like that, I just said, directly or indirectly maybe, just indicated, that we might as well move on to other areas.

    Well we did..but less than 5 minutes later, maybe a bit less (mayhbe 1 minute later, not sure, it was 14-15 years ago…but just on his own) he says to me, “oh, I didn’t really mean that” but not like he was pulling my leg the first time…no, he had meant it the first time, but he just needed some time to think about it, or to make peace with admitting it to me, that he agrees it’s wrong to kill a chimp just for fun etc…

    I think a lesson I take from this is sometimes less is more….Don’t push people, when their backs are to the wall, if we say something too strong it can backfire and they get defensive, and if I had said “what?? you’re crazy! you’re evil” or something like that, he might have only dug in his heels…I don’t know for sure of course, but it was beautiful to see him on his own (without my pushing him) just bring is up on his own, again and to say to me “oh, well I didn’t really meant that” shows that a soft or less is more approach can work. Yes at times people need to be (politely and lovingly) “pushed” but tactically as well as interpersonal ethically, not pushing people can bring a breakthrough sometimes.

    Heck, maybe even the person she in this video was talking to, whose reaction was so depressingly self-dishonest, might actually have planted inside them the seeds of what she said to them and while initially “went back to square one” might later on, “get it” and stop consuming dairy since they know that too ends with killing…

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