For 25 years, nobody ate more meat than Gary Yourofsky. He wore leather shoes and even owned a goat fur coat.
But now, at age 36, Yourofsky is a vegan activist. He neither eats nor wears anything that once had a face, a mother or a bowel movement.
Yourofsky is the founder of the Royal Oak-based animal rights organization, ADAPTT (Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today and Tomorrow). Lean, toned, and just a little bald, he delivers his litany to college classrooms around the country. Since ADAPTT’s 1996 inception, Yourofsky has given nearly 1,000 lectures — and on Nov. 14, he spoke at Wayne State University.
Yourofsky shows footage he took himself showing the gruesome inside of slaughterhouses. Cows are chopped up and baby chicks run through grinders. He uses “Even God Must Get the Blues” by Jo Dee Messina as background music, and as the line, “Rain falls down from heaven” plays, a goat’s blood sprays from its wounded neck on to the ground.
As people turned away from the footage, Yourofsky said, “If it’s not good enough for your eyes, then why your stomach?”
Yourofsky’s path to veganism began in his early 20s when he went behind the scenes at the Shrine Circus, where his stepfather is a clown. He saw three elephants chained to the floor, swaying neurotically from their imprisonment. He looked around and saw bears in yellow tutus and tights and other unnatural sights.
He said to his friend, “Let’s get the hell outta here.” Over the next few years he switched to a vegan lifestyle.
As a vegan, he is opposed to speciesism, which holds that humans have a right to do whatever they want to animals — whether to be eaten, or experimented on, or treated poorly. Yourofsky feels that animals have the right to live free; human enslavement of lower creatures, he said, is a form of social injustice.
On April 31, 1997, Yourofsky, with members of the Animal Liberation Front, released 1,542 minks from Ebert’s Fur Farm in Blenheim, Ontario. He spent 77 days in a Canadian prison for his efforts.
His contention is, why is it illegal to free tortured and enslaved animals, but legal to harvest animals for slaughter in the first place? Which is the greater crime? In Yourofsky’s mind, there is no question about this. Fighting for animal rights allows him to be able to look at himself in the mirror every day.
As for those who love a tasty piece of meat and are hooked, Yourofsky once loved meat as well. He thinks it is a murderous addiction, one based on cruelty for wanting a piece of flesh.
“But, sadly, heroin, cocaine and alcohol ain’t got shit on meat, cheese, milk and eggs,” said Yourofsky.
According to Yourofsky, 98-99 percent of all animal abuse occurs in the meat, dairy and egg industry. Also, it is an industry that uses up 70 percent of the U.S.’s crops that could be used to feed humans. Meat and dairy are subsidized by the government. Water is free to farmers, and cattle are allowed to graze on public land. It is about supply and demand. If people stop wanting these products, the cruelty would stop, too.
Yourofsky went on to say that humans find difficulty in digesting meat, and that it makes the blood acidic. To combat this, calcium is leached out of bones to correct the pH. Furthermore, many people are lactose intolerant. These are more reasons to veg it, and go whole grain, legumes, tofu and soy.
“How is soy gross? Blood, flesh, veins, muscles and tendons are gross,” said Yourofsky.
Yet at the heart of his argument, Yourofsky feels animals should be treated by the golden rule. Animals should be treated as humans are treated. He quoted clergyman William Inge as saying, “If animals formed a religion, humans would be depicted as the devil.”
Yourofsky sees hatred from every corner of society. This is his way to lift up those he sees as oppressed.