Gary Yourofsky

Gary Yourofsky (/jʊəˈrɒfski/; born August 19, 1970)[1] is an American animal rights activist and lecturer. He has had a major influence on contemporary veganism.[2]

Gary Yourofsky
Yourofsky in 2013
Born (1970-08-19) August 19, 1970
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Occupation(s)Lecturer, activist
Known forSpeeches promoting animals rights

Yourofsky was sponsored by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) between the years 2002 and 2005, and has given many public lectures promoting veganism. In 2010, Yourofsky's popularity quickly accelerated around the world (especially in Israel[3]) following the release of a YouTube video[4] of him giving a speech at the Georgia Institute of Technology, as the video gained millions of views and has been translated into tens of different languages. Yourofsky has been admired[5] by many, and criticized by others for his alleged extreme views. He has been arrested 13 times between the years 1997 and 2001, and has spent 77 days in a Canadian maximum security prison in 1999, after raiding a fur farm in Canada and releasing 1,542 minks in 1997.[6][7] He is also permanently banned from entering Canada and the United Kingdom.[8]

On March 30, 2017, Yourofsky announced the end of his activist life on his Facebook page, stating: "My tank is completely empty, so I will no longer be online or active in any capacity besides helping students with animal rights projects and answering emails from people who are beginning their vegan journeys."[9]

Personal life

Yourofsky was born into a Jewish family[10][11] in Detroit, Michigan, United States. He grew up in Oak Park.[11] Yourofsky has "a giant tattoo of himself, wearing a mask and holding a rabbit, covering most of his right forearm."[12]

In a 2013 interview, Yourofsky described himself as having been a "troublemaker" in high school. He recalled that he did not sign up for any math classes during the entire four years, in deliberate defiance of the requirements; at the end of his senior year he challenged the principal to hold him back, but she approved his graduation instead.[13] He holds a B.A. in journalism from Oakland University and a radio broadcasting degree from Specs Howard School of Media Arts.[14]

Animal rights advocacy

1996–2001: Early years as an activist

In 1996, Yourofsky founded Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today and Tomorrow (ADAPTT), a vegan organization opposed to any usage of animals. By 2001, the organization had around 2,200 members.[11]

On March 30, 1997, Yourofsky, alongside 4 members of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), raided a fur farm in Blenheim, Ontario, Canada, and released 1,542 mink, who were to be killed for their fur.[15] The raid reportedly caused damage estimated at C$500,000 to the farm.[16] He was arrested, tried, and sentenced to six months in a Canadian maximum-security prison in 1999.[17] Out of the six months, Yourofsky spent 77 days in prison.[15] The experience affected Yourofsky, who said "[he] was no more than an animal in the zoo. It wasn't pleasant", and that it has reinforced "[his] empathy and understanding of what these animals go through".[16]

In the fall of 2000, Yourofsky received $10,000 from PETA to fund the broadcasting of a commercial against "the animal slavery enterprise known as the circus". The commercial was broadcast 69 times on a local television channel.[11]

In 2001, Yourofsky began facing financial problems, such as credit card debt of US$30000, that curtailed his activism for three months of 2001.[11]

2002–2005: PETA sponsorship

In early 2002, Yourofsky resigned as president of ADAPTT, due to financial troubles. A day after sending his resignation letter, he received a telephone call from Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, who offered him a job. Employment negotiations between the two concluded on May 20, 2002, with Yourofsky being made the organization's official national lecturer.[18]

In 2002, Yourofsky told a reporter that he would "unequivocally support" the death of medical researchers in ALF-related arson fires.[19][20]

In 2003, a Yourofsky lecture at East Tennessee State University was canceled as a result of an altercation. A faculty member had placed a stack of pamphlets in support of animal testing on a cart outside the lecture room. After Yourofsky saw the pamphlets, heated words were exchanged. Yourofsky grabbed the cart and propelled it, causing the pamphlets to scatter across the floor. The lecture was canceled and Yourofsky left the building.[21]

2005–present: Leaving PETA and continued activism

Yourofsky was invited to give a talk on "Ethical Veganism" to a class at University of Southern Indiana on April 2, 2007. The university handbook contained a provision that outside speakers must "not advocate violation of any federal or state law", and a professor at the university presented material from Yourofsky's website that he found to be infringing that policy to the university provost, resulting in the cancellation of Yourofsky's talk. After objections from free speech advocates at the school, the policy was revised and Yourofsky gave his talk.[22]

Part of Yourofsky's well-known speech on veganism was featured in the 2012 anti-speciesism movie, The Superior Human?[23][24][25]

A question and answer session after one of Yourofsky's speeches in mid-2010

Yourofsky visited Israel in September 2012 and was interviewed by Israeli television Channel 2.[26] Lectures scheduled for Yourofsky in public schools were canceled by the Israeli Ministry of Education. Nobel Prize laureate J.M. Coetzee commented, "Children are naturally sensitive. They can easily be shocked and disturbed by spectacles of gross cruelty. It is therefore understandable that education authorities in Israel should be reluctant to allow animal advocates like Mr Yourofsky access to the classroom. On the other hand, there is an argument to be made that the treatment of animals by the food industry is so excessively heartless, and such an affront to natural justice, that we who by our silence tacitly consent to these outrages deserve to be shocked out of our sleep. In the long run, Mr Yourofsky may well be doing us a larger moral service by confronting us, including the most sensitive of us, by the spectacle of the crimes we participate in."[27]

Yourofsky's website states that he has given 2,388 lectures to more than 60,000 people at 178 schools.[15]


In a 2005 interview, Yourofsky criticized the Humane Society of the United States, the strategies used by PETA, and its president, Ingrid Newkirk. Yourofsky has been criticized for using terms such as "concentration camps," "concentration camp trucks," and "Holocaust" in comparison to the meat and animal industry. Yourofsky has been banned from entering Canada and Britain as a result of his activism, that included freeing minks held captive for slaughter on a fur farm in Canada.[10]

See also


  1. "Gary Yourofsky – "convert 1000s to veganism every year" – My Care2". Archived from the original on April 4, 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2011. [Yourofsky's social media profile webpage containing self-entered data]
  2. "How one man turned 8% of Israel vegan with a YouTube speech". Metro. 2015-09-28. Retrieved 2018-04-13.
  3. "About the Israeli Campaign". gary-tv. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  4. Best Speech You Will Ever Hear - Gary Yourofsky
  5. Talshir, Rachel (12 December 2013). "Even vegan hero Gary Yourofsky finds it hard to be a guru". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  6. North Shine, Kim (7 December 1998). "Champion or Criminal? Royal Oak Animal Activist Faces Trial in Canadian Mink Release". Detroit Free Press.
  7. West, Evan (March 2006). "Watching What You Eat". Indianapolis Monthly: 90. ISSN 0899-0328. Retrieved March 19, 2012. In 1997, he was arrested for helping to release around 1,500 animals from a Canadian mink farm and was sentenced to six months in prison.
  8. "About Gary Yourofsky << About ADAPTT << ADAPTT :: Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today and Tomorrow".
  9. "Gary Yourofsky Retires from Social Media Activism". Plant Based News. March 28, 2018. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  10. Darom, Naomi (2012-09-06). "Is vegan superstar Gary Yourofsky an animal savior or a mad militant?". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 2013-12-18. Retrieved 2013-12-16. In that period he was still a meat eater. But one day, when he was filming the trucks that transported animals to slaughter, his gaze encountered that of a pig.
  11. Lessenberry, Jack (2001-06-24). "Activist devotes life to animal rights". The Toledo Blade. Archived from the original on 2013-12-18. Retrieved 2013-12-13. He lives in a tiny apartment with his ancient dog, Rex, and probably could fit all his worldly goods into his car.
  12. Lessenberry, Jack (2003-06-15). "The lonely life of an animal rights activist in the Midwest". The Toledo Blade. Archived from the original on 2013-12-18. Retrieved 2013-12-13. For a brief time, he was on staff of PETA, People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals, but he found that too confining.
  13. Interview with Yourofsky ([00:20:22]) at the Israeli Educational Television station
  14. "ADAPTT". Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  15. "About Gary Yourofsky - ADAPTT :: Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today and Tomorrow". Retrieved June 5, 2011.
  16. "Gary Yourofsky in the News - ADAPTT :: Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today and Tomorrow". Archived from the original on 2011-11-28. Retrieved 2011-09-23.
  17. "Gary Yourofsky". Target of Opportunity. Archived from the original on 2012-05-01. Retrieved 2012-05-10. and was sentenced in 1999 to six months in a Canadian maximum-security prison for a felony raid on a fur farm.
  18. Platt, Teresa (2002-07-19). "PeTA and the Making of a Conflict Industrialist: Gary Yourofsky Finally Lands a 'Job'". Fur Commission USA. Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2012-05-10. Getting a call and/or a request from Ingrid is like getting a call from the Godfather's Don Corleone. It's an offer one can't refuse.
  19. United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Environment and Public Works (2007). Eco-terrorism specifically examining the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front: hearing before the Committee on Environment and Public Works, United States Senate, One Hundred Ninth Congress, first session, May 18, 2005. U.S. G.P.O. ISBN 9780160793189. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  20. Don Liddick (1 January 2006). Eco-terrorism: Radical Environmental And Animal Liberation Movements. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 53–. ISBN 978-0-275-98535-6. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  21. Thompson, John (2003-04-05). "ETSU event canceled due to confrontation". Johnson City Press. Johnson City, Tennessee: Justin Wilcox. Archived from the original on 2007-11-07. Retrieved 2013-12-06. ETSU public safety officers attempted to keep things from getting out of hand, but the lecture was soon canceled and Yourofsky left the building.
  22. "Chapter News". Quill. Society of Professional Journalists. 96 (3): 7. April 2008. ISSN 0033-6475. However, the lecture was almost scrapped by the college because of a policy concerning outside speakers. SPJ members stood tall for free speech and worked to have the policy revised.
  23. "The Superior Human?". Official Movie Website
  24. Best, Steven (2012-04-02). "Now Online! Debut of New Anti-Speciesist Film, 'The Superior Human?'". Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  25. Bekoff, Marc (2012-04-02). "The Superior Human? Who Do We Think We Are?". Animal Emotions. Psychology Today. Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  26. Abramovich, Lee (2012-07-14). "TV news segment on Yourofsky's 2012 Israel visit" (video, 10 minutes). Weekend Edition (in Hebrew and English). Israeli television Channel 2. Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  27. "J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize winner in Literature, on the decision to ban Gary Yourofsky from Israeli high schools - Best Speech You Will Ever Hear". Best Speech You Will Ever Hear. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
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