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Richard Burgess, better known as Vegan Gains, is a Canadian vegan activist, bodybuilder and former YouTuber. As of April 2018 he had over 300,000 subscribers. On 26 Jan 2019, Burgess received his 'third and final' strike against YouTube's community guidelines policy, and his YouTube channel was deleted.
He is known for his highly-charged videos about bodybuilding and vegan nutrition, his diatribes against those he disagrees with (which includes "SJW" ideas, non-vegans, and other vegan YouTubers) and his questionable behaviour and attitudes toward other human beings in general.
Vegan Gains or Vegan Ghoul?
Burgess is so
lacking in empathy committed to vegan activism that he is not above taking advantage of other people's personal tragedies to promote his agenda.
The most egregious example occurred when his 82-year-old grandfather was suffering from a fatal heart attack, and Burgess, the loving grandson, video-recorded the event and posted it online in order to use Grandpa as an example of what happens to meat-eaters. Unsurprisingly, it was soon deleted at the request of his family.
When meat-loving bodybuilder Peter Czerwinski (a.k.a. Furious Pete) was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 30, Burgess stepped in to gloat at what he saw as Czerwinski’s "just desserts" for eating meat, managing to leech heavily off of attention gained from Czerwinski’s enormous subscriber base in the process. He doubled down on the gloating when Czerwinski’s cancer returned after a remission.
Fortunately, his response to Rich Piana getting cancer in 2016 was distinctly more empathetic.
Other behaviour and stances
Burgess has confessed himself to be a sadist and misanthropist, and has repeatedly threatened — ironically, he claims — to attack and kill people (including children and babies) who eat animal products, while wielding a knife on camera.
He also routinely posts aggressive and insult-filled video responses to other people he disagrees with, nearly always with the title form "[name] vs Vegan Gains". His targets include people on both sides of politics, extending to those who are not even making an argument but simply making a personal announcement they are not vegan or no longer vegan, which he feels the need to "debate" beyond simply correcting any misinformation he thinks they may have spread in their videos. For example, anti-social justice transgender YouTuber Blaire White’s announcement in 2018 that she had quit veganism after 10 years got a particularly virulent pair of responses from him, despite this being among her least offensive videos.[note 1]
Burgess is hostile to feminism and Islam, defends and engages in casual racism and opposes Black Lives Matter, and is against gender-neutral pronouns. He has attacked Laci Green for her criticisms of the Trump administration and the idea of false rape accusations, as well as transgender feminist Riley Dennis for opposing fat-shaming[note 2] and for her (controversial) opinion that transgender-exclusionary dating preferences may be partly socially conditioned.
Elaborating on his decision to get a vasectomy, Burgess launched into a stunningly misogynistic diatribe. Although he implied (and later clarified) that he was just trolling, the gesture is still disturbing and in poor taste to say the least.
Most women only want to have children so that they don't have to work, and that they can get taken care of. Women also use children to control and manipulate you, to prevent you from leaving an unloving abusive relationship, or to steal money from you after you break up. And I don't give a fuck what you say — "oh I love my man and I just want to have babies with him" — it's fucking bullshit. Women trick men into having kids so that they don't have to work, and by the time the kid is five or six years old and it doesn't make any more sense for them to stay stay-at-home moms, and the time comes for them to get a fucking job, they try and trick men into having more children, so that they can keep getting taken care of. And if they don't get what, they want they'll just break up with you and steal money from you until the kid is 18, and the threat of that happening is often enough to trap men into these horrible fucking relationships. I'm not going to let any women take advantage of me like that, and I'm going to take control of things by getting a fucking vasectomy.
The same goes for later comments in the same video, in which he said that babies "make [him] sick", and expressed, in lurid and gory details, a desire to stomp them to death on the pavement. Regarding such trolling — especially on a video that is categorised under "Education" and not under "Comedy" — it might be worth recalling the following Ed Brayton quote: "If you spend a great deal of your time pretending to be an asshole to get a reaction from people... you aren't pretending. You are an asshole."
A sociopath no more
In early 2016, Burgess posted a video of himself in a snowy forest with a much mellower manner than before, saying that he had gained a better capacity to empathise with others after a recent mushroom trip. Unfortunately, however, he continues to use invectives such as "stupid bitch" against those who write material critical of plant-based diets.
Health and nutrition
Burgess argues unequivocally for the nutritional superiority of veganism, to the point where he exaggerates its health benefits and makes such unjustifiably strong claims as "cancer is a preventable illness that is caused by animal products and can be treated through a whole foods vegan diet". He takes the stance of "personal responsibility for your health" to the extreme endpoint of attributing people's ailments entirely to their consumption of meat and other animal products to the exclusion of any other factor. One result of this is that he takes the liberty to engage in fat-shaming of women, ironically contrasting with his assertions that thin people such as Eugenia Cooney are "not naturally skinny" and have eating disorders.
Burgess: There's also this thing called The China Study, the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted, and it found that those following a plant based diet excluding all animal products have the lowest risk of chronic disease.
He doesn't mention that Campbell’s book has been heavily criticised for ignoring the existence of thriving long-lived societies with high intakes of animal protein, confusing correlation with causation, and ignoring data and referencing sources that do not support the authors’ conclusions.
- Which is not saying very much.
- She "has claimed that it's not your fault if you're fat"? Shock horror!
- Peel, Adrian (10 June, 2016). "‘Be nice to animals or I’ll kill you’: Knife-wielding vegan bodybuilder makes extraordinary threats against meat eaters in a series of bloodthirsty online rants’". The Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3633264/Be-nice-animals-ll-kill-Knife-wielding-vegan-bodybuilder-makes-extraordinary-threats-against-meat-eaters-series-bloodthirsty-online-rants.html.
- Renfro, Kim (March 23, 2016). "2 YouTube fitness stars went to war over veganism and cancer". Business Insider. http://www.businessinsider.com/vegan-gains-attacks-furious-pete-about-cancer-and-diet-2016-2/?r=AU&IR=T.
- Vegan Gains. "Furious Pete Has Cancer Again! Oh No!" YouTube.
- Vegan Gains. "Rich Piana Has Skin Cancer". YouTube.
- Blaire White. "WHY I STOPPED BEING VEGAN AFTER 10 YEARS". YouTube.
- Vegan Gains. "Blaire White vs VeganGains". YouTube.
- Vegan Gains. "Blaire White is an SJW Liar". YouTube.
- Vegan Gains. "BuzzFeed vs Vegan Gains". YouTube.
- Vegan Gains. "Feminist Attacking Veganism?" YouTube.
- Vegan Gains. "Islam vs Vegan Gains". YouTube.
- Vegan Gains. "Rich Piana Said The 'N’ Word". YouTube.
- Vegan Gains. "Tara Mongeau Is An N Word".
- Reg Flowers. "Racist is the New N Word (w/ Vegan Gains & Kat Blaque)". YouTube.
- Vegan Gains. "Gender Neutral Pronouns vs Vegan Gains". YouTube.
- Vegan Gains. "Laci Green Trump Hating". YouTube.
- Vegan Gains. "Laci Green RAPED ME (Parody)". YouTube.
- Vegan Gains. "SJW Says Fat And Dating Isn’t A Choice". YouTube.
- Vegan Gains. "Why I'm Getting a Vasectomy. YouTube.
- Vegan Gains. "Why I'm Getting a Vasectomy. YouTube.
- Ooh, Pat Replies To Us Again, ScienceBlogs
- Reg Flowers. "Vegan Gains: Toxic Masculinity (and some Prof. Kimberle Crenshaw)". YouTube.
- Reg Flowers. "Vegan Gains - Worst of the Worst!" YouTube.
- Unnatural Vegan. "F**k your mom. IT’S OKAY I’M VEGAN! (response to Vegan Gains)". YouTube.
- Unnatural Vegan. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=97&v=SqHFWb_lbS8 Vegan Gains Should Get a Vasectomy (and stop promoting veganism?). YouTube.
- Vegan Gains. "I’m No Longer A Sociopath #Spirituality Gains". YouTube
- Bish, Joe (March 9, 2016). "YouTube Channel of the Week #11: Vegan Gains". https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/kw9xqm/youtube-channel-of-the-week-number-eleven-331.
- Vegan Gains. "Eugenia Cooney Is Not Naturally Skinny". YouTube.
- The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health by Thomas Campbell & T. Colin Campbell (2006). BenBella Books. ISBN 1932100660. See also the revised edition published in 2016: ISBN 1941631568.
- Jason Blaha vs Vegan Gains. Vegan Gains (YouTube). August 20, 2015.
- Yang, Ling (2006-01-07). "Incidence and mortality of gastric cancer in China". World Journal of Gastroenterology. pp. 17–20. ISSN 1007-9327. PMC 4077485. PMID 16440411.
- Minger, Denise. The China Study: A Formal Analysis and Response
- Hall, Harriet. The China Study. Science-Based Medicine. March 10, 2009.