Ricky Gervais, Trophy Hunters, Cheese, & Speciesism

By Published On: 27 April 2015Last Updated: 22 January 2017

I don't like trophy hunting any more than Ricky Gervais does. But how do we get Gervais and his supporters to see it from another side?

Ricky Gervais speaking to crowd

What's in this post

By Daria Zeoli, Guest Contributor

Ricky Gervais is on a rampage. Have you heard? He is going after trophy hunters hard, and he tells you so in his own words in his April 22nd Facebook post:


Ricky Gervais Facebook Post

Screenshot via Ricky Gervais Facebook


I don’t like trophy hunting any more than Ricky Gervais does. But last I heard, Ricky Gervais eats animals – not giraffes, rhinos, and elephants, but fish, and cheese, and “humane” meat.

I’m having a really hard time with this.

I know it’s not uncommon. There are plenty more people out there who love some animals and eat others than there are vegans who – love them or otherwise – do not eat or use animals. And on both sides, there are so many people who are throwing praise Ricky’s way. “He’s a hero! He’s a voice for the animals! Trophy hunters are disgusting! Let’s give the animals guns and make it fair!”

How many of these pro-Ricky Gervais comments are made by vegans? How many are made by people who eat animals? Would they want to give the cows, chickens, and pigs weapons in the factory farm where they are processed into meat cuts? How about the caged foxes and minks who are going to be electrocuted for their fur?

What weapon will we give the Beagles who are used for research and testing?

Some vegan websites have joined the Ricky Gervais praisers, and some animal activists have called them out for doing so. Of course, this means people are pointing fingers in all directions. “At least he’s doing something! Why are you so judgy? VEGANS ARE SELF-RIGHTEOUS JERKS AND I AM GOING TO GO EAT A STEAK WHILE I PROMOTE RICKY GERVAIS’S HEROIC FIGHT AGAINST TROPHY HUNTERS.” (Sorry, my caps lock got stuck.)

I understand why this situation is heated, no matter which side of the line you stand on. But how do we debate this rationally? How do we get people to see that demonizing trophy hunters while eating farmed animals is hypocritical? Moreover, how do we lead well-intentioned omnivores to the conclusion that a pig is a dog is a giraffe, and that speciesism has no place in animal rights?

Why must any point we bring up be deemed, “Something is better than nothing, would you rather he didn’t speak up? The animals don’t care if Ricky Gervais is vegan, they care if they get to live.” As if the fact that an individual animal has his interests at heart means we, as human beings, should not be looking at the bigger picture. Or that our grasp of the bigger picture is incorrect.

“Animals don’t care why – they just care that they get to live.”

Yes, of course, but if most humans are speciesist, that means some animals get to live, and some do not. In this case, people think trophy kills get to live, but factory farm animals don’t. In the case of Meatless Mondays or Veg Weeks, it means animals get to live on certain days or certain weeks, but not on others. And in the case of vegetarians, they aren’t directly contributing to death in their minds, except, you know, veal = dairy so they are.

I understand why there is a popular opinion that single issue campaigns don’t work and I don’t entirely disagree with that opinion. But I’m not saying that people shouldn’t care about the victims of trophy hunters – they should. I’m certainly not saying they should stay silent on the matter – they shouldn’t.

What I’m saying is that we need to have a larger discussion and try to make it easier for people to relate the animals they live with to the animals they eat to the animals in zoos and circuses to the animals used in fashion… the list goes on and on, until it circles back to us. It’s not some trite cliche that we are all Earthlings. And in the way that matters – the one that starts with sentience – we need to grab that common thread and hold on, very literally, for dear life.

Photo: ultrahi


  1. Save Africa March 21, 2016 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    There is a huge difference when it comes to killing a lion for the hell of it and eating beef because you need to eat…He’s not talking about survival here he’s talking about senseless killing. Why is it O.K. to kill an elephant and leave it’s family confused and ….They have families.. Elephants live in heard “families” consisting of elder “grandmother”, mother’s, daughters, aunts nieces an both male and female calves. Each elephant plays an important role in that family and they all take care of each other and risk their lives to assure their entire heard is safe.. The younger elephants literally look up to the matriarch for education and wisdom for she has been around for many years. aunts and sisters watch out for all the young regardless if it is or isn’t their own. Taking the elder away and I mention this because one of their justifications is “we only kill the old, past their breeding,” just disorientates the entire family. Animals, most animals, replicate everything a human does.. They love, they feel pain, they play, they learn, they get sick, they bleed, they mate, they fight, they keep each other safe they mourn their loss and they also hunt to survive. heck some even aid other animals..The argument here is that it is unnecessary, needless and cruel..Chasing and frightening an animal then killing it for a quick thrill and a phony smile. Animals kill to survive and not to hang it;s victims head on a wall. Get the facts straight.

  2. Natalie Carey January 9, 2016 at 4:04 am - Reply

    I went vego and then vegan because of, actually it may have been a Ricky Gervais post. I was expressing my outrage about that deranged cheerleading hunter and it hit me, I am a bloody hypocrite.

    Here I am slamming her, yet I still eat meat and animal products and support an industry that is based on animal suffering.

    So I stopped and I will never go back. With respect to Ricky I am happy that he is a voice for the animals and I would love one day that it be all animals.

  3. martyp88 August 18, 2015 at 3:41 am - Reply

    The arrogance of vegans. Squabbling amongst yourselves with binary choices, either: He’s a hypocrite and no-one should support him! or It’s okay, he’s doing his best, he’s just not as enlightened as we are.

    Third choice. He’s well aware of vegan ideology. He’s smart enough to identify the inconsistencies and chooses not to follow it. Because he’s more enlightened than you.

    • AL Brunton September 21, 2015 at 8:46 am - Reply

      What inconsistencies?

  4. Cecil | Yorkshire Words July 28, 2015 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    […] is a famous lion, called Cecil. This one life matters to the world. There is worldwide outrage. But as Daria Zeoli points out, only caring about stunning African big game is speciesism. Worse still, only caring about a lion […]

  5. Kat Leathers July 13, 2015 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    What I don’t understand is why any group or person would hold at arm’s length someone who is lending support to their cause simply because they do not meet your ideal. He isn’t as enlightened as you, so he’s doing no good? I beg to differ. I ask that you entertain the idea that through his outreach someone else might become enlightened, or embrace becoming vegan, or emerge as an anti-speciest thought leader. The world is full of well-intended people who are far less than perfect, may be only partially informed, and may not personally suit you. If you welcome the ‘less than ideal’ “animal lover,” it may become the moment that their views expand — or through them the spark to know more is ignited in someone else. Anything other than welcoming all helping hands – or any addition to the raised group voice – is exclusionary short-sidedness (in my view). It is often by being welcomed, and by extension being exposed to further ideas, that people’s depth of understanding and personal growth occur. You may reject my views as I am not vegan. I was once a vegetarian. I have an immune disorder and despite years of study and supplements, it wasn’t until I introduced fish and/or chicken three times a week that my health improved. Do you think I am a bad person? Probably. Are my intentions and support worth rejecting? That’s for you to judge me, I suppose. I personally believe I am not fully qualified to judge your gifts or path, nor your mine. Why focus on how his efforts as hypocritical? Is it possible that his actions may be but a part of a bigger effort? Why not leave that to him, stop spending time thinking and writing about him, and put that energy to efforts focused on what you feel need awareness uplifted to? Ricky’s got the giraffes and beagles and you you’ll add to that bigger picture – cows, pigs, chickens. When I was considering foster adoption and got certified to become a foster parent, did that mean I was missing the bigger picture? When I focus on local animals, am I? I may be, but I do what I feel I can do on my path. If your efforts bring positive ends than I offer my respect – and I think it would be beneficial for you to extend that to others, regardless of whether they are ideal. I feel the path to unity is inclusion.

  6. Louise Patenaude June 29, 2015 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    I think when you start to have empathy towards wild animals it is a start towards connecting the dots between wild animals and slave animals. I wasn’t born vegan. So I would not throw stones to anyone on the subject. I took me years to face the sad connection and realizing that I was talking the talk but not walking the walk ! I began to be a vegetarian and one son became vegan and educated me about “dairy industry” so then I did the slow transition to veganism and it was hard on so many levels (I was addicted to cheese) and socially it was and is still a nightmare! I would think that Mr. Gervais deserve our respect to have realise that first step and hope that he will eventually realise his role in animal welfare when he eats animal product.

  7. Armen Matoosian June 27, 2015 at 2:23 am - Reply

    Firstly, I’m not a vegan and don’t see myself becoming one anytime soon. I only mention this because, considering my upbringing and who I am as a person right now, I view making such a choice as a very personal one and one which would take a lot of thinking about on my part.

    BUT, oh the hypocrisy in Gervais’ position! I agree with Daria – what makes one animal so much more special than another? Why is it disgusting, evil, and inhumane to hunt animals for sport (not even for food at least), or to eat a dog, cat, etc, but totally fine to eat cows, pigs, chickens, fish, lamb, etc? I just can’t get my head wrapped around this hypocrisy. I think if someone is a meat-eater, they essentially forfeit their right to take the moral high ground, and come off as being righteous and holier-than-thou even though they most certainly are not. I don’t support hunting either but realize that eating meat severely diminishes the significance and integrity of my opinion on the matter. I suppose there’s a chance Gervais, and others like him, also realize this and just don’t state it. One can only hope.

    Speciesism reminds me of a philosophy class I took, in which I was introduced to the philosopher Alfred Singer. As I remember, his arguments for vegetarianism/veganism are incredibly strong and seemingly have no logical rebuttal – something even my professor somewhat admitted. I would have to reread his work for details but I’m assuming people on this site may be familiar with his work, and if you’re not, I’d recommend checking him out. Also, Singer’s ideas, and those of other animal rights activists, echo Russ’ points below – that animal rights is on par with the struggles for civil rights and women’s rights.

    Anyway, I would be curious to know what you all think of “cultured meat”, that is, meat grown in a lab from synthesized proteins and other biological matter. I remember coming across it on, of all things, a website created by vegans, which really piqued my interest. If and when cultured meat becomes an affordable reality, would anyone here be willing to eat meat once again, as long as it is cultured meat of course?

    • Daria Zeoli June 27, 2015 at 11:18 am - Reply

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Armen. I haven’t heard of Alfred Singer; is it possible you mean Peter Singer? He is the philosopher who wrote Animal Liberation over forty years ago; many consider that a huge influence on animal rights as it is understood today. I will certainly Google a bit further for an Alfred, however – I’m always looking for more information and perspective on the topic!

      Cultured meat… well, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I wouldn’t eat it. There are many reasons why, and perhaps that would be a topic for a future article, but one reason: I don’t miss animal meat. I feel lucky to be vegan in a time when there are so many options for plant-based meats and don’t feel that the food available to me is lacking! I feel that cultured meat, really, isn’t necessarily for those who are already vegan – I can definitely see it being an option for omnivores, though. Time will tell.

      I really appreciate hearing your perspective as someone who isn’t vegan and thank you for taking the time to share it. I hope that if you stay awhile around here, other pieces we’ve written might also inspire questions and comments such as these.

      • Armen Matoosian July 1, 2015 at 3:25 pm - Reply

        Thanks for the reply! And yes, I meant Peter not Alfred. It was very late when I posted my comment. I appreciate your perspective too. I look forward to future articles.

  8. Casper Dobbson May 26, 2015 at 9:43 am - Reply

    I agree with the point the article makes. However, you can’t change everyone, nor convert the whole world to veganism…you just can’t. It will never happen. So why not focus your energy and efforts on an issue that merits serious attention, such as abuse of animals in factory farms, etc. I’m not saying that we should ‘t promote veganism. I guess I’m just being pragmatic by pointing out that you accomplish nothing whatsoever by writing an article attacking someone who in one small way is standing up for animal rights. If Ricky Gervais campaigns against trophy hunting then good for him, regardless of what he eats. I think this article makes us vegans sound exactly like the bitchy judgemental stereotype that so many people associate with us, and I see nothing productive in that.

    • Daria Zeoli May 26, 2015 at 5:14 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your thoughts, Casper. I disagree and think that discussion about issues like this one can be productive. Ricky Gervais calls trophy hunters “murdering scum.” By that logic, wouldn’t someone who kills any animal – be it for food or not, also be “murdering scum”? Not saying I agree or disagree, just posing a question.

      YDV has published hundreds of articles over the past several years covering issues that merit serious attention – including speciesism. My intent is not to “attack” Ricky Gervais (who, I bet, wouldn’t care if I did), but, as I said at the end of this piece, to open up a discussion about how we make it easier to relate one cause/animal to another. I think that discussion is worth having, and I’ve heard from several people who agree. So, something has been accomplished.

      Perhaps you’re right that we can’t change everyone or convert the whole world to veganism, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discuss the issues. If that makes me a bitchy, judgmental stereotype, so be it.

      • Casper Dobbson May 26, 2015 at 11:27 pm - Reply

        If your goal was to simply start a discussion, then congratulations!!! You succeeded. But what productive result really comes from a rant among vegans ( which I am by the way) about how wrong the rest of the world is. If you think you are accomplishing something by criticizing Ricky Gervais then you are certainly entitled to that opinion. But here’s what I’m trying to make clear to you…you criticize people like Ricky Gaervais and somewhere in your post I believe you criticize PETA as well. But I was once just like him. I was an omnivore once (as all of you were, though to read the self-righteous posts on here I doubt any of you remember it) who read about sea turtles being killed and felt a need to do something because I love them dearly. So I went online and searched about animal activism and after an hour or two on PETA’s website I made the decision to go vegan. They made the same point that you do-all animal species deserve autonomy over their lives. But I promise you that if I had come across your website that day and read your negative rants I would probably still be eating meat and dairy today. If you want to think you are accomplishing something by provoking a conversation among those who are already vegan, well then you go ahead and give yourself a big old pat on the back! But what does that accomplish? You inspired the people who already believe what you want them to! Do you really think that your negativity can change the minds of the omnivores out there? I seriously doubt it. There is tremendous wisdom in the saying that you catch more bees with honey…not that I would try to catch bees because I’m vegan:). You will never inspire people to convert to veganism by taking a confrontational stance. Try utilizing empathy and compassion for the Ricky Gervaises in this world. After all, compassion is what we are supposed to be all about! Maybe if you do you will manage to convert a few people who would otherwise have been put off by your negativity. I appreciate what you do-truly. I just think that you need to practice more empathy and less anger if you want to actually convert people to your cause. Best wishes!!!

        • Daria Zeoli May 27, 2015 at 5:23 am - Reply

          I understand why you think this is a rant among vegans – as vegans are the ones who have commented here so far. But I know that there are non-vegans who read YDV, and I know that some of their minds have been changed on issues because of things we’ve published here over the past few years. I’m glad that PETA was the catalyst that made you go vegan – really, I am. But just because an individual or organization does some good doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to question their methods – and posting a question does not mean attack or negativity – I want to make my position on that very clear. I went vegan in large part due to the book Skinny Bitch – which got a lot of heat for its language and tactic. Constructive criticism is not a bad thing – it’s a part of life. We should be discussing these things – you can be empathetic and angry. You can understand a position but see it from a slightly different – or very different – angle. And, thankfully, you and I can both be vegan and see a situation like this one from opposite sides of the coin.

    • Russ Parker May 26, 2015 at 8:04 pm - Reply

      Casper, I’m not so sure you can’t change the whole world to veganism. Animals in circuses used to be common place and even just in my life that has now become quite rare. Change takes time, how long did it take to abolish slavery or for women to be allowed to vote? I say make a noise about the change you want to see and ignore those who say you can’t change things. That also applies to Mr Gervais though, he will be called a hypocrite but then, who isn’t a hypocrite these days?

      • Casper Dobbson May 26, 2015 at 11:39 pm - Reply

        I didn’t mean to suggest that we shouldn’t try to convert people to veganism…just the opposite. We should try. But I do disagree with you that it is possible to change everyone. I am simply being a pragmatist here by suggesting that our efforts are best spent by focusing on target demographics who are most likely to be converted. Frankly, I see someone like Ricky Gervais as being a possible convert. If he has passionate feelings regarding hunting then I see him as someone who could be capable of empathizing with animal suffering in general, and someday converting to veganism. Therefore, I don’t see it as productive to single him, or anyone like him, out for attack in an online post. No, that is not productive. Instead of criticizing him, why not recognize the potential he has to recognize the rights of all animals and start a positive, constructive discussion about how to convert that person to veganism. I was once just like him, and I promise you that the day I converted to veganism I was inspired by positive thoughts, not judgemental negativity such as this post oozes with.

        • Russ Parker May 27, 2015 at 4:59 pm - Reply

          Don’t get me wrong, I’m not actually disagreeing with most of what you say, but ultimately I think when a person is ready to be receptive to the idea of ending animal cruelty and becoming vegan, they will seek out the info that will push them that final step. For me it was Gary yourovski who started me on a path to fully understand the suffering caused by the meat and dairy industry, and I don’t think he comes across as particularly positive or sugar coaty of anything about the subject. But that won’t work for everyone, neither will being all “something is better than nothing” but I suppose my view is hit them with everything, positive or negative and hope that people can change.

          We’ll have to agree to disagree on the whole can everyone be vegan topic, maybe we just have different timescales, I’m not suggesting it can happen in a week, month, year or decade even, but I hope and believe it can happen, that for me is at least some of the point of being the type of vegan that won’t shut up about it.

  9. […] conversely, many vegetarians are not animal activists. An article concerning Gervais on the websiteyourdailyvegan.com, asked why any discussion regarding Ricky must be along these lines: “Something is better than […]

  10. […] conversely, many vegetarians are not animal activists. An article concerning Gervais on the website yourdailyvegan.com, asked why any discussion regarding Ricky must be along these lines: “Something is better than […]

  11. Susan April 27, 2015 at 10:37 pm - Reply

    I have a friend who has started a huge campaign for koala rescue and conservation, though she is still an omnivore. I struggle when I see her post things about how koalas have a right to live, that they are individuals, that they are not ‘things’… and yet she clearly doesn’t make that link for other animals. Plus she is a big supporter of Australia Zoo, and while there is some koala conservation that they do, they are essentially a zoo with many native and exotic animals in captivity. Obviously I am happy that she is helping some animals, but I wish she would expand her view!!!

    • Daria Zeoli April 28, 2015 at 5:47 am - Reply

      That’s the rub, isn’t it? How do we get your friend – and so many others who share her stance – to expand their view?

    • Tanysha Harry April 29, 2015 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      You could post a comment along the lines of: “This is exactly why I’m vegan, animals are not things”

  12. Tanysha Harry April 27, 2015 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    Not to mention he was voted Peta’s person of the year a few years back, he’s not even vegan……………. *sigh*

    • Daria Zeoli April 28, 2015 at 5:46 am - Reply

      You know, I had a conversation about this very fact yesterday. When you think about it, Ricky Gervais is the perfect person for PETA – loud-mouthed and controversial. They are of the opinion that all press is good press – it’s no wonder they’d pick a non-vegan as their person of the year.

      • Tanysha Harry April 29, 2015 at 8:39 pm - Reply

        It’s a shame, coz choosing him further blurs the boundary of what is vegan to non-vegans. Which is already blurred enough – just need to go out to eat somewhere and be offered the gluten free version when you ask what is vegan.

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HELLO! I'm KD Angle-Traegner.

Writer, activist, and founder of Four Urban Paws Sanctuary. I’m on a mission to help people live a vegan life. Read more about KD…