Question: What inspires you?
Ingrid Newkirk: I was always born caring about; I was always born. “I was always born,” whatever that means. I was multiple times born. Sorry about that.
I think I was born with some kind of empathy for animals. When I was growing up in India, I did see dogs starving on the street. I saw young bulls who pulled the carts that were loaded with bricks and metal who would be beaten within an inch of their lives because they couldn’t carry on. They were so exhausted in the heat. And my heart just went out. I didn’t have to learn anything. It was just somebody might appreciate art. I appreciated them, and I couldn’t stand it. It just drove me insane. And I would rush out and try to stop somebody from hurting an animal.
Or I would speak up. I didn’t get the whole picture. I was a very slow learner. But bit by bit I began to look at what happened in the west with slaughter houses, and what happened in the west in laboratories, and figured out it wasn’t just in developing countries where there is cruelty. It’s just more obvious. It’s in the developed countries in the places where most of us never go where the cruelty is intense. And it drove me to think, “I have to tell people this.” I’ve had the privilege and the sorrow of going into a laboratory to inspect it; of going into a slaughterhouse – including one in Taiwan for dogs where does were slaughtered for winter soup. I’ve seen these things, and I can’t just keep quite or nothing will change. I need to say to you “Will you do something that will make a difference, too?” So I’m driven to do that and hope that it does so much good as I can get it to do.
Recorded on: November 12, 2007