A warrior is someone who questions all authority, societal norms, and conventionality.
An individual who accepts the call and walks the long, moiling path of becoming one’s full potential, all while fighting selflessly for what they believe in.
The animal rights movement boasts many courageous and admirable individuals who have accomplished more than most of us can imagine. Joey Carbstrong has proven to be one of our movement’s most prized assets.
With his outspoken and blunt approach to activism, you cannot help but be swept away by his contagious passion and undeniable charm.
Prior to our interview, I had not known much about Joey: A hardcore animal rights activist and creator of hundreds of videos and compelling international AR events; a passionate presenter who has made several TV and radio appearances witnessed by millions of people around the world. But what makes him tick? How does he persevere without question?
Joey made time to chat with me during his very intense and busy Christmas campaign.
At first glance, you see a very passionate, attractive young man who projects a teflon-like persona. One would think, his best attributes. But after close observation, you begin to understand his most prized characteristic is in fact his empathy.
Joey shared an experience with me that not only exposed his open heart but also his anguish and pain. It was his birthday, but like any other day for Joey, he was spending the day fighting for the animals.
“This particular one was very traumatic. On the morning of my birthday, we sat with a group of pigs that were in a holding pen. Cuddling with them and talking to them as if we were at a sanctuary.
This was the pretext to the slaughter, which made it worse. This slaughterhouse was particularly proud of its process and invited our cameras inside.
As they were being led in, they immediately became very uneasy. They were stunned, hung upside down, and stabbed through the throat. Blood gushed out, it sprayed all over my face. These were the beings that I was just, minutes before, connecting with. They were dropped into a scalding tank.
While they were rolled to remove their hair, I could see their open eyes while they sank into the boiling water. This was all horrible, but not the worst of it. Hanging upside down after their hair is removed, they are gutted from top to bottom and their tongues are pulled out.
But what really traumatized me, what stuck out the most, what really scarred me in my brain…a tangible scar – was the drop saw. They drop the saw straight through the anus, through the spine, and directly through the skull. I could see inside this being’s head, this person I was just connecting with.
An irreparable scar that I could physically feel. I was so shocked, I couldn’t even feel anger.”
This is all in a day’s work for Joey Carbstrong. He puts himself in these situations because he knows he can handle them. This, so he can expose it to the rest of the world.
According to Joey, his courage and strength have been used for trivial things in the past. “This is an opportunity for me to use those characteristics for something meaningful,” he explains. He strongly believes he has been given a second chance to use his ill-gotten powers for good.
“Your purpose and your why must be stronger than your feelings.”
Experiencing severe violence, hardship, and trauma firsthand has helped him develop an almost impermeable armor. He has the ability to keep a level head even when witnessing horrible acts of violence. His thick skin protects him, safeguarding him from what ails most others.
“Joey Carbstrong possesses total focus on ending the use of animals for food to the exclusion of everything else, including personal needs or comforts, and absolute fearlessness, including low regard for his own personal safety.
These qualities have won him the following of tens of thousands, who fantasize themselves in his role.”
Animal Rights Pioneer
What struck me most about Joey was his complete dedication to Action.
Where did this code of conduct come from?
What’s Done is Done
From humble beginnings, Joey was born in Adelaide, Australia into a strained home, strifed with addiction and abuse. At 14 years of age, just after a very short career in sponsored amateur skateboarding, Joey left school and started experimenting with drugs. His circle of influence at the time was a group of about 20 very rebellious teenagers. This group of boys would introduce Joey to a world of boxing, crime, and violence.
As Joey got older, his addiction to alcohol, drugs, and violence would intensify. He had now become a full-fledged organized gang member, complete with tattoos, club rooms, and drug trades. He was living in a world where fear and violence reigned supreme, watching his back at every turn.
In hindsight, or maybe he realized it then, Joey’s external behavior demonstrated the inner turmoil of a fearful and scared young man.
“It all stems from fear. When you’re younger, you overcompensate. When you’re older, you don’t want to be the victim anymore. You do things that are extreme and violent as a way to send a message out to people to leave you alone.”
A Fish Out of Water
Traumatized by his early childhood and now caught up in his gangster lifestyle, he was living in an ever-impending warzone filled with violence, deception, and severe paranoia. This would inevitably take him down a treacherous path of denial and life-threatening danger. He was admitted into a mental health ward where he was detained and drugged.
While in the mental health facility, a visit from his grandfather would prove to be a life-changing experience. His grandfather was terminally ill and terribly emotional when he saw his grandson in that state.
After being released, Joey once again returned to his life of crime. The rumors of his enemies seeking revenge on him would drive him right back to the streets. While on the run from weapons possession and a DWI, his grandfather passed away. In addition to missing his grandfather’s funeral, he was trying to evade a high-level search effort by the police to find him, complete with helicopters.
This ultimately landed him in solitary confinement under suicide watch. “This was one of my worst rock bottoms,” says Joey. Riddled with guilt, he was mourning the death of his grandfather, battling drug withdrawal, and the emotional ramifications of everything he had done up to that point.
He was released six days later and put on house arrest while he awaited sentencing.
Nonetheless, he was still not ready to change. He went on to become a member of one of the most dangerous gangs in Australia, leading to violent altercations during his house arrest.
His health was severely compromised and he was suffering. Overweight, depressed, and on prescription drugs, he felt horrible.
Wanting to lose weight, he came across Dan McDonald, a health guru who educates the public on healing, using the power of fresh fruit and vegetable juices.
“Drinking green juice was like natural meth,” says Joey. He hadn’t eaten a fresh fruit or vegetable in almost 20 years. He felt great and was surprised at how fast he felt the effects of it.
With this new-found level of clarity and consciousness, he began to comprehend what Dan was talking about.
Joey remembers Dan discussing karma and spirituality. Eating dead food, as in a piece of an animal, you take on everything that animal went through. The suffering, the adrenalin, everything they felt before they died, the whole sickening experience.
This memory would be a seed that would take root later on.
After 18 months of house arrest, he was sentenced to 13 months in prison for firearm possession.
During his abbreviated six months in prison, he stopped all drug use and sobered up. With his now clear mind, he began taking stock of his life and all the decisions he had made. Although not yet vegan, he was trying his best to eat right. Consuming as many fruits and vegetables as possible and training twice a day.
A Turning Point
Joey’s early release provided ample time for reflection and family time. One day while chatting with his mom about vices, he pondered the concept of hypocrisy and vowed to go vegan the very next day. His first day as a vegan would be World Vegan Day, a fact he would not be aware of until one year later.
Still a member of the gang, the activism bug was already biting.
Joey posted this on December 24, 2013:
“Looks like it’s another Christmas and New Years on home d, third in a row, oh well I am still happy and grateful, it could be worse, I could be a turkey, freezing in a dark cage in my own feces, waiting to be knocked off and fed to one of you bastards, hahaha…
Merry Christmas to everyone, have a safe and festive cheerful season, love you all 🙂
Don’t get too pissed……….”
Admittingly, this was the hardest year of Joey’s life. Without the crutch of alcohol or drugs, he made the unsafe and difficult decision to remove himself from the gang.
This ignited an existential crisis. He could no longer identify himself as a gang member – a label he had grown accustomed to. He wondered who he actually was and what his life was going to be from that moment forward.
Joey was now ready to begin a new chapter. He was overwhelmed. “It literally felt like an actual burning ember,” he said. “I’ve wasted all this time causing people hardship.” He was finally ready to turn it around.
“If any of you have that fire inside your chest, never deny yourself the chance to spread it, because that’s your purpose, and it’s calling out to you.”
Initially he thought he needed to make a positive impact to inspire and help people. Then he realized the animals needed his help even more.
By October of 2015, he was filming and posting his outreach on social media. He was parlaying his one-on-one debates into videos that could then be witnessed by thousands of people. This was a brilliant idea and the beginning of something groundbreaking for Joey.
Simultaneously, he was also dealing with the imminent death of his father. His dad had been battling Crohn’s disease for five years. His health was declining, and Joey recognized his relationship with his father was strained and needed repair.
With his new-found passion for health and vegan education, he pleaded with his dad to change his treatment approach. Unfortunately, Joey hadn’t gained much respect from his family members when it came to making the right decisions, so they passed on his advice.
Joey learned a very important lesson as he sat with his father during the last few minutes of his life. Watching his father drift away, he was hit with the realization that life is fleeting and finite. What really matters is what you do while you are here.
With unbridled passion, fearlessness, and a truly WHO GIVES A F**K attitude, Joey went to work. Crediting his anger, as one of his most valuable tools.
“I generate my anger into action. Anger is a good feeling if you use it in a productive way.”
Extra, Extra, Read All About It!
In January of 2018, Joey set his sights on the mainstream media. He wanted to bring animal rights to the forefront with his Vegan Prophecy Tour.
After one of his Facebook videos received almost 7 million views, he was contacted by a BBC filmmaker, a documentary featuring Joey titled Vegans vs. Farmers aired on BBC 1 and led to a huge media explosion.
He then landed a spot on the Jeremy Vine show – a very popular UK talk show with millions of listeners.
This proved to be a very pivotal moment in Joey’s activism career. To an audience of over seven million, a very direct Joey took Jeremy to task about a ham and cheese sandwich that was in the studio. Speaking rather bluntly about the pig who had to suffer and die against their will.
The media exploded. The Sun, The Guardian, The Mirror, The Express News, and many many more covered the event. With headlines such as ‘It’s dead animal flesh!’: Vegan attacks BBC’s Jeremy Vine over ham and cheese sandwich left out in radio studio.
Joey Carbstrong was everywhere!
Offers from journalists came rushing in and multiple radio debates and interviews took place. One that stands out was his interview on This Morning Show with Phillip and Holly, which led to even more media attention.
Joey’s appearance in the BBC’s Veganville received millions of views.
Joey was stirring the pot and the media loved it. Of course, to them it was sensationalism, but what some of them didn’t realize was that they were providing the perfect platform for a man who was on a mission and didn’t care what others thought. He knew in his heart he was saying all the right things, and the message had reach.
He then appeared on Good Morning Britain. His famously nimble statement to Piers Morgan, ”You’re not a baby cow, bro!” was picked up by dozens of media outlets! He was ruffling all the right feathers. Good Morning Britain’s Piers Morgan returned fire by bringing up Joey’s criminal past…calling him a “vegan terrorist.” This too was covered by multiple news outlets.
Unphased by this, Joey pushed forward. “I have nothing to hide, I’ve been talking about my own past for years,” Joey snickered. The fact that these people were calling him a militant vegan activist only fueled his fire.
But the workload and the hours were beginning to wear on Joey. With all this mixed media attention and traveling, he was getting physically and emotionally burned out. The spotlight is a great place to be, but it comes with a huge price. Energetically, criticism and judgment take their toll.
His past still lurking, he needed to address the effects it was having on his psyche.
A diagnosis of complex PTSD would encourage therapy where he finally received the help he deserved.
Now Joey continues his animal rights work with the world in tow. With many big projects coming soon, he continues to expose the horrific conditions of industrial agriculture and its players. Showing the world what is truly behind it all.
A tireless warrior for the animals and for us…demonstrating what we are all capable of.
His leadership style – Teach By Example. Exemplifying a quote from one of his inspirations.
“If you want to be one of the few to defy those trends in our ever-softening society, you will have to be willing to go to war with yourself and create a whole new identity, which requires an open mind.” ~ David Goggins
Joey Carbstrong is a DISRUPTOR in every sense of the word. Turning all the rules upside down, shaking things up, and changing the perception. Moreover, he encourages others to rethink the status quo, not only their values and philosophies but their actions as well.
To Joey, veganism is a non-action, a neutral position. You’ve stopped doing something egregious and cruel to the non-human animals. It’s simply not enough.
To this end, he reflects on a quote by Desmond Tutu
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
Joey’s Locker Room Pep Talk
“People waste too much time talking about strategies. Stop talking about it. Having meetings about it. You find your feet when you do it. People live in their minds and not in their hearts. You will learn more when you just do it, rather than talk about it. It’s about action. We are all going to die. Because of the finite nature of our lives, we need to let go and get out there. Putting ourselves out there, on the streets, on social media.
Get it out there. Film it, post it, spread it. We will get a lot more achieved that way. Don’t get caught up in what we should do and shouldn’t do, who we will offend, or if it is politically correct. The animals need truth speakers. Tact is important but not dilution.
Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can, follow your heart, and don’t give a damn what anyone thinks about it.”