We had the immense pleasure of speaking with Gene Baur, President and CEO of Farm Sanctuary. Gene took nearly an hour out of his busy schedule to talk with us over Skype (yes we have video!) about the 30th anniversary of Farm Sanctuary, his new book Living the Farm Sanctuary Life: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Mindfully, Living Longer, and Feeling Better Every Day, his journey going vegan, and so much more. We know you’ll get as much out of hearing from Gene as we did. Stay tuned to the end of the show as we dig into what Gene said and how it affect us.
Gene Baur is co‑founder and president of Farm Sanctuary, America’s leading farm animal protection organization. Gene Baur has been hailed as “the conscience of the food movement” by TIME magazine. For 25 years he has traveled extensively, campaigning to raise awareness about the abuses of industrialized factory farming and our cheap food system. Gene’s latest book, published by Rodale, Living the Farm Sanctuary Life: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Mindfully, Living Longer, and Feeling Better Every Day
, is available for sale April 2015. His previous bestseller, Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food
, was published by Touchstone in March 2008.
“If you can live well and be happy without causing unnecessary harm, why wouldn't you?” ― Gene Baur, Living the Farm Sanctuary Life: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Mindfully, Living Longer, and Feeling Better Every Day
Gene Baur co-founded the Farm Sanctuary 30 years ago in 1986 and now has three locations in New York and California. He started out investigating and exposing the mistreatment of farm animals. During his investigations Gene would come upon live animals in trash cans and piles of bodies. It was then that he and his team started rescuing farm animals. Not only did these rescues help the animals but helped Gene heal from witnessing the cruelty during his activism. Farm Sanctuary is and continues to be a place of hope, and healing, and transformation.
Part of what Gene works on is talking with people to get them to live within an alignment with their own values. As the thought of harming another animal is abhorrent, making them aware of that value is beneficial in his message.
Gene makes a great point that, “most people are humane but most people are unwittingly supporting this horrendous system.” This is a point that we make quite often that if a person had to perform the act taken in slaughterhouses there would be a lot less meat eaters. Since the typical diet is something we are introduced to we assume that the action is the norm and acceptable but as the message spreads we’ll see a wider turn towards a more compassionate diet and lifestyle.
Recently we’ve had companies purchasing vegan companies to gain in the vegan market as well as companies such as Ben & Jerry’s releasing vegan products. The question we always get is how do we feel about buying those items. Gene views this as generally a good thing as it brings vegan options to a wider audience but understands we should use caution as it bring the non-vegan influence to the vegan brand.
When asked about advice for those new to being vegan or plant-based, Gene offers a great piece of wisdom, “stay the course.” We all know how tough it can be at first especially going out, but keeping true to your lifestyle and remembering why you’ve chosen compassion is a great help. Also, if you make mistakes or stray don’t let that deter you. No one is perfect, recognize that and do better next time.
“Becoming a vegan is not about self-denial; it’s more a matter of self-awareness. It is about trying new foods and broadening your palate, expressing the joy of being alive, and knowing that you’re making a daily effort to live less violently and more sustainably.” ― Gene Baur, Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food
We asked Gene what he would say in a letter to himself to when he started. His advice hit home for us and is something that can only be heard from Gene. That being said, pay attention during the interview and take heed to his words about what he would say to himself then, and now.
His book Living the Farm Sanctuary Life: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Mindfully, Living Longer, and Feeling Better Every Day
, brings a fantastic perspective from the animal’s point of view showing how we are all connected in many ways.
Of everything Farm Sanctuary does, Gene loves seeing the transformations of people and the animals who come to them only knowing cruelty and pain from humans eventually learning to trust them again and enjoy life. Seeing people healing and doing better after recognizing the impact they have has also been extremely rewarding. One amazing example is the story of the “fur farmer” across from Farm Sanctuary and how Gene managed to change the farmer’s heart and mind.
When speaking with neighbors and others he finds breaking through the idea that we need animal foods for nutrients one of the hardest to speak to. This is likely because food is not only personal but something we’ve been taught for all of our lives. However, demonstrating the idea is a myth is a great way to get through the barrier. It’s always best to find common ground and build from there. We spoke further with Gene about stories and interactions that benefit people and animals while finding a compassionate lifestyle.
Gene also points out and digs into how animal based diets aren’t sustainable for the long term. Something that Bill Nye and Richard Dawkins have both expressed. NASA is even making steps to have astronauts on Mars to live on a plant-based diet.
Though we see companies making changes and producing more options we agree with Gene that the growth of compassion will start with small groups such as Curiously Veg and our listeners. It’s important to remember that you are an ambassador for the animals and the planet.
Of course there is so much more that Gene touched on throughout our talk, more than we could possible write about. We invite you to listen to the show on our site or on your podcast app of choice.
If you have a question or comment about the show please contact us and we’ll address you directly or on the show.
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