For your reading

Gene Baur


September 26th, 2017


Animal rights activist Gene Baur is the co-founder and President of Farm Sanctuary, USA, a farm animal protection organization that rescues and provides a burgeoning haven to animals. A vegan advocate, Mr Baur, through his education and advocacy, encourages us to make ethical decisions, embrace a compassionate way of living and alter our palette to sensitivity. Gene Baur has authored two books: Living the Farm Sanctuary Life: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Mindfully, Living Longer, and Feeling Better Every Day and Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food.


What does it mean to be vegan?

To me, being vegan is an aspiration to live as kindly as possible.

Nobody is perfect, but just because we are not perfect doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to do better. One of our organizational values at Farm Sanctuary [Gene Baur’s shelter for rescued farm animals] is to speak to people where they are on their journeys. We encourage people, whether they are vegan or not, to visit Farm Sanctuary and start thinking about the issues of animal cruelty and environmental damage and start taking steps.

Even a vegan can take measures to live more compassionately. For example, they can buy organic food from local farmers’ markets instead of conventionally grown chemically-laden foods. Improving our lives mindfully is a process, not an endpoint.


What was the trigger that led you to veganism? 

I grew up in the Hollywood Hills, near Griffith Park, and I saw how wildlife was harmed by human activity; I saw beautiful oak trees cut down to accommodate bigger houses. And I didn’t want to be a cog in a wheel for a system causing so much harm.

I learned how my grandmother raised veal calves, so I never ate veal. I then learned about the various violent aspects of animal agriculture through college. And as I travelled around the country and met other vegetarian’s and activists, I felt that if I could live well without causing harm, why wouldn’t I? As I learned about animal cruelty and environmental damages, I learned that it was possible to live well by eating plants and not animal food. Turning vegan was an easy decision for me to make.


How did you source plant-based food when you turned vegan?

I became vegan in 1985 (and I started Farm Sanctuary in 1986), and I’d often go to food co-ops or health food stores. Today you can get plant-based alternatives in mainstream grocery stores, so it’s a lot easier. And plant foods—fruits, vegetables, grains and beans—were always accessible. Back in the 80s, a lot of people ate vegetarian or vegan food. Traditional ethnic food tends to be primarily plant-based because eating plants is efficient; it allows us to produce food without using so many resources. Animal foods are recent creations, especially when you eat them the way you do now, in large quantities.