By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views
Being surrounded by hundreds of people who share your point of view and who don’t judge others is enlightening. This past Saturday, I had the honor of attending the 25th anniversary gala for Farm Sanctuary, the leading farm animal protection nonprofit.
The staff and volunteers at Farm Sanctuary work tirelessly to rescue farm animals, challenge, amend, and introduce laws so farm animals can be treated humanely, and bring awareness to all of us about the plight of farm animals.
At the helm is Gene Baur, co-founder and president, who never preaches; he tells it like it is and teaches by example.
Gene grew up in Hollywood. He worked as an actor–mostly appearing in commercials for numerous fast food chains. “When I began visiting farms, stockyards, and slaughterhouses in the 1980s, I was shocked by the horrific conditions I found and the routine cruelties that were considered normal. Animals are treated like inanimate commodities, raised by the billions and denied basic humane consideration. Sick animals, or those otherwise deemed to have no economic value have been callously discarded. Unaware of the abuse of factory farming, most citizens have unwittingly supported this inhumane system, but with growing awareness, change is in the air.”
25 Years of Compassion
“We are in the midst of a major awakening about the food we put in our bodies and what it means for the world around us. Twenty-five years ago, I couldn’t have predicted the profound effect Farm Sanctuary would have on how our society views and treats farm animals. We still have a long way to go and events like this are important milestones on the road to renewing our empathy and compassion.”
Continuing the Journey
At the end of the evening, Gene left the event in the same VW van he used to found Farm Sanctuary 25 years ago to embark on a three-week, cross-country adventure documenting the food, people, and places that helped spark a national movement toward compassionate living and eating. You can find updates about Gene’s road trip here over the next few weeks.
On the Red Carpet
Actors Wendie Malick, Loretta Swit, Fred Willard, Eric Roberts, Jesse Eisenberg, singer-song writer Nelie McKay, and writer/comedienne Carol Leifer were among a number of performers who came out to honor Farm Sanctuary. Over the next few days, you can read about their participation with Farm Sanctuary, and why they are using their celebrity status to help animals.
Farm Sanctuary Honorees
Receiving awards for their work on behalf of farm animals are:
David Wolfson, a leading animal law expert who said, “I do what I do because I realize there is not one good reason for this suffering. We have created momentum, and we will win because we are occupying the correct position.”
Kathy Freston, best-selling author of The Veganist, said, “Compassion is a muscle that gets stronger with use. The V word–veganism–is finally out of the closet, and it’s exciting to be an early adapter.”
Susie Coston, Farm Sanctuary’s national shelter director, told the crowd, “When they come into the shelter, many of them are terrified. It’s heartening to watch them adjust, to see them leap and run, smile, and feel safe here.”
Kendra Melrose, an animal rights lawyer, co-founded the Columbia Student Animal Legal Defense Fund. She works passionately defending animals through pro bono legal work and everyday activism.
David Lee, president and co-founder of The Field Roast Grain Meat Company, was honored for providing people with quality vegetarian and vegan grain meats. David’s company supports organizations working to end farm animal suffering.
For more information about Farm Sanctuary, click here.