Farm Animals Are Friends, Not Food

Gene Baur is an activist and advocate for farm animals all over the world. He is the founder of Farm Sanctuary––an organization working hard to spread awareness about the plight of farm animals and to bring aid to those animals that have suffered. He is also an author; his book Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds about Animals and Food has received critical acclaim.

We spoke with Baur to learn more about his passion and his organization.

TAILS: What changes have you seen in the farming industry since you started Farm Sanctuary 26 years ago?

Gene Baur: Over the past 26 years, there has been significant consolidation in the farming industry as small farms have been subsumed by larger, more industrialized operations. Even as the number of farms raising animals fell, the number of animals confined and slaughtered in the U.S. skyrocketed. But — good news — over the last few years, the number has been falling; finally, fewer animals are suffering for food. I believe we are at the beginning of a burgeoning food movement with farmers markets spreading and people with a greater interest in sustainable farming moving into agriculture.

What originally drove you to get involved in farm animal welfare?

In the early 1980s, factory farming was becoming more prevalent, and farm animals were suffering terribly. This issue was largely unknown, and most citizens were unwittingly supporting factory farming abuses by buying meat, milk, and eggs. I felt it was important to expose the animal farming business and to educate people and encourage them to make more compassionate food choices.

What are some easy changes people can make in their day-to-day lives to help farm animals?

The most direct thing we can do to help animals is to not eat them and to choose plant-based foods instead of animal foods. Thankfully, there are great vegan foods available, and vegan resources are increasing daily.

How does connecting with farm animals better us as people?

The earliest animal protection laws were passed because of a recognition that causing animals to suffer coarsens us and makes us less compassionate. And, of course, how we treat other animals says a lot about us. Connecting with farm animals is part of our connecting with our own compassion, and it strengthens our ability to empathize with others. If your every meal is a vote for compassion, that is likely to make you more compassionate and peaceful person.

What are the issues that Farm Sanctuary is most focused on right now?

We just launched our Compassionate Communities Campaign, which will be bringing the most effective vegan advocacy to cities around the country. We’re also working with the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA to pass legislation outlawing hog gestation crates and veal crates in more states. Our “No Downers” campaign, which would prevent the slaughter of animals that are too sick, injured, or weak to stand, is ongoing. We have a new project called “Someone, Not Something” that will be focusing more attention on the science of farm animal cognition, emotion, and behavior. And we are, of course, continuing our core work of caring for animals rescued from slaughter and seeking to change how our society views and treats farm animals. This past summer we acquired our third sanctuary, just 40 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. We’re excited to do more in this key population center to help others see farm animals as friends, not food.

Learn more: Visit Click here for more information on Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food.

Alicia Silverston Fights for Farm Animals (video)
Martha Stewart Speaks About Cruelty to Farm Animals (video)
The Dark Side of Urban Farming

By Laura Drucker for TAILS


Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla5 years ago

Sharing, God bless him!

Gabriella Bertelmann
G Bertelmann6 years ago

that's great! willl ook for the book

Carrie Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

David Andrew Murray


Laura F.
Laura F6 years ago

Thank you Farm Sanctuary for all the wonderful work that you do.

Phyl M.
Bul M6 years ago

Go vegan or vegetarian. Save animals. Save our environment. Give love & peace.

Joy S.
Joy s6 years ago

I believe plants and animals were put on earth for our use/food altho we have never eaten our beef cattle, goats, or even chickens altho we do eat their eggs. I just can't butcher an animal I have fed, watered and talked to.

Kynthia B.
Cynthia B6 years ago


Bonnie W.
Bonnie W.6 years ago

I believe that eating meat is part of what humans have evolved to do, and that its is a personal choice whether or not to stop eating meat. My personal opinion is that we are evolving to not want or need to eat meat any more, but that transition may take awhile.

I also deeply believe that the way farm animals are treated by most farms is hideous, shameful and beyond words ungodly behavior. I am glad when someone raises awareness of this issue again.

Monica D.
Monica D6 years ago

This sounds very good. Go vegetarian (or even better, vegan) - better for people, animals and planet!