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Farm Sanctuary on Factory Farming, Ag-Gag Bills, Health & Consumer Choice

By June 11, 2013August 7th, 202315 Comments

Today on the show I sit down with Gene Baur — activist, best-selling author and president & co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, the first animal rescue organization dedicated to farmed animals.  You might have seen him in the documentary Forks Over Knives*.  And I’d be remiss in not mentioning his is a pretty darn good marathon runner prepping for his first Ironman this summer (on a plant-based diet of course).

I’ve had plenty of vegans with strong points of view on the program.  But this was the first time I have interviewed a true animal rights activist.  I’m certainly not an expert in this area, but Gene is such a great guy, he made it easy.

I’m the first to admit that my original reasons for going vegan were far more selfish than ethical.  But the more educated I become about how our food system functions to deliver meals to our plates, the more sensitive and attuned I have become to the indelible power of marketing; the extraordinary lengths to which BigFood and their adjuncts on Capitol Hill will go to keep the public immunized from the harsh realities of factory farming; and the unnecessary and horrific treatment of farm animals that inevitably results.

Please understand — I take no moral high ground.  But as my awareness of this issue continues to broaden, I do feel a certain imperative to cast light on what I perceive as exceedingly cruel abuse on a systemic level.  In my very humble opinion, our current system is both untenable and unsustainable in the long term.  There is a better way.  And Gene is a great ambassador of a worthy message warranting our objective attention.

If you come to this interview with a different perspective on this issue, I understand. And it’s fine. Believe me, I get it. I ask only one thing – that you please listen with an open and mind.

Thanks.  And enjoy the show.



Hey – you gotta get dear old dad something for Father’s Day, right?  Well, I have just the thing. Finding Ultra* just hit bookstores and online retailers in paperback.  And it’s cheap –  just $12.45 on Amazon*.  What the heck, right?  That’s like a one cold pressed juice at Whole Foods; and will hopefully be even a bit more nourishing.  Then tell a friend.

*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Thanks for listening!

As always, thank you for all the ongoing support.  You guys are everything.


  • BYOL says:

    really great podcast Rich! Get more AR people on once in a while. Made for a fresh conversation on the podcast!

  • Laura Fraser says:

    Thanks Rich! This is such an important topic that people know so little about. Very happy you chose to include Gene on the podcast.

  • Graham Dethmers says:

    I love Gene and Farm Sanctuary. Glad he’s on the podcast. My wife and I visited Farm Sanctuary in California, and it was a wonderful place. It was great meeting the animals. The people working there were very warm and helpful, even though it was not one their main visitor days. Great guy, and a cause dear to my heart.

  • Ellie Pell says:

    I really loved this podcast! I live near Watkins Glen N.Y. and plan to visit the sanctuary as soon as I can (I live in Ithaca, was the small restaurant you briefly mention the Glenwood Pines by any chance?) I would love for my father, who is a crop farmer, to listen to this podcast, but I think he wouldn’t get through the “commercials” in the beginning, maybe next podcast you could try to cut them down a bit? I loved your book and am currently trying to switch the a local/organic diet. I want to know where my food comes from, especially if it is an animal product. Know the farmer, know the food!

  • richroll66 says:

    Yes! I lived just a few little cabins down from The Pines…Ahh the days…Thanks Ellie

  • Monique says:

    Great podcast! (as usual). Love Gene and Farm Sanctuary. It is on top of my bucket list to hug some farm animals! Love them all.

  • Adam says:

    Rich this was a great podcast. I am not sure if it is this podcast episode or the previous one, where you mentioned you wanted to raise awareness with the way food is in America. I think you can use this as some inspiration for some ideas. I think this would be a great interview as well

  • W says:

    I read your book and was inspired to become a vegan and run a marathon. Ive now listened to all of you pod casts but this was not a fun one for me. I just did not find the “ethical” argument compelling. Your presentation in your book of why to become plant powered was compelling and interesting I just can not get on board with the so called “ethical” cause.

    I love the inspirational stories, nutrition, and athletics but I just don’t find guilt as a great motivator to be healthy. It turns me off and overshadows the health aspect of being plant powered. I had the same problem when I watched Forks over Knives. I just wanted to roll my eyes and say “oh brother” when that segment was shown.

    I realize i may be a minority of your listeners but i would much rather hear stories of awesome accomplishments.

  • ann says:

    Hi Rich – Excellent podcast…again! I heard about Gene Baur and Farm Sanctuary and have been wanting to know more. Thx for bringing him on the show. Very informative interview.

  • Jenna says:

    I’ve listened to several of your podcasts now and have thoroughly enjoyed them all. But this one is exceptionally awesome!! I really enjoyed the conversation and am very happy you included Gene Baur and the Farm Sanctuary on your show! Thanks for all you do.

  • Maryann says:

    Thought provocing podcast. I’ve been vegetarian for years, for health and ethical reasons. Listening to this made me think about how often I have nonfat dairy products. Not sure I’m ready to go vegan yet, but it’s been easy to cut my dairy consumption in half, and I think I can cut it even further in the future.

  • Lucy says:

    hey w

    i didn’t get the guilt aspect of this podcast at all

    Gene is very calm in discussing the reality of factory farming, the last thing Gene and Rich would want to do is guilt or shame you

    Unfortunately the reality of factory farming is unpleasant to put it mildly

  • Sara Kellard Murphy says:

    My ironman hubby brought home “Finding Ultra” and to my pleasure it sparked so many conversations between the two of us on refining our nutrition. We were eating as organically as possible and now we are striving to be vegan. As a yogi I am so impressed with the strength and energy provided by our lifestyle. We are encouraging everyone we encounter to follow #plantpower. Namaste’ Sara

  • Jason RH says:

    It is just the reality of the way food is produced in this country and the absurd way in which we interact with our world. You speak about “rolling your eyes,” which is exactly what happens to cows as their organs are hacked out of their living bodies with machetes….their eyes roll into the back of their heads.

  • Josh Meckel says:

    I look forward to bringing Gene to Spokane VegFest. Maybe he will join you this year 🙂 He is such a remarkable man! 🙂

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