While some may say Farm Sanctuary Co-Founder Gene Baur doesn’t do enough for Farm Sanctuary, many think he’s someone who’s drawing attention to what humans choose to eat. Through his organization he’s working to save the lives of so many animals, while educating people about compassion, love and health.
10 Questions with Gene Baur from Pablo Arroyo Ruiz on Vimeo.
Hi I’m Belinda Luscombre from Time Gene Baur is an animal activist and athlete and a one thousand percent vegan and he's here to talk with us today. Mister Baur, thank you for coming.
It's great to be here.
So your organization Farm Sanctuary, is it a farm in the sense that it produces anything?
It's a farm in the sense that it is barns and pastures and fields. We grow hay for the animals but it's primarily a sanctuary, a place where the animals get to live out their lives, they’re never exploited like animals are on most farms.
So it's like a retirement home for animals, sort of for animals?
I would call it… well it's a refuge its kind ever retirement but most farm animals who are raised and slaughtered in the US are killed when they're just a few weeks or a few months old, so it’s retirement in the sense that they retire being retired and removed from the industrial food system but they're usually pretty young animals when they first come to us.
You have explained pretty well the problem with factory farming, it’s inhumane, the animals are treated really badly. The upside of factory farming, of course, is that the food is cheap and we have 46 million people living in poverty in the United States. What do you say to the argument that we want those people to be able to afford food?
Just because a hamburger is cheap at the fast-food restaurant doesn't mean that they're much greater costs associated with it such as health, such as environmental destruction, and also the fact that taxpayers subsidize this cheap factory farming food. So the factory farming system is actually quite costly when you look at all the various consequences of it.
I think we can safely say if you'll forgive me that most people prefer to eat meat.
Well I think most people have the habit of eating meat but they don't really think about where it comes from. We have habits like people might like to smoke or do a lot other things that aren’t necessarily the healthiest.
Alright so most people are in the habit of eating meat and are disinclined to change, would you still considered a victory if they, if the meat that they ate was humanely raised until its death.
I think that any step away from the factory farming industry and towards treating animals with more respect is a positive step, but I would also say that a lot of the meat that is now being marketed as humane isn't really coming from animals are treated very well, and at the end of the day we need to examine whether the terms humane and slaughter fit well together. You know, slaughter is an inherently violent bloody act and it is something that is bad for the animals and I would also say that it's bad for the people engaged in it, you know. Can you imagine what, what it would be like to have a job where for eight hours a day all you’re doing is cutting throats of animals. I mean, it's a violent bloody business and it's not something that I would wish to do, and I don't think most people would wish to do it, and it's something that we don't have to do. That's the good news, we can live by eating plans without killing any animals.
Where do you think it’s the next frontal battleground for animal rights?
In the marketplace we are now seeing food companies and entrepreneurs that are developing alternatives to our animal-based food system. There is a company called Beyond Meat, for example, that's developing alternatives to meat. And the New York Times food critic Mark Bittman did a taste test between Beyond Meat and chicken he couldn't tell the difference. There are now entrepreneurs who are developing products that can compete head to head with animal foods and when they will be cheaper to produce they will be healthier and they will not come with the guilt associated with killing animals.
Don’t animals eat other animals?
Yes, carnivores eat other animals…
Aren’t we, I think, can’t have the carnivore teeth?
We have very little carnivore teeth. If you look at our bodies we have primarily teeth for grinding, we don't have claws for tearing into flesh. If we were natural carnivores, and we saw an animal who is bleeding or dead, we would tend to salivate, which a carnivore will do, but we don't tend to do that. I think naturally we’re best suited to eat more plant foods. Now it is true that humans have, over the course of our history, eaten animal foods to survive and I think we're omnivores, we are capable of doing that but we don't have to do that.
So in your mind it's just impossible to have an ethical egg?
I think it may be possible to have an ethical egg as long as the chicken is a part of the family and not just seen as a production unit, and so if somebody has a hen and they allow that hen to live out her life and if that hen gets sick they provide veterinary care, if that hen is treated like a cat or a dog, for instance, and if the hen is laying eggs, I don't see that as being a big ethical problem. At Farm Sanctuary we do not eat the eggs because we don't want to set an example.
No eggs, no dairy, no meat, no honey, what is your guilty pleasure food? What do you eat when you're super-depressed?
Well I try not to get depressed and then when I, when I don't feel great, I think eating healthy food actually helps get you out of a bad situation but like a lot of people I have a weakness for sugar, I really like sweets, but I try to eat well and I try to eat greens, I tried eat whole foods they I try to…
Everybody tries to do that, and I'm saying, you know, so it's a sugar thing. So you’ll eat what can you have? Boiled lollies?
Well, well um like almond milk is oftentimes very sweet so I like almond milk with chocolate chip cookies, that would be one of my guilty pleasures, which I really quite enjoy after a long day, you know, sort of late at night, you know, milky…
Milk and cookies. Is wine allowed?
Wine is allowed yes.
And I do occasionally…
And beer is allowed. Yes I enjoy both those.
And pretty much your hard liquors, right, ‘cause it all grain.
Oh, yeah, yeah.
Mr Baur, thanks very much.