Eat Like You Give a Damn!

By Jenny Brown   |  29Comments|

Hello Crazy Sexy Posse! My name is Jenny Brown and I am the Co-Founder and Director of the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary—a non-profit organization and shelter that rescues farm animals and works to end the systematic abuse of farm animals everywhere. I am mother to over 150 furred and feathered souls who have, in one way or another, been abused, neglected, discarded or abandoned. I am also a cancer survivor! Yay me!

At the wee age of 10 years old I was diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma or — in other words — BONE CANCER (gasp!). I endured almost 3 long years of chemo and lost my lower right leg. I’m also a veggie-lovin’ vegan who grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and never even heard the word “vegetarian” until, uh, college? Seriously. There was rarely ever a vegetable cooked in my house that didn’t have a ham hock (aka: pig’s knee) in it! Every meal incorporated meat or dairy (usually both) until my first semester of college where not only did I hear the word “vegetarian” but I became one instantly after reading about the plight of farm animals. It was then that I made some life-changing connections between the meat on my plate and the miserable life of the individual it came from.

My guess is that if you’re a part of this online community you’re probably taking steps to get healthy, adopt a greener lifestyle, kick your cancer’s ass, or all of the above. I am sure you are also beginning to understand that adopting a well-balanced vegan diet is a great way to possibly achieve all these goals. And let’s not kid ourselves—old habits are hard to break. Changing your diet can be really challenging—especially since we live in a society where animal products are BEYOND prevalent—they are the mainstay. But if you need more reasons or motivation for moving towards a plant-based diet, how about 100 of them —because that is roughly the number of animals you will save each year by going vegan!

jenny-pig-photoAndy the pig – rescued last summer from slaughter

And chew on these stats: The average meat eater is responsible for the deaths of some 2,400 animals during his or her lifetime. In more personal terms, during a 75-year life span, a typical U.S. resident is responsible for the suffering and death of 10 cows, 34 pigs and other small mammals, 2,535 turkeys, chickens and ducks, and uncounted numbers of aquatic animals. Good Lord! We’re walking graveyards!

Sadly, most people just don’t realize how dramatically meat and dairy production in the US has changed over the past 50 years. Those childhood images of happy animals living on sunny, idyllic farms couldn’t be further from reality. Virtually all animals that are raised for food — or their products — live miserable lives in intensive confinement in dark, overcrowded facilities called “factory farms.” These nasty corporate operations emphasize high volume and profit with little or no regard for the environment or humane treatment of animals.

Animals raised for food endure a life of suffering which is something not evident in the neatly wrapped packages of meat offered for sale at grocery store counters. We are so disconnected from the process of raising and killing animals that if you ask a child where meat comes from she might just say the freezer!

albieAlbie wearing his artificial leg, Photo Credit: Ambers Clark

We pay others to do our dirty work. Bruce Friedrich (one of my heros!) asks, “ how many of us could spend an afternoon cutting animals’ throats, or even watching it? And then ask yourself in what other areas of your life do you pay others to do things you find too repulsive? And how ethical is it to pay someone to do things that are wholly unnecessary and too atrocious to watch?”

So just do it guys – cut out the meat and dairy! It’s so easy and when you really break it down, think of it this way: Is the trivial pleasure of your taste buds worth a life of misery for some poor nameless farm animal that feared death? That wanted to live? That mourns for the calves or the piglets torn from her? That suffered her entire life in a gestation crate or in a battery cage so that people can eat her flesh, her mammary secretions (milk) or her unfertilized embryos (ahem, eggs).

My husband Doug and I started Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary to not only help as many farm animals as possible but to get people thinking about the individuals behind the corpses on their plates. The ones who come through our doors are but a tiny fraction of the billions of animals suffering RIGHT NOW for the meat and dairy industries. But together with these animals our job is to raise a greater sense of ethical awareness—to fill the collective hole in the conscience of society—and hopefully in turn, save more animals by convincing people not to eat them.

clover-the-goatCarli the dog acting as surrogate Mom for tiny Clover the goat

Sanctuaries are unique in that we have the opportunity to potentially open the hearts and minds of those of who visit. Seeing is believing, and once visitors are able to see and interact with these animals in a natural, loving environment, there is no denying that they think, feel and simply enjoy life.

So if the temptation of pepperoni pizza or that hamburger is stronger than your health-motivated will power, remember that those slices, that patty and those wings came from someone.

As Albert Schweitzer– the great humanitarian & philosopher—once said—“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.” This is what I ask of people and what I ask of you. And if you need a good dose of ethical motivation, come on down to our sanctuary sometime and let your heart, not your habit, do the guiding!

Originally published February 19, 2009.

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29 responses to Eat Like You Give a Damn!
  1. Jenny what a great blog! About 5 years ago my daughter declared she was a vegetarian. I thought it was a “phase”, she was in sixth grade… After a few months I realized she was serious and got really worried about her health (how will she ever grow if she doesn’t eat meat?!) and marched her to the Pediatrician who I thought would be on my side. Wrong! The Pedi told me that she was perfectly healthy and after hearing her out was convinced that she was meeting all her nutritional needs. I was shocked. Over time she has convinced me that being a vegetarian is absolutely the right way to go. (By the way she proudly wears her “Peace begins on your plate” tee shirt we got her from your website!) It has taken me longer to break old habits, but I will get there. Thank you for such a great post, I love the quote from Friedrich, really makes you think.

  2. Thank you! wow…even if you are a vegan that really hits home for you and know that educating people is key… and I hope our little chicken is doing well up in the sanctuary! we think about her often! great blog!

  3. Thank you. This is beautiful, just the pictures of these happy rescued animals brings tears to my eyes.
    So inspiring I will share this with my friends. It is reassuring and good to know the stats of so many animals i am saving by not eating meat. PEACE and LOVE!

  4. Great blog Jenny! xoxo Kris

  5. Great post! So many people do not know how incredibly bad animals that are being raised for food are treated and it is good to educate people and let everybody know what is really going on… Thank you Jenny for all the great work you do : )

  6. =^..^= ::wonderful::
    Really wonderful. A difficult subject to write and softly get the point across without lecture. You did it so well! Oh, and the pictures are of course the best ever … all those happy to be alive smiles!

    I live in Northern California only minutes from the farm sanctuary (your sister sanctuary!) here on this coast where one visit makes you remember why you’d not only pass up a piece of milk chocolate, you don’t have to think about it anymore. Or why you gladly walk away from the table a little hungry when out with friends because the host didn’t understand what to offer a vegan-and by example, perhaps you teach others a little about ethical veganism without saying a word. Because you really won’t eat anything with a face or from a face.

    I ::wish:: I could see the NY sanctuary. Maybe someday! You are an inspiration to many, you’ve really done a fabulous thing. I bet Andy or Dylan would comply.

    =^..^= love, zUzU
    P.S. kiss that baby goat, Clover for me, would you?

  7. GREAT post!! old habits are hard to change,i know i crave hamburgers all the time, ice cream etc.. but I have decided to not let my fleshly body boss my mind around. im not gonna let a bowl of icecream or a hamburger tell what to do.


  8. Go Jenny!
    I have to say that life can change your mind in a hurry about a lot of things and eating meat is one of them. I have not been a life long vegan. I have been a vegan for two and a half years.. but the one thing that really sent me on my trip thru life and cancerland is this. When I was traveling with my hubby around this amazing planet not caring what was happening besides what shoes and bag should I wear to lunch with one of his assc. wives. I went to lunch in Hong Kong and do you know what was on the menu. Dog ham. Well that never left me. I was a trained chef at the time and was out of my internship and not attaching myself to a resturant. So I kept traveling and noting how the ancient and most magestic of communities on this planet ate, worked and lived. And they all reminded me of my cherokee grandfather and his full vegan lifestyle. He belived you should ask the planet for all foods and eat nothing that had a mother and thank the plants for giving thier life for you. That all seemed hokey when I was young. Not today. Life is life. If you cannot pick it dont eat it… but everyone has thier own ways. The one thing I really enjoy about being vegan is it keeps the world just a little in balance. I could never settle myself after visiting cities in China on the mainland where they had pets.. for sale as food. Then when I got home it was hard for me to make the disconnect to a cow. Today I know why… if you look your dinner in the eyes.. could you kill and eat it. Well… many couldn’t as long as there was a humane alternative. I think the biggest problem is it is much cheaper to be sick and eat in an unhealthy manner than be well. So on the farms when that piece of ham hock went for making a bit of protien we get it. But today we are more educated and know we can live a different way. I am not against anyone making their own decision. And I am behind it. My hubby is not vegan. But this is mine and it works. I so support you farm. And thrlled about what you do. You rock.. we bone cancer girls have strong wills. keep on farming. Love you Callie

  9. sorry this was so long…..yuk. Your blog was great.

  10. Thank goodness we have so many yummy alternatives too! We don’t have to miss burgers or dairy ice cream when we can have a vegan Sunshine Burger or some soy, rice, coconut or raw ice cream:) Many of my non-vegan friends and family like these alternatives even better. My hubby loves Tofurky sausages (especially with some sauerkraut!).

  11. Fantastic blog! I wish I could live on a farm…someday, maybe.

  12. Jenny,
    Thank you for all you do for the animals & this wonderful blog! I share your compassion for animals. In addition to not eating them I make sure that my personal products have the “cruely free” bunny on them. I remember when I found out that soap had animal fat in it. Now my soap is all veg. People are surprised to find out how many products have animal parts in them or were tested on animals. Even vitamins! Again, thank you for all you do! You rock!

  13. Beautiful post and lovely pictures!!! Your post is a lovely, compassionate way to educate people on the benefits of going vegan. I love being vegan and would have it no other way. My fiance, a serious junk food meat eater, has been toying with the idea now… and I love that :-)

  14. Farm animals are sooo sweet!

  15. this makes my heart happy
    animals deserve love just like we do
    xoxoxo deb

  16. jenny…
    i don’t even know where to begin. you are my hero!!!! i am so thrilled that i have the privilege and honor of knowing you. what you and doug do for your furry family is inspiring and contagious. i adore you and look forward to seeing you in march when scott and i come to WFAS haven and volunteer at your amazing sanctuary. scott and i are striving to be just like you b/c we love what you do so much. you are my hero, my girl crush, my inspiration!!!! love you to pieces!!!! gina and scott

  17. This was such an awesome post. I went vegan over 6 years ago for ethical reasons, health and environment are obviously right up there, too. But, the thing that took me to the “light” side was reading John Robbins’ book, Diet for a New America. After learning about the slaughter houses, I was disgusted and immediately changed my diet. The health and environmental aspects were super awesome benefits!

    I am going to feature this post on my blog because it rocks!!!

    Thank you for everything you do!


  18. What a joy to read Jenny. Continue with the work that you do, its simply wonderful

    Val (U.K)

  19. Thank you for all you do for all the furry/ feathered friends Jenny.. You are an ANGEL… Peace & Blessings, Marina from Santa Rosa , CA

  20. I dreaming of the other world

  21. This is beautiful! Animals deserve the same rights to life and to live happily as we believe we do.

  22. Beautiful post! I live near the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, and I am continually inspired by the work they do. Keep it up – you’re doing amazing things!

  23. jenny brown, you are a doll.

    i just recently started down the vegan path again. it’s not my first time. it was a natural roundabout from a little foray into social norms. i could not be more delighted or at peace to be really listening to my conscience on this matter. this is a perfect thing to read today.

    have a beautiferous day.

  24. I love this post. I try to share videos of what goes on in factory farms with as many of my friends as possible. It’s so important for others to see and understand what actually goes on! You are so wonderful for helping to rescue the wonderful, innocent animals!!!!!

  25. AWESOME !!! Thanks for all you do! I’ve been a vegetarian for twenty years and am close to making the leap as a vegan.
    Do you have a blog? I’d love to read/ see more of your great sanctuary.

  26. This was an awesome post! You write so well! Thank you for your story. I so hope to get to your farm one day. It just seems awesome, as you all do too!

  27. Great post! I’ve been a vegetarian for two years but only gave up dairy 4 months ago. Being vegan is so much easier than I thought it would be!!!

    You do beautiful, wonderful work!

  28. beyond inspirational. I have a nine year old, who since 3 years old wouldn’t eat meat, I didn’t either. She is naturally compassionate, and wants to “be a writer, teach people about eating in a healthy and sustainable way, while rescuing animals,”…”can I do all those things Mom?” She would love to visit the sanctuary with me. Do you allow young ones t o visit, if they are willing to help out? You might have inspired us to do something along these lines in Idaho. Are you willing to offer advice over e-mail?
    Well done and thank you for your offering of peace in this world.

  29. I needed to find this blog post. It’s beyond time for me to cut out the turkeys and chickens from my diet.
    (I gave up all the rest 20 years ago).
    Thanks for all you do!