Eat Like You Give a Damn!
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!
Andy 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!
Albie 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.
Carli 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.