Animals awaiting slaughter ingest more drugs than humans every year, says an animal rights and vegan advocate and author. This leads to antibiotic-resistant pathogens passed on to humans, which means they must take medications to fight illness, said Gene Baur, co-founder and president of Farm Sanctuary.
Baur speaks in Bonita Springs at noon Sunday at SWFL Veg Fest, aimed at encouraging a plant-based lifestyle, compassion for animals and protecting the earth. The animals are fed medicine so they remain healthy until they’re killed and end up at the dinner table or restaurant, he said.
“Being vegan isn’t so much an ingredient list as an aspiration to live as kindly as possible,” said Baur, who became a vegan in 1985. “The good news is we can live healthy and we can improve our well-being by eating plants instead of animals. It’s never been a better time to be vegan. There’s more awareness than ever.”
Saturday, Baur said, he plans to encourage people to make food choices aligned with their values and their interests.” “Most people are humane and don’t want to see animals suffer,” he said. “Living in alignment with our values means we can make food choices.” Becoming a vegan goes beyond feeling and becoming healthier, Baur said. Eating animals leads to health problems in people, and also damages the environment, he said.
Animal agriculture requires soy and other food, which leads to the reduction of rain forests, he said. Such waste contributes to harming our planet, leading to a vicious cycle, he noted. The factory-farm industry is a greater contributor to climate change than the entire automotive industry, Baur said. “If you think about human history, we have been primarily plant eaters,” he said. “Those who ate meat were the affluent, the elite who had power.”
He suggested eating more ethnic foods, many of which are plant-based, such as Thai and Indian cuisine. And many may not realize that they’re already eating vegan food, such as cereal, grains and beans that are important for such non-meat diets. Vegan means eating no animal products. The belief by some that vegans lack protein because they eat no meat is untrue, he said. Vegans eat beans and other food for protein, and many take supplements such as B-12 and vitamin D.
Celebrities have joined him in that movement. Comedian and political commentator Jon Stewart and his wife, Tracey McShane, soon will open a Farm Sanctuary in New Jersey. Farm Sanctuary that Baur helped found in 1986 is an animal protection group with actual farms also in California and New York. His 2015 book, “Living The Farm Sanctuary Life,” offers an inside look at the animal rights organization.
Other celebrities joining in the effort include actress Emily Deschanel and comedian and actor Kevin Nealon, Baur said. Baur, 55, said he grew up in the 1960s in the Hollywood Hills region of California, and saw first-hand how people harmed animals and the Earth. Such experiences led him to activism, he said. “I didn’t want to be a cog in the wheel of a system causing so much harm,” he said. “And I learned it was possible to live well without eating animals.”