Summer of Goats

By Susie Coston, National Shelter Director

Summer has finally arrived, and the winter chill is fading to a distant memory. With the warm weather and longer days has also come a new phenomenon: Goats have taken over the Internet. Yes, goats. They’re cavorting through YouTube, overrunning BuzzFeed, and bounding into Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds as they play on slides, ride school buses, triumph over adversity, sing the Jurassic Park theme song, and appear unimpressed by British royalty.


Ingrid and Marilyn perfecting goat tomfoolery at our New York Shelter.

Whether goats have risen to popularity due to their curiosity, their irreverence, or their charming sense of rebellion, these charismatic creatures have gained some well-deserved pop-culture notoriety. By the end of June, Jezebel’s Kelly Faircloth had declared: “2014 is the Summer of Goats.”

Of course, we’ve always been big goat fans here at Farm Sanctuary. With over 25 years of experience rescuing and caring for animals, we’ve become an authority on all things goat. Although all of the goats at our shelters have been rescued from the sort of hardships that don’t make it into cute, viral videos, these indomitable animals remain some of the most joyful, funny, and fascinating characters you could ever hope to meet. So, join us as we celebrate our goat friends this summer on our website, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

Here are a few of our newest residents to help us begin celebrating the summer of goats.

The absurdly cuddly Totes, an orphaned kid, was rescued by a United States Coast Guardsman.


Our sweet Jordan was raised by a 4-H participant, but he ended up in pain and peril on the streets of New York City. Safe at our shelter, he’s healed and having a blast.


Abandoned at our gate and too small to join our adult goats, Hemingway found an unusual feathered friend — Ryan the gosling.


The cutest goat videos of Farm Sanctuary:


Humane Meat: A Contradiction in Terms

By Bruce Friedrich, Director of Policy and Advocacy

People have become increasingly aware that virtually all of the 9 billion land animals slaughtered in the United States each year for their meat are terribly mistreated. In fact, routine farming practices are so abusive that they would warrant felony animal cruelty charges if they were done to cats or dogs.


As a result, more and more compassionate people have joined the ranks of those who choose to eat a vegan diet. Some, however, have looked instead to meat from animals treated less badly, which is often stamped with a “humane certified,” or other such label, and may be referred to as “humane meat.”

This raises two questions in my mind. First, is there such a thing as truly “humane meat”? And second, even if we agree that some meat involves better conditions than conventional meat, should animal advocates promote it? I will address both questions in turn.

Is there such a thing as humane meat?
Let’s pose a question: Would you be willing to eat “humanely raised dog meat” or “humanely raised cat meat”?


I suspect not, and yet there is no rational difference between eating a dog or a pig, a cat or a chicken. All of these species are made of flesh, blood, and bone. And they have interests and personalities, as everyone who has spent time at Farm Sanctuary knows so well.

In fact, scientists have shown that pigs and chickens outperform dogs and cats on scientific tests of behavioral and cognitive sophistication. For the same reason that there is no such thing as humane dog meat, there is also no such thing as humane chicken, pork, or beef. Simply put, killing an animal in order to eat her cannot be called humane.

Let’s pose a second question: Would you be willing to cut an animal’s throat? For most of us, taking an animal’s life is abhorrent; we just wouldn’t do it. Of course, all of us could spend an afternoon participating in every aspect of getting plants to the table — picking them, packaging them, etc. But there is no aspect of slaughtering animals that is similarly pleasant, no aspect that any of us would enjoy doing.


If you’re like most people, you would not slice open a chicken’s throat for something as inconsequential as a meal. But this is precisely what we’re doing if we’re eating meat. Although we’re not personally killing the animal, we are paying someone to do it for us. And if we wouldn’t do it ourselves — if we wouldn’t even want to watch it — we should ask ourselves, where is the basic integrity in paying someone to do something we are opposed to?

Should animal advocates promote “humane meat”?
We should also understand that our decisions can have a strong impact on other people, and our decision to eat any meat at all (even if the meat is from producers that are less abusive) may influence others to eat factory farmed meat.

I’ve been a vegan for 27 years, and, in that time, I’ve convinced many friends and acquaintances to follow my lead. Each one of these individuals saves just as many animals through their veganism as I do through mine. Every person I convince to choose a plant-based diet increases my lifetime impact as a vegan.

But the reverse is also true: By not advocating veganism, all of those animals who could have been saved will instead suffer terrible lives and die horrible deaths.

Most people observing someone eating “humane” meat simply see a fellow meat-eater. They are not likely to change their own diets, because what they see is simply meat. Beyond that, eating “humane” meat is far more difficult than eating a vegan diet. Every restaurant in the country has something for vegans to eat, and it’s almost always cheaper than the meat-based alternatives. The vast majority of cities don’t have even a single restaurant that serves meat from animals who have not been factory farmed.

Obviously, working for improved living and dying conditions for farmed animals is a critical element in the animal rights movement. We should be fighting to ban gestation crates and battery cages. We should be working to ensure that the Humane Slaughter Act is properly enforced. The vast majority of Americans explicitly support banning abusive systems and decreasing abuse at slaughter, and we should strive to align our laws with our national values.

It’s important for the animals involved that we take steps toward ending the cruelty they endure every day. We cannot ignore the animals who are currently suffering.

But for anyone who truly cares about animals, veganism is the only choice that aligns our values — our opposition to cruelty and killing — with our actions.

It’s not that much to ask, and lives are depending on us.



Postcard From the Road – Hawaii

By Gene

The Vegetarian Society of Hawaii, with the support of Down to Earth™, a vegan-friendly health food store chain on the islands, recently welcomed me to their beautiful homeland. I spoke to several groups and attended events on Oahu and Maui. As I’ve seen in many other places, vegan awareness is thriving there!


Sharing our message
Three events on three consecutive days drew strong attendance, and our message was magnified in news reports on two popular morning news programs with special segments promoting plant-based eating. One of these programs also included an interview with Justin Young, a talented musician and Farm Sanctuary supporter who performed at a Valentine’s Eve benefit for Farm Sanctuary at Govinda’s vegetarian restaurant in Honolulu.




Justin Young performing at the Valentine’s Eve benefit.

During my visit, I met Patricia Bragg (of Bragg Liquid Aminos), whose father, Paul Bragg, inspired the beginnings of Jack LaLanne’s life-long devotion to encouraging fitness and nutritional eating, and Jay, a vegan athlete who ran the Honolulu marathon (26.2 miles) carrying an impressive 100-pound log to demonstrate both the endurance and strength that plant foods can support. I also saw old friends like Ruth Heidrich, a six-time ironman triathlon finisher who beat cancer on a plant-based diet, and Dr. Bill Harris, a former fighter pilot who founded the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii and who is keeping active into his 80s by parachuting out of planes, among his other pursuits! Members of Hawaii’s vegetarian community are actively demonstrating the short- and long-term benefits of eating plants instead of animals.


Gene with Patricia Bragg and Matt Jisa.

Animal agriculture operates in Hawaii on a relatively small scale, with the exception of the Parker Ranch, one of the oldest and largest cattle ranches in the United States. It was established in the 1800s, alongside the whaling industry, and comprises roughly 250,000 acres. As on the mainland, Hawaii’s animal agriculture industry also includes chickens exploited for egg production and pigs exploited for meat who are kept in cramped, filthy enclosures. Exploiting animals for commercial gain here presents animal welfare problems associated with shipping animals to and from the mainland. To contest these practices in Hawaii, members of the vegetarian society and animal activists are speaking out and demanding reforms.

Special opportunities
I especially enjoyed whale watching — from a bluff, not a boat — during my visit. Mothers and their babies swim, dive, and breach in the waters around Hawaii as part of their annual migration for birthing and mating. In the past, killing whales was a significant economic activity in Hawaii, but thankfully times have changed. A more humane and sustainable economy has now developed around watching and appreciating these whales.

During my time on Maui, I visited Leilani Farm Sanctuary. This shelter for abused animals shares a kindred spirit with Farm Sanctuary. Laurelee Blanchard, their director, is a dedicated animal advocate who I’ve known for many years. She moved to Hawaii in 1999 and now lives in the middle of her sanctuary, surrounded by rescued animals. We toured the grounds together and then enjoyed a tasty vegan meal prepared by Laurelee’s boyfriend, Barry. It always delights and inspires me to spend time with other committed, passionate advocates.


Gene at Leilani Farm Sanctuary. Photo credit: Leilani Farm Sanctuary.

All of these individuals who are supporting animal causes, choosing more plant-based diets, and speaking out on behalf of suffering animals show me that we can make a positive difference in our world. I just love watching our movement grow!


Will You Join Team Farm Sanctuary?

By Gene

At the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in DC

I’m excited that Farm Sanctuary has been selected as an official charity for the 2013 LA Marathon®. This is the first time Farm Sanctuary will participate in a major athletic event, and I will be running as part of Team Farm Sanctuary on race day! I would love to have the opportunity to meet other Farm Sanctuary supporters who are also runners in this event. The LA Marathon will take place on March 17, 2013. It starts at Dodger Stadium and ends in Santa Monica. Registration has begun. Click here to learn more about how you can get involved.

Joining Team Farm Sanctuary at the LA Marathon isn’t just a great way to meet other runners who care about protecting animals; it’s also a chance to raise funds for Farm Sanctuary and reach out to friends and family about the issues that matter so much to all of us. Every member of Team Farm Sanctuary will be working hard to raise $500 to support our life-saving work.

Getting involved provides a wonderful opportunity to educate people about why farm animals deserve better than the horrible existence they endure on factory farms. Running a marathon is also, of course, a significant personal accomplishment.

I’ll be running 26.2 miles for farm animals in Los Angeles on March 17th. I’m sure there will be challenging moments, but knowing that I’m running for a meaningful cause will propel me forward. I hope you will consider joining Team Farm Sanctuary. If you aren’t able to run but still want to get involved, please consider supporting my efforts by making a donation today on my fundraising page. Let’s show the LA Marathon what Farm Sanctuary is made of!