Part II: Jenny Brown, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary
Jenny Brown is a longtime animal rights activist and Co-Founder of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in High Falls, NY–one the country’s most recognized and respected sanctuaries for farmed animals. She previously worked in film and television until when she went undercover in Texas to film farmed animal abuse. That experience led her to dedicate her life to helping farm animals and raise awareness of their plight. Jenny’s story and the work of her sanctuary has been featured in the New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Rolling Stone, New York Magazine, NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show and more. She is the author of The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight For Farm Animals. You can read more about her and the sanctuary www.WoodstockSanctuary.org.
TRANSCRIPTION PART I:
Caryn Hartglass: Hello, everybody. Hello, everybody. I’m Caryn Hartglass. You are listening to It’s All About Food. How are you today? I’m good. I’m really good. I love autumn. It’s autumn in New York and we’re feeling that chill. Yesterday, it was especially chilly [and] I went to the dentist yesterday. Not a thing that I really enjoy doing. Fortunately, it wasn’t serious or problematic. But my dentist is about four miles from where I live, and I took the opportunity to walk. It was such a lovely fresh walk. Cool. Fortunately, I knew to check the weather and I dressed properly. It was so lovely. I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to walk. If you think you don’t have the time, think about places that aren’t that far from where you are, or you could do a chore, buy something, pick something up, visit someone. It’s quite a novel concept— walking. Here in New York City a lot of people walk. New Yorkers are very well known for being walkers. But walking is so good for you. You can also see things differently. When I walk down a street, I see different things than if I ride a bike down that street than if I take a car down that street or if I’m nearby and I take a train down that street. Every view is quite different and you can shake up some things that are the same in your life, just by making a subtle little change like that. So get out and walk. So I went walking.
Now, the next thing I want to talk about. I have a wonderful guest coming out, and we’re bringing her on later in the program—Jenny Brown of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. I am really excited to have her on. I’ve had her on a couple times before and she is just like dynamite— all energy, and all love and compassion. I can’t wait to hear what she has to talk about. But before we get to Jenny Brown, I wanted to bring up a few things.
I’m on an email list for Cornell University’s food and brand lab. They do lots of interesting things. I just got the results of a study, that they did. It has to do with what is on your kitchen countertop. They found that it actually might predict your weight or the two things seem to correlate. So, just think for a moment. What is on your kitchen countertop? Right. Do you know what is on your kitchen countertop? Do you know where your kitchen is? I like to say that a lot. Well this study looked at photographs of more than 200 kitchens in Syracuse, NY. Now this is not necessarily a comprehensive of all places but Syracuse is a nice place. They were testing how food environment relates to body mass index of adults at home. What they found out was, women in the study that kept fresh fruit out in the open tended to be normal weight compared with their peers. As this study says when snacks like cereals, like Special K, and sodas were readily accessible. People were heavier than their neighbors by an average of more than 20 lbs. Now, is this profound? Not really. If your soft drinks and your sodas are accessible and nearby, you are more likely to drink them and get unnecessary calories. The same thing goes with keeping a box of cereal on the counter. So you could go, I guess what people do is that they grab a handful when they walk by. I was thinking that it is not a bad snack. Well, it can put an extra 20 pounds or more on you.
So when I invite you to find your kitchen and learn how to make healthy foods, it is good to have a bowl of fresh fruit out on the counter. Now I keep some fruits and some vegetables out on the counter, only because I have learned that some fruits and vegetables don’t do well when they are refrigerated. I tend to keep my pears out on the counter because in the society that we live in we tend to get fruits that haven’t totally ripened. I like them to ripen and get soft. Then when they are really soft, if I haven’t eaten them by the time they are really soft then I will put them in the refrigerator because I don’t want them to start molding. I keep bananas on the counter because I listened to that very popular song for decades— by Chiquita Banana— and “you should never leave bananas in the refrigerator, la la la la la.” Did you know that? Well you’ll have to listen to the whole song. I could sing it to you but I have to many things to talk about. So no song from Caryn, right now. I like to keep onions and potatoes, actually root vegetables, I like to keep them, like potatoes and sweet potatoes, in a paper bag in a cool, dry place. Not necessarily on the counter. The fruit is conveniently there, and I think that it is great for kids and teens if the fruit is on the counter, all ready for them to go and grab and eat. There you have it. There is an actual study that talks about what is on your counter, and how it relates to what you weigh.
Now, speaking of soda. Yeah, speaking of soda. I was just thinking, not only do I not have soda on the counter, I don’t know if I have ever had soda in this apartment I’ve been living in for 16 years. If you don’t have it, there is less opportunity to drink it. There is a lot of conversion about soda going on. Marion Nestle, we’ve had her on the program a number of times, she is a phenomenal person and has written a number of wonderful books about food politics—in fact, she also has a website FoodPolitics.com. She has a new book that just came out about soda. It’s called Soda Politics” We have been talking about this for years now— Soda Politics (Taking on Big Politics and Winning)— which is exciting. Here in New York, our former mayor Bloomberg tried to increase tax on soda and there was a lot of brouhaha about that. For people that are informed about food, we know soda is not something that should be drunk at every meal. It is unnecessary calories and even the sugar-free varieties have their own problems. For those that live in food deserts, for those that have limited information on food, even in the schools, soda is very accessible and very cheap. We talk about putting taxes on food like soda, and of course the industry—food industry lobbyists— fight that. In fact Marion Nestle reported in today’s blog, I think it was today’s blog, about a soda tax in Mexico. Unfortunately, they were trying to get a larger tax—they had a ten percent tax for drinks that had five grams of added sugar for 100 ml or more—they wanted it to go from ten percent tax to twenty percent. After the industry lobbyists worked with the government, they actually reduced the tax to five percent. A lot of people are up in arms about that and if you want to add your two cents or more, you can go foodpolitics.com. Marion has added some twitter posts that you can tweet about and also send letters of support for increasing the tax not decreasing the tax. Meanwhile, you at home, you know what to do drink water, flavored waters with lime and lemon, teas are lovely. Fresh fruit juice has a lot of sugar in it. It is probably a better choice than soda, but it is still kind of sugary. It is better to eat the fruit itself. So there are some thoughts on soda and beverages.
Now, I want to move on to a very fun topic. Halloween is coming up in eleven days. I know for vegans that Thanksgiving is probably the most treasured holiday but Halloween is probably very close. I wanted to talk a little bit about it. Number one because we just finished filming a new food show for Responsible Eating and Living on Halloween and it should be up shortly. I want to talk about some of the dishes that we made. The thing about Halloween and all traditions, you need to know that we live in a world where everything is dynamic, everything changes, even something that is a tradition. It is not cast in stone; it is not something that is very permanent. All traditions, if you review history, have morphed and morphed and morphed. They are going to continue to be modified to fit society’s needs. Let’s think about Halloween for a minute. In my culture, they way I’ve been brought up, we dress up and include images of scary monsters, ghosts, dead people, zombies, vampires, witches, all these scary/spooky images, and we eat lots of candy. Then in addition, it has been extended where you can dress up like anybody. There is this scary theme of monsters and the eating of sweet treats. It didn’t start out that way. If you read about the history of Halloween, it didn’t start out that way. I don’t want to go into the history of Halloween; I just want to make the point that it started differently in different countries. Then cultures came together, they came to the US, and a lot of different events merged actually into the current holiday of Halloween. I say let’s keep morphing this holiday, let’s keep modifying it and make it even better. Let’s veganize it. That what I’m getting to. Interesting things, a lot of the foods that people make for Halloween parties for examples are what? They are like body parts, human body parts—eyeballs and fingers and bloody things. So we are kind of glorifying and making fun of this concept of, the scary concept of eating human body parts. What I find kind of bizarre and interesting, is that most people everyday, they may not be eating human body parts but they are eating non-human body parts. Not thinking twice about the horror, not thinking twice about how scary it is: the slaughterhouses, and the factory farms that these animals live in. Animals that are grown for food are living in this scary Halloween nightmare everyday of their lives. It is kind of an odd twist and something I think we should be thinking about. I’m thinking about it.
Maybe we should morph this holiday and rather than celebrate gore and celebrate blood and body parts which is pretty routine in our society today and not just animals either. There’s so much terrorizing going on with people. Why don’t we start to celebrate some of the lovely things, for example if it’s a, if part of the holiday is about celebrating the dead, we can celebrate some of the people who have come before us that have done wonderful things. I like the idea of maybe dressing up as a famous vegetarian in the past like Pythagoras or Leonardo Da Vinci and even more recently, more currently, our dear friend Rynn Berry who passed a few years ago and he was a great vegetarian historian. So, I don’t know if you’re thinking about dressing up, but now’s a good time to think about it because there’s nothing like waiting ’til the last minute and not being prepared and things are so different now. I remember when I was a kid, I think creativity used to be encouraged a lot more and I used to enjoy making my own costumes and I still like making my own costumes. It’s fun, it’s original, and you have a different feeling about a costume when you’ve taken the time and the thought to put it together. Who has the time to do that now, right? It’s so much more convenient to go into a store and they’re everywhere, these Halloween stores, where you can buy any costume for what you want to be, anyone you want in that moment and the reason why I’m bringing it up is because I really believe that the more you invest in something, and I don’t mean monetary, the more you invest in time, in your heart, in your soul, into something, the more you’re going to get out of it. If you just run into a store, get a costume, put it on and wear it for a party, it’s fun, but if you take the time to think about what you want to be and think about how you might create a costume, it’ll be a lot more fun, I think. Now, we just did a food show as I mentioned and we’re editing it now. The plan is for it to be up before Halloween, but I wanted to tell you a little bit about it because there are some recipes that we made that you might want to consider for an upcoming Halloween party or actually any party. I think probably the most popular foods for Halloween at a party are the foods that are popular any time of year: pizza, right? Kids get together and like the pizza [laughter], like to have soda, you know how I feel about soda, well, we decided for our Halloween food show to have a fondue party and it was great! Preparing the foods and then finishing the filming and then eating them. We’ve come up with this lovely, luscious, cashew cheese fondue recipe that makes a great fondue. For people that have been looking to eliminate dairy in their lives and for vegans that haven’t had cheese in a long time and are used to some of the store bought cheeses that, you know, are okay, but most of them aren’t very good. Even though there are a few today that are actually using a more cheese-like method to create their nut and seed based cheeses with probiotics and enzymes and giving those cheeses a nice tang to them that you get in animal milk-based cheeses. We really like our nut and seed-based cheeses and this cashew cheese fondue recipe that we came up with which you can get at ResponsibleEatingandLiving.com right now is so incredible and it works really well in the fondue pot. We had a lot of fun making it and a lot of fun dipping things in it. It was really, really, really good! And then we were talking for a while about chocolate fondue because it would be good to have savory and sweet, and Halloween is certainly about a lot of sweet treats, right? And, my partner, Gary and I were talking about what we might use to make a chocolate fondue. I thought about this chocolate sauce recipe that I made earlier in the year. Perhaps you’ve tried it? I thought that it would make a great fondue and I was so surprised at how excellent it is. It’s only three ingredients plus water. How simple is that? Cocoa powder, coconut oil, and some evaporated cane juice which is vegan sugar and that’s it and it mixes up so easily and it makes this fabulous, creamy, rich chocolate fondue. A great party food! [Laughter]. I don’t know if you hear it, but [laughter] I was thinking that because the weather’s getting colder, because it’s autumn that, during my program I wouldn’t hear the Mr. Softee truck. But sure enough right on cue this Mr. Softee truck is here and going around the neighborhood and I’m just wondering how much colder will it have to get for the truck to stop coming and keep things quiet. Anyway, it always makes me laugh to hear that song.
We made some wonderful foods and one of the traditions that we have is I love making almond biscotti. For Halloween, I like to make them in the shape of fingers and we did that for the show. We also made homemade graham crackers and we got Dandee marshmallows, these are vegan marshmallows, we got them in our gift bags when we went to the VegNews Comfort Food Shindig a month or so ago, and we’ve been saving them just for Halloween. So, pouring the chocolate fondue over the graham crackers with the Dandee marshmallows is an unimaginable phenomenal Halloween treat or treat for anytime. It’s so good! What I love about these particular graham crackers, I don’t know if you’ve ever gone to the store and looked for graham crackers, but they always have honey in them. It’s like next to impossible to find a graham cracker that doesn’t have honey in them. Do you know of one? If you do, please let me know. So, a while ago I made a gluten-free graham cracker recipe, no honey, it’s funny because graham was named after the man who was vegetarian and promoting whole grains a while back. I’m looking exactly how many a hundred years ago or more, and the cracker was named after him, Sylvester Graham, from 1794 to 1854 . He founded the American Vegetarian Society and the graham cracker is kind of named after him because he stressed using whole wheat flour and my graham crackers don’t have wheat in them. So, they’re not really graham, but they taste a lot like graham because they have molasses in them and they’re really good. So, that’s another recipe that we made for the food show.
Now, the last thing I wanted to talk about is makeup. Now, for Halloween, a lot of people need makeup and there are more and more options for vegan makeup these days and I’m not promoting any and I can’t really recommend the best makeups because I haven’t done a study. I know from myself, I typically go to Aveda because it’s easy and I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but for Halloween, I might want to have a, a little face powder or something if I want to look a little gory, lighten things up, ghostly. But I did want to mention that I recently, when I was in California a few weeks ago, I stopped into a 100% Pure company. Have you been to any of these? They actually have some products in Duane Reade which really blew me away and most of their products are vegan and I picked up these lovely little lipsticks called Vitamint Fruit Pigmented Sheer Lip Color and I tell you how, I’m really, really enjoying them. I like them because, they’re not made with any synthetic ingredients, they’re colored with fruit and they really have a nice color and as the weather gets colder, I find, as the skin gets drier and more chapped, it’s nice to have something like this to keep, to keep things moist and dewy. How does that sound? So, if you want to learn more about them, they’re at 100percentpure.com and a, check out the Vitamint Vegan Lipstick if you’re into wearing lipstick. They have some nice colors. I especially like the Cherry Tomato, it’s a bright red and I don’t normally see that kind of color in a clean, clean vegan lipstick.
One last thing. I mentioned this last week and I’m going to mention it again. I told you that our documentary, the Loan Vegan: Preaching to the Fire which we put out last year is now being featured on the Culture Unplugged Green Unplugged film festival and I invite you to go to cultureunplugged.com and what I didn’t know last week, which is why I’m telling you again, I’m going to be telling you a lot, is the festival actually goes ’til the end of December and they’ll be adding new films all the time and then there are some nice prices for the films that are the most viewed or the most, or the people’s favorite. There’s a number of different categories. So, I was thinking if every one of you listen to this program today, went to cultureunplugged.com and searched on Lone Vegan and saw our Lone Vegan: Preaching to the Fire film and rated it, we’d have a good chance of winning a prize. So, I’d hope that you would do that and support us, tell people about it. Wouldn’t it be great to have a vegan film that won? A very cool festival and as I mentioned last week too, they have lots of other great films up there. They’re all free and they’re from all over the world. It’s just an amazing amount of great creative art and informative documentaries. I wish I had more time to sit and watch all of them. So, that’s culturedunplugged.com. Got that?
Good. All right. I think what I’d like to do now is take a brief little break and I want to remind you that you can always e-mail me at email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you and you can just say “hi”, you can just say you like the program, you can say maybe you don’t like the program [laughter] whatever. Ask me a question. I really like to have the back and forth. So, please, firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s take a little break and we’ll be back and bring on Jenny Brown.
Alexis Richter and Nanette Gagyi 10/31/2015
TRANSCRIPTION PART II:
Hey everybody. We’re back. This is Caryn Hartglass, and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Right? Right.
How are you doing today?
I want to bring on my next guest. I’m talking slowly because I’m just trying to hold in my excitement because I know this is going to be fabulous. It always is whenever I speak with Jenny Brown. She’s a long-time animal rights activist and co-found of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in High Falls, New York, one of the country’s most recognized and respected sanctuaries for farmed animals. She previously worked in film and television until when she went undercover in Texas to film farmed animal abuse. That experience led her to dedicate her life to helping farm animals and raise awareness of their plight.
Jenny’s story and the work of the Sanctuary has been featured in the New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Rolling Stone, New York Magazine, NPR’s Diane Reems Show, and more. She’s the author of “The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals.” And you can read more about her and the Sanctuary, at www.woodstocksanctuary.org.
Caryn Hartglass: Jenny. Welcome back to It’s All About Food.
Jenny Brown: Thank you. What a nice introduction. Thanks so much for having me on again.
Caryn Hartglass: You are just Superwoman in my book.
Jenny Brown: I don’t know about that, but thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, you’ve been through so much your entire life and you’ve gotten over some incredible obstacles. And just kept going toward the light, and are doing wonderful things for farmed animals today. It’s just amazing what you’ve done. So there.
Jenny Brown: Well, thank you. And the issue with farmed animals needs to be the social justice movement of our time. So I’m just one of many agents of change.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. So let’s talk about some exciting things. You’ve moved or you’ve expanded. Let’s hear about your sanctuary. Your Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. What’s going on?
Jenny Brown: Well, we’d kind of outgrown our location in Woodstock. We’d 23 acres, and we basically picked up the entire sanctuary and moved about 30 miles south, to High Falls, New York, putting us closer to New York City and New Paltz, which is very much a college town.
And we moved to 150 acres. And what’s crazy is we were just looking for a larger property. But we came across a place that was called Epworth Camp and Retreat Center. And it’s been owned by the Methodist church for like 55 years. It’s a camp and retreat center. Meaning it has lodging, it has a dining hall, it’s got a fully equipped commercial kitchen. A beautiful creek runs through it. We are in a progressive town. It’s a whole lot better.
Woodstock seems like it would be progressive, but the fact that the concert actually didn’t happen there gives you an idea of some of the restrictions that could be put upon any sort of new initiative or endeavor.
Basically ours was a good problem to have; in that our popularity was growing as such that we really couldn’t accommodate the number of visitors that were coming to visit on the weekend. They shut down our concerts. We had had Sean Lennon and Chrissie Hynde and Moby perform for us in concert on-site; big names. And a couple of neighbors didn’t like the noise even though we kept it on the down-low.
And so, we were just tired of it. But we kept the name Woodstock because we like to think that Woodstock, what it’s really supposed to stand for, is a state-of-mind, and it’s not a township. So, we kept that name, also because we’ve been in business since 2004. And there’s a lot of branding behind that, so we kept the name, but we’re right here in the beautiful Hudson Valley, and about 90 minutes from New York City, which is pretty fabulous.
Caryn Hartglass: Now, I don’t know anybody who likes to move. Just moving from an apartment to another apartment is a nightmare. So, you moved from 23 acres to 150 acres with your whole family of cows, pigs and ducks and chickens and I don’t know what else you have there. What was that like?
Jenny Brown: Well, we built an arc and we floated down the Hudson River. It was madness. I mean who does this? Who relocates a sanctuary?
But basically, it was just last September that closed on the property, and we really got to work in building barns and erecting fencing. And we’re still going, but we moved all the animals over, species by species, as their barns were built and their pastures were enclosed.
And the new property has already allowed us to help a number of farmed animals in need, which is really what it’s all about. Our mission is to rescue and shelter and advocate on behalf of farmed animals. So this move is really going to allow us to expand our mission in that way, but also to create more outreach and advocacy events. Things that we have planned are our own sort of vegan Summerfest. We want to have lectures were with some of the leaders in the animal rights movement. We plan on having vegan bootcamps in terms of learning how to eat and cook, volunteer with the animals, get more engaged with this movement, learn effective tools to be effective spokespeople for the animals.
We’re going to be doing a similar thing for youth. We just hosted the YEA Camp, Youth Empowered Action, run by the incredible Nora Kramer. And these are all kids who have ambition to change the world. But many of them are animal activists. Everything that will be here is vegan, vegan, vegan.
And again, not as a religion, but as… Because food is advocacy. And teaching people that vegan food is not a diet of denial, it’s one of living our values and it’s deliciousness, as we know.
So, just the various opportunities. Camps for adults. Bringing us all together. Feeling like there’s community. We don’t want to do things that are specifically just for the choir. We want to bring new people in in fun and engaging ways. We’re going to have our concerts again.
We’ve got lots of stuff to plan. And I get overwhelmed and intimidated just talking about those plans.
But we opened our doors, finally, to the public on September 5th to give educational tours. But the Grand Opening was pretty overwhelming, it was Labor Day Weekend. It was a beautiful day. We got lots of press about the move and the Grand Re-Opening event. And we had about 6000 people come through our doors, which was pretty amazing. Vegan food trucks, activities for kids, live bands, and of course, tours and time to go in with the animals and hear their stories. And meet them as individuals, who have names and not numbers. In an environment where they behave very differently, because they know they’re loved, they know they’re safe. And most of them seek out your affection and attention, and I think it’s an incredibly powerful form of activism.
We hear about the statistics, we hear about the 10 billion land animals who are slaughtered every year in this country for human consumption. But we rarely ever meet them. And here they’re tangible, they’re not statistics. They are individuals in their own right, they are self-aware. And again, we really feel it’s a powerful form of activism.
Caryn Hartglass: You’ve used the word vegan a few times, and I appreciate that. Do you have any feeling about that word? Some people don’t like to use it.
Jenny Brown: I know, but I think we deny what this shift in consciousness, what this diet, for those of us who do it for ethical reasons, what it’s all about. And it shouldn’t be a dirty word. And I feel like plant-based is more appropriate for those people who choose to be vegan for health reasons, for dietary reasons, for weight loss reasons. For reasons other than the ethics of using animals for food. And I don’t mind the word at all. I think vegetarian has been so bastardized because people will say, “I’m vegetarian, but I eat fish and chicken.”
Caryn Hartglass: The feathered and scaly vegetables.
Jenny Brown: Yeah, and I think it needs to be a word that we feel comfortable in using more often. When we ask for vegan options at restaurants, we are seeing such a shift, that inclusion in vegan items being listed and seeing the word vegan on the menu. And we need more people to understand what that means, and I think that’s currently the only word we can use that means, “I do not eat any animal product.”
And I think we need to realize, though, that it’s intention, not perfection, as my friend Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says. And it’s not a hard-line discipline. I think we can all do what we can. And any step in the direction of moving away from eating animals, animal products, is a step in the right direction.
I think we get a bad rap because of the vegan police a lot. And the people who are the meat eaters of the world feel like we try to infringe on their way of life and dictate what others should eat. And what people truly need to understand is it’s not a personal choice. There’s a victim involved. There are victims involved. And just like we could murder somebody as a personal choice. There are consequences in our society. But there’s no consequences for taking the lives of animals. And that’s a shame. These are other beings who share this earth with us, we are the species who put ourselves at the top and think that our interests matter most.
And we work toward the shift in the way society views and treats animals. And I think the word vegan needs to be used more and embraced and said with confidence and pride.
Caryn Hartglass: Vegan! Vegan! Vegan! Right on. I like it.
Jenny Brown: Vegan!
Caryn Hartglass: Where do your animals, where do your non-human animals come from?
Jenny Brown: Right on. You just can’t imagine the different situations. Not this past Saturday, the Saturday before last, there was a seizure of around 120 or 160 animals who were living in deplorable conditions at a sort of backyard butcher operation. A place that might even supply meat and dairy products to places that fancy themselves locally raised meat. They make themselves sound more compassionate than what they really are.
Animals filled with parasites, covered with lice, emaciated. Pigs who looked like they hadn’t left, just enclosed in these tents, imagine horse stalls. And who couldn’t see out, who were living in six to 10 inches of their own excrement and filth. Pigs are very clean animals, that disgusts them. Piglets. There was attached to the barn, in another room, was the makeshift slaughterhouse. And when the rescuers, when our staff and the other sanctuaries went there, it was literally a decapitated cow head sitting in a bin. Bags full of innards. Hooves, bottoms of legs that just lined the wall. It was a house of horrors.
So that’s the situation. Often times these animals come from seizures where somebody has noticed that the animals are being neglected. They’re out in freezing temperatures. They don’t have shelter. They’re living among the dead.
We have some famous slaughterhouse escapees. Cow who’ve escaped from Halal slaughterhouses. I’m sure there would be more that would escape if they were out in the massive slaughterhouses, but those places are fortresses where it would be impossible for them to escape.
They are picked up on the streets of New York City. A lot of people don’t realize there’s approximately 100 live-kill markets, meaning you can go in there and choose and animal and have them slaughtered, take them in the back room and have them slaughtered.
And these animals sometimes escape. Chickens, ducks, guinea fowl, sometimes rabbits, strangely enough. Small goats, we’ve even had calves. And sheep.
So, these are the kinds of situations. Every once in a while, you learn of somebody who truly loved their animals. And they’ve died. So it’s either us or its the auction. So we try to help in any way we can.
Jenny Brown: Wow. You know, I was just talking earlier about Halloween that’s coming up, and a part of Halloween, how it’s so… We think of all these gory things about eating body parts, human body parts, but body parts. And people just don’t think that every other day is gory and ghoulish and horrific and frightening. Where people are putting are putting non-human animal body parts on their plate, that have been through hell.
Jenny Brown: It’s so normalized. It’s not only normalized in our society, it’s celebrated. We are alienated and chastised because we abstain from eating certain foods. And those certain foods are sentient beings. And it’s just the mere idea of that that puts people on the defensive.
But the problem is, is that children and people don’t see the process. They don’t see the suffering of the animals in factory farms and even on small farms, they don’t watch them being castrated and branded. And everything else without painkillers and anesthesia. They don’t watch the calves or the kids, baby goats, being torn from their mothers’ heartbreaking bellows of protest. They don’t look at a pig in the eye, meet a pig, see how incredibly friendly and smart that they are. Not that we should base our compassion on intelligence. They don’t have the opportunity to get to know these animals, much less have to look them in the eye and say, “I’m taking your life because I think you’re tasty,” and slit their throats. And to slaughter them and butcher them.
You ask kids where meat comes from, and they point to the freezer or the cafeteria. We’ve lost our way. And there’s such profound cognitive dissonance. We put those blinders on tight because we don’t want to know.
And so, the perfectly round patties between a bun doesn’t resemble an animal. People sit down and eat it, they don’t think about that it was an animal. Chickens. People just think that they’re chickens. They think that they’re mindless, animated creatures walking around who were intended for that use. We’ve told ourselves we’ve always done that. But we’ve also owned slaves for most of civilization, so it certainly doesn’t make it right. Women were not equal to men. No child labor laws. There certainly wasn’t marriage equality.
We’ve come a long way, and hopefully we’re shifting towards this. But it’s a challenge because it is so invisible in our society. Intentionally so. And the problem is that the dairy and meat industries are so powerful, just like pharmaceuticals and oil, and they filter money into our politicians’ pockets on state and federal levels. It is a broken and corrupt system.
But yeah, if people had to slaughter their own animals, if slaughterhouses had glass walls, there would be a lot more vegetarians and vegans. Watch a calf being torn away from his or her mother. Look at the life of a dairy cow. See how even though they could live to be 20 years old, they are slaughtered at five years old, four or five years old, to become hamburger meat.
The emotional suffering of these animals, the emotional toil on the chickens who are used commercially for eggs, no animal suffers worse than they do. And people think that eggs are this innocuous thing. Well they just lay eggs, but they could never lay enough eggs to feed the demand, at least in this country. And it’s horrifying what we do, we’ve turned them into commodities. They live a life of suffering and misery for something that is basically taste, habit, culture, tradition, and the pleasure of our palates.
And we just need to keep moving towards making those connections for people, and shifting the way society views and treats farm animals.
Caryn Hartglass: You’ve hit it all. I just want to go back for a moment and talk about dairy cows. Because from a health perspective, I think that consuming dairy is far worse than consuming meat. But the ethics are so powerful, and some of it, we don’t see it, but it’s right there in front of us.
So, artificial insemination….
Jenny Brown: We don’t want to see it.
Caryn Hartglass: Of cows. You can go online and just Google it. And you see the most pornographic, horrific and just accepted university publications on how a farmer is supposed to shove this thing inside the cow to artificially inseminate her. And it’s such a violation, it’s horrible. And I talked to people who like organic milk, and they think the farmers are so much kinder to the animals. And maybe to some extent they are, but they still have to do this, they still have to artificially inseminate and rape and separate the baby from the mother.
Jenny Brown: Absolutely. And first and foremost, people need to know organic has absolutely nothing to do with animal welfare. Free range, cage-free, bs. Cage free – walk inside one of those factory farms and see the de-beaked hens living practically one on top of the other, realize that they came from the same hatcheries who kill all the male chicks by suffocation or maceration, where they’re chopped up alive. And they only get to live for 18 months to two years. When their production declines, they are slaughtered as well. They’re de-beaked, they’re denied sunshine, pecking at the dirt, spreading their wings, privacy in laying their eggs. Free range can basically the exact same environment. It’s so poorly regulated. They could open something the size of a cat door, for 10,000 chickens living in an industrial shed, into a 10 X 10 yard for five minutes and enclose it. And because they can say chickens had access to the outdoors, they can get the label free-range. And it’s preposterous.
And my journey, and something I talk about on our educational tours, or when I’m doing public speaking, is that I had no idea. I was a staunch vegetarian, a soap-box preaching vegetarian with my “Meat Stinks” PETA shirts and my “Fur is Dead” bumper stickers. I had no idea that the animals who are used for dairy and for eggs suffer far worse than the animals who are used for meat outright. And that is something that people truly don’t understand.
People think, even the most educated folks come to the sanctuary, and you see, and they will say, they never realized that a cow has to be impregnated in order to produce milk. There’s this magical animal who just spurts milk from her breasts for human consumption. We don’t make those connections, and they’re mammals, like we are. They carry their babies for nine months, like we do. Every cell in their being says, “Love this, love this being.” And wants to nurture and mother.
Calves are torn away from their mother. If they’re lucky, they get to spend 48 hours with them, but that’s not customary, it’s typically 24 hours. They don’t just stand there and allow it to happen. They cry and they mourn their babies being torn away. The calves are terrified, have no idea what’s happening to them, still with umbilical cords attached.
She kicks at the dirt, she rams her head into gates. She bellows and bellows and bellows for days. Some of them stop eating, some of them just become sick from depression. Some of them stop producing milk. And weeks afterward , she’ll be forcibly impregnated, on even what the industry calls the rape rack. They are not just shoving their hands up her vagina, they are shoving their hands up her anus as well to position her uterus. It’s a total violation. If anyone considers themselves, a feminist, they need to realize that this entire system is based on the exploitation of female reproductive systems.
And not only does she go through the emotional stress of having calf after calf torn away from her, she ends up with so much calcium leeched from her bones, that it’s typically the dairy cows who are the downed animals, who can no longer walk, who have broken hips. Who are the downed animals, who are dragged by chains and bulldozers onto the trucks headed to slaughter, because animals have to make it alive to the slaughterhouse, or they can’t be used for human consumption.
And the life of an egg laying chicken? Again, it’s unimaginable to us, that they never meet their mothers. It’s interesting that we talk about a mother hen, and you’re so motherly like a hen, like a mother hen.
Chickens these days don’t have the opportunity to meet their mother. A fraction of a fraction of a fraction meet their mothers. And that’s because nobody wants the male versions of the egg layers. And in this country we have breeds that are used for meat, and we have breeds that are used for eggs, same thing with dairy cows and beef cows, two different breeds, the Holsteins and the Jerseys for dairy, the Angus and the Herefords for beef. Who are not used for milk.
But back to the egg laying chickens. They are hatched in cold metal drawers. They are quickly sexed. All the males, and you should see the workers, how they toss them around, how they spread their legs, how they poke at their vents to see if there’s a male organ. And those guys, they die in very unpleasant ways. And that’s about three hundred million chicks in this country every year.
The female are debeaked and then they basically go to live very quickly afterwards, once they start developing feathers, they go to live in battery cages. Where they live their entire lives denied of everything that makes life worth living for them. So that we can eat a product of their menstrual cycle. It’s pretty disgusting when you think about it.
Caryn Hartglass: It is disgusting. And it’s very bleak. I know you can go on all day talking about it, because it’s horrible.
We just have a few minutes left, and I’d like to kind of talk about the happy side.
Jenny Brown: I’m sorry.
Caryn Hartglass: No, it’s the world the way it is. Tell me some good stories about the non-human animals that are living at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, and how do they express to you how grateful they are.
Jenny Brown: The animals come in terrified. And part of our job is to socialize them and let them realize that they’re in a safe environment. We’ve seen amazing transformations. Just like Junior. He’s a steer who escaped from a slaughterhouse in Patterson, New Jersey. Who was terrified of people, it was even dangerous to be in with him. And now he’s a love bug. He knows his name, he loves affection. He’s especially close with some of our animal caregivers, especially Don Al, who’s our shelter manager.
And Kaylee, another cow who escaped from a slaughterhouse just outside of Philadelphia, also terrifying to be in with her.
They know and they understand now.
We have sheep who came from one of the worst neglect cases you can imagine, with their babies. They were terrified of people. And now two of them, they’re all four friends, but two of them, you can’t get away from them. They want your attention and your love so much it’s ridiculous.
They thrive here. We meet all their needs, not only their health needs, but their emotional needs. They eat healthy, nutritious food, they interact with us all the time. They get the supplements or the medicine, or the veterinary treatments and care that they need. Comfortable, straw-filled barns. Pastures to roam with others of their kind.
We do for these animals everything that we would do for our beloved cats and dogs. Or humans, friends. Why should they be on a different level.
So they thrive here. They live a joy-filled life, and it’s the most rewarding thing ever to let a chicken, who’s been a battery-cage chicken, let her out of a cage, see her touch the grass for the first time and spread her wings, and lay her eggs in privacy and dust bathe.
It makes it all worthwhile. And we wish we could give every animal this opportunity. We’re barely scratching the surface. But these animals are amazing ambassadors for the millions and billions of others just like them, who are living and dying for the sake of our palate and our culture and tradition.
So again, we are agents of change, in trying to change the way society views and treats these animals. And we invite everybody to come to Woodstock Farm Sanctuary and check us out online at woodstocksanctuary.org. Visit us, we’re only open through the end of October for visiting season. We’ll open again in April. But you can come and volunteer any old time. And sign up for our newsletter, because we have lots of fun, engaging events. Follow us on Facebook, we do a lot of advocacy on Facebook. And come meet the animals. Because again, meeting them can change your life, it can open your heart in ways that you never imagined.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you Jenny. You’re just amazing. Compassionate, energy and action, all in one. You’ve done such great work and I know that you’re going to continue to do so. And everybody should visit.
So thank you for joining me and thank you for sharing your stories.
Jenny Brown: Thank you for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes a pleasure, take care.
We are out of time everybody. Thank you for joining me. That was Jenny Brown of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. I’m Caryn Hartglass of Responsible Eating and Living. Remember to have a delicious week. Bye bye.
Transcribed by Cindy Goldberg 1/8/2016