Interview with Gene Baur

Gene Baur has been hailed as “the conscience of the food movement” by Time magazine. For more than 25 years he has traveled extensively around the country, campaigning to raise awareness about the abuses of industrialized factory farming and our current food system. He co-founded Farm Sanctuary, an organization which rescues and protects animals and encourages plant-based eating. In his new book, Living the Farm Sanctuary Life, Gene shares tips, stories and recipes (contributed by the hottest chefs and celebrities!) to help you enjoy eating meat-free. V-lish caught up with Gene to tell us a bit more about his new life-style guide.


V-lish: One great thing about Living the Farm Sanctuary Life is that it breaks down plant-based eating and makes it simple! What type of tips and info can readers expect?

Gene: The goal is to make this lifestyle accessible, and fun. The book provides practical advice for setting up a vegan kitchen and stocking it with staples, suggestions for substituting plant foods in place of animal foods, and eating healthy vegan food on a budget. There is something for everyone, including long time vegans and those just becoming curious about vegan living.


V-lish: What advice do you wish someone had given you when you first went vegan?

Gene: Food issues are very emotional, and people might react in confusing and unpredictable ways when they learn that you’re a vegan. Sometimes, people might even appear hostile, or make unfriendly jokes, but it’s often because they are struggling with their own emotions. Like other minority groups, vegans are sometimes pre-judged and challenged by those adhering to the status quo. When I feel criticized, I try to breath and remember one of my favorite mantras, which is: “you can’t control others, you can only control yourself.”


V-lish: Tell us about the types of recipes you feature. How did you choose the recipes to include in the book?

Gene: The book includes simple recipes that are easy to make, and more complex ones. All have been tested, and are delicious. The recipes came from leading vegan chefs, restaurants and cookbook authors, and were compiled and organized by Jason Wyrick, an amazing chef who contributed several recipes. He is the author of Vegan Tacos and heads The Vegan Taste.


V-lish: Let’s say I’m interested in eating more plant-based foods, but I’m not ready to go fully vegan overnight. What small changes I can make right now?

Gene: The book actually includes “10 Small Steps,” which provide guidance for people not ready to go completely vegan. Examples of steps include participating in Meatless Mondays or giving up some of the cruelest animal products.


V-lish: One of the “Five Tenets of Farm Sanctuary” you discuss in the book is to “Engage in Mindful Connection with Animals.” What are some of the ways that people (especially those living in urban areas) can make that connection?

Gene: Many people in urban setting share their homes with cats and dogs, and there are also birds, raccoons, squirrels and other wild animals who live in cities. People can appreciate and be inspired by the presence of these animals in their lives. Those who live with companion animals are also likely to experience health benefits, like reduced stress, as is discussed  in the book. Most people in the U.S., including in urban settings, eat animals who they never met. There is also a tendency to not to think very about animals who are exploited for meat, milk and eggs. Having a mindful connection with animals involves recognizing that animal foods are the result of unnecessary animal suffering.


Sneak-Peek: Recipe from Living the Farm Sanctuary Life!

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Waldorf-Style “Chicken” Salad





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