Gene Baur

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Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary.
Gene Baur
Gene Baur.jpg
Occupation activist, author

Gene Baur (formerly Gene Bauston) is an activist, best-selling author, and president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, the first animal rescue organization dedicated to farmed animals. He is vegan[1] and has been at the forefront of animal rights since he began the Sanctuary in 1986.[2]

Baur grew up in Hollywood, California, and went to Loyola High School.[3] He attended Cal State Northridge where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. He paid for college in part by doing background work in television and movies, ironically including commercials for McDonald's and KFC. During high school and college, he had various jobs, including dishwasher, day laborer, bartender, and teacher, and he volunteered to help children suffering from terminal illnesses as well as abused adolescents. He also participated in the efforts of human rights, animal rights, consumer and environmental organizations. In the 1980s he began investigations into factory farms, stockyards, and slaughterhouses. Baur felt the conditions he observed were unacceptable, and these experiences helped motivate the creation of Farm Sanctuary. The sanctuary's first rescued animal was a downed sheep found on a pile of dead animals behind Lancaster stockyards in 1986.[2] Gene is also concerned about the impacts factory farming has on the environment and on rural communities, and has visited communities negatively impacted by industrialized animal agriculture.[4]

Baur's investigative exposés and advocacy efforts on behalf of farm animals have earned international media coverage, including ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times.[5] TIME called Baur, "the conscience of the food movement."[6]

Baur later obtained a Master's degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University, in order to better understand factory farming. He has testified before local, state and federal legislative bodies, and appeared on various expert panels. In 1996, The Peace Abbey awarded Baur with its Courage of Conscience Award,[7] other recipients of which include Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, Ram Dass, and Pete Seeger.[8] He was inducted into the United States Animal Rights Hall of Fame in 2001.[9]

Baur in 2007

He played a key role in the passage of several animal-protection ordinances, including a 2004 California law banning the production and sale of foie gras,[10] and a 2002 Florida initiative banning gestation crates.[11][12] After the Florida campaign the Florida Elections Commission found that Farm Sanctuary, and Gene Bauston personally, had willfully broken campaign finance laws. Farm Sanctuary and Gene Baur consented to pay a fine of $50,000.[13] More recently, he was instrumental in passing a 2006 (repealed in 2008) Chicago ordinance banning the sale of foie gras[14] and a 2006 ballot measure[15] in Arizona banning gestation crates and veal crates.[16] Gene and Farm Sanctuary were key sponsors of a California initiative (Proposition 2) to ban veal crates, gestation crates and battery cages[17] which passed on November 4, 2008, when it was approved with over 63% of the vote.[18]

Baur was one of several people who provided information used in the writing of the book Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism (2008) by Mark Hawthorne.

In March 2008, Baur released a book entitled Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food published by Simon & Schuster. It has appeared on the Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe bestseller lists and was named to Booklist's Top 10 Sci-Tech Books: 2008.[19] Baur's second book, "Living the Farm Sanctuary Life: The Ultimate Guide to a Mindful, Compassionate, Animal-Friendly Life," coauthored with Gene Stone (author of Forks Over Knives), will be published in April 2015 and includes 100 vegan recipes selected by chefs and celebrities.[20]

Baur was featured in the documentary Forks Over Knives.[21]

In 2012, Gene started competing in marathons and triathlons to demonstrate how plant foods can fuel athletic performance. He was featured in the May 2013 issue of Runner's World Magazine.[22] In March 2013, he finished the LA Marathon in the top 3 percentile of his age group (22nd out of 843).[23] In July, 2013, Gene participated in his first full Ironman Triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile marathon run) in Lake Placid, NY,[24] and completed the endurance event in under 12 hours.[25]

Gene participated in an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate on December 4, 2013, along with Dr. Neal Bernard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine arguing for the motion "Don't Eat Anything with a Face." Arguing against the motion during the Oxford style debate were Chris Masterjohn of the Weston A. Price Foundation and farmer Joel Salatin. The team arguing for the motion was declared the winner, after moving a significant percentage of the audience to vote in favor of their position.[26]


  1. ^ Voerding, Brian. Farm Sanctuary founder in town to talk vegan,, June 6, 2008
  2. ^ a b Farm Sanctuary: Staff Leadership.
  3. ^ Lochrie, Christy. Animal house Chico News & Review: May 1, 2008
  4. ^ Baur, Gene. A Foul State of Affairs: The Hidden Harm of Factory Farms in North Carolina, HuffPost, September 7, 2012
  5. ^ McNeil, Donald. Livestock Where the Cows Come Home. New York Times: January 2, 2004.
  6. ^ Walsh, Bryan. The Morality of Mealtime. TIME: March 30, 2011.
  7. ^ Testimony Before The House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry May 8, 2007
  8. ^ The Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award Recipients List
  9. ^ "U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame". Animal Rights National Conference. Farm Animal Rights Movement. Archived from the original on 2014-03-17. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  10. ^ Milionis, Allison. Protests target Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in effort to reform farm animal conditions. LA City Beat: January 20, 2005.
  11. ^ Jones, Maggie. The Barnyard Strategist The New York Times: October 24, 2008
  12. ^ Kuehn, Bridget M. (October 1, 2002). "Campaign to outlaw sow housing in Florida advances". Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. [dead link]
  13. ^ Florida Elections Commission, Case number FEC 02-093.
  14. ^ Paulson, Amanda. A ban on foie gras? Could this really be Chicago? CS Monitor: December 13, 2005
  15. ^ Crawford, Amanda. Hog industry realities color Prop. 204 debate The Arizona Republic: October 28, 2006
  16. ^ Lovley, Erika. Pigs Win Bigger Pens in Arizona Ballot Fight The Wall Street Journal: November 10, 2006
  17. ^ Rojas, Aurelio. 2008 Ballot Watch: Proposition 2: Standards for confining farm animals The Sacramento Bee: September 27, 2008
  18. ^ California – Election Results 2008 The New York Times
  19. ^ Seaman, Donna. Top 10 Sci-Tech Books: 2008 Booklist Online: December 1, 2008
  20. ^ Rodale Books. Living the Farm Sanctuary Life: The Ultimate Guide to a Mindful, Compassionate, Animal-Friendly Rodale Inc.
  21. ^ Forks Over Knives Cast and Crew page
  22. ^ I'm a Runner: Gene Baur Runner's World Magazine: May 2013
  23. ^ LA Marathon Results 2013 LA Marathon
  24. ^ Baur, Gene. Postcard from the Road: Lake Placid Ironman Farm Sanctuary Blog: August 8, 2013
  25. ^ Race Results
  26. ^ Don't Eat Anything with a Face Debate Intelligence Squared

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