Gene Baur

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Gene Baur
Gene Baur 2.jpg
Occupation Activist, author

Gene Baur (born 1962) is an activist and author known for his work in the animal rights and food movement. He’s been called the "conscience of the food movement" by Time Magazine, and opposes factory farming and advocates for a more just and respectful food system. Baur is president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, a farm animal protection organization. He is vegan[1] and has been involved with animal rights since he co-founded Farm Sanctuary in 1986.[2] Baur has also authored two books and various articles, and is a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Baur grew up in Hollywood, California, and went to Loyola High School.[4][5] He attended Cal State Northridge where he obtained a bachelor's degree in sociology. Prior to understanding the problems with industrialized food production, he paid for college, in part, by doing background work in television and movies which included commercials for McDonald's and KFC.

To better understand agribusiness and its mindset, Baur obtained a master's degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University.

Animal rights work[edit]

Farm Sanctuary[edit]

Gene Baur at the Farm Sanctuary 25th Anniversary Gala in New York City

In the 1980s, after traveling around the United States and learning about problems in agriculture, Baur began investigations into factory farms, stockyards, and slaughterhouses. He believed the conditions he observed were unacceptable, and these experiences helped motivate the creation of Farm Sanctuary, the first such organization, which created the sanctuary movement in North America.[6]

Farm Sanctuary's first rescued animal was a downed (i.e. unable to stand) sheep who had been discarded on a pile of dead animals behind Lancaster stockyards[7] in Pennsylvania in 1986.[2] The sheep, who regained her health and lived for more than 10 years was named Hilda. Farm Sanctuary continued to investigate farms, speak against factory farming, and rescue animals, funding the fledgling organization by selling vegan hotdogs out of a VW van in the parking lots at Grateful Dead concerts.

Baur has expressed concern about the impact factory farming has on the environment, on workers and consumers, and on rural communities. He has visited communities and witnessed the negative impacts of large scale animal agriculture.[8]

Legislative action[edit]

On many occasions, Baur has testified before local, state and federal legislative bodies and spoken to farming and policy organizations in efforts to reform the industry and improve farm animal welfare. In 2004, Baur gave a talk entitled "Animal Rights and Human Responsibility" at the United States Department of Agriculture headquarters in Washington, DC, and in 2007, he was called to testify before the U.S. House agriculture subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry about the inhumane conditions common on factory farms.[9]

Baur in 2007

Farm Animal Confinement[edit]

Baur has played a key role in passing the first U.S. laws to restrict industrial animal farming systems. In 2002, Baur led a campaign in Florida to pass a ballot initiative banning gestation crates for pigs.[10][11]

In 2006, Baur was involved in getting a ballot measure introduced and passed[12] in Arizona which banned gestation crates and veal crates.[13] Baur and Farm Sanctuary were also sponsors of a California initiative (Proposition 2) to ban veal crates, gestation crates and battery cages[14] which passed on November 4, 2008, approved with over 63% of the vote.[15]

Foie Gras[edit]

Baur has played a significant role in a California law that went into effect in 2012, banning the production and sale of foie gras, which is made by force feeding ducks and geese and causing their livers to expand up to ten times their normal size.[16] He was also involved in passing a 2006 (repealed in 2008) Chicago ordinance banning the sale of foie gras.[17]

Vegan advocacy[edit]

In 2012, Baur started competing in marathons and triathlons to demonstrate how plant foods can fuel athletic performance. In July 2013, Baur participated in his first full Ironman Triathlon in Lake Placid, NY.[18][19] As a vegan runner, Baur was featured in the May 2013 issue of Runner's World Magazine.[20]

Baur participated in an Intelligence Squared (IQ2), 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." Debating against the motion during the Oxford–style debate were Chris Masterjohn of the Weston A. Price Foundation and farmer Joel Salatin. After moving a significant percentage of the audience to vote in favor of their position, the Baur/Bernard team was declared the winner.[21]

Media Appearances[edit]

Baur's investigative exposés and advocacy activities have earned international media coverage, including ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Time magazine,[22] the Los Angeles Times, the The New York Times[23] and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.[24] In the early 1990s, Baur debated a meat industry representative on Larry King Live. Baur has been featured in documentaries, including Forks Over Knives[25] and A Cow at My Table.[26] He was an associate producer of the 2011 documentary, Vegucated. Baur was also selected by Oprah Winfrey as an "inspired leader" honoree of Oprah Winfrey Network's “SuperSoul 100,” a dynamic group of 100 trailblazers whose vision and life’s work are bringing a higher level of consciousness to the world around them and encouraging others to do the same.


In March 2008, Baur released a book entitled Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food published by Simon & Schuster. It appeared on bestseller lists including those of the Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe, and it was named as one of Booklist's Top 10 Sci-Tech Books in 2008.[27]

Baur's second book, Living the Farm Sanctuary Life: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Mindfully, Living Longer, and Feeling Better Every Day, coauthored with Gene Stone (author of Forks Over Knives), was published in April 2015 and includes 100 vegan recipes selected by chefs and celebrities.[28] It is Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award,[29] appeared on Publishers Weekly's national bestsellers list[30] and was named the 2015 book of the year by VegNews Magazine.

Baur was also 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 1996, the Peace Abbey awarded Baur with its Courage of Conscience Award.[31] He was inducted into the United States Animal Rights Hall of Fame in 2001.[32]



  1. ^ Voerding, Brian. Farm Sanctuary founder in town to talk vegan,, June 6, 2008
  2. ^ a b Farm Sanctuary: Staff Leadership.
  3. ^ Health, JH Bloomberg School of Public. "Faculty Directory | Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health". Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Retrieved 2016-02-20. 
  4. ^ Interview with Gene Baur -
  5. ^ Lochrie, Christy. Animal house Chico News & Review: May 1, 2008
  6. ^ "Farmed Animal Sanctuaries: The Heart of the Movement?". Retrieved 2016-02-20. 
  7. ^ "Erasing the Lancaster Stockyards". 
  8. ^ Baur, Gene. A Foul State of Affairs: The Hidden Harm of Factory Farms in North Carolina, HuffPost, September 7, 2012
  9. ^ McNeil, Donald. Livestock Where the Cows Come Home
  10. ^ Jones, Maggie. The Barnyard Strategist The New York Times: October 24, 2008
  11. ^ Kuehn, Bridget M. (October 1, 2002). "Campaign to outlaw sow housing in Florida advances". Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. [dead link]
  12. ^ Crawford, Amanda. Hog industry realities color Prop. 204 debate The Arizona Republic: October 28, 2006
  13. ^ Lovley, Erika. Pigs Win Bigger Pens in Arizona Ballot Fight The Wall Street Journal: November 10, 2006
  14. ^ Rojas, Aurelio. 2008 Ballot Watch: Proposition 2: Standards for confining farm animals The Sacramento Bee: September 27, 2008
  15. ^ California – Election Results 2008 The New York Times
  16. ^ Milionis, Allison. Protests target Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in effort to reform farm animal conditions. LA City Beat: January 20, 2005.
  17. ^ Paulson, Amanda. A ban on foie gras? Could this really be Chicago? CS Monitor: December 13, 2005
  18. ^ Baur, Gene. Postcard from the Road: Lake Placid Ironman Farm Sanctuary Blog: August 8, 2013
  19. ^ Race Results
  20. ^ I'm a Runner: Gene Baur Runner's World Magazine: May 2013
  21. ^ Don't Eat Anything with a Face Debate Intelligence Squared
  22. ^ Walsh, Bryan. The Morality of Mealtime. TIME: March 30, 2011.
  23. ^ Jr, Donald G. Mcneil (2004-01-02). "Where the Cows Come Home; Sanctuary Farm Applauds Ban on Butchering of Sick Animals". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-02-20. 
  24. ^ Exclusive Gene Baur Extended Video The Daily Show.
  25. ^ Forks Over Knives Cast and Crew page
  26. ^ "A Cow At My Table". Top Documentary Films. Retrieved 2016-02-20. 
  27. ^ Seaman, Donna. Top 10 Sci-Tech Books: 2008 Booklist Online: December 1, 2008
  28. ^ Rodale Books. Living the Farm Sanctuary Life: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Mindfully, Living Longer, and Feeling Better Every Day Rodale Inc.
  29. ^ "Books for a Better Life Awards program run by Scott Manning.". 
  30. ^ This Week's Bestsellers: April 20, 2015 Publishers Weekly: April 17, 2015
  31. ^ "List of Award Recipients | The Peace Abbey FoundationThe Peace Abbey Foundation". Retrieved 2016-02-20. 
  32. ^ "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. 

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