Baur Spreads the Gospel of Green Living
Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, a national advocacy group striving for increased animal protection, recently paid a visit to the Florida House Institute to speak on matters of ethical eating, compassionate living and sustainability. Hosted by local business leaders Cameron Icard and Catherine Ellis in one of Sarasota’s foremost “green” pioneers, Baur found the gathered audience “very receptive,” in keeping with a growing national trend emphasizing the impact of daily food choices on animals, the environment and the farm industry. “Our food choices are very emotional and the subject matter was presented and discussed in an open, supportive way,” said Baur. “It was great to see such an audience.”
A vegan since 1985, the “bottom line” for Baur is to convert entirely to a plant-based diet as opposed to eating animal products, but he understands that this would be a big jump for many and counterproductive to demand. For most, Baur promotes a Meatless Monday—one day a week where everything is plant-based and vegan-friendly. “That helps them understand and become more familiar with the plant-based options available,” he said. Baur remembers when powdered soy milk was the only option; today he picks from countless milk and meat substitutes.
With Farm Sanctuary celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Baur looks back on what he calls “enormous” progress, including legislative battles won against factory farm confinement practices and force-feeding. Moving forward, Farm Sanctuary will continue that approach, said Baur, but the future may lie in the marketplace. “The marketplace has a way to create change,” he said, whether it is convincing retailers to see the profit in the vegan demographic or the lost profit in supporting unpopular practices. “Our political system moves very slowly, but the marketplace is where the significant movement is starting to happen.”
Pictured: Gene Baur with Meg.