Gene Baur

Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, and resident, Meg.

Provided

I find that most people I talk to about animal agriculture don't want to know the details of how the cattle, pigs, chicken, fish and other animals wind up on their dinner plates.

In fact, most people don't even refer to animals as animals once they are killed and processed. They use the sanitized, non-descriptive and generic term meat.

Now we have Fair Oaks Farms, right here in Indiana, attempting to go a step further by turning animal agriculture into entertainment in the form of a Disneyesque adventure.

The farm, about a half hour south on I-65, recently announced plans to add chicken and beef cattle "adventures" to the existing pig "adventure." The programs are being promoted as tourist attractions.

Despite how you feel about eating meat and consuming dairy and eggs, the process of getting those items to your dinner table is anything but a tourist-friendly adventure for the animals or the planet. I will spare you the gory details of the process, which are easily obtained through a simple online search, but any attempt to spin it other than horrible for the animals and planet is just more "alternative facts."

The media coverage of Fair Oaks' plans caught the attention of Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary in New York and California.

"I admire and appreciate farmers — they work hard and feed the world," he said in a prepared statement. "It's important to realize, however, that animal agriculture is not a benign force in our world, despite how it is promoted at Fair Oaks Farms in its 'Pig Adventure' and 'Dairy Adventure.'

"In fact, factory farming is a key driver of significant threats to our environment, such as climate change and the loss of biodiversity; it subjects farm and slaughterhouse workers to dangerous conditions; and it can lead to chronic health problems for consumers who eat animal products. And, of course, animals routinely suffer unspeakable cruelty in the production of meat, dairy and eggs.

"Fair Oaks Farms is a marketing operation that manipulates consumers to feel good about supporting an abusive industry," he wrote.

"Dairy cows are repeatedly impregnated, and their babies are taken away so cows’ milk can be sold for human consumption," he said. "Pigs are confined behind bars; deprived of soft straw beds and pastures, and the chance to romp and play with their young."

"Just like dogs and cats, farm animals have feelings, and they deserve to be treated with compassion and respect, but Fair Oaks Farms’ encourages people to believe that these animals are ours to exploit as we wish," he said.

I agree with Baur that most people are compassionate and would avoid unnecessary violence if given a choice and the truth.

With truth, there is hope for the animals, the planet and human health.

The opinions are the author's.

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Bob is a 22-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.