Last night Gene Baur, the co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, came to St. Catharines. He was here to give a talk at Brock University (thanks to Niagara Action for Animals, the Brock Animal Rights Club, the Critical Animal Studies program at Brock and several dedicated inviduals who helped make this a reality). Over 100 people came out to hear him talk – an amazing crowd! Gene Baur’s story is so inspiring! He has gone from selling veggie dogs at Grateful Dead concerts to being one of the most influential advocates for animals in our generation. He has helped bring the message of “compassion for all” and the importance of adopting a vegan lifestyle to countless people, and I’m so glad that he was able to bring these messages to Niagara this week.
One of the things that Gene Baur talked about last evening was the importance of community, of people coming together to voice their anger at the factory farm system, to learn together, to share good vegan food and to support one another in these journeys. This point really resonated with me — although I have “loved animals” all my life and was a vegetarian for many, many years, it wasn’t until I found the vegan/animal activist community here in Niagara that I took the plunge to a plant-based diet. Without a doubt I can contribute this to things like the Niagara Action for Animals potlucks, and meeting the dedicated activists in this region, many of whom I am proud to call friends and colleagues.
Prior to the talk at Brock, there was a private dinner in Gene Baur’s honor at Rise Above in downtown St. Catharines. In attendance were the organizers of the 2011 Niagara Walk for Farm Animals (including yours truly), the top 3 fund-raisers from the 2010 Niagara Walk for Farm Animals, and 4 lucky people who had their names drawn from all of those who had pre-registered for this year’s event. It was such a great group of people, and we all enjoyed the chance to chat with Gene Baur, such a kind and down-to-earth sort of guy. Oh, and the food!! We started with a delicious cucumber-based salad topped with summer fruit and nuts. From there we had an amazing gnocchi (probably one of my favourite things to eat in the whole world!) in a cashew cream sauce. Dessert was a cinnamon bun pudding with vanilla icing. (do I even need to say it was all vegan?!). Simply amazing!