Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dinner with Harold Brown of Peaceable Kingdom: A Journey Home

Last night I had the  pleasure of having dinner at SuTao Cafe in Malvern where I got to hear and meet Harold Brown, former beef farmer and subject of the upcoming documentary Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home. This soon to be released documentary explores the story of several people who grew up  in a traditional farming culture that have since come to question the basic assumptions of their way of life.



What a great evening. We started out with a huge buffet dinner (all vegan!). I had my daughter with me; I opted for a lot of things I normally don't eat- sweet and sour veggie "meat balls", General Tso"s "Chicken", fried bananas, and tempura battered vegetables, among other things (yes, that is kale you see in the front!).  



My daughter opted for a healthier plate, sushi, rice and fruit. Good for her!



After dinner was a real treat as our small group ( maybe 30 or so people) got to listen to Harold Brown tell his story.  It ended up being far less a "speech" and much more of an interactive discussion.  I found in fascinating to listen to his journey. 

From cattle farming in Michigan, to working in a dairy plant to a working in a meat packing facility I found it so inspring that the thing that opened his heart was an encounter with a rescued steer at a sanctuary.  

As inspiring and uplifting his story is, equally inspring is is knowledge of the food industry, organic farming techniques, the science behind why people are unable or unwilling to give up dairy, government subsidies for farmers, etc.  I really like his brand of activism, he seems unassuming, non judgmental and genuine.

Harold made a statement last night that really resonated with me.  He said that he thought people generally understood what they thought about  farm animals but that most don't understand how they feel about them.

He went on to discuss the idea that people have a "compassion switch" that can be turned on and off. It goes on for the family dog or cat and and then goes off for the cow or sheep that is destined for slaughter. By telling themselves they don't care, people allow the switch to be turned off. 

And he said, he made a vow never to say he did not care again. I think that is a pretty good way to live and some very sage advice. 

So what do you think about the way people regard farm animals? Do you agree people can turn compassion on and off at will?

A big thanks to our hosts last evening- CARE Compassion for Animals,  Lee Hall of Vegan Means and Lydia and Mauro Grossov of From A to Vegan.

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