Every year, billions of farm animals endure intolerable abuse outside of public view, but their suffering is becoming more visible, and change is in the air. On February 24, Sarasota, Florida formally acknowledged the cruelty inflicted on animals who are exploited by the food industry, recognized these animals as sentient beings, and asserted that they deserve to be treated with respect and compassion. We celebrated this proclamation at a unique event organized and hosted by Farm Sanctuary member Cameron Icard where Sarasota Mayor Kelly Kirschner read the proclamation and declared February 24 as “Sentient Beings Day.”
I was excited to attend this amazing event to discuss the suffering of animals on factory farms and spread compassion for farm animals with many caring Floridians and community leaders. We were honored to be joined by Twitter Co-Founder and long-time friend of Farm Sanctuary Biz Stone. Biz shared with the group the story of how his own heart and mind were changed after a visit to Farm Sanctuary’s shelter in Watkins Glen, New York, and how extending our empathy to farm animals is integral to becoming better citizens of the world.
Farm Sanctuary has been advocating for farm animals for more than 25 years, and, after all these years, I am still inspired when I see people recognize the profound consequences associated with their food choices. Starting with Morristown, New Jersey in 2002, more than 60 local governments have proclaimed that they recognize farm animals as being capable of awareness, feeling and suffering, and we are thrilled to add Sarasota to this list.
Steps like this help bring about change necessary to transform the status quo, allow us to live more in line with our values, and finally end the suffering of farm animals. When I get to be a part of events like the one in Sarasota last week, where community leaders and residents come together to learn about the cruelties of our food system and discuss ideas for a better way of living, I am reassured that it is only a matter of time before widespread change for farm animals becomes a reality.
Top photo L to R: Event host Cameron Icard, Sarasota Mayor Kelly M. Kirschner, Gene Baur, Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone, and Livia Stone.