Peace in the Pasture

Think about your work for a moment.

Does it not only pay the bills but pro­vide you a sense of iden­tity? Is what you do a big part of who you are?  Are there some things about your job that you don’t like and yet you do them anyway?

peaceable kingdomharoldNow sup­pose that your work is a time hon­ored fam­ily tra­di­tion.  You are fol­low­ing in your par­ents’ foot­steps.  You are prac­tic­ing one of America’s old­est and most entrenched pro­fes­sions.   You are putting food on America’s tables!  But those things that you don’t like feel so ter­ri­bly wrong that you know you have to turn your back on tra­di­tion and make your own way. You must leave the home you’ve known in order to find the home where you belong.

This is the type of per­sonal pas­sage explored in the film Peace­able King­dom:  the jour­ney home.   Ani­mal agri­cul­tur­al­ists get in touch Harold Brown and Maxadjwith the sen­tient crea­tures they are “farm­ing.”  That leads them to get in touch with them­selves – and their own eth­i­cal sen­si­bil­i­ties.  A cow­boy goes vegan. A boy born and bred to raise ani­mals as food instead launches Farm Kind. A cou­ple turns their goat oper­a­tion into a sanc­tu­ary.

These emo­tional, intel­lec­tual, and lifestyle choices do not hap­pen overnight or eas­ily.  They involve deep con­sid­er­a­tion, major upheaval and pro­found change. And in the end, they all feel really, really good.

You can share these expe­ri­ences via Peace­able King­dom, a doc­u­men­tary that reveals what hap­pens on farms and invites us to recon­sider our own choices.  As pro­ducer James LaVeck says, “We’ve seen first­hand how sto­ries focused on jus­tice and com­pas­sion can awaken the pos­i­tive side of human nature…We can choose another way to live.”


Jenny Stein and James LaVeck

LaVeck and direc­tor Jenny Stein are screen­ing their lat­est film around the world – and see­ing that peo­ple are mak­ing that lifestyle choice even in coun­tries where con­sid­er­a­tion for ani­mals is truly a for­eign con­cept. “…peo­ple of all ages and back­grounds really don’t want to be a part of harm­ing oth­ers, and the more they learn about who ani­mals are and what is Sheep onTruckhap­pen­ing to them, the more will­ing they are to include our fel­low ani­mals in their vision of social justice.”

Think back to abo­li­tion in Amer­ica.  Civil rights. The vote for suffragettewomen. Social jus­tice move­ments all.  Will we some­day look back at what we did to ani­mals and remem­ber the time that jus­tice came to them? LaVeck and Stein believe the answer is yes, for one rea­son or another; per­haps for many reasons.

Says LaVeck, “We’re liv­ing in an era when the growth of the human pop­u­la­tion, expand­ing mate­r­ial con­sump­tion, and the use of our fel­low ani­mals for food are pro­duc­ing dev­as­tat­ing envi­ron­men­tal con­se­quences.  This cri­sis is forc­ing more and more of us to grap­ple with a basic moral ques­tion:  is what I get from the way I live worth the harm it is doing to oth­ers, not just now, but in the gen­er­a­tions to come?  Many peo­ple who seri­ously ask them­selves this ques­tion end up renounc­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in the harm of oth­ers or wan­ton dam­age to the envi­ron­ment.  What’s great is that mak­ing this change is not that hard, and it’s good for us – it’s good for our phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal health, and for our spir­its.  When we stop tak­ing part in harm­ing oth­ers, we also stop harm­ing our­selves, as we are all con­nected. This is some­thing more of us are Poster with text[15][1][5]under­stand­ing every day.  So this is an excit­ing time to be alive, one in which our efforts have the poten­tial to make a level of dif­fer­ence that is truly amazing.”

Torn about whether to watch Peace­able King­dom? Don’t be. You don’t have to change just because you get informed.  It’s a choice.  But take it from me, a girl who grew up on a hobby farm and whose par­ents passed off my teenaged refusal to eat ani­mals as a pass­ing fad:  if you do make that choice, LaVeck is absolutely right.  It’s so good for us that we want to share it with you. If you haven’t already, how I wish for you to make that jour­ney home.

The film Peace­able King­dom airs on WEDU+ Sun­day, Decem­ber 22nd at 8:00 pm and again on Sun­day, Decem­ber 29th at midnight.

You can pur­chase the DVD here.

Watch my inter­view with Peace­able Kingdom’s direc­tor and pro­ducer on WEDU Thurs­day, Decem­ber 19th, at 8:30 pm.  Addi­tional air­dates and times can be found on The show will be posted on the web­site after air.

Jenny Stein, James LaVeck and Cathy Unruh Upclose with Cathy Unruh WEDU

Jenny Stein, James LaVeck and Cathy Unruh


4 thoughts on “Peace in the Pasture

  1. Issis

    I gave up eat­ing sen­tient crea­tures when I belat­edly became aware of what is actu­ally involved in “farm­ing” them to pro­duce food. I grew up so igno­rant, as do most peo­ple not raised on a farm. I had no idea “calves liver” came from very young ani­mals; that “veal” was from young calves — nearly always raised in hideous con­di­tions; that our Easter “spring lamb” rep­re­sented a baby sheep slaugh­tered before 6 months of age; that “fois gras” was cre­ated from the dis­eased liv­ers of force fed ducks and geese; that dairy cows must be repeat­edly impreg­nated over and over to pro­duce milk intended for their new born calves, which are torn from them soon after birth and hauled off to slaugh­ter or to be raised as veal and then slaugh­tered; that the cows and calves often cry for days after sep­a­ra­tion; that dairy cows , forced to pro­duce far more milk then is nat­ural, suf­fer from many ail­ments (i.e. mas­ti­tis), which cause great suf­fer­ing and require antibi­otics that end up in the milk; that the cows, after such abuse, are often “used up” after only 4 to 6 years vs. liv­ing out their nor­mal 15–20 year life times; that the reward for their 4–6 years of suf­fer­ing is to be sent to slaugh­ter; that chick­ens are debeaked, stacked layer upon layer in closed ware­houses within cru­elly small wire cages; that the male chicks are killed — often by drown­ing or throw­ing them into meat grinders while still alive because it is the most eco­nom­i­cal means to dis­pose of them; that in some areas it is still legal to starve used up chick­ens bound for slaugh­ter for up to 10 days because it forces them to pro­duce more eggs; that sows are raised in metal cages so small they can­not move so that many lit­er­ally go crazy; that lob­sters and crabs are boiled alive; etc. etc. etc. It still astounds me that when my oth­er­wise “humane” friends learn of these and other inte­gral parts of com­mer­cial agri-business they still find ways to ratio­nal­ize eat­ing beef, veal, poul­try, pork, crab and lob­sters, eggs from farms that refuse to adopt humane prac­tices, and dairy prod­ucts from busi­nesses that abuse dairy cows and their calves. I’ve sent links to your blog and to the documentary’s web site to friends and fam­ily in the hope it will get them past their defen­sive, will­ful indif­fer­ence. The hol­i­days are espe­cially dif­fi­cult with all the TV shows and emails empha­siz­ing “cel­e­bra­tory” dishes cre­ated from the life long pain and suf­fer­ing of so many farm ani­mals. When rev­el­ers then com­plain they “ate too much”, are “stuffed”, etc. it is both sick­en­ing and infu­ri­at­ing. I have increas­ingly con­tributed to groups that are ded­i­cated to reform­ing farm prac­tices and pro­vid­ing sanc­tu­ary for the rel­a­tively few lucky ani­mals res­cued from lives as “pro­duce” ani­mals. Please con­tinue to host and write about ani­mal wel­fare — espe­cially for farm animals.

    1. Cathy Unruh Post author

      Bon­nie, Thank you for your shar­ing. Most of all thank you for help­ing to spread the word about what truly hap­pens to ani­mals. So many find it eas­ier to look the other way. Happy Hol­i­days to you and yours, Cathy

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