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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