Animal Advocacy, Healthy Eating Converge on Memorial Day in Austin

Gene Baur and the Vegan Van

May 30, 2011

Animal advocacy, healthy eating converge on Memorial Day in Austin

by Rena Brady

Memorial Day honors our members of the military who have served and died and has also become the long weekend to officially usher in summer. The popular way to celebrate the end of winter and three days off is to host or attend a barbecue and the idea of what should go on the grill differs depending on the omnivore camp.
Animal-rights activism manifests in a variety of expressions. Vegan or plant-based and vegetarian or plant-strong diets are adopted by individuals knowledgeable in how animals arrive at our table. Followers of a healthier way of life see these diets through a different lens as they work to achieve stronger bodies but the paths run parallel. On Memorial Day in Austin, the paths will converge.
Animal-rights activist and Farm Sanctuary co-founder and president, Gene Baur will stop in Austin during the final leg of the Just Eats Tour: Exploring Vegan America. Baur began the tour in New York on May 14 just after the Farm Sanctuary’s 25th anniversary gala and will finish on June 4 in Orland, California for the Country Hoe Down at the organization’s west coast animal refuge.
The cross-country journey has Baur behind the wheel of the same VW bus he used when first becoming vegan and selling vegetarian hot dogs at Grateful Dead concerts to fund the sanctuary. It was also used to save the first Farm Sanctuary rescue, Hilda the sheep, left atop a pile of dead animals outside a stockyard. Much of the legislation involving the advocacy of farm animals and the oversight of factory farms can be credited to the work of Farm Sanctuary. To learn more visit
The Just Eats Tour will stop at the home of Austin firefighter Rip Esselstyn, author of the popular book “The Engine 2 Die.” Esselstyn’s father, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn along with Colin Campbell, Ph.D. were the subjects of Lee Fulkerson’s documentary “Forks Over Knives” detailing the research the men compiled independently for many years on how a plant-based diet can improve health and in some cases eliminate disease. Former President Bill Clinton, once nick-named the “fast-food president” has credited Dr. Esselstyn for his decision to adopt a plant-based diet. The film is currently playing at Austin’s Regal Arbor Cinema at Great Hills.
A University of Texas All American swimmer and top professional triathelete, Firefighter Esselstyn was inspired to change the eating habits of his colleagues and improve the health of a firehouse brother at Engine Company 2 in Austin. He hosts a Memorial Day plant-strong Pot Luck and Barbecue Contest Monday May 30, attended by Gene Baur on his Just Eats Tour. For more information, visit
Austin is fortunate to have a wide range of options for vegan and vegetarian dining in and around the city. Whether your eating habits come from a place of compassion or a desire for optimal health or a combination, your choices are many. Visit for a listing of establishments from food trailers to fine dining.

Examiner Austin

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