Gene grew up in Hollywood, California and worked in commercials for McDonald's and other fast food restaurants. He adopted a vegan lifestyle in 1985, and today, he campaigns to raise awareness about the negative consequences of industrialized factory farming and our cheap food system. He lives in rural New York state and is the co founder and president of Farm Sanctuary, America's leading farm animal protection organization, which runs the largest rescue and refuge network for farm animals in North America. Gene holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from California State University Northridge and a master's degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University.
After volunteering and working with various environmental and human rights causes, Gene turned his attention to animal agriculture. He has conducted hundreds of visits to farms, stockyards and slaughterhouses to document conditions, and his pictures and videos, exposing factory farming cruelty, have been aired nationally and internationally, educating millions. He has testified in court and before local, state and federal legislative bodies, and has initiated groundbreaking legal enforcement and legislative action to raise awareness and prevent factory farming abuses. He played a significant role in passing the first U.S. laws to prohibit cruel farming systems - including the Florida ban on gestation crates, the Arizona ban on veal and gestation crates, and the California and Chicago bans on foie gras. His efforts have been covered by leading news organizations, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, National Public Radio, ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN. His book, entitled Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food, was published by Simon and Schuster in March, 2008 and has become a national best seller.