Suffering in silence was never Jenny Brown's style. Not as a child, when she lost a leg to bone cancer, not now, as founder of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. "No child ever sits down to a hamburger and realizes he's eating a cow, a someone, an individual, a someone, not a something," says the author of The Lucky Ones, her memoir with a message. "These animals are no longer abstractions to me. I live with them."
Located in upstate New York, Woodstock Farm is 23-acres devoted to raising 200 rescued farm animals, included Elvis, Andy and Ralphie, veal farm evacuees. Humans are welcome at the nonprofit, too, "to come face to face with the animals they only knew as food," says Brown. "We're so far removed from it, we don't even stop to think about what we're doing." Brown, who grew up in Louisville, "came from that world, too. I ate meat, cheese, dairy and eggs."
She went meatless in college, where she studied film and became more involved in animal rights, including "some undercover video work for PETA. Their tactics and strategies are controversial," she admits. "It challenges people."
Indeed, once you witness animal abuse, you can't unsee it. Compassion Over Killing's recent undercover video of animal abuse at Central Valley Meat, a California slaughterhouse, captured abuse so horrific, the USDA shut down the facility.
"A civilized society would not continue to exploit and abuse 10 billion animals every year for convenience and habit and for the trivial pleasure of our palate," says Brown. The happy pigs, cows and chickens of Woodstock Farm provide a less confrontation way to deliver her message. "They are our ambassadors."
Brown spent ten years working in television and film before she and her husband Doug started Woodstock Farm in 2004. She wrote The Lucky Ones with co-author and friend Gretchen Primack after she was featured in a 2008 New York Times article "about this lady with a fake leg getting a fake leg for her goat." The goat, Albie, had been hogtied and abused and arrived at Woodstock Farm covered in sores and with a leg so badly infected, it had to be amputated.
If giving a farm animal a prosthetic leg sounds extreme, Brown would argue the opposite. "We've lost our humanity, completely ignoring the suffering of these animals. How can we turn away and not look at their suffering when we are responsible for it? We are what drives this industry."
Brown pauses. "On a happier note, the book has a lot of heartwarming stories." Even so, The Lucky Ones' takeaway isn't Awwwww, it's about Brown's passion to speak out and speak up for animal advocacy. "I would do whatever it takes to raise the awareness of suffering of farm animals."
Jenny's husband Doug has a weakness for tofu scramble. So do I -- it's scrambled eggs without the eggs. It works well for breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night, any time you're in the mood. Feel free to change up any vegetables with what's fresh at your local farmers market, but aim for organic tofu -- most soy out there is genetically modified.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion or 3 scallions, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional but very nice)
1 red pepper, chopped
1 small zucchini or yellow squash, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast*
1 tomato, chopped
12 ounces (about 3/4 of a 1-pound package) firm organic tofu, drained and squeezed to get rid of excess water
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped fine
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, jalapeno, red pepper and zucchini. Stir and continue to cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or until vegetables soften and turn golden and fragrant.
Stir in cumin, turmeric and nutritional yeast, coating vegetables well.
Add chopped tomato and mix well.
And now, the fun part. Crumble tofu in the skillet. You may mash it with a wooden spoon or enjoy the wonderfully tactile sensation of smooshing it between your fingers (a nice aggression release).
Scramble everything together in merry fashion, breaking up any odd tofu clumps. Season generously with sea salt and ground pepper and continue cooking for about 3 minutes, until heated through.
Mix in chopped cilantro and serve.
Recipe serves 2 to 3 people and doubles easily. Enjoy fresh, hot and at once.
* a fabulous dairy-free cheesy-tasting golden powder available in the baking section of many natural food stores. Vegan bonus -- several brands are B-12 fortified.