Genesis Butler speaking at a Farm Sanctuary event.
Youth Action

For a Just and Sustainable Food System

Genesis Butler speaking at a Farm Sanctuary event.

Be a Part of Positive Change

Introduction to Farm Sanctuary for Youth Audiences
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[MUSIC PLAYING] Farm sanctuary is a safe place for farm animals. It's a place where farm animals can live free from harm and as naturally as possible.

Farm animals are social and emotional beings. They experience sadness and joy and feel empathy for others.

And they form strong friendships and bonds with other animals. They even mourn when a loved one passes away.

Farm Sanctuary is a place where farm animals needs are put first. If they're sick or hurt, then they'll be treated by a veterinarian. And at Farm Sanctuary, farm animals live in big social groups, so they live with other friends and family. So they have lots of space to roam around and play, and at night, they have cozy barns to sleep in.

Founded in 1986, Farm Sanctuary is the nation's leading farm animal rescue and protection organization. We have two sanctuary locations. One of them is in upstate New York, it's 300 acres in size, and the one that we are at here today is in Southern California, it's 29 acres and growing.

Both sanctuaries are lifelong homes to farm animals where they are given refuge from our food system. At Farm Sanctuary, they're able to live out their lives in peace.

This right here is Max the lamb and he was actually found on the side of the road. He came to Farm Sanctuary and he's very popular here. Guests love to meet him and he loves to meet guests, he's super friendly.

This is Aretha, she was rescued from a dairy along with the cows that were being used there. But fortunately, she will now be able to live out the rest of her life at Farm Sanctuary. And she was given the name Aretha because she likes to sing, she's very vocal and expressive.

This is jumper, she's lived at Farm Sanctuary for most of her life. She was rescued when she was pretty young. She jumped off of a cart at a stockyard, which is a marketplace where farm animals are sold, and that's where she got her name. She is a very, very big fan of belly breasts, her favorite thing in the world.

Sadly, most farm animals will never experience Farm Sanctuary. Every year, 9 billion animals are killed for food in the United States, animals just like our friend here. And raising farm animals for food not only harms the animals themselves, it also takes a toll on our planet, workers and slaughterhouses and factory farms, and communities who live nearby.


Farm Sanctuary has been around for over 30 years. And during that time, we have rescued over 10,000 farm animals from our food system. We've also placed many more in loving homes through our farm animal adoption network. Through rescue, education, and advocacy efforts, our goal is to inspire change in the way society views and treats farm animals.


At Farm Sanctuary, we believe it's possible to create a more just and compassionate world when we work together. To join us and learn more about how to get involved, visit farm sanctuaries youth action website. There, you'll find lots of great ideas about how to get active for farm animals in your school and local community.

You'll also find lots of great information about farm sanctuaries youth leadership council, which is made up of middle and high school students from all across the United States. All of our council members share a passion for farm animal protection, social justice, and the environment.


Farm Sanctuary is a place where every farm animal is treated like a unique individual. And not like a product in our food system. Dixon is someone.

So if you're in the area, come visit us at our New York or California shelter and see for yourself what living the Farm Sanctuary life is all about.


Farm Sanctuary’s Youth for a Just and Sustainable Food System resources are designed to support youth ages 13-18 working toward a more just and sustainable food system for animals, humans, and our planet.

Learn More and Take Action

Vertical explainer photo 1 - Youth Leadership Council

Want to meet like-minded youth and learn about advocacy? The Youth Leadership Council is a national network of teenagers passionate about creating more just, sustainable, and compassionate food systems. Apply to join!

Learn more
Youth Leadership Council

Want to meet like-minded youth and learn about advocacy? The Youth Leadership Council is a national network of teenagers passionate about creating more just, sustainable, and compassionate food systems. Apply to join!

Learn more
Two girls smiling looking at computer

Photo: Dan76/

Signing a petition is a quick and easy way to advocate for what you care about. Check out these current initiatives you can support!

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Books / Photo Credit: Billion Photos, Shutterstock

Photo: Billion Photos/

There are so many great movies, books, websites, and other resources out there to keep people informed and up-to-date about food system issues. Check out this list of some of our favorites.

Learn More
Three teenagers sitting and talking while smiling


Between conversations and sharing a meal, there are many ways to engage with those closest to you to raise awareness about the issues of our food system.

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Photo: / nata_vkusidey

Photo: nata_vkusidey/

A great way to support a shift toward a more just food system is by choosing to eat fewer animal products and instead choose plant-based foods produced through sustainable and fair labor practices. Whether it’s making changes in your diet for just one day of the week or every day, these steps support meaningful change for animals, humans, and our planet.

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Community and School Activism

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School clubs create a sense of community for students with similar interests and can be a vehicle for learning and advocacy around issues. Check out our tips on how to start your very own club!

Learn More
Kids eating lunch

Photo: skynesher/

School clubs create a sense of community for students with similar interests and can be a vehicle for learning and advocacy around issues. Check out our tips on how to start your very own club!

Learn More

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Create lasting change on your campus by bringing plant-based options to your cafeteria. By having plant-based options on campus, current and future students can be empowered to make food choices that align with their values.

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Four teenagers talking at a table

Photo: fizkes/

There are many ways you can engage people in your community to advocate for a more just, sustainable, and compassionate food system. Check out our list of ideas to kick start your activism!

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Two people look at a cell phone / Photo Credit: GaudiLab, Shutterstock

Photo: GaudiLab/

By using your social following to tell stories and share information, you can make a difference for farm animals, workers, farmers, communities, and the environment.

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Girl writing on a pad and looking at computer

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Together, we can raise awareness of the cruelties of factory farming and advocate for systemic change. Write letters to your state and federal policymakers to speak up for people, farm animals, and the planet.

Learn More
Sheep standing in field
Imagine a World
Imagine a world where our food system works in harmony with nature to ensure animals, communities, and our planet can thrive. Through the radical imagination, a practice that, throughout history, has fueled social change, a better world is possible.

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur

The Harms of Our Food System


Photo: / F Armstrong Photography

99% of animals raised for food in the U.S. spend their short lives on large industrial farms. These places are less like farms and more like factories. Many animals on factory farms are tightly confined, and some animals aren’t able to turn around for most of their lives. More than 9 billion farm animals are used for meat, dairy, and eggs every year in the U.S. alone. In this industry, it’s not only the animals who suffer. Workers in slaughterhouses, factory farms, and fields are often exploited and have no other choice but to do this psychologically and physically dangerous work. Farmers, disproportionately farmers of color, have lost land to factory farm corporations and today small family farmers produce only a quarter of the nation’s food while they rely on off-farm income to earn a living wage. Industrialized animal agriculture is a leading contributor to global warming and wreaks havoc on the environment, from deforestation to the pollution of groundwater and air quality in rural communities across the U.S.


Photo: / F Armstrong Photography

Youth Leadership Council

Genesis Butler speaking at a Farm Sanctuary event.

For youth ages 13-18 who are interested in creating a more just, sustainable, and compassionate food system, Farm Sanctuary’s online resource hub, Youth for a Just and Sustainable Food System, offers tools and inspiration, and our Youth Leadership Council provides a sense of community and the chance to connect with like-minded student peers from across the country. Through the Youth Leadership Council, we offer education on food system issues and support for school- and community-based advocacy projects aligned with each student’s personal interest. Check out the Farm Sanctuary 2022 YLC Zine, an advocacy project created and edited by some of our YLC members that features veganized recipes, book recommendations, an original comic, and more!

Join the YLC

Meet a Few Current and Past YLC Members

Youth Leadership Council Member Claire






Sunna YLC


Brielle YLC


Shannon YLC


YLC Members Answer Your Questions About Being Vegan

by Debi, 8th grade, San Jose, CA

There are many other ways to get protein besides meat. Beans, seeds, grains, and nuts are excellent sources of plant-based protein. In fact, all plant-based foods provide protein!

Registered Dietician Ginny Messina states, “Eating a varied diet of plant foods will easily provide plenty of protein as long as you’re meeting calorie needs. It’s important to make sure that you include legumes (which include beans, soyfoods, and peanuts) in your vegan diet to ensure adequate intake of all of the essential amino acids.” Take it from the USDA, which agrees that “protein needs can easily be met by eating a variety of plant-based foods.”

by Lauren, 12th grade, Pittsburgh, PA

It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, the staples of a vegan diet (fruits, vegetables, grains like bread and pasta, beans, spices, and tofu) are relatively inexpensive. If you want to buy meat or dairy substitutes, it may get a bit more expensive; however, these products will only get cheaper as more people choose plant-based options and demand increases, and you definitely can make delicious vegan food with simple ingredients! Don’t believe us? Check out these Plant-Based on a Budget meal plans!

by Olivia, 6th grade, Roswell, GA

If you’re eating out, you can sometimes find vegan options at familiar restaurants by taking a closer look at their menu, asking the server, or making substitutions to menu items. Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts have non-dairy options. All you have to do is order with coconut, almond, or soy milk. You can also go to some fast food restaurants! At Chipotle, they have a lot of plant-based options that you can choose from. At Burger King, you can get a salad, hash browns, French toast sticks, and Dutch apple pie! At Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s, you can order their hash browns and their salad. If you stop at Taco Bell, consider ordering the bean burrito “fresco style,” the black bean burrito without cheese, the veggie cantina power bowl without the sauce, and the cinnamon twists. Dairy Queen offers a vegan Star Kiss bar. If you go to Little Caesar’s, Papa John’s, or Pizza Hut and order without the cheese but include your favorite vegetable toppings, you’re good to go! All of their pizza crust and sauces are vegan. White Castle also has a vegan burger!

For more tips on ordering plant-based while dining out, visit Don’t forget to download the app at HappyCow to find restaurants with vegan options near you!

by Abby, 12th grade, Colorado Springs, CO

Plant based diets are “stalk” full of nutrients (pun intended)! Getting nutrients as a vegan can be a piece of cake … I mean kale, as long as you know what to look for! Big questions while maintaining a vegan diet tend to be: protein, calcium, iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. Although the more well-known sources of these nutrients do tend to be in products coming from animals, all of them can be obtained without causing harm to animals. Some nutrient sources can even be higher in the necessary nutrients than their animal-derived counterparts. Protein, for instance, can be found in dark leafy greens, such as spinach and kale; beans; nuts; seeds; legumes; and whole grains. Leafy greens, while high in protein, are also full of calcium and iron. Other sources high in calcium are sesame seeds, almonds, and calcium-fortified products such as non-dairy milk and yogurt. Iron-rich foods include pumpkin seeds, quinoa, legumes, and leafy greens. Vitamin D can be obtained through sun exposure and consuming portobello, maitake, morel, button, and shiitake mushrooms. Many non-dairy milks and tofu can also be fortified with vitamin D. Sources of B12 are fortified products such as certain milk alternatives, cereals, soy products, nutritional yeast, and B12 supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, Brussels sprouts, soy, and walnuts.

by Avalon Jade, 12th grade, Tampa, FL

There are a number of different ways that you can transition to a plant-based diet. In fact, you probably already eat more vegetarian or vegan food than you even realize. We know that fruits, veggies, and nuts are free of animal ingredients, but what else? How do you eat your favorite snacks or meals in a plant-based way? And how do you do that affordably and without hassle? Read on!

When you need a snack, fruit and nuts are go-to options, but other options such as granola bars, crackers, chips, and pretzels can can also be found without animal ingredients at your local store. You just have to read the label. Switching from one brand to another, or even from one product to another under the same brand, can mean more plant-based foods in your diet! What are some specific items? Nature Valley Peanut Butter Crunchy Granola Bars, Larabars, and most Clif Bar flavors are vegan. However, sometimes you just want snack foods, like Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and Ritz Crackers.

Do you like sweet foods and desserts? You will be happy to know that there are options! Some sandwich-style cookies, like Oreos and Nutter Butters, are vegan. Unfrosted Pop-Tarts, too! Feel more in the mood for baking? Many of Duncan Hines’ creamy homestyle frosting and cake mixes are vegan. There are many other everyday vegan foods here. Prefer a more homemade approach to your baking? Replacements can be very easy, such as using a mixture of 1 tablespoon of flaxseed and 2 ½ teaspoons of water for an egg. Other substitutions can be found here.

Many supermarkets carry a selection of packaged, plant-based foods that provide yummy alternatives to your favorite meat and dairy products. For milk, there are a variety of options, including hemp, soy, and almond. Feeling sweet? So Delicious, Häagen-Dazs, and Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice creams taste great and are vegan, too! Can’t live without cheese? Daiya or Chao Cheese to the rescue! They even melt, which makes for a very exciting grilled cheese sandwich! Worried you’ll miss your chicken, beef, and fish? Depending on your local grocer, you may be able to find vegan burgers, fish fillets, chicken strips, meatloaf, and much, much more, through brands such as Beyond Meat, Boca Foods, Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods, Engine 2 Plant Strong, Field Roast, Gardein, and MorningStar. Check out for more info! Many people can’t actually tell the difference between these options and animal meats, because they are so realistic! There are also tofu, tempeh, and seitan, all wonderful meat alternatives.

by Sienna, 7th grade, Easton, PA

A vegan diet rich in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes has been clinically proven to provide an array of health benefits. Research shows that whole food veganism can help prevent and even reverse conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, while also protecting against certain cancers. Adopting a whole food, plant-based diet can be a positive change for your body’s health!

by Lorelei, 12th grade, Westlake Village, CA

Most grocery stores carry a selection of packaged plant-based foods such as veggie burgers and dairy-free milks. You will be able to find plant-based staples at most stores such as rice, pasta, bread, beans, as well as fruits and vegetables (canned, frozen, or fresh), which can make really delicious plant-based meals. If you live near a Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or small natural-foods store, they will have a large number of vegan food options. You may also be able to find community gardens in your area with a farm stand or a local farmers market selling fruits and vegetables.

Here are some of my top vegan food picks at my favorite store, Trader Joe’s: I like to shop at Trader Joe’s because they have a lot of vegan items and they are inexpensive. They have many prepared items that are refrigerated and shelf stable, as well as frozen items. Some of the items I like to get are the spicy lentil wrap, super spinach salad, chicken-less strips (frozen), penne arrabbiata (frozen), beefless ground “beef” or soy chorizo (to use in tacos), hummus, dried apricots, and Joe Joe’s (cookies).

by Sienna, 7th grade, Easton, PA

What do you picture when you think of dairy farms? Maybe you think of cows grazing over green pastures or chickens roaming around a bright red barn with a white fence. This is what the dairy industry wants us to imagine. The truth is much, much darker. Dairy cows are only meant to supply milk for their offspring. We humans are the only species to consume milk from another species — and it’s odd when you give it more than a moment of thought! On dairy farms, however, cows are artificially inseminated and constantly forced to have babies. Once the calves are born, they are taken away from their mothers immediately. Chickens — who, as we know, lay eggs — are arguably the most abused farm animal. Male chickens are killed immediately because they can’t produce eggs. Female chickens spend their entire lives in battery cages, cages that are so small, chickens can’t even stretch their wings. Thankfully, there are alternatives for dairy products and ways to replace eggs without contributing to these harmful industries.

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Connie sheep at Farm Sanctuary

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