Get exclusive content, special features, giveaways, limited edition products and much more.
It’s so clucking worth it.

Episode 549: The Ethics Behind Animal Planet’s Saved by the Barn ft. Kelly Holt and Dan McKernan

By Jasmin and Mariann — July 18, 2020

In the intro to the show Jasmin announces that she’s moving back to New York, so start spreading the news! Jasmin and Mariann also announce their new Director of Operations, Jen Riley. Jen is a long time animal rights activist and organizer and has long been the mastermind behind the Animal Rights Conference. In other exciting news, Jasmin will be speaking at the Farmed Animal Conference E-Summit. This year the summit will be happening virtually. We also continue our Supporting Vegan Businesses program by shouting out the LA Food Truck, Lettuce Feast.

Then, Jasmin speaks with Kelly Holt and Dan McKernan, stars of Animal Planet’s Saved by the Barn and founders of Barn Sanctuary, in Chelsea, MI, which has rescued around 400 farmed animals from abuse and neglect. They launched Barn Sanctuary from Dan’s family farm after the decision to go vegan inspired them to look into the treatment of farmed animals across the world. Their mission is to give their rescued animals a safe place to live out the rest of their lives, and with their Animal Planet show, they want to show how wonderful these animals are and how they deserve to not end up on someone’s plate.

Kelly and Dan join us to share why they gave up their jobs in marketing and technology, respectively, to open a sanctuary for rescued farmed animals. They share how the series Saved by the Barn came into being after Dan’s picture of a tender moment with one of the cows went viral, why he rigorously interviewed all of the production companies that wanted to make the show, and the conditions he imposed during filming. Kelly also shares why she feels it’s so important to connect and work together with other farm sanctuaries and organizations to build a collaborative way forward.

“What really gives me hope for the future and keeps me together, are my family, the animals, and our staff” – Dan McKernan

Episode Highlights:

  • Kelly’s decision to transition to veganism and how that triggered Dan’s interest not only in following a plant-based diet but in starting the sanctuary itself
  • How they worked to set up all aspects of the sanctuary, from funding to marketing
  • How grateful they are to their families, staff, and supporters
  • Why veganism is so important to them
  • Why it is so important to view their animals as individuals and connect with their stories
  • How they carry out their goal to get people to look at farmed animals as individuals, not food
  • Why Saved by the Barn can’t show everything that they film
  • How they respond to criticism about the show
  • How they plan to develop Barn Sanctuary going forward

Resources Mentioned:

Living the Farm Sanctuary Life by Gene Baur

Animal Planet Saved by the Barn


Forks Over Knives

Connect with Barn Sanctuary:

Barn Sanctuary Website

Barn Sanctuary Kitchen Companion

Barn Sanctuary Facebook Page

Barn Sanctuary Instagram

Connect with Our Hen House:

Our Hen House Website

Our Hen House Facebook

Our Hen House Instagram

Our Hen House Twitter

This episode is brought to you in part by the Barnard Medical Center. To set up a telehealth appointment today call 202-527-7500 or create an account on

As always, the award-winning weekly Our Hen House podcast is hosted by Mariann Sullivan and Jasmin Singer.


This episode is brought to you in part through the generosity of A Well-Fed World. A Well-Fed World provides the means for change by empowering individuals, social justice organizations, and political decision makers to embrace the benefits of plant-based foods and farming. Learn more at

You can listen to our podcast directly on our website, or subscribe on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcatcher! Also, if you like what you hear, please rate it and leave us a comment on Apple Podcasts! Of course, we would be thrilled if you would also consider making a donation, or becoming a member of our flock (especially if you’re a regular listener). Any amount is hugely appreciated, and Our Hen House is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so it’s tax-deductible! Thank you for helping us create quality content, and for helping us bring you a new podcast episode each week!

Don’t forget to tune into Our Hen House’s other two podcasts: The Teaching Jasmin How to Cook Vegan Podcast, and The Animal Law Podcast.

The Our Hen House theme song is written and performed by the incredible Michael Harren.

Comment with Facebook


Get OHH By Email!

Find Us on Facebook