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Episode 559: Adventures of a Farmed Animal Protection Lawyer ft. Peter Brandt

By Jasmin and Mariann — September 26, 2020

Before we get to the interview, we have a few things to chat about. Our big news is that Jasmin recently recorded her audiobook for her forthcoming (in December) book, The Veg News Guide To Being a Fabulous Vegan, which she wrote in conjunction with VegNews Magazine. Although the book is fun and colorful and full of recipes, she was reminded while reading it aloud that it also covers many deadly serious topics, from factory farming, to climate change, to fur, to virtually every aspect of animal exploitation. She hopes so much that it will help people realize what’s happening and motivate them to change. Jasmin and Mariann then admit to each other that, while they’re both longing to get out of the house and safely do things and go places, they’ve been hunkered down for so long that some sort of agoraphobia has set in. What’s that all about?!? Jasmin also recounts a particularly frustrating conversation about COVID-caution with her particularly frustrating brother, and Mariann offers her thoughts on the normalization of violence against animals and how people tend to think of going vegan as something akin to becoming a nun — a virtuous thing, but not necessarily for me.

In this week’s Vegan Businesses segment, we’re enthusing about Sammantha Fisher’s animal photography. We’re also shouting out Feather Roof, an Etsy jewelry store, and This Girl’s Grub, a Black-owned Chicago-based business offering vegan meal plans, a daily menu that can be delivered to your door (in the Chicago area), catering, and more!

Peter Brandt is our guest today. He’s the Senior Attorney for Farm Animal Litigation at the Humane Society of the United States and has played an instrumental role in fighting some of the most challenging cases of animal abuse in the last ten years. Currently, he conducts precedent-setting legal campaigns in state and federal courts all over the USA. Peter’s new book, Indefensible: Adventures of a Farm Animal Protection Lawyer, is part memoir, part manifesto and chronicles the development of his awareness of factory farming and the harm it does not only to animals but to human health and the environment, especially for those who live near them.

Peter joins us today to share the reasons he wrote Indefensible, what he hopes to achieve with its publication, and why he uses humor and personal experience as tools to communicate about such a serious subject. He talks about teaching animal law and how he works to get his students to pay genuine attention, understand, and relate to the experiences of farmed animals, as well as process the emotionally difficult information involved in learning about what’s happening to these animals. We also discuss the pitfalls of relying on right-brain rational data-driven solutions and why it is vital to be able to weave a story that captures people’s imaginations to engage them on the subject of animal suffering.

“If you find a business or a person who is willing to do terrible things to human beings, I promise you they are doing terrible things to the animals in their care and/or to the environment.”
– Peter Brandt


This Week in Our Hen House:

  • How to use Peter’s book as a tool for animal activism
  • Who the book is aimed at and what he’s hoping his audience will learn
  • Why large scale animal agriculture is devastatingly harmful and how it impacts all facets of society
  • Why we don’t need to fully understand the emotional states of animals to oppose animal exploitation
  • Peter’s work with the Humane Society of the United States and how it informed the book
  • Tips for engaging students (and others) in learning about animal abuse
  • How Covid-19 has exposed animal abuse globally
  • The environmental destruction wrought by animal agriculture and how to fight it in the courts
  • What a manure lagoon is like, up close
  • Peter’s overview of how animal agriculture contributes to climate change
  • The landmark case in California that paved the way for subsequent animal rights litigation

Connect with Peter Brandt:

Connect with Our Hen House:

awfwlogoThis 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

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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 Michael Harren.

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