Farmed Animal Depopulations and Worker Violations During COVID-19, with Rachel McCrystal of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, and Meet the Clean Meat Future

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Our feature interview in this show is with Rachel McCrystal, an animal rescuer and the Executive Director of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in Upstate New York. We also give our thoughts on the début of the documentary Meat the Future which was written, directed, and produced by award-winning Canadian film maker Liz Marshall.

Début of Meat the Future Documentary by Canadian Film Maker Liz Marshall on the Reality of “Clean Meat”, a Growing Food Science that Grows Meat Cells in Laboratories from Animal-Derived Cells

Meat the Future cover with partners and supporters to the right including LizMars, Documentary Channel, Canada Media Fund, Rogers Cable Network Fund, Ontario Creates. Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, and The Redford Centre.

Canadian film maker Liz Marshall has written, produced, directed, and filmed diverse international and socially conscious documentaries since the 1990s, and her newest documentary we talk about in this show is Meat the Future. Her visionary feature-length films explore social justice and environmental themes driven by strong characters.

One of her most critically acclaimed documentaries is The Ghosts in Our Machine (2013) which shows the reality of animals imprisoned in industries through the eyes of animal rights activist Jo-Anne McArthur. Previous titles include Midian Farm (2018), Water On The Table (2010), the HIV/AIDS trilogy for the Stephen Lewis Foundation (2007), the War Child Canada/MuchMusic special Musicians in the WarZone (2001), and the 1995 music documentary archive of folk-icon Ani DiFranco.

In Meat the Future (2020), Liz chronicles the development of the concept of clean meat from idea to reality through the eyes of Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Memphis Meats, Dr. Uma Valeti.

Meat the Future is a feature-length documentary which interviews pivotal members about the innovation of clean meat, including those from the company Memphis Meat from the development up to the vision. Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Memphis Meat Dr. Uma Valeti is a cardiologist with the vision of satisfying animal product demand while heavily decreasing the number of animals which are harmed and killed by current standards of meat production.

During his tenure at the Mayo Clinic, he became inspired to apply his knowledge from a clinical trial for regenerating heart muscle to culturing animal-based meat cells to grow in vitro. In 2015, Dr. Uma Valeti co-founded Memphis Meats with Nicholas Genovese to make his dream into a reality. Co-founder and Chief Science Officer Nicholas Genovese is a stem cell biologist who grew up on his family’s farm where he gained industy experience as a bioprocess technician. He also completed his graduate thesis in cancer biology and established a new approach for the cultivation of animal-based stem cells for lab-grown meat. His passion comes from the desire to improve our food system through the innovation of clean meat technologies that can produce the same products without the negative impacts on the planet and its inhabitants.

To start the show, we engage in a discussion about the benefits and predictions for the emerging field of “clean meat” to come, in a world whose demand for meat will be doubling by the year 2050. We have had the pleasure of interviewing Liz Marshall about this film when it was in pre-production in 2017, and look forward to her films to come.

Rachel McCrystal, Executive Director, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary on the Farmed Animal “Depopulations” and Human Rights Violations as a Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Rachel McCrystal with Clyde the Rooster

For our feature interview, we have Rachel McCrystal on the show. She is an animal rescuer and the Executive Director of the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary located in High Falls, New York. Woodstock rescues farmed animals and gives them care and sanctuary so they can live out the rest of their lives in peace. They also connect animals with people to advance veganism, and advocate for animal rights in alliance with other social justice movements.

Rachel McCrystal has been at WoodStock Farm Sanctuary for five years since she began in 2015 as the Development Director and has since become the Executive Director in 2017. After volunteering and working for various animal rights, conservation, and sheltering organizations with a focus on development, marketing, campaigns, and strategic planning, she is proud to call those at WoodStock Farm Sanctuary her team. Before Rachel’s career in the nonprofit field, she was a journalist and ballroom dancer. She currently lives near the sanctuary with her partner, John, and several companion animals.

As of three weeks ago, in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic where the demand for meat consumption and availability of animal slaughterhouses have drastically plummeted, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary has recently launched a farm advocacy campaign in which they are teaming up with a coalition of other sanctuaries to try to find homes for animals who the farmers will surrender rather than euthanizing or selling to the public to butcher.

If you know of a farmer who is willing to surrender their animals to sanctuary, you can contact Woodstock Sanctuary’s Farm Outreach program at

With COVID-19 spreading throughout the United States in slaughterhouses and meat processing plants , which have become hot spots for the illness, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary is running an online campaign against the mass depopulations: the mass killings of unwanted animals issue as these locations close down.

Despite the dangers these employees are facing by working in even in a shoulder-to-shoulder environment with one another, President Donald Trump had declared meat supply as part of the critical infrastructure of the United States though the Defense Production Act, meaning that employees are mandated to continue their work in these poor conditions. In Canada, similar cases in slaughterhouses and meat processing facilities are on the rise with 1,560 cases of COVID-19 and counting linked to the Cargill meat-packing plant in southern Alberta. Canada has also deemed meat production an essential service.

Please sign the online petition from WoodStock Sanctuary Farm to take part in this action against the mass depopulations in the United States.

In this interview, Rachel speaks on this unusual situation that offers some hope, as well as to share some stories for International Respect for Chickens Month. She talks about WoodStock Farm Sanctuary’s new campaign against the egg industry called Consider the Egg to educate on the true process of egg production from the industry to the plate through simple and effective infographic images.

Rescue of 1,000 Hens Previously Set for Depopulation Due to Dwindling Demand for Chicken Products in the United States

An egg farm in Iowa had scaled down operations and planned to euthanize 140,000 hens with carbon dioxide as part of this plan. Of the 140,000, California animal sanctuary Animal Place was able to convince the farm to surrender 1,000 of them. Two planes paid for by a donor left for Iowa on Saturday to transport the animals to their new home. The chickens came weakened from the battery cage system and from malnutrition as the farm had cut costs by feeding them less. Each hen has now been given the chance to live as individuals in Grass Valley, California at Animal Place, one of the oldest and largest sanctuaries in the state. They are being nursed back to health as they learn to walk around in the most space they’ve ever had in their lives.

Woodstock Sanctuary is one of the ten sanctuaries that has been involved in this rescue, and several hens are on their way to Woodstock where they will get to live out the rest of their lives in peace! Rachel tells us more about the rescue in our interview

This show was produced and hosted by April LaFleur, with web content by Asami Hitohara.

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