Over the weekend, more than 15,000 viewers attended the Summit to Evolve Beyond Animal Agriculture, a virtual gathering between plant-based industry leaders and ranchers seeking to transition to a cruelty-free living. Together, they discussed profitable opportunities that realistically enable farmers to walk away from animal agriculture for good.

The Rancher Advocacy Program (RAP) and the JainUnChained News Network co-hosted the summit in partnership with the Rowdy Girl Sanctuary in Texas. The sanctuary’s owners, Renee King-Sonnen and Tommy Sonnen, are former cattle ranchers who went vegan and founded RAP as a way to help others follow in their compassionate footsteps.

Some of the plant-based movement’s biggest names participated in the event, including Miyoko Schinner, founder of Miyoko’s vegan cheese and butter line; Mercy For Animals President Leah Garces; urban vegan farmer Eugene Cooke; filmmaker Kip Andersen, and more. The event also featured two ranching families who are transitioning to animal-free farming.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, society is becoming increasingly aware of the ever-present dangers of animal farming, including zoonotic diseases. Consequently, people are starting to care more about what they eat and how their decisions can impact public health. The inherently cruel nature of the industry is also inspiring many to gravitate away from making and consuming animal products.

The growing popularity of a plant-based lifestyle is good news for those wishing to exit animal agriculture, but doing so still comes with numerous challenges, including financial issues, family and/or community pressure, a perceived obligation to stand by tradition, and binding contracts with meat corporations. To help make the process smoother, the Beyond Animal Agriculture summit addressed potential solutions to these problems, such as financial incentives called Green Bonds and regional cooperatives, which involve groups of farmers working together to transition to cruelty-free industries.

Lady Freethinker applauds the activists and organizations who are working hard to end cruel and dangerous animal agriculture, as well as the farmers and ranchers who are taking a bold step toward healthier and more sustainable and humane businesses.