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For our recent ski trip to Telluride, Colorado (where I had all sorts of wonderful vegan adventures!), we flew into the nearby town of Montrose.

It was exciting to see the majestic Rocky Mountains come into view from the plane as we approached…just breathtaking!

view of Rockies from planeAs the wheels of our plane touched down, I could hardly contain my excitement. I couldn’t wait to get out in the snow and cold, fresh air!

Montrose has a tiny airport, so instead of pulling up to a gate, you exit straight onto the tarmac.

When our plane door finally opened and we started down the steps, though, my excitement abruptly turned into overwhelming sadness and distress.


The smell.

The very distinct and strong smell of manure was present, even though there were no cows in sight, and I knew from that cue that a factory farm – and all the misery inside – was somewhere nearby.

A factory farm, also known as a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), holds tens of thousands, and sometimes millions, of animals in confined spaces until they’re big enough for slaughter.

In our country, 9 to 10 billion animals are raised and killed for food each year, and around 99% of those come from factory farms.

factory farm nearby

A pig factory farm and manure lagoon in Iowa (Photo by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement)

According to the HSUS, “factory farm” isn’t a technical term; instead, “it refers to massive, industrialized facilities that often put profits ahead of animal welfare, treating farm animals not as individuals, but more like units on a production line.”

Factory farms are devastating to the environment and to the communities that are near them.

They treat animals as commodities to be exploited for profit, and go to great lengths to make the most money out of them that they can.

This includes mutilating them without pain relief, confining them so intensely that they can’t turn around, and pumping them with antibiotics and hormones to keep them just alive enough to get to slaughter.

Could all of this be happening near you?

The Factory Farm Map

There is a great website, Factory Farm Map, that shows where factory farms are located.

factory farm near you

Is there a factory farm where you live?

It’s run by Food & Water Watch, a non-profit “that advocates for common sense policies that will result in healthy, safe food and access to safe and affordable drinking water.”

Sure enough, when I looked up Montrose County on the Factory Farm Map, it was listed as a severely dense area for factory farms. And boy, could you smell it.

factory farm near youI had a similar experience in Pennsylvania when driving back from our visit to Farm Sanctuary. This time, a sight, not a smell, clued me in.

I saw an unmistakable factory farm as we drove down 15 South near Biglerville, PA. The tell-tale, huge, windowless buildings with a manure lagoon gave it away.

The animals and their suffering couldn’t be seen, but I knew it was there. And now you know what goes on in those buildings too.

When we got home, I checked the Factory Farm Map, and, no surprise, it showed a high density of factory farms in that county as well.

factory farm nearby areaCheck the map here. Is there a factory farm in your proverbial backyard? Or in your child’s community? Or your parent’s?

Factory farms, with their pollution and cruelty, are a threat to all of us, no matter where we live.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

And factory farms are the epitome of injustice to animals, people, and the Earth.

What We Can Do

Happily, we are not powerless in the face of these monstrous factory farms.

We can do something about them!

And it’s a lot easier than you think.

All we have to do is choose delicious, healthy vegetarian and vegan meals. YUM! How great is that?!

Well, darn, I have to eat:

vegan food

This vegan hot dog and fixin’s…..

vegan food

And this green curry…

vegan food

And this vegan taco salad…

vegan dessert

And this berry pie with vegan ice cream from Plant…all for justice!

Hard work, huh? 🙂

Doesn’t it feel great to know that we can do something? Now it’s just up to us to do it.

Start small with Meatless Monday if you need, and add days of the week from there. Jump straight into vegetarian or vegan if you can! I have great tips for helping you.

To Eating for Justice!