About Robert Grillo

Robert Grillo is the founder and director of Free from Harm. As an activist, author and speaker, Grillo focuses awareness on the animal’s experience and point of view, drawing on insights from sociology, psychology, popular culture, ethics and social justice to bridge the gap between humans and other animals. As a marketing communications professional for over 20 years, Grillo has worked on large food industry accounts where he gained a behind the scenes perspective on food industry marketing.

Is a Concern for Animals “First World”?

In the Q & A at one of my recent presentations, someone pointed out that they’ve heard a concern for animals criticized as “first world.” Aside from the obvious prejudice in the use of terms such as first world and third world, for our purposes, let’s just focus here on its implication that advocating for animals is a frivolous issue compared with much bigger global problems and one that only affluent people have the luxury to think about. Continue reading

What’s the Point of Keeping a Hen Who Cannot Lay Eggs?

A few years ago, I adopted a hen about whom I knew very little except that a farmer did not want her anymore because she had stopped laying eggs. The rest of her past was a mystery, but clearly her life before we adopted her had not been a good one. For one thing, her physical condition was harsh. Her feathers were scant and coarse to the touch. She had been badly debeaked at some point, making it impossible for her to pick up seeds from the ground. Continue reading

Galliano: Our Little Bantam Rooster Rescue

I brought home our rescue Galliano, and for the next four weeks, he was my closest companion, following me everywhere around the house, perching on my arm or shoulder while I worked, napping peacefully on my side while watching TV, and even calling out to me from the bottom of the staircase and then climbing the stairs to find me! Continue reading

Jay Quigley’s TED Talk on Overcoming Speciesism

Jay Quigley’s TED Talk provides a great primer on speciesism, a pervasive form of discrimination against animals that permeates all animal eating cultures, and shows how it fuels the socially accepted commodification and killing of billions of famed animals. He also provides hope and practical advice on how to end their suffering and bring our food choices more in alignment with our values. Continue reading

Ginger and Fred: Two Lucky Ducks!

In the first week of May, Red Door Animal Shelter notified us that they had rescued two Pekin ducks, a bonded couple, who were now in need of a permanent home. Red Door found the pair as tiny little ducklings, wandering the city streets shortly after Easter. They spent about three weeks at the shelter and were examined by the avian vets at Midwest Exotics. Continue reading

Injured Chicken Found in Chicago Alley

The circumstances surrounding our latest rescue, an injured chicken we named Peter, remain largely a mystery. What we do know is that he was found all alone and motionless in an alley in a Northwest Chicago neighborhood, about 10 blocks from a live poultry market / slaughterhouse at Devon and Western Avenues. We know he was a Red Ranger breed of chicken, a breed commonly raised for chicken flesh products. We know that when he was discovered in the alley, he was severely injured and unable to move. Continue reading

Chickens as Kaporos: A Story of Witnessing and Rescue

The following is my interview with Lori Barrett about her harrowing experience witnessing and documenting chickens used as kaporos in her New York City neighborhood. In the process, she managed to rescue and rehome one lucky baby chicken named Isa. This is her true story which provides an in depth look at Kaporos from a legal and religious perspective, and from the point of view of the birds themselves. Continue reading

Dog Branding Shines Light on Bigger Picture of Animal Cruelty

The recent news story of a dog in Kentucky named Felicity, who was found tied to a post and branded with a profanity, sparked an outpouring of empathy as well as outrage and indignation for the perpetrators. The local Humane Society in Lexington has raised money from many donors in honor of her rescue, and a vet even volunteered to perform plastic surgery to “cover up” the profanity branded into her skin. HS also issued a $3500 reward to those who led them to Felicity’s abuser. Continue reading

Pasture Raised Eggs: the Humane, Sustainable Fiction

In a recent article in Civil Eats by author Brie Mazurek, a pasture-based chicken farmer named Nigel Walker of Eatwell Farm in Dixon, California gets a chance to puff up his more humane vision for egg farming. His solution? For one thing, in response to his customers’ frequent concerns over the killing of male chicks at the hatcheries which supply nearly all egg farms, from factory farms to backyard hen keepers, Walker now breeds his own birds instead. Continue reading

What Vegans Could Learn from the Apple Brand

In a recent talk on how popular culture shapes our food choices, I introduced myself to the audience by admitting that, over the course of my 20 years working in branding, I had become an outspoken critic of the industry for its distortion of truth and lack of transparency and for promoting ideas and practices that are destructive to animals, the environment and our well being. At the same time, I feel that this same industry can teach us something about how ideas spread as a general matter Continue reading

Backyard Chickens: Expanding Our Understanding of ‘Harm’

Backyard chicken keepers often describe their relationship with their chickens as “symbiotic.” They provide them with a great life and in return their chickens provide them with eggs. There are at least two problems with this position. First, it ignores the fact their eggs exist only because of the systematic testing, manipulation and re-engineering of the hen’s reproductive system to produce an unnatural and unhealthy amount of eggs. And we say we already oppose the industry responsible for this. Continue reading

Meat Logic: The Book that Examines Our Rationalizations for Eating Animals

While much animal advocacy justifiably focuses on our emotional connections to animals, Meat Logic: Why We Eat Animals by author Charles Horn, reveals that many rationalizations for eating animal products are actually based on appeals to reason or logic and therefore may not be effectively addressed with emotional appeals alone. This includes the many naturalistic fallacies and pseudo-scientific claims such as “we have evolved to eat meat,” “eating animals is the basis for our higher consciousness and/or more advanced brains,” … Continue reading

Ezra The Rooster: The Little Chicken Who Could!

Everyone has been asking about Ezra the rooster! It’s been more than two months since Ezra’s life-saving rescue and emergency medical treatment at Niles Animal Hospital. As some of you know who have been following his story, Ezra the rooster lost his feet and a portion of one of his legs to gangrene and frostbite. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the circumstances under which Ezra was found, please check out his incredible rescue story first. Continue reading

Chicken Rescue Alert: Give to Lucinda in Her Time of Need

Please help us raise $750 for our Chicken Rescue Fund to cover Lucinda’s medical care. Lucinda was the fragile little hen we rescued in the Summer of 2012 from the brink of starvation — with a severe beak deformity and infested with biting lice — who miraculously bounced back to health over the course of the months to follow and has been enjoying a good life in our care. But the other day, we discovered she faces a new and urgent health crisis. Lucinda is producing very large eggs that are too big to pass through her small pelvis. Continue reading