How long have you been vegan? Are you relatively new to it? Do you sometimes feel alone? I have some advice. My advice is: get thee to an animal sanctuary!
How long have you been vegan? Are you relatively new to it? Do you sometimes feel alone?
I have some advice. Even if you’ve been vegan for a little longer. Even if you are lucky enough to have a support system in place. My advice is: get thee to an animal sanctuary!
My first visit to one of these amazing places was last summer, when I headed upstate to visit Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. I was lucky enough to take a tour led by Jenny Brown, co-founder and director who runs the sanctuary with her husband, Doug Abel. While much of what she explained about factory farming was information I had learned about over the previous couple of years as I transitioned, it’s a very moving experience to hear the words while looking at a battery cage, or a picture of a now thriving steer who had been rescued from a veal crate.
Meeting Elvis the steer, Albie the goat, and Devlin the sheep was a magical experience. Petting a turkey was sheer bliss.
I visited the farm again that fall for its annual Thanksliving event. Sure, it’s an opportunity to eat amazing vegan food in the picturesque mountains – and maybe watch some pigs eating their dinner while you’re at it – but the thing I took from the event was how wonderful it was to be in a room with like-minded, compassionate people, listening to speakers talk about a subject that is so important to all of us.
This weekend I decided to visit Catskill Animal Sanctuary for the first time. Not far from Woodstock, this place is huge! They were holding their tenth annual Shindig and I had the opportunity to take a tour of the special needs barn with founder Kathy Stevens and listen to a great talk given by Zoe Weil. Once again, I was hit with the sheer immensity of what it means to stop seeing animals as products and to get to hear their stories of individuality, to get to watch them follow the group of humans visiting their friends, to see someone abused and horribly mistreated learn to trust again.
Listening to Kathy get emotional while telling us about Rambo the ram and Buddy the horse, I was again reminded of the dedication and special heart it takes for those who dare to take on the task of running such a place.
Sanctuaries like Woodstock and Catskill are so important. They educate us. They inspire us. They need our support. While the grand-daddy of sanctuaries, Farm Sanctuary, is celebrating its twenty-fifth year, let’s help others thrive and have the chance to make it that long, for us and for the animals.