Oscar winning actor, Joaquin Phoenix, recently urged people to adopt a farm animal in honor of Mother’s Day. In February, he visited the slaughterhouse, Manning Beef in California, to facilitate the rescue of a cow and her newborn calf and deliver them to Farm Sanctuary. Phoenix negotiated the release of the animals from the slaughterhouse alongside a group that included fiancée and fellow activist Rooney Mara, both his and Mara’s mothers, Earthlings director Shaun Monson, Los Angeles Animal Save Founder Amy Jean Davis, and Farm Sanctuary President and Co-founder Gene Baur.
He named the cow Liberty and the calf Indigo. “It’s impossible not to smile at the love that radiates from Liberty for her calf, Indigo, or the marvelous curiosity they share for their new life roaming spacious land in permanent sanctuary. Thanks to generous supporters like you, Liberty is able to nurse Indigo, bond with her, protect her, and watch her grow up—just as nature intended,” Phoenix said.
Farm Sanctuary, with locations in upstate New York and southern California, provides space and freedom for farm animals that have been rescued from stockyards, factory farms and slaughterhouses. They do what they can to rehabilitate and provide lifelong care to help animals recover from abuse and neglect. Farm Sanctuary operates the country’s largest farm animal rescue and adoption network. Every year, they assist with hundreds of urgent placement needs, including helping to secure homes for victims of cruelty and neglect, factory farm victims, such as those rescued from natural disasters or transport accidents, or for animals who are surrendered by farmers or guardians.
To sponsor a farm animal today, choose the type of animal who’s right for you and complete the monthly sponsorship registration form. Sponsors make a year-long commitment to a shelter animal and make monthly, quarterly, or annual payments. In return, you will receive a sponsorship certificate with a color photograph of your sponsored friend, and other benefits depending on your animal.
Of course the best way to save a Thanksgiving turkey is by having a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner. Every year 300 million turkeys are raised and slaughtered for food, and 46 million of those will be eaten on Thanksgiving alone. Every vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner will reduce the number of turkeys slaughtered for the dinner.
Fortunately, there are better options to be eaten and enjoyed than turkey. The northwest is home to two of the most popular and best tasting Thanksgiving turkey alternatives around. Field Roast features its somewhat sophisticated Celebration Roast, with an intriguing blend of herbs and spices, that’s getting rave reviews coast to coast. If you’d like to have a bit of fine dining at home, Celebration Roast is a gourmet choice. Try the Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute for something more sophisticated. Read more
Six months ago, Tracy Murphy met Albert, a day old calf, at a Western New York auction house and knew she had to take him home. Shivering, barely able to walk, Albert had just been separated from his mother and faced slaughter. “He was crying for his mother, and it was the saddest thing I ever saw,” Murphy recalled. “I knew I had to get him out of that situation. I brought him home and the vet came out the next day and said he had a 50/50 chance of living. But he’s doing great now. He’s absolutely the most beautiful steer. He’s friendly, loves hugs, and has known only love here.” And so another farm animal sanctuary began.
Murphy founded the nonprofit sanctuary, Asha, in Newfane, New York, to rescue “farmed” animals and give them a safe and nurturing environment. “Asha” stands for Acres of Sanctuary and Hope for Animals. Asha is also a big promoter of animal-friendly veg diets. “Kiss a cow” refers to the music composed and performed by Dan Crow at their grand opening. From what we can tell no-one actually kissed the cows or the many other farm animals there. But then who knows? After all, we don’t like to kiss and tell!
Vegetarians of Washington is happy to see the continuing growth of the farm animal sanctuary movement that saves the animals, increases public awareness of their plight, and so enthusiastically promotes vegetarian diets. Keep up the good work Tracy.
This story about farm animals is different from most of the others, not only because it has a happy ending, but whereas most stories about the plight of the farm animals are written by people, this story was written by the animals themselves.
We’ve often admired the excellent work done by Farm Sanctuary in New York and its founder Gene Baur. However, we wondered what the animals thought about being saved from the slaughterhouse and taken to live at Farm Sanctuary.
To get their perspective on things we turned to a wonderful new book, Our Farm by the animals of Farm Sanctuary. In this delightful book, we can read what life looks like from the animals’ point of view. We can also hear the animals say thank you in a poem:
Thank You, by Hilda, a sheep
Thank you to the wind that blows,
Thank you to the moonbeams that shine,
Thank you to the field of wheat,
and to the soft grass below,
Thank you to the sunflowers that sway,
Thank you to the sky above,
Thank you to the kind hearts and hands that brought me to my new home.
Hilda the sheep teaches that all the animals want are the simple things in life, and how much good can be done by kind hearts and hands.
Our Farm, beautifully illustrated, is gentle and sensitive enough to teach children about farm animals and insightful enough for adults to gain a new and deeper appreciation for all the lives a vegetarian diet will save.
For those adults who would like to learn more about the harsh realities facing farm animals in the slaughterhouses that a vegetarian diet would prevent, see out of sight slaughter and for the realities facing the workers, see forgotten casualties.
Veg-rocker Joan Jett (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts) deserves honorable mention this month after she was kicked off a tourism float at a Thanksgiving Day parade in South Dakota when cattle ranchers complained. Kudos to Joan for sticking with it and finding a place on a different float and performing from there – the show must go on, and so must her food choices!
Joan maintains a veg diet out of her concern for animals and the environment. She says “I am a vegetarian. So I avoid contributing to the major environmental damage that the meat industry creates. I hope that soon we can make sure that everything we do is earth-friendly.” She is also a vocal supporter of both PETA and Farm Sanctuary.
Farm Sanctuary is special. While there are a number of animal welfare groups out there, some of which go beyond cats, dogs and wildlife to include farm animals, there are very few which devote themselves solely to the farm animals. Farm Sanctuary was founded in 1986 in response to the abuses of factory farming, and to encourage a new awareness and understanding about farm animals. Today, Farm Sanctuary is the nation’s largest and most effective farm animal rescue, protection and advocacy organization. Starting at the sanctuary in a rural region of New York State, they have now established sanctuaries in Northern California and in the Los Angeles area. While the work is hard, their attitude remains so positive and warm. Vegetarians of Washington is proud to be a sponsor of their upcoming event, Walk for Farm Animals, and we just couldn’t resist the opportunity to interview their founder, Gene Baur:
How did you first get interested in the plight of farm animals?
I first learned about the plight of farm animals in high school (in the late 1970s), when my grandmother told me about the cruel treatment of calves raised for veal. Over time, I learned more about animal cruelty, the environmental waste involved, and the inefficiency of animal farming, and I became vegan in 1985.
What moved you to found Farm Sanctuary and what kind of work do you do there?
I founded Farm Sanctuary because I was appalled by the widespread harm caused by factory farming. Citizens unwittingly support this abusive system, and they can play a huge rule in correcting the problem by becoming more educated and mindful, and by making food choices that better align with their values and interests.
At our shelters, Farm Sanctuary currently cares for about 1000 animals. We host farm events and conduct tours so that people can meet cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens, and other animals face-to-face, and to get to know them as living, feeling creatures. Through these encounters, they begin to see them as friends instead of food. We tell the animals’ stories, from their horrendous existences in factory farms to their healing and lives of peace and joy today at our sanctuaries. They are ambassadors for the billions of animals exploited by the food industry every year.
Tell us something about “Walk for Farm Animals”?
The Walk for Farm Animals comprises dozens of walk events in communities throughout North America. Citizens sign up to walk, and they reach out to their friends, family, and social networks to encourage people to support them. It’s a great way to introduce people to factory farming issues, to raise funds for Farm Sanctuary, and to get people thinking about the consequences of their food choices.
What are some of the things you wished people knew more about or understood better about farm animals?
I wish people thought more about the fact that farm animals, like all animals, have feelings and complex emotional lives. They are similar in that way to cats and dogs even though we treat them very differently. And I wish more people understood that we can live very well by eating only plant-based foods and no animal products.
Do you see progress, are you optimistic about the future?
Yes, I see progress, and I am optimistic about the future. I believe we are in the midst of a food movement whereby factory farming practices are being challenged and, in some instances, outlawed. Most importantly, there is a broader public discussion taking place about the need to reform our broken food system. Consumers are beginning to think about the profound consequences of their food choices on their own health, and about the well-being of other animals and the planet. Farmer’s markets with local produce are spreading across the country, and, for the first time, the number of animals raised and slaughtered in the United States has started to decrease.