Since I became vegetarian nearly three-and-a-half years ago, I’ve done as much as I can to learn about my diet and its affect on animals, the environment, and my health. I feel like I’ve gotten to a pretty good point where I’m “nearly vegan” and though that’s good, I wanted to contribute even more directly to animal welfare in a way that wasn’t as self-focused. A few months ago, I started to volunteer at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary. I’m still just a beginner when it comes to farm work, but I’ve learned so much from Terry, Dave, and all the great volunteers and employees at Poplar Spring. I’ve learned the best way to carry a lamb, how best to pick up a piglet, what can happen if horses and mules eat too much grass during the springtime, and why young pigs need suntan lotion. I’ve also seen first hand how farm animals have very individual personalities, just like dogs and cats, which has deepened my resolve for being vegetarian.
It’s certainly not the most glamorous work in the world, but I look forward to it each and every time I go. It’s very rewarding to know I’m directly affecting animals that have been victims of the pain, torture, and neglect associated with food production, ritual sacrifice, and even animal hoarding. Something I’ve found is that not many people realize that sanctuaries for farm animals even exist. Heck, I didn’t know until a couple of years ago. And with Poplar Spring, I was living within 40 minutes of it for three-and-a-half years before I stumbled upon it by accident through the VegDC site.
I did a little searching and couldn’t come across a single good resource for finding out about farm sanctuaries, so I’m going to begin work on a directory and can use your help. Please comment here or contact me if you know of any farm sanctuaries in your area or would like to help on the technical side of building the directory. I think that being able to spend time with farm animals really helps put a face on food and is something that every ethical vegetarian should attempt to do at some point in their journey.
(If you’d like to see some pictures I’ve taken at Poplar Spring, see the two photo galleries on my personal site. And, of course, don’t forget the feature article here about the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY.)