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April 8, 2014

Veganism: Inventing the NEW NORMAL


If any two words were synonymous with veganism – it would be ‘animal rights’. Since its inception in 1944, veganism has been a position of non-participation in animal exploitation. With the word ‘vegan’ becoming more popular, the meaning has become weakened, or the benefits to humans are touted more than the original intent of animal rights. ALL animals – whether human or other species – by virtue of being feeling and conscious – possess the birth right not to be bought and sold as a commodity, owned like a slave, oppressed, exploited, or attacked by humans. Animals have the inherent right not to be forcibly impregnated, have their newborn who they painfully just gave birth to - kidnapped and then killed – all socially accepted “normal” practices of the dairy industry. What society accepts as normal is in fact not normal – customary, but it’s not normal behavior to separate a newborn from his or her mother so people can drink the milk of another species; milk which is meant to grow an 80 pound calf into a 1,000 pound cow in less than a year. How normal would it appear to see a human suckling on a cow's udders? 

An animal farmer selling cows online described my vegan views (that we don’t have a right to buy and sell a cow) as strange. I have a very different way of defining strange. Eating corpses is strange. Being entertained by animals who were forced to endure painful misery, humiliation, and captivity - horse and dog racing, animal fights, circuses, rodeos, animal acts, seaquariums, zoos – now that’s strange. What is socially accepted and passes for normal is actually cruel and callous. We need to raise the ‘normal bar'. 

Because humans are in fact animals, we are able to have empathy for fellow animals; who have many similar features. And when we empathize, we can clearly see that animals feel. They leap in joy. They speak - but like someone from another country, they speak a different language. If we tune into them and want to hear what they are saying – we can communicate and see that they feel much like we do - they want to live their lives naturally and free from harm, and protect and nurture their offspring. When we empathize, we see that animals have two eyes, a face, and a brain. They have a nervous, reproductive, digestive, circulatory, and respiratory system. They have pain receptors; and therefore feel pain as we do. Animals feel; that’s essentially what it means to be an animal. 


We have known friendship with dogs and cats, but those of us who have rescued animals of various other species – are certain that these animals are more ‘family’ than ‘food’. They're more friends than enemies to dominate, wear their skins, hunt and hang their heads on walls as trophies. Farming, imprisoning, and anally electrocuting fur-wearing animals so we can adorn ourselves in their skins, as well as any number of business-as-usual practices presently considered 'normal' by society – are, in reality - savage. We can all do better. Each of us can do our part in uplifting the collective consciousness of humankind. What role could be more important for us to play in this feature film called Life? We can be forerunners, pioneers of a new world; a non-violent one…it’s what “everybody” has been wishing for ~ Peace on Earth…Goodwill to All… But to actually bring about Peace on Earth, we necessarily have to live the ideals of veganism. We can't just say “we love animals” while we eat, wear and use products containing remnants of their tortured and mutilated bodies. We have to expand our respect for others to include anyone; any being with feelings and consciousness. 

Long-term vegans have established a way to live without directly demanding animal exploitation. For 35 years, my cosmetics and toiletries, food, clothing, and products have been free of animal ingredients nor were they tested on animals. Despicably testing products in the eyes of bunnies, forcing beagles to inhale cigarette smoke, vivisection on cats and pigs, holding primates captive and forcing them to learn what humans want them to learn, medicines tested on rats and mice and whoever else, dissecting frogs in schools – ‘animal experimentation’ is just too similar to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment; where African-American men were unknowing and did not consent to being “guinea pigs” in a lethal-to-them experiment. When humanity adopts veganism, there won't be derogatory or speciesist words that are an abomination to the English language. For example: “guinea pigs”  or “livestock” – “the butcher” – “slaughterhouse” – “leg of lamb” – “kill two birds with one stone” –  “you rat, you dog, you animal”; as if being an animal is bad or lowly. It is a mistaken belief that animals are higher or lower – they are other species of animals, fellow Earthlings.

What is considered normal - is not normal. Humans have been bullies, captors, slave-masters. In Truth (with a capital T), what is really normal is the vegan concept; the perspective where every animal has the right not to be exploited or violently assaulted by humans. We can be protectors, defenders, friends to animals, rescuers - however, at the very least, people have a duty to not harm beings that are unquestionably sentient. Humans must return to the animals what is rightfully theirs. Animal rights advocates are not asking for “better treatment” or “better welfare conditions” within a system that is completely unethical. Would we ask for bigger beds in the Holocaust’s concentration camps - or - would we work to wipe out the concentration camps? We are advocating for fundamental rights of anyone sentient. We are shining a light of Truth on indefensible habits, social custom, traditions that have been accepted as the “norm”.

The many benefits of plant-powered living are too vast to ignore. Veganism is a solution for what ails our planet; violence and war, dwindling resources and expanding human population, lack of health and vitality, and a ‘clouded way of thinking’. The United Nations and World Watch Institute have reported that animal agriculture is the worst threat to environmental devastation and global warming. The human population is unfortunately ever-growing, and the logical way to feed all these humans is to stop syphoning most of the grain and soy crops inefficiently through animals. Theoretically, we could feed all the starving children by simply making it illegal for humans to purposely breed animals into existence. It is morally wrong to breed other animals. Plus these billions of farmed animals together are contributing greenhouse gases to global warming; more than all the transportation in the world put together, while greatly depleting and polluting our water supply. Animal agriculture is the reason for the clear cutting of Amazonian rainforest, which is the lungs of our planet.

Most significantly, we are misguiding the next generation that violence is normal behavior. You and I were indoctrinated since day one by society - that humans are ‘top of the food chain’, the crown of all creation, that God gave us the right to kill and eat animals, or that some animals are “pets” while others are to be ill-treated, and other falsehoods that molded all of us. The time has come for us to break the cycle and stop filling the precious innocent minds of children with the lies we were taught; lies like humans can abuse animals. Teach the next generation to respect feeling, breathing, living, and perceptually-aware animals, regardless of species. We may like to be close to a dog, while not a fish, some animals might be adorable while some look alarming – but they all deserve, at least, not to be harmed (by humans). We are reaching a point in human evolution where we are undeniably able to thrive without consuming anything animal-derived. Many plant-powered athletes, for example, the world champion extreme marathoner and vegan: Fiona Oakes and other vegan athletes - are living proof that we can more than thrive on a vegan diet. 

The reason we can legally own, enslave, buy and sell, and murder animals – is because of the almighty ‘money god’ that humans truly worship over their other deities. The profit motive supersedes what is right. However, ethics and social justice must trump immoral ways of attaining money. Slave masters were driven by their personal monetary gain only, which is comparable to animal harmers (oops farmers). Abolitionists proclaimed that money and profit are irrelevant when it comes to the objectionable behavior of owning a human being. It still holds true. We need to build a new world that is not built upon enslaving anyone sentient. Animals are individuals that should have basic rights, equally under the law, not to be a slave to a human, not to be “a someone” who is perceived and treated as “a something”, not to be a he or a she who is seen and referred to as an “it”. This objectification of other animals is to make people feel okay about their abnormal violent exploitation of others; that is socially accepted but is nonetheless wrong – even if the majority doesn't yet see it.

Be vegan for ‘what is right’ - including every individual animal's right. The vegan ideal is open to all; rich or poor, atheist or theist, young or old, any shade of skin, any nationality or ethnicity; any gender identity, anybody - everybody. Help educate others that what is presently accepted as normal; is unacceptable. Veganism has far reaching ramifications for a saner, cleaner, less violent world. Veganism is a protest to “the way it is”. Veganism is a Great Truth whose time has come. Veganism is the antidote to a world ravaged with violence. It’s a solution to our planetary problems.  Veganism is our next step. With humanity's acceptance of vegan living, we are making history; bringing about a world where veganism is the new normal. 

March 25, 2014

All Kinds of VEGAN WEDDINGS

This feel-good feature shines a light on the diversity among vegans. Their wedding; their style - some conventional, some unconventional. The thread that binds them is the vegan ethic (no small thing) and the Love feeling that was conveyed through each uplifting Vegan Wedding story. It ALMOST made me want to get married, again! 
JC (Jim) Corcoran and Rae Sikora were married in July 2009 at NAVS Vegetarian Summerfest in Johnstown, PA. “We have both been vegan for decades and were vegan when we met at Summerfest a few years back. For us, part of being ethical vegans is not supporting industries or businesses that engage in animal cruelty. And, we try, as much as possible, not to use up natural resources. There were not any disposables at the wedding and everything was created with re-used materials. Everything from Rae's dress to the canopy material was from a thrift store. We decided to have the wedding at Summerfest because most of our closest friends would already be there and not have to travel. It is also where we first met, so it feels like the Summerfest attendees are our extended family. We chose Howard Lyman to officiate the wedding because we both love him and he has known us both individually for a long time. He was in top form; came wearing shorts, a tee shirt and his Summerfest name tag. He stood his book, Mad Cowboy, up on the podium as the "holy book" and had everyone write messages to us in the book. He made the fire in the fireplace for the ceremony. I decorated the canopy with photos of us as children and various species in our big family and wrote: "It all began here; what brought them together, keeps them together." We made prayer flags with photos of our friends, human and non-human, who could not be at the ceremony. ~~ Fran Costigan, the vegan chocolate queen, made amazing cakes that were served after the ceremony with wine (donated from Frey Wine Company; vegan) and organic juices for the non-alcohol drinkers. ~~ Since we were marrying outdoors, we almost cancelled and were trying to find an indoor place for everything when a thunder storm came through the day of the ceremony. My father advised that I just trust and keep it outdoors as planned. The storm ended just before the ceremony and a giant rainbow appeared in the sky. It was a celebration of LOVE on every level. We focused on the love in our compassionate community and that the love that embraces all humans, all species, and the earth herself - is far more important than romantic love between two humans. ~~ We did not expect 300 people to come, but many attendees at Summerfest wanted to be at the first Summerfest wedding. Brenda Davis, Jo Stepanic, Michael Greger, Richard Schwartz, Colleen Holland, Kerrie Saunders, Joe Connelly, Victoria Moran and many other leaders in the movement were in attendance. ~~ The beautiful music was performed by Harold Brown, Jerry Cook and Rebecca Barnett. We began our part of the ceremony by asking everyone to please speak up in their own communities for the rights of all people to legally marry. Later on, most people came to the Summerfest DJ dance and we all danced like crazy.” ~~ Rae shares: “I feel we have grown even closer since that day we chose to publicly celebrate LOVE. I can easily say that I have found my family, my home and a deep enduring love in my relationship with JC. We encourage each other every day to be the best spokespeople for all life. I am grateful that we found each other. And, I think much of the strength of our love and our relationship comes from our joint desire to bring more compassion to the world and from the amazing and supportive compassionate chosen family we have. Our global vegan community brings us joy and hope and keeps us fueled to work every day on co-creating the world we want to live in.”

Eric Jonas and Susan Cho officially married in April 2010. “The marriage took place during a friend's vegan potluck. The person officiating for us was planning to go, so we decided it'd be easier to get married there, rather than try to schedule some other meeting time with him. A friend later described it as the best wedding she and her partner had attended thus far. She liked the fact that our oaths had no sexist ideas about gender roles, and that nothing detracted from the simple declaration of our love for each other. ~~ We deliberately wore jeans and sneakers, symbolizing the fact that our devotion to each other was demonstrated in our everyday lives, not just during crises of illness, etc. We use resources efficiently and don’t buy new items. Using the potluck was an efficient way to get what we wanted: gathering our friends, making sure everything was vegan, and not wasting any food. Many of the attendees were not only vegan, but also directly involved in various social justice areas. Some are peace activists; one friend worked with survivors of torture and terrorism. Many are involved in education, especially of disadvantaged and underserved populations. Some run humane education programs. One of the founders of VeganMania was also present. ~~ The actual wedding was in Maryland, with family and lifelong friends. No one officiated. We read oaths to each other and then invited guests to participate in a handbinding ceremony. This is a non-theistic ritual where the officiator binds the couple’s hands together with special ribbon. We expanded the idea to symbolize the role of our community in keeping our relationship vital. We encouraged guests to bring some sort of cord or ribbon that had some personal meaning. Our guests responded with more creative and loving gestures than we could have imagined. Eric’s mother and grandmother brought sashes worn to his mother’s wedding. His grandfather brought the bowtie that he wore to his first date with Eric’s grandmother. Two of my friends brought the leash and collar of their recently departed dogs, who had been important to me as well. At our request, no one brought anything that represented violence toward non-human animals. ~~ Among our guests were activists in various social justice movements, protesting war, genital mutilation, international human rights violations, gang-related violence. ~~ After the ceremony, Eric’s grandparents treated everyone to lunch at a nearby vegan restaurant. ~~ I had asked that there be no cut flowers anywhere, since I hate to see an entire industry based on the exploitation of plants. Flowers are a necessary part of a biotic community that includes animals; why would I take them for my own short-lived pleasure? There was no crepe paper or white fabric draped anywhere. A dear friend of ours made our wedding cakes. We used Evite to organize it, so no paper was used for invitations or RSVPs. Although we wore nicer clothes than for the certificate signing, we still used clothes we already had.~~ Eric’s mother also hosted a reception in New Hampshire for their family and friends. The caterers prepared vegan food, which was quite good. As we had for the other gatherings, we wore clothes that we already had. The place settings depicted residents of Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, and there was a sign at the buffet table that gave information for anybody who was inspired to send a donation. ~~ We specified that if anyone wanted to give us a wedding gift, we welcomed financial assistance for Eric’s student loan. This way, we ensured that new items were not purchased for us. ~~ Basically, we managed to get married and celebrate with quite a large number of people, without the usual exploitation of animals, plants, and natural resources. We minimized the manufacturing of new items such as clothes, decorations, and household gifts. Veganism is one important aspect that binds us together; in fact, it was the initial source of mutual attraction. The majority of the people involved were not vegan themselves. We were able to demonstrate a way of living and loving that deliberately minimizes any type of oppression, especially the exploitation of non-human animals.”

Sean Scherer married Queenie Tsui recently married in February 2014 in Hawaii. “Sean; vegan for 8 years and a Naturopathic physician) and Queenie Tsui (vegan for 10 years and an Engineer and Analyst) met in December 2005 during Hurricane Katrina disaster recovery. Sean was deployed as part of Best Friends Animal Society rescue efforts and Queenie decided to spend her Christmas break of 2005 volunteering. Queenie helped Sean make the transition from vegetarian to completely vegan as his January 1st, 2006 New Year’s Resolution. ~ The wedding ceremony and vows were exchanged at an animal sanctuary on Maui, Hawaii. The Reception was at “Spirit of Aloha Botanical Gardens” on Maui. Both sites are run by vegan persons and have the collective mission of promoting the vegan lifestyle to the people of Maui (read more here) Queenie wanted an animal sanctuary to host the wedding as these rescue organizations hold a spot in our hearts due to our collective history. They also provide the opportunity for an outreach opportunity to our would-be guests. After visiting many of the sanctuaries along the West coast (Sean and Queenie live in Phoenix, AZ.) we finally found “the one” when we went to Leilani Farm Sanctuary. The setting is gorgeous and the people there are dedicated and “like-minded”; it was the perfect place to host a vegan “outreach” wedding ceremony! After we spoke with the founder and operator Laurelee, she recommended one of their board members as a potential caterer for our event; this is when we met Brook Le’amohala of Body Temple Gourmet who gave us a quick food sampling and explained her dedication to promoting veganism. We loved her and what she stood for so she became our caterer and point-person in Maui to help coordinate things for us. ~~ Brook recommended that we check out Frederick Honig of the Spirit of Aloha Botanical Gardens. After we met him and he took us on a tour of his beautiful garden paradise and bird sanctuary, he discussed with us what an honor it would be for them to host our 100% vegan event. He also mentioned his mission at the garden to bring the vegan diet back to the native people of Hawaii. Again we found a vegan whose mission and focus in life aligned with ours and so we made the decision to have our reception there. ~~ There was a dinner the night before to get everyone together which was 100% vegan. ~~ The simple ceremony, with no groomsmen or bridesmaids, included tours of the sanctuary with Laurelee telling stories about the animals and tons of awesome photo opportunities. Our vows were exchanged under an alter made of two white Hibiscus trees; which we donated and planted at the sanctuary. The sermon was crafted by our friend and neighbor Russel who spoke beautiful words and highlighted "compassion" as our theme! The sermon avoided any religious references or "man", "woman" references to keep marriage as sacred (and inclusive) as the love with which we enter it. ~~ We had 20 chairs plus 5 large blankets spread across the grass to host our 50 guests. There was a shaved ice table and 100% vegan menu executed with a ton of class. The feedback we received about the food was phenomenal. The reception was held at The Gardens where we offered 100% alcohol-free beverages, vegan appetizers, entrees, desserts, etc. The vegan wedding cake was decorated by my father and his partner; who found the “vegan fondant” we provided them to be better than any other they had ever seen. Every aspect we could conceive was vegan in its essence; our party favors were heart shaped cookie cutters tied to a vegan cookie recipe and vegan soaps from Bubbleshack (local Hawaiian company, handmade on Oahu, all-vegan, available at Target.com nationally). Our table settings were designed with potted plants from Native Nursery (the nursery is responsible for providing the native plants to Hawaii’s statewide re-planting projects to maintain the native flora) which were afterwards donated to be planted. The bouquet used by Queenie was made of “up-cycled” books made by an artist, the dress was recycled (purchased at Goodwill in AZ for $20). ~~ There was a fire dancer performance where the lawn was surrounded by tiki torches, and traditional Hula performance, followed by a Lei ceremony performed by Laurelee’s husband; a vegan doctor. ~~ One of the inspiring aspects about our wedding was the abundant diversity which was brought together, even in just a 50 person sample; there was a diversity of cultures. We did our reception toast in both Cantonese and English for the benefit of some directly from Hong Kong. Guests came in a diversity of religions (Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, Atheist, Mormon, Agnostic), as well as a diversity of politics, even diversity of what a “marriage” is defined as (2 friends of ours that came to the wedding are a same-sex couple, another is a transgender female. I’ve had long discussions with some of my family members where they insist marriage is ONLY between a “man and a woman” and no other arrangement is acceptable. But, when everyone is just being present and living with good intentions (seems to happen more when on vacation, which was one of the motivations for our destination wedding), the blinders go away, everyone just enjoys one another’s company and that kind of positive energy spreads. It was one of our goals for this wedding: to have a spiritually uplifting experience for everyone there. I think this was one of our greatest victories. We successfully created this experience and created the moment we sought. I never thought I’d see the day where my mom and dad were in the same location and didn't argue with each other (divorced for 7 years now). They not only respected each other but were even capable of getting along long enough to pose for pictures together as my parents! We felt an overwhelming sense of compassion, love, and just overall positive energy that day!”

Magic and Golden Rees were married September 21, 2007. “We feel really blessed to have had a wedding in such a beautiful place. We were married in Shangri-la; a beautiful veganic property in the far north of New Zealand. It is a vegan educational centre and is also a sanctuary for all life. No animal products or harmers can come in contact with its 454 acres. The Gentle World community provides a safe haven for humans and animals alike and all of its members are ethical vegans. ~~ Of course the food was incredibly delicious! It was prepared by the world renowned Gentle World chefs. The salads, fruits and veggies were grown in our amazing veganic gardens and orchards. The two tiered Chocolate cake was the best! It was made and beautifully decorated by our dear friend (and vegan blogger) Angel Flinn. ~~ Sun Waldbaum; author and co-founder of Gentle World, opened the ceremony with a dedication to our LOVE together which had grown together with our love for the truth. She then sang "Love the World Away" harmonizing with our friend on the guitar. The sun was shining and blessing the day with bright rays of joy!

Photo credit: 'I heart weddings'
Clare Middlemas and Nathan Verney had a 'commitment ceremony' on 20 April, 2013 at Lamont's Bishop House in Perth, West Australia. “We have been together 7 1/2 years, and we decided to go vegan together 5 years ago. We haven't looked back since! We chose to have a commitment ceremony to celebrate our relationship, but didn't want to legally get married because as feminists we object to the institution of marriage itself. We really wanted to create an event that reflected our values, so it was very important that we have a vegan wedding. ~~ The first thing we did was try to find a vegan-friendly venue. We wanted to have a cocktail-style reception, and Lamont's restaurant staff was more than happy to create a custom vegan fine-dining menu for us. The food was amazing! All of the guests commented on how much they loved the food, even though many of them were skeptical at first! Although Lamont's wine isn't vegan, they were also nice enough to let us bring in our own wine! So we ordered Yalumba 'Y' series wine through our local bottle shop and the waiters served that to our guests. We also ordered cupcakes through a small local business called Cupcake Decorate. They had never made vegan cupcakes before but were happy to give it a try! The cakes were delicious and looked so cute! The other vegan food challenge was the lolly buffet. This was even more of a challenge because we also wanted pink and white lollies to match our theme! It took a lot of research and reading of labels, but we got there in the end. ~~ We took care to make vegan choices when deciding on our wedding outfits. Many wedding dresses that appear vegan are made with a silk underlay. That, along with the fact that Clare had a very specific vision in mind for the dress, led her to go with a couture dress. Louicol designs designed her dream dress, and they also used a polyester underlay instead of silk at Clare's request. Nathan got a poly and cotton blend suit and had his shoes custom made from Vegan Wares. ~~ We went with a vintage-rustic theme for the decor, and had lots of tea-light candles in jars scattered throughout the venue. We sourced these vegan candles from Soy Delicious Melts. ~~ Organising a wedding is difficult; organising a vegan wedding is a bit more challenging! We spent so much time online researching - we are now experts in men's suits, wine, etc.! But we learned that all you need to do is ask - our venue had never created an entirely vegan menu for an event before, but they jumped at the challenge and did an excellent job. Same goes for our cake maker. We found that when we explained what we were after, vendors were very willing to help, and our guests appreciated trying something different too! It is definitely possible to create a beautiful, classy vegan wedding, even in sleepy old Perth. It turned out to be a beautiful day and a perfect expression of who we are as a couple.”

Tereza Vandrovcová and Silvestr Vandrovec Špaček (Silvestr Špaček before the wedding) were married in Prague on 21st September 2013, at the gardens of Vyšehrad Castle. They are both vegans. “We first met as animal rights activists in 2009 and have become friends immediately. Unfortunately all the time at least one of us was always engaged so it took some time before we started dating. We became a couple on 21st March 2012 and we started living together the same day, because we knew that this was it. We scheduled our wedding on our one and a half year anniversary. ~~ The spiritual theme of the ceremony was love in terms of The Art of Loving by psychologist and philosopher Erich Fromm: not just as a strong feeling but as a skill involving care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge. ~~ The outdoor ceremony started at sunset and was celebrated by an agnostic Unitarian reverend. We composed our own rhymed wedding vows. There were about 80 participants. Instead of throwing rice the guests had bubble blowers and we walked through a cloud of bubbles on our way from the altar. Despite strong gender stereotype and disagreement of the family, the groom took the last name of the bride. ~~ The wedding catering was all vegan. First there was a family dinner right after the ceremony, which was provided by a new posh Prague vegan restaurant "loVeg". Although none of our family members are vegans, they enjoyed the dinner very much. We've had pumpkin soup, Thai coconut curry with jasmine rice, and vegan wedding cakes from another Prague vegan restaurant 'Loving Hut'. After the dinner we arranged the afterparty with plenty of vegan snacks (pasta salads, sandwiches, spreads, veggies) and sweets made by the bride’s mother and her best friend. We had also five kinds of vegan wedding cookies custom-made from a vegan baker. There were no complaints and even non-vegans enjoyed the food very much. ~~ Our first marriage dance was accompanied by the song "Why must we eat the animals". ~~ We remain animal rights activists and we even host a weekly meeting of the group called Open Your Eyes.

Louise Ryan and Ronnie Lee were married at Kidderminster Register Office (Worcestershire, England) on June 29th, 2002. “Both of us were (and still are) vegan. We had lived together for over 9 years before we got married and were both vegan when we met. Due to lack of finances we had our reception at Louise's sister's house; just close friends and family were invited. Louise and her mum prepared all the food, which was totally vegan. Most of the attendees were vegan, but even the few that weren't really enjoyed the food. It was an absolutely lovely day for both of us, despite having to do it "on the cheap" and, although we'd lived together for a long time before the wedding, we both felt our relationship was even more special after getting married. Personally, I don't understand why so many people spend a fortune on their weddings when we had such a wonderful day for only a couple of hundred pounds! Louise and I are both animal liberationists and believe that educating people to become vegan is vitally important to the animal liberation struggle. It's great being vegan, but just being vegan ourselves is not enough, if we want a world where other animals are no longer persecuted by human beings. That's why we're active members of our local vegan outreach group, doing street stalls and other events to take the vegan message to ordinary people. This is something I'd urge all vegans to do. We have to get out there and change people. Eating vegan cake and swapping recipes between ourselves is not going to save other animals from oppression!”

Kate Lawrence and Keith Akers, married February 11, 1989 in Denver. “We recently celebrated our 25th anniversary. A Denver newspaper considered our wedding newsworthy as a Valentine story because it was so unusual at that time to have a vegan wedding. Both Keith and I were vegans when we met in 1988, and that's what brought us together. The wedding vow we made to each other was one we wrote ourselves: "Do you take Name to be your companion, friend, and partner in marriage; to love, comfort, encourage and honor him/her, and to live with reverence for all life?" The officiant said the following: 'Kate and Keith have been drawn together through their vision of respect for all creatures, a vision of peace and prosperity for all people and the planet. In their hearts the love they are pledging to each other today goes far beyond their own personal relationship to encompass a way of life and a message to share with all people.' ~~ The food at the all-vegan reception was catered by our friend Radha. ~~ A bit of humor is that the top of the cake had (at our request) a lion and a lamb made of frosting. The joke going around was, which one of us is the lion and which one the lamb? ~~ Keith is the author of A Vegetarian Sourcebook (the book that brought us together), The Lost Religion of Jesus, and newly out in late 2013 is Disciples: How Jewish Christianity Shaped Jesus and Shattered the Church. ~ His blog. I am the author of The Practical Peacemaker: How Simple Living Makes Peace Possible and my blog. We are currently organizers of the meetup.com group Denver Vegans.

Colleen Mahoney Wedler and William Wedler were married on January 4, 2014. Colleen shares: “We had a vegan wedding at the Union Project, located in the Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh. At the time of the wedding we were both vegan, happily. I have been vegan over 6 years, and helped William to transition to veganism over the course of our relationship. He has been vegan for well over a year now, and he loves it. We had 70 guests for a brief, secular ceremony and we wrote our own vows. We mentioned our shared vegan lifestyle in our ceremony, since it is such an important aspect of our shared life together. Most of our guests were omnivores, which did not stop them from loving the food. Although our wedding was their first, Randita’s Organic Vegan Café did an excellent job catering, without the convenience of a kitchen at the venue no less. The dinner included: Kale and Bean Soup, Roasted Root Vegetable Salad, Eggplant Moussaka, and Lentil Loaf with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans. Some of our guests ate a gluten-free diet, so we decided to have the food be so as well. All night I had people who had probably never consciously eaten a vegan meal before compliment me on the food, saying it was the best wedding food they had ever had. This was a huge victory for us, since we were a bit worried about how our non-veg guests would react to the food. Our cake was done by My Goodies Bakery, which specializes in vegan and gluten-free baked goods. We had a Chai cake with Almond icing and an assortment of cupcakes; some of which were gluten-free to accommodate our guests. Later on in the evening we had popcorn from Pittsburgh Popcorn, as well as vegan beer and wine all night. William and I made sure that our ensembles were fully vegan: I wore vegan flower-printed Toms shoes, and an organic cotton hand-woven jacket, while he wore Vegetarian shoes, a polyester tie, and a black cotton suit jacket from Target and black pants he already owned. You would never know to look at him how cheap his outfit was, and his groomsmen were more than a little jealous. We did not ask our guests to dress in vegan attire, but it was important for us to do so, and we made a point of telling people about our choices. I am an active participant in the Pittsburgh Vegan Meetup, which has over 1,000 members, and I am also a committee member for Vegan Pittsburgh, a project of Voices for Animals. Vegan Pittsburgh seeks to connect business owners and the vegan community by increasing the visibility and accessibility of vegan dining, goods, and services. I have met some of our guests through these two avenues and it was wonderful to have vegans there to fully appreciate the vegan wedding experience. One vegan guest said “Everyone’s vegan tonight!” My Maid of Honor is also vegan, and we started our vegan journey more or less at the same time. My parents are traditional in some ways, and paid for the wedding. We were so grateful that they never put up an ounce of resistance. The night proved to be magical in every aspect, and I ate and danced the night away (William danced with me when I asked!). We were thrilled that we not only had a beautiful and joyful wedding, but that our special night put the vegan lifestyle in a completely positive light, and impacted every person who attended. I feel so fortunate to have found a man so willing to learn about the vegan lifestyle, and to embrace it as his own.”

Margaret Simpson- Coughlin married Michael Coughlin on the 29th of December, 2013. “We married on our 7 year anniversary of being a couple...to the day ....of our first kiss as adults. We dated for two weeks when I was 14 and Mike was 15. I broke up with him because I loved our friendship so much that I wanted to preserve it. ~~ We are proud vegans, so a vegan wedding reception is the only kind of wedding reception for us. We invited all of our South Florida vegan friends as well as lots of nonvegans. We had 100 guests and about 85 of them stayed for our 100% vegan reception. The non-vegans raved about how surprisingly good the food was; some even said they were converted. They were astounded at how awesome the cake was and confessed they were afraid of trying vegan food because it was foreign to them. My father was so glad to see sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes as he recognized those items as food! ~~ Our theme was a holiday/Christmas wedding; everything was white and red. The food was half traditional holiday dishes and half Mediterranean. Our dear friend Brook Katz made Tofurky, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, vegan dinner rolls and salad. We offered an awesome Vegan Cashew Cheese served with crackers made by Katherine of Ethical Bounty. Everyone was amazed cashews could be made into a delicious cheese. Natasha and Nicole of Inika Foods made a vegan wedding soup, stuffed mushrooms, grape leaves, spanakopita, hummus, grilled veggies, baklava, vegan cream and fruit tarts and two gorgeous wedding cakes. The first wedding cake was white with edible red roses, leaves and vines and had Beauty and the Beast on top. It was an amazing vanilla cake with red plum filling. The second wedding cake was white with edible snowflakes, vegan pearls, and white poinsettias. It had Cinderella and Prince Charming on top. It was an awesome vanilla almond cake. We have the edible top of each wedding cake in our freezer, which we will eat on our 6 month anniversary and the other on our 1 year anniversary. ~~ We had 17 people in our wedding party. Mike made my wedding bouquet, all our bridesmaid bouquets, and boutonnières for all of our groomsmen. Our florist friend was unable to get a flight so Mike was up nearly all night assembling flowers the night before the wedding. They were beautiful red and white long stem roses. We also had a beautiful Rose Exchange Ceremony; a loving technique to put a rose in a vase in our home when one of us needs to talk about something important, to work out a solution, and to remember to resolve everything with love. ~~ Everybody said they loved the food, were touched by the non-denominational ceremony and had a great time. Chef Brook put out signs that the food is vegan and free of cruelty. ~~ Our wedding was at Center for Spiritual Living. They honor all religions and people from every walk of life. We have met many unaffiliated vegans there and many potential vegans. In fact our friends Keith and Elena have started a vegan support group at our Center for Spiritual living.”

Photo credit: gpix photography Australia
Tim Peters and Judy Bastian were married at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens October 2013. “The day was filled with beautiful bright sunshine! Around the time we became engaged we made a mutual decision to become vegan, both having been vegetarian previously. This meant that we wanted to remain true to our new convictions when planning for our big day. We also wanted our wedding day to be fun, enjoyable and reflect who we were both as individuals and a couple. ~~ We chose to get ready together and walk hand in hand through the gardens to where our ceremony took place. It was a relaxed ceremony filled with laughter and we even managed to surprise the celebrant when we chose to ad lib in a few instances. ~~ Our after party was held at ‘Bliss Organic Garden Cafe’ where we enjoyed a mouth-watering spread of vegan food and drinks. Only 3 of our 80 invited guests were vegan so it was really important to us to make a lasting good impression of what vegan food was. We also asked that the vegan groceries and other goods be left out on display for our guests to see and buy if they should choose. Our delicious cupcakes were made by ‘The Fakery Bakery’ and were snapped up in the blink of an eye – we were so glad that there were two reserved especially for us! ~~ Overall we had the best day; it was all that we had hoped for. We have received so much positive feedback from friends and family alike about how much they enjoyed our day and in particular how delicious the food was. Many of them admitted to being skeptical about it prior to the day, but were blown away by the quality and variety of food that was offered.”

Jacquie Szalay married Carey Smith at Nutcote, Neutral Bay in December 2012 in Sydney, Australia. “My name is Jacquie and my husband's name is Carey, we met in 1996 when we were in high school in the USA. Being from different countries it was easy to lose touch but when we got back in touch nearly 20 years later, we knew we had always meant to be together. I had a vintage 1900's Edwardian wedding dress so I wanted to focus the wedding around that theme, an "Edwardian garden party".  We were on a tight budget so it was a very do-it-yourself  affair. We had a stand up garden ceremony by the water followed by a garden party reception under a marquee at a heritage home on beautiful Sydney Harbour. We wrote our own vows and kept the ceremony somewhat traditional. Our celebrant was a real character. She turned up late and had forgot the ceremony notes, signing table and microphone which didn't help my stress levels nor did it help people to hear when the ceremony was interrupted by gale like winds! Luckily the wind died down toward the end of the ceremony and we had perfect wedding for the rest of the day. I decorated the tables with lace doilies and crystal vases and flower arrangements. I had vintage tea cups and lemonade stand. My dad provided all the alcohol which he made sure was vegan. Although my husband isn't vegan it was important after being a vegan for the past 3 years that I had my wedding be entirely vegan. A few of my friends who attended were also vegan so they definitely appreciated having so much choice! All the food and wine was vegan. I made some of the food myself such as the cucumber sandwiches and cupcakes but the rest of the finger food was ordered from a local vegan cafe. I am also gluten intolerant so some of the items had to be both vegan and gluten free. Honestly no one realised the food was vegan until I told them and they only thing they didn't like were some savoury muffins I had made which frankly had got really hard quickly! The venue was gorgeous. We had a string trio play classical music. The day feels like a dream now, everyone had a wonderful time and it was a really special day. I think the casual setting really allowed everyone to let their hair down and made it more social. I had a lot of people tell me afterwards that it was truthfully the nicest wedding they'd been to because it was so unique and felt so casual. If anyone is interested in pictures or more details they are on my blog here  ~~ Soleil Handmade Soaps - vegan soaps made by me. Soleil Handmade Soaps - facebook page 

Just before the wedding
Ann Hawks married Ferrol Johnson in September of 2010. “We were married in Bloomington, Indiana, overlooking beautiful Lake Monroe. Earlier that year, in January, we both became vegan after watching several videos showing cruelty found in factory farming and the abuse specifically inflicted on dairy cows. Honestly, we were horrified. The first thing my fiancé asked me was "what are we going to eat?" I replied, "I have no idea." We would eventually come to find out what a blessing veganism was and is to our lives. The food simply tastes better and the spiritual connection to animals and our planet flourished. ~~ For the wedding reception, all the food was purchased by us and prepared by a local chef who is also a friend. We served Gardein "beefless tips" and vegetable kabobs along with coleslaw and baked beans. I called it a "fancy" picnic wedding! The vegan cakes were made by a local baker and were so delicious. We had several different flavors including Holy Strawberry and Black and White cake. ~~ References to our respect for all animals were included in our vows and all guests were asked to make a donation to Farm Sanctuary in lieu of any gifts. We wanted our wedding to be about family, love and compassion for all beings, and that is exactly what we did!”

Rosanna and Aaron's Vegan Wedding on October 5th 2013 ~ "We had a Vegan wedding, the idea of which at first scared my Mother! We are Irish and it's unheard of not to have meat for every meal! My husband and I live near San Francisco (where it's not as unusual to be sans meat) with our two rescue pups, Marnie and Reggie. ~~ We decided to get married in Dublin, Ireland at The Shelbourne Hotel, a beautiful historic building where the Irish constitution was drafted. So because I am in California, my wonderful sister did a lot of the tasting and organizing, along with the help of other family members. ~ Solving the problem of a vegan dress was very tricky and in the end I had to settle on rayon though I wish it could've looked a little silkier. It was a beautifully made dress though... very old Hollywood and non traditional. ~~ The guests adored the meal, almost all telling me how it was the best wedding meal they had ever had and were surprised... as they had been WARNED by my mother! The chef did an incredible job, including a wonderful mushroom pastry dish, bulgar wheat salad, celeriac soup... and I had had a cake made in the west of Ireland, which was transported by train by the baker herself! It was an incredible rum raisin creation which we decorated with little ceramics of our dogs. I wanted our dogs to be part of our day, but sadly they couldn't be there so they were represented on the cake. Our rescue pups mean the world to us. I am a painter and presently working on a series or paintings in oil of rescue dogs, drawing attention and awareness to the plight, pain and recovery of unwanted dogs. My love of dogs is part of why I became vegan, as they made me understand how all animals should be loved and treated well. ~~ Our wedding was a Humanist wedding, celebrating the beauty of union, our family and friends and love.. we had poems read, cello played and kept it short, sweet and happy but respectful. ~~ I am so happy that we made the effort to have our wedding vegan. It was beautiful, memorable and unique. It was also wonderful to be able to draw attention to veganism in this way.

Robert and Simone Lea married 22 December 2012 at Mermaid Beach, Queensland, Australia. They are both vegans. “I was vegan first then Robert one year later so 2010 and 2011. We had a super casual wedding, in the outside garden at Mandala Arts Café. The wedding invitation was entitled "A very vegan wedding". All vegan food and wedding cake. Guest gifts were vegan soaps in the shape of pigs. All guests loved the food and especially the cake; it was all eaten. All the attendees were nonvegan. Instead of eating animals - shepherd them, we are born without speciesism so why teach it? Live kind, live vegan.

Rima Danielle Jomaa and Pete Genender were married March 10, 2014 in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Rima and Pete had been acquaintances for years, and began dating after Pete expressed interest to Rima in turning to veganism. Rima had been an outspoken vegan for 3 years then and Pete asked her for tips on converting to a vegan lifestyle. They dated for 11 months before Pete proposed and were married 4 months later. ~ The wedding reception was catered by three vegetarian Costa Ricans. They were so excited to cater the wedding and delighted guests with their creativity and presentation. They created Indian-inspired arrangements including hummus, eggplant wraps, carrot and beet sesame salad, cashew-cheeze stuffed mushrooms, an assortment of Indian dishes (cauliflower coconut curry and Paneer - a spinach and tofu dish, among others), fresh made vegan Naan, and more! The guests were apprehensive at first about an all-vegan wedding. They exclaimed repeatedly, however, how amazing the food was and how it blew their expectations out of the water! Every single guest had seconds and thirds of the appetizers and twe had to warn them to save room for dinner! Cake was a gluten-free, vegan strawberry shortcake with coconut whipped cream and was to live for. Pete and Rima's dear friend, Adi, made the cake as a gift. Even the cynics loved it and not even a slice remained. ~~ The officiant, Marcelo Galli, is a well-known vegan activist in Costa Rica, as well as being the top wedding officiant and lawyer in the country. It was an honor to have him as officiant and guest of the ceremony. The ceremony itself was imbued with animal rights sentiment and quotations, wrapping all the love and compassion together. The ceremony was held in the jungle and there were howler monkeys howling throughout the ceremony, as if they could feel the energy surrounding the event. It was a truly magnificent occasion which opened the minds and hearts of the wedding guests and gave them an introduction to a vegan cuisine and lifestyle.

Rithika Ramesh and Kaushik Ramakrishnan were married in Mumbai, India on 5th June 2011. The bride is vegan. She was not vegan when they met. "Ours was a traditional South Indian Ceremony. The bridal trousseau involves silk saris and the ceremony involves using milk and milk products. My trousseau consisted only of cotton saris. We are also supposed to gift saris to my aunts and all of those were cotton too. My jewelry also had faux pearls on it. One part of the ceremony involves the bride and groom to sit on a swing and the aunts feed them a mix of  bananas and cow's milk. We changed that to soy milk. The food was catered by a local caterer.The food at a south Indian wedding is always vegetarian and is served on a banana leaf. We asked the caterer to avoid using milk products in the dessert." More Facebook photos of our traditional Indian wedding.

Iain and Monika Lewis were married 8th March, 2012. "We are both vegan and have been for approximately 4 years. Monika was vegetarian since 10 years old and when she met Iain, he switched to vegetarianism without any pressure at all. The more we read about vegetarianism, the more we realised, we should be vegan. We both happily became vegans together. We see each other as vegan soul mates. From the moment we first met, we were inseparable. ~~ We have both been married before - unhappily.  Neither of us were interested in a traditional wedding the second time round. We wanted something that suited us; after all, this was our day. We are an awkward couple in that Iain is English, Monika is Swiss, and we live in France, so there were bureaucracy and language barriers to consider. Because Iain is British, Gibraltar was an easy, fun option. We also liked the fact that John and Yoko got married there; we stayed at the same hotel - the Rock Hotel. So we had done the same, without any guests, just a couple of hired witnesses. We wanted the day to be about us. The simplicity was bliss. The agency medweddings.com did a great job organising a vegan meal for us by the marina. ~~ Later that day, after the photo-shoot and the wedding meal, and after the tourist tour around Gibraltar, we came across the Cafe Madeleine, where we had our evening meal, which was superb. It wasn't just that the meal was great, but the dessert was rather simple and special - fresh, organic oranges from neighbouring Spain, picked that same afternoon. You can't beat fresh fruit for vegan wholesomeness! ~~ We were not too interested in a wedding dress, hence the jeans and shirts (and shoes from vegetarian-shoes.co.uk)! On the overall, HappyCow.net was an invaluable guide. On the way to Gibraltar we stayed in Marbella, Spain for a few days before and after. We chose our hotel to be within walking distance from the all-vegan Loving Hut restaurant where we must have tried nearly all the options on the menu.

Kellie and Eddie Blume were married in July 2008, in Queenstown New Zealand. “We've both been vegetarian since 1998, vegan since 2007. We became vegan in the lead up to my friend’s wedding and I was heavily involved in helping her organise it, being her maid of honour. During all the usual crazy wedding stress, Eddie and I decided that a big wedding was not for us, and as my friend’s wedding plans were being finalised, our wedding plans were beginning, in secret! We had decided to elope, and to tell no one about it. Seeing as it was going to be only us two, there was no concern about it conforming to our vegan beliefs. We knew we wanted to elope somewhere exciting, somewhere that we needed to travel to and enjoy a pre-wedding holiday and a post-wedding honeymoon all at once. I did a lot of research into the usual ‘destination’ wedding places – Fiji, Vanuatu, Hawaii. All were options, but nothing jumped out at us. Then, one day I saw a flight sale to New Zealand and the decision was made. We’d be getting married in New Zealand and we’d be doing so in the middle of a Southern winter! It worked perfectly for us, two people who love the cosiness of a snow capped mountain and a warm fire. As it turned out, New Zealand is also a great place for destination weddings and there were numerous options to choose from. We ruled out one all-inclusive package due to the calfskin and hunting trophies on the restaurant walls, another place because they weren’t so receptive to our inquiries about making a ‘reception dinner for two….vegan style’. We decided on a wedding package at a little privately owned bed and breakfast in a small town just outside Queenstown, the New Zealand ski capital. The owners of the B and B (Trelawn Place) organised the wedding, the paperwork, a cake, and photographer, and they were very open to making sure the cake was vegan. As it turns out, we decided to stay in a hotel in Queenstown centre rather than at the B and B, as it suited us better, and so we enquired with hotels about their restaurants being able to organise a special wedding reception menu for the two of us. The head chef at the Hotel St. Moritz got in touch with us quickly and was very receptive to our requests, taking all of our requirements and designing a lovely dinner for us for after the wedding. We explained that we also required a vegan wine to enjoy with our meal and they researched some local wineries for us, finding us a lovely bottle of red from a small, vegan friendly local cellar door. ~~ I also located a local hairdresser who used vegan friendly and non-animal tested products and who took bookings for wedding hair and make-up. I had to bring a few of my own make-up pieces however and non-animal make-up brushes, but they were very welcoming and happy to help us so as to ensure all aspects of our wedding were vegan, even the hair spray! ~~ The wedding itself, for us, was perfect! No nerves, no worry. Just us! We sourced some animal-rights quotes from the internet to include in our wedding vows. The celebrant did stumble a bit over the word ‘sentience’, but we were having such fun that it didn't matter!

Bianca Zvorc Morris and Charlie Morris were married the 5th of November 2011, in Murska Sobota, Slovenia (Bianca’s birth town that she left at age 16). “We pre-ordered two vegan menu options - in a non-vegan restaurant. I asked the attendees to respect my wish for a vegan wedding, and out of respect for us, they all ate vegan. Luckily we have very open minded friends and family. We had another party in NYC and Boston 1 month later (Christmas time). My husband is from Boston, and I grew up in Manhattan, where we met in 2007. We met on Facebook actually. ~~ We made our wedding clothes and accessories under my brand BeeZee EcoKid (on Facebook) (vegan, fair trade, natural, ethical, locally made in Slovenia - my low profit social and sustainability awarded EU project helping women that lost jobs because of cheap poisonous Asian clothes. I illustrate for my brand and it is all animals. There's also a vegan messages line "Viva La Vegan Revolution". ~~ I wore old shoes (fake leather) because I could not get any appropriate vegan shoes in the small town in Slovenia. Since I am vegan for 21 years and Charlie 4 years, everybody knew it would be a vegan wedding. The food in Slovenia, NYC and Boston was amazing so nobody was complaining. ~~ I am mentor for Slovene Vegan Society where I help young people switch to vegan diet.

Jessica Crisp married Samuel Pourasghar at a service at Fynn Valley Golf Club in Ipswich on June 28th 2013. "I've been vegan about 3 years, and helped my husband convert to a vegetarian lifestyle, and he's on the way to veganism. We agreed that it would be only right for the wedding to be 100% vegan, and we wanted to show our guests how incredible vegan food is. It took a while to find a venue that didn't either fob us off with boring food (one of them offered us pasta in tomato sauce as our main wedding meal!) or a venue that outright refused, but the chef at Fynn Valley was genuinely excited to create a good vegan menu. We had three courses, and three options for each course, as well as an evening buffet. And our 80 guests all said that it was the best food they'd ever had at a wedding! As well as the incredible 5-tiered cake made by our dear friend (bottom layer was vanilla and raspberry, the next layer was chocolate and orange, the next was lemon and blueberry, then the fruit layer that we have kept, then a vanilla and cinnamon layer at the top.) I also made rose decorated chai cupcakes for all our guests. Of course it wasn't just food; but finding a dress and underwear that contained no silk or pearls was an easy and fun task, and the husband's beautiful animal-free shoes are his favourites to wear on a daily basis now! ~~ Finally, we didn't want flowers to be cut and end up dying just for our day, so we went for artificial flowers. Again, finding ones that contained no silk was tricky, but the great thing is, we can be reminded of our day every single day, because the beautiful flower arrangements still adorn our home and look as great now as they did nearly a year ago!"

Bindu and Rajiv had a vegan wedding in 2010. "Both of us are vegan; we were vegan activists when we met. Ours was the first totally vegan wedding in India, that we're aware of, and we were very excited to show everyone that Indian weddings, rituals, outfits can easily be cruelty-free; for it to be completely fair-trade is still a challenge, unfortunately. We requested that all guests wear vegan clothing to the wedding and reception party, and as far as we know, our guests complied. We also did not want to use non-fair-trade flower arrangements, blood and non-fair-trade diamond jewelry, etc. so we found other alternatives. ~~ We refused the sexist ritual of using Thalis (a necklace worn just by the woman to indicate she's married) and settled on rings instead. We wish we had also opted for a wedding that didn't necessitate a 'high'-caste male poojari to officiate the event because it's an oppressive casteist and sexist practice; we're now aware that weddings don't need to be officiated by them to be legal in India. Both of us dislike the sexism and oppression involved in the practice of married women having to change their lastname (voluntarily or otherwise) so we've retained our original names; our plan is to come up with an amalgation, so we can both change our last names eventually. The buffet was vegan, we had south and north Indian dishes, and of course, vegan cake! ~~ Website: veganaisle.ca - We own a vegan online store in Toronto, Canada that sells vegan, ethically-made [wherever possible] products.

If you want to be added to this compilation of vegan weddings, please send me a write-up and a photo of the couple - veganpoet @ hotmail.com (fix space) 

February 2, 2014

A Special Feature on Animal Sanctuaries with Vegan Education

"As humanity adopts vegan living, we will see more and more animal sanctuaries. The featured few here exemplify a respectful way to live with other species. They introduce the public to the wonderful personalities of pigs, cows, roosters, goats, etc. - that the masses have been misguided to believe are objects for them to use, rather than the sentient beings they truly are. Enjoy the animal stories from those who don't look at a pig as “ham” - they can see that they are friendly, enjoy tummy rubs, and smile, and have eyes that look similar to ours, who come to you when you call – that is, when you mean them no harm. I've lived with rescued animals of differing species; and so I know with certainty, that they deserve the same fundamental rights that I have – not to be owned like an object, exploited, and violently assaulted. It is obvious that animals have feelings. I find the mainstream perception of animals to be an enigma. Animals are conscious and aware. They too, have the capacity to suffer. They experience life and pleasure. They nurture their children if humans would stop taking their babies from them. They even exceed humans in some ways, like the telepathic relationship I had with my dog friend. They are not lesser than us – we are all members of the animal kingdom and therefore, we should be able to empathize with other animals because of our many similarities, like a brain, a heart, a nervous system, pain receptors, a digestive system, eyes, faces, etc. The following are a random assortment of animal sanctuaries run by vegans who responded to my shout-out. They are either 100% vegan or some make the exception for the cats in their care, or offer the eggs from the hens to pigs and dogs or back to the hens." ~ Butterflies Katz
El Hogar ProVegan is Spain’s oldest animal sanctuary and it’s located in the lovely city of Madrid. It was founded more than seven years ago and its original name was “El Hogar de Luci” (Lucy’s Home). Elena Tova, the sanctuary’s founder, rescued Luci. Her story is both happy and sad, it all started when a young woman wished to save the life of a dog and once she returned home little did she know she would inherit a commitment for life. Nobody wanted to adopt Luci as she was terminally ill, Elena was able to see more in Luci. So she was adopted, given a home and unconditional love. Three months later Luci passed away but her life had not been in vain. Thanks to her “El Hogar de Luci” was born, a place less hostile for dogs to live while they wait for someone to adopt them or even a place where the terminally ill could live and experience love and affection the last moments of their lives. A loving home for all the animals that society rejects. Always trying to help those who need it most and those exploited by humanity, El Hogar opened its arms and welcomed all species that had been ignored by other animal protection agencies. Slowly, inhabitants of all species started to come, particularly those that are victims of the food industry. ~~ Since then the number of inhabitants of the sanctuary continues to grow, at the moment there are around 300 animals. To be able to help so many animals and care for them, the activists at El Hogar ProVegan continue learning, fighting, and creating new ways to help the animals, which includes educating the public and raising awareness about animal abuse and cruelty. El Hogar does not have any government aid or subsidy of any kind therefore, to survive, all kinds of events are organized (i.e. themed parties, market days, educational courses and lectures), to raise funds for the maintenance of its inhabitants. Behind all these activities there is a much greater goal, which is to educate society that there is an alternative way of living –without cruelty, suffering or oppression towards sentient beings. Choosing a vegan diet is the only way humanity can guarantee the future of the entire planet. Leading by example, everyone in the sanctuary, humans and non‐humans, are vegans. This tireless fight for the rights of the animals has crossed borders and lead to the alliance between El Hogar and the German association of Dr. Ernst Walter Henrich; ProVegan (hence the name change to "El Hogar ProVegan").  Together they continue to spread the word about the importance of supporting a vegan lifestyle. Animal rescues have also cross borders and last year two new residents arrived from Switzerland: Ruby and Lucille. A mother and daughter exploited by the dairy industry, who were lucky to avoid being separated and now have an opportunity to live in peace and grow old together. This story gained a lot of media coverage both nationally and internationally. Committed to benefiting the welfare of animals and the spread of veganism, El Hogar ProVegan has numerous projects for the future. One of these projects is to move the animals to a larger land owned by them, that way they will have a paradise of their own and no one will ask them to leave. This movement will allow the development of new departments, such as the Department of Education and Children, which provides guidance to anyone who wants to follow a vegan lifestyle. The Research Department is in charge of raising awareness about the reality of animal exploitation and cruelty. Volunteers from all over the world run these departments and they too share the same vision of protecting animals. Since El Hogar ProVegan was founded it has not stopped fighting to denounce “speciesism” which is responsible for the animal holocaust taking place on this planet. El Hogar continues to raise awareness and facilitate information so people could shift their way of thinking. Just like other sanctuaries, it faces many obstacles, difficulties and hard times. However, El Hogar is willing to overcome all these adversities. English Facebook page (There is also a Facebook page in Spanish and German) ~ English Website  - YouTube Channel (Videos have English, German, and Spanish subtitles)

Tower Hills Animal Sanctuaries is run by vegan extreme record-holding marathoner; Fiona Oakes“The sanctuary was started in 1996, but we had been rescuing long before that but from our home – which had no land so we had to keep the horses at livery yards as my partner, Martin, and I both had full-time, very demanding jobs in finance in London.  Then, one day one of my elderly rescues; Oscar, had a terrible accident at the yard due to the owner’s negligence. If I hadn't been going to the yard to check the horses, I would not have found him at all. This is what made us decide that we had to buy a place of our own to run and one of us would give up work to administer the care. We managed to scramble together the money to buy the sanctuary and I gave up work to concentrate on the rescue. It took every single penny Martin, my parents, and myself had to be able to buy the property and it has been a financial struggle since. We now have the main Sanctuary and two satellite yards. ~~ The Sanctuary is vegan run – I have been vegan since the age of 6 years old. Our philosophy is simple – we wish to provide a happy and loving home for life to all those in our care. Many of these poor creatures have had an extremely hard time of life before coming here. They may have been abused mentally, physically or both. They may be ill, infirm or elderly – all sorts of reasons they may find their way here but, as soon as they do, it is my one goal that this is all behind them and their new life of love and security begins on stepping foot over the threshold. ~~  Currently we have around 300 animals which include 61 horses – divided between the 3 sites – cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, dogs (all live in the house), cats and many more animals who have been rescued. I begin my day caring for the animals at 3.30 in the morning, everyday. I do find the continuity of care this offers can be pivotal in saving lives as I know every animal, and their ‘special’ behavioural traits inside out. For instance, something which anyone else might think is ‘normal’ behaviour might be a sign of illness which only I – or Martin – could pick up on as we know the animals so well. ~~ I have just broken 3 Marathon World Records to illustrate exactly how strong, healthy and fit you can be on a vegan diet. It is a lot of extra work, on top of running the sanctuary, but I feel it benefits the animals I cannot physically help by encouraging others to, at least, consider plant-based options. Also, I believe it is a good way to get the word VEGAN out there to the masses in a positive, proactive and peaceful way. This is my contribution to the outreach cause and, by breaking the 7 Continents Marathon and North Pole World Record - it has had considerable impact on every Continent! ~~ We run huge bills at the Sanctuary and we need around £10,000 per month to be able to fund everything. A lot of this money comes from Martin’s salary but the rest we have to raise through supporters. Neither Martin or I take any expenses or wages, as we believe every single penny given should go directly to the animals for their feed and on-going care. It is a big ask to provide a home for this many animals and comes with a huge amount of sacrifice and self- denial on our part. My daily routine is exactly the same 365 days a year – apart from when I am away competing in marathons and Martin takes over the mantle of animal carer. ~~ I do love the animals to have a sense of themselves and to be able, and allowed, to develop their own personalities. I try to provide as natural an existence as is possible, with the horses living in large ‘herd’ type groups with young and old, male and female (obviously not stallions) living together as they would in the wild. I believe it is completely wrong to separate them into gender groups as this does not allow them to behave naturally as they are herd animals. It is the same for the dogs, they all live together in the house as they are pack animals and thrive best when they are in the company of their own type. Most of the animals inter mix quite happily. The goats, ponies, geese, ducks, pigs, peacocks, cats and chickens all come into the big barn and stables at night and snuggle down together. There tends to be no fighting or real conflict of interests or opinions as with humans. Unlike us, the one thing animals don’t have are over inflated ego’s! ~~ Sometimes we have wild animals move in for a rest or may even decide to stay. For instance, last winter I heard a strange noise coming from the other side of one of the sanctuary’s boundaries. I went outside on the road to investigate and found a goose there. He was a lovely little chap and I ushered him back up the road and through the main gate. He quickly found his way to where the other geese ‘hang out’ and, after a few days, he had built up confidence to come inside the stables at night with them. He stayed for a good few months. For whatever reason, he chose to stay here, rest up and get strong, and we were thrilled and delighted to accommodate our friend Goswald! ~~ The stories these animals come with are very often too harrowing to share. We have a ‘bull breed’ type dog who had her teeth removed with a primitive device in order that she could not fight back when used for baiting, she was in a terrible state when she arrived. Once we had a telephone call from a lady who was very upset as she had a pig in her garden. This poor sow escaped from the local slaughterhouse and found her way into this lady’s garden. She didn't want to give her back to the slaughtermen who were literally banging at her door. She asked if we could take the poor creature – Amelie – and, of course, we agreed and drove straight over to fetch her. However, even though Amelia had proven herself and had the initiative to escape certain death, the slaughtermen showed her no mercy and insisted we pay an exorbitant price for her to gain her freedom. This is typical. We have lots of stories – some very heart warming, some very sad and they can all be found on the website:  www.towerhillstables.com – Facebook Page

Lamb ALFie and calf Maddox grazing together at VINE
VINE Sanctuary director; Pattrice Jones, shares her uplifting explanation: "VINE Sanctuary began as a small chicken sanctuary literally surrounded by factory farms in a rural region dominated by the poultry industry. We've worked nationally to build bridges between the animal liberation, social justice, and environmental movements. In 2009, we relocated to Vermont in order to realize our dream of also sheltering survivors of the dairy industry. We're now one of the largest farmed animal sanctuaries, in terms of the number of animals living on site, even though our staff and budget are still fairly small. VINE is unique in that it was founded by a lesbian couple and remains LGBTQ-run. All of the five people who live on site are lesbian, bi, and/or transgendered. LGBTQ folks also volunteer and are supporters. Since 2002, we've worked actively to make links between gay rights and animal liberation. ~~ Our sanctuary was the first to figure out how to rehabilitate roosters used in cockfighting. (Previously, roosters confiscated by authorities were automatically euthanized.) Our methods have been written up in scientific journals, so that others may adopt them. We routinely rescue and rehabilitate birds exploited in this cruel way. ~~ VINE is explicitly "green." The sanctuary is solar-powered, and many of our structures are built from salvaged materials. Our programs include efforts to persuade environmentalists to go vegan and efforts to persuade vegans to go green. We promote plant-based agriculture. ~~ Founded by social justice activists, we incorporate an understanding of "the intersection of oppressions" into everything that is done. We know that only by forging alliances with advocates for social and environmental justice can we ever hope to build a big-enough movement to make the fundamental changes in human societies that will be necessary to achieve animal liberation. ~~ VINE Sanctuary residents include 38 cows, 288 chickens, 29 ducks and geese, 7 sheep, and 10 turkeys as well as scores of pigeons and doves and even a couple of emus. The cows and sheep graze in the pastures and also eat local grown hay. The birds eat a mix of grains and seeds, depending upon species, and also forage throughout the property. A local grocery store allows us to collect dented or wilted but still perfectly edible vegetables with which we augment the feed we buy. There are apple and peach trees on site, and we are also very happy to sometimes receive donations of imperfect fruit from local orchards. We also buy greens, as needed, in the winter months. ~~ Unlike other sanctuaries, we do not segregate animals by species unless it is necessary. And so, heart-warming scenes of inter-species cooperation and friendship are common. For example, young ALFie (a discarded runt from a small-scale wool operation) and young Maddox (the discarded son of a "dairy" cow) are best friends. Even though he was still just a lamb himself when 4-day-old Maddox arrived at the sanctuary, ALFie welcomed and helped the scared young calf. ~~ VINE stands for "Veganism is the Next Evolution" but we almost chose "veganism is not enough" as our catch-phrase, and we do believe that to be true. Personal veganism is a baseline, a necessary step. But personal veganism alone will not liberate animals. A diverse set of other strategies also will be necessary. ~~ At VINE we consider "going vegan" to be a lifelong process rather than something one can claim to have done. To us, veganism means refusal to collude in any oppression of any animal, including human animals. To us, oppression of animals includes destruction of their habitats by pollution or climate change. That means that vegans ought to always be mindful of all of the effects of all of their choices, seeking always to minimize the harms for which they are personally responsible. Then, we can invite others to join us without sounding like we believe ourselves to be already perfect.” www.bravebirds.org

Santuario Gaia - Gaia Shrine is located in Girona, Spain. "There are over 120 animals living here: pigs, a calf, sheep, goats, dogs, cats, chickens, roosters, turkeys, ducks, geese, pigeons, seagulls, and a pony. All rescued from slaughterhouses, or serious stories of abandonment. We promote veganism. The founders of the sanctuary are Ismael López Fernández and Coke; two vegans for many years. ~ We've been working a year and a half, but now we need to find a new site, because in a very short time we have rescued many animals and we have outgrown the property. We need a bigger place, but for this to happen we need economic help. There are many expenses that we have to cater for all animals arriving. It is a place where those who have been exploited, receive the care needed for a dignified life for the rest of their lives. The tranquility of the place is ideal for non-human animals who come here, mostly in poor condition, have a speedy recovery and live in peace and harmony. Our mission is to meet their needs for food, veterinary care, and emotional needs, as well as to provide adequate facilities for each individual, which gives them security, but at the same time allowing them to have as natural a life as possible. In addition, it is part of our mission to promote veganism; the attitude of respect toward other animals: all vegan food (100% vegetarian), clothing and footwear are free from animal materials, not attending shows in which animals are used, and do not use products that have been tested on animals. ~~ Throughout history, we have always benefited from other animals, as if they were objects. These were used to clothe and feed, to transport and plowing our fields, to communicate, to have fun, to develop new drugs. But today, in the 21st century, there are alternatives and we have evolved enough to choose not to inflict suffering on the other inhabitants of our planet. Veganism excludes all forms, exploitation of other animals, whether for food, clothing, experimentation or entertainment. There is scientific evidence that other animals, like us, also suffer and feel emotions, so do not support any industry that involves confinement, exploitation, suffering and death. We created the support program "Veganízate with Gaia". Its mission is to help you with any questions or concerns you have. We've all been through this when we decided to adopt a vegan life and so we know how important it is to have someone to listen to your concerns. I will not judge you and provide support when needed. If you would like more information about the "program Veganízate with Gaia "you can contact us at: vegan@santuariogaia.org  ~~ www.santuariogaia.org - Facebook Page ~ a video of the day that Samuel was rescued -
This is Samuel, at age 6 days (August 21, 2013). Within a few hours of birth, his brother and he were separated from his mother. He was locked in cages, where they could hear his mother call them. Around him were more babies who also called their mothers. They were very scared, very scared. Gaia Sanctuary could save one of the brothers from death. Both were born so small that it wasn't worthwhile rearing them until it was time to take them to the slaughterhouse; this is common when there are twins.
L'Oasis Végan'imaux, which is based in France (in Normandy), promotes veganism through the application of the abolitionist approach to animal rights and helps animal refugees by giving them a lifelong home or helping them to find foster solutions explained Laura Kaisser. "The 44 animals in the care of L'Oasis Végan'imaux are fed a vegan diet for reason of consistency and are provided with living conditions that fully respect their needs, without overcrowding. We regard them as refugees of animal exploitation, and that to help them is part and parcel of veganism. We also distribute information on the vegan diet for dogs and cats. I have been vegan since 2007 and I founded L'Oasis Végan'imaux with my parents who are also vegans. I had spontaneously started to help animal refugees when I become vegan and found the abolitionist approach of Gary L. Francione, which encouraged me in my choice to found a sanctuary as a way to help animals now, in addition to vegan advocacy. The sanctuary does not receive grants and therefore survives solely on financial assistance in order to provide food and veterinary care for our animals (we are volunteers). Donations are welcome, and we thank you in advance. If you want to know more, please do not hesitate to contact us!  Our website will soon have an English version. www.oasisveganimaux.org - Facebook ~ Twitter 

Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary in Ireland is home to over 100 residents, all of whom have been rescued from the food industry or from situations of abandonment, neglect, exploitation and a future death by slaughter. Eden has a no re-homing policy: any resident who enters our gates has a home for life here. The residents are individual sheep, pigs, cats, geese, turkeys, ducks and chickens, including a large population of egg laying hens rescued from a variety of exploitative situations. Eden is run by its Director and Founder, Psychologist Sandra Higgins, and sanctuary co-founder and assistant Sandor Strobel, and the kind efforts of volunteers. Eden also offers sanctuary work internships and placements at our veganic gardening project. ~~ Every resident at Eden is special. During their short lives that are often riddled with pain and suffering as a result of their breeding and history, their carers endeavor to ensure that they have as much liberty as possible. One resident was so special that Matilda’s Promise the Animal Rights and Vegan Education Centre attached to Eden - was named after her, in fulfillment of the promise made to her the night she died: that we would tell the world about the character and sentience of the other animals we exploit for food. This is Matilda’s story ~~ The sanctuary residents are fed vegan, organic food when funds permit and if the resident’s health benefits. The chicken’s favourite food is their own eggs and pasta; the turkeys love raspberries, and they all love melon. For the individuals who are rescued, sanctuary life changes their entire world. But sanctuaries could not possibly cope with the over-whelming numbers of individuals who need to be rescued. The necessity for vegan education cannot be overstated. Every vegan can reduce the number of animals who are bred to suffer, every year, by a number that is at least equal to the number of individuals who are given sanctuary at Eden. At Eden we try to devote as much effort to vegan education as we do to sanctuary care. We relate the stories of the lives of the individual residents at Eden in our vegan outreach efforts. In that way they are ambassadors for their species. Some notable ambassadors from Eden were Maeve, Marian and Morgana who starred in the film You Haven’t Lived Until You’ve Hugged a Turkey  ~~ Much of the animal rights and vegan education work centers around the lives of hens who have suffered by being bred for the egg industry and who suffer regardless of whether they reside in back yard situations or in cages. Last year we produced a report: Enriched Cages and Embodied Prisons; analysing how hens are exploited by the egg industry; that featured some of the rescued residents at Eden. ~~ In my capacity as a psychologist I run a clinical Compassionate Eating programme using the Science of Compassion for all life to address a range of eating problems from eating disorders to diet related conditions such as diabetes and heart disease . ~ There is an online service for animal rights activists who need support for the traumatic nature of their work, and I also aim for our work to address the intersectional oppression that has its roots in human use of other animals." ~~ www.edenfarmanimalsanctuary.com ~~ www.matildaspromise.org

“We are Jewel and Jason and we founded Danzig's Roost Sanctuary in 2010. Here's a bit about us and why we felt compelled to dedicate or lives to the most overlooked animal on the planet. Rooster Sanctuary at Danzig's Roost is a vegan sanctuary located on the high plains of Colorado just outside Denver. The sanctuary is run by two dedicated, vegan activists, Jewel and Jason. We are an all-volunteer run, vegan sanctuary. Jewel has been rescuing farmed birds for the last ten years. Our first rooster, Danzig, a short, stout, black little boy, inspired the life-saving work done by Danzig's Roost. As far as farmed animals go, roosters, or male chicks, are killed at the highest rate of any land animal. Roosters are the most highly displaced farmed animal in adulthood, with most requests coming into farmed animal sanctuaries are to take in "unwanted" roosters. All local farmed animal sanctuaries in Colorado are filled to the brim with these boys, especially due to the backyard farming trend. Rooster Sanctuary at Danzig's Roost provides a lifelong home to these boys and other farmed animals including ducks, parrots, goats, a pot belly pig and most recently, a horse that was going to be sent to slaughter. While we focus on the plight of roosters, we advocate strongly for a vegan lifestyle and speak loudly against any form of exploitation. ~~ We are always learning more about how amazing these birds are. They each have their own way about them, and we are so fortunate to observe who they are. It's amazing to watch how they interact within their flocks and each other; witnessing their hearts come alive without the fear of a threatening human hand. ~~ We run 18 coops on 40 acres out on the plains.  Each week we fill up the pickup with different grains pulled from a local grain elevator, and we mix the food by hand daily. We add sea kelp, grapeseed oil, layer granules and DE to their feed mix, and along with special snacks like shredded apples, kale, and other goodies - it's spectacular to watch all the birds come running. ~~ For every hen hatched who is used for her eggs, there is a rooster. 99% of the time that rooster is unwanted, discarded, often mistreated and sometimes despised. Roosters have a very special place in this world and they serve as the fierce protectors and guardians of their more vulnerable flock members. Roosters will fight till their own death for who they love, but they are also the most sensitive beings that exist. Their hearts are deep. They mourn, they rejoice, they flap their wings and jump with happiness and they hide and mope when their feelings are hurt. Roosters want to live. Roosters always fight for life, their own lives and the lives of others. Humans take away billions of roosters lives each year in horrible and cruel ways. The most common death that baby roosters meet is being ground up alive, suffocated, or simply discarded in dumpsters with thousands of their baby brothers the day of their hatching because boys do not lay eggs. The egg industry hatches smaller breeds, so the ones hatched male are of no use to the meat industry, thus the boys are killed. Eggs are the demise of these beautiful birds, both the hens and the roosters alike. The only way to avoid the death, torture and suffering of billions of these birds is to go vegan. Veganism is the ONLY way to detach from this cruel practice. There are no "cruelty free" eggs, because back at the hatchery, they're still grinding up live male chicks, and the parents are still living in ammonia filled darkness. ~~ We were featured in the Denver Post and were selected for community days charity at Native Foods. We also work directly with Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary and Michelle from PPS is on our board of directors. www.roostersanctuary.org - www.danzigtherooster.com  - Facebook Page

Jim with Kali; a rescued cow
"Maple Farm Sanctuary is located one hour from Boston in Mendon, MA, providing lifelong homes for over 100 abused, abandoned and unwanted farmed animals while promoting veganism and respect for all life through public information. Maple Farm Sanctuary has taken in a fraction of the billions of farmed animals that are bought, sold, tormented and slaughtered by the meat, dairy and fur industries. We strive to treat both humans and non-humans as individuals who are worthy of compassion and respect, where we pursue a vegan diet and a non-violent lifestyle and where our stewardship of these 120 acres of beautiful Massachusetts farmland and wildlife habitat is a sacred trust. We have been in the process of converting what was once a multi-generational family farm into a refuge for many rescued animals who were neglected, abused or headed to slaughter. In taking on this challenging yet joyful work, we are both inspired and humbled. We ourselves once raised and sent to slaughter animals as a means of making a living. As a result of a profound change of consciousness, we now choose to see the world and animals in a very different light. We have dedicated our lives to completing our transformation from animal farmers to animal rescuers and caretakers, and to sharing what we have discovered along the way with as many people as possible through tours of the sanctuary and special events. ~~ We have made a special commitment to serve animals whose lot in life is especially difficult, those with a need for extraordinary consideration and commitment. ~~ Every animal resident at Maple Farm Sanctuary is unique and has a special story about how they came to live here. A recent rescue involved a gentle sheep, Finn, who was a special guest at a church in the Boston’s Back Bay for a Christmas Eve service. Finn charmed the parishioners that evening and when they found out he would be returning to a farm where his fate would be slaughter, they banded together determined to save his life. A fund was set up and enough money raised for Finn’s life to be saved. He now resides at Maple Farm Sanctuary, filling a void left by the passing of the only other male sheep at the sanctuary, beloved Beau. ~~  Another rescue that took place in 2013 involved two male calves, now named Hans and Franz. They arrived at the sanctuary from a dairy farm where they were born to the heifers there. Being born male, they were of no use to the dairy and would have met with the same fate as most male calves on dairies — a short confined life and then slaughtered for veal. Hans and Franz, although not biological brothers are as close as can be. They spend their days together on the pasture with several llamas and goats as friends. ~~ Maple Farm Sanctuary is very much a work in progress. We welcome your suggestions, your encouragement, your help as a volunteer and your donations as we move forward in this adventure of building a non-profit organization and a community based on peace, compassion and hope. ~~ Maple Farm Sanctuary founders, Jim and Cheri Vandersluis are featured in the powerful, award-winning documentary Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home. The film follows several subjects who undergo a profound transformation in their attitudes and treatment of animals. Viewers are able to see the realities of animal farming and the struggle that farmers face when they begin to question traditions. The documentary has won numerous awards and continues to be screened around the world. ~~ Jim VanderSluis, a third generation dairy farmer, and Cheri Ezell, an artist and dairy goat farmer came together in 1993 and began their journey toward a compassionate life style and beyond. Both would say they loved animals but because of the mindless structure of society, tolerated the misery and cruelty of farming animals. Cheri continued to question both Jim and in her heart, why do the calves and kids have to die? Can't this be done some other way? The more they discussed it, the clearer it became that farming animals wasn't what they wanted to do. They had witnessed the 'slaughter' or rather, the killing of several of their baby goats. Cheri's past autopsy room experience gave her the gruesome knowledge that after a throat is cut, the brain can live for several minutes. That was one of the many thoughts that haunted them. Watching the faces of pain and fear will forever haunt them. Then, one day, as two of the baby goats were being driven away in the trunk of a car and the cries of the goats could be heard a mile down the road....Jim and Cheri looked at one another with tears in their eyes...."we can't do this anymore, it isn't right." Cheri didn't have a problem considering a vegan diet but worried Jim wouldn't want to try. But, he didn't flinch, he was going to transition! The next decision was, how do we survive? No income from selling goatmilk and cheese and....kids for the meat. No selling replacement heifers to other dairy farmers. They decided to attempt becoming a sanctuary. Rescuing rather than sending animals to their death.They found a sanctuary in PA called OhhMahNee run by Cayce and Jason. They agreed to come and take half of the goats so the financial burden would be lessened. Even though the beloved goats were going to a safe haven it was still a heart wrenching experience to have even more goats driven away. After several years of self-funding the now Maple Farm Sanctuary, then applied for non-profit status and began a very steep uphill journey to survive in the world of sanctuaries. So many volunteers came and went, all doing their best to help. During that time OhhMahNee closed their doors, unable to survive. Luckily most of Jim and Cheri's goats came home to live out their lives. One big goat who was Cheri's herd sire, now neutered, came home an elderly buck. Still handsome and so impressive but thinner and frail. But instead of being sent to slaughter (the farmed animal way) he was pampered, loved and made comfortable until he went to sleep never to awaken again. ~~ Now MFS takes in rescues as funds and space permit. One of the many things on the wish list is a simple but comfortable cow barn where all the bovines love to hang out and chew their cud!" ~~ www.maplefarmsanctuary.org

Leon Vegan Animal Sanctuary - "Our mission as a sanctuary is to rescue victims from speciesism and provide a lifetime home where they are respected as individuals. The sanctuary is a multi-species sanctuary located in the province of Leon, Spain, born to give a second chance to the victims of animal exploitation who have no place in conventional shelters. Animals with special needs are provided a peaceful place where they are far from being seen merely as human resources and live in a decent home for the rest of their lives. At the same time we consider that Leon Vegan Animal Sanctuary presents a unique opportunity to make society aware; to see and meet the origin of their food, cosmetics, etc ... We try to bring society the victims of their consumer habits; showing them as they are, and that nonhuman animals feel, have emotions, and a desire to live. In short, our mission is to achieve a connection, and help people empathize. ~~ The founders, Evelyn and Diango, met in the summer of 2009. For a year Evelyn was working sheltering and caring for rescued hens from farms. Evelyn is an activist for Animal Liberation, and has worked with shelters in rescue, for 15 years. At same time they are involved in protest against bullfighting, animal testing and others animal rights protests in and out of León, Spain. Diango became an activist after meeting Evelyn, working on the design of artwork and websites for animal rights campaigns, and later becoming involved with Evelyn in various campaigns for abolitionist animal rights in Spain and Europe. After going to León from Las Palmas, he began attending protests or running information stands about veganism with her under the name of Leon Vegano. Both founded Leon Vegano Animal Sanctuary, and now dedicate their lives to rescue, rehabilitate and care for animals from situations of use, abuse, exploitation and/or neglect. www.leonveganoanimalsanctuary.org -  issuu.com/leonveganoanimalsanctuary - Facebook English Page - www.leonvegano.net

Chenoa Manor is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that serves as a safe home for animals with nowhere left to turn. Our sanctuary is home to over 200 animals, including those freed from factory farms, animals used in lab experiments, and various exotic species. Most of Chenoa Manor’s residents were neglected, abused, or en route to slaughter prior to being given a second chance at the sanctuary. All the animals accepted at Chenoa Manor become permanent residents of the sanctuary. They are provided a lifetime of care, compassion, and safety on Chenoa Manor’s twenty-five acre farm. The animal’s daily needs and veterinary care are provided by Dr. Rob Teti; Chenoa Manor’s Executive Director and licensed veterinarian. ~~ Although only 25 acres, Chenoa Manor cherishes its natural life and the energy contained therein – the trees, the grasses of the pastures, the 200 hundred-year-old barn, the waterways, and the animal life. Because the focus of our work is on animals and youth, we must be thoughtful and selective about who visits the sanctuary. Chenoa Manor’s primary mission is two-fold, to serve our animal residents as well as the youth who seek to be here. That mission embodies a sense of unity and respect among the youth, the animals, and the surrounding environment, including the trees, plants, bodies of water and the land itself. The importance of the youth component is to instill a sense of compassion and respect toward other individuals through positive interaction with animals and the environment. ~~ In addition, Chenoa Manor encourages a more compassionate and humane world via the abstinence of violence and the promotion of a plant-based lifestyle. Chenoa Manor’s events and programs are vegan. www.chenoa-manor.org/about

Hof Butenland is located in North Germany, on a green peninsula between Wilhelmshaven and Bremerhaven on 30 hectares of land. Until 2002 Hof Butenland used to be a regular dairy-farm with 60 cows. Hof Butenland is now an animal sanctuary with 100 residents including, cows, pigs, horses, ponies, dogs, cats, rabbits, geese, chickens and ducks who have been rescued from slaughter, neglect, abuse etc. Hof Butenland is their lifetime home now, where they can live without being exploited and abused. Hof Butenland is also known as a “Kuhaltersheim” a “retirement home for cows”. The sanctuary is run by Jan Gerdes and Karin Mück, who have dedicated their lives to the sanctuary and who both also promote veganism.~~ After farming for many years (first conventionally, then the transition to a Demeter farm), Jan Gerdes knew that the time was ripe for a new kind of respect toward animals; for a new way of thinking. The insight that animals are not machines had already matured. Karin Mück and Jan Gerdes founded the “Tierschutzstiftung Hof Butenland” (“Animal Protection Foundation Butenland Farm”) and invested all their funds. Only a foundation can really guarantee a lasting existence for the farm with its special forward-looking purpose. Here animals are given spaces in which to live freely, peacefully and without fear in the company of humans. The experiences had are valuable for both animals and humans. The observations and results of the foundation’s work are made available to researchers worldwide. The work of the foundation marks a turning point, the goal being to provide a role model and create a new basis for future generations. ~~ Hof Butenland has recently published a cook and story book featuring photos, stories and vegan recipes. The book is currently available in German only and can be purchased here~~ 100% of the proceeds go towards the care of the animals. Websites: www.kuhaltersheim.org ~ www.stiftung-fuer-tierschutz.de/ ~ Facebook

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in Woodstock, NY-- one the country’s most recognized and respected sanctuaries for farmed animals. At the heart of their mission is the hands-on work of rescuing, rehabilitating and caring for farm animal refugees -- as well as educating the public about the treatment of animals who are exploited for food and the many benefits of a plant based diet. Visit over 300 rescued animals during our hours of operation: Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., April through October. Visit our site for more information or call 845-679-5955. ~~ Surrounded by the Catskill Mountains in the town made famous for peace and music, Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary provides shelter to cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, sheep, goats, and rabbits who have been rescued from cases of abuse, neglect and abandonment. We are a place where visitors can come face to face with the animals they only know as dinner and learn about the devastating effects of modern-day agribusiness on the animals, the environment and human health. Here you can frolic with goats in a large open pasture, sit down with a pig who wants nothing more than a belly rub, cuddle with chickens who seek out your attention, or get nuzzled by some very friendly sheep! ~~ At the heart of our mission is the hands-on work of rescuing, rehabilitating and caring for farmed animal refugees — as well as educating the public about the horrific treatment of animals who are raised for food. ~~ WFAS is driven by the simple philosophy that kindness and respect to animals is our duty and that all the creatures that share this earth are here with us and not for us. Like our faithful dogs and lap-sitting cats, farmed animals are feeling individuals who deserve to be treated with compassion and to live free of fear and suffering. The staff is all vegan and educating people about veganism is part of our work. ~~ Founders Jenny Brown and Doug Abel moved to Woodstock as full-time residents in May 2004. Doug is a film editor and Jenny previously worked as a producer, director and post-production supervisor. Jenny has been an animal advocate since the age of 18. Since the early 90′s, Jenny would occasionally volunteer her time working undercover as a videographer. After her last week-long trip undercover visiting stockyards in Texas to film farmed animal abuse, she decided to give up her TV career and dedicate her life helping farmed animals and raising awareness of their plight. Jenny, Doug and the work of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary has been featured in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Rolling Stone, New York Magazine, HLN’s Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show and more. www.WoodstockSanctuary.org

Laurelee and friends
Leilani Farm Sanctuary - Home to goats, rabbits, donkeys, peahens, pigs, ducks, deer, chickens, and cats, Leilani Farm Sanctuary is located on a lush 8-acre farm in Haiku, Maui. It is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization created to provide shelter and care for abused animals, humane education to the community, and a model of compassionate living. Our goal is to awaken the compassion in every visitor. Connecting with disarmingly happy animals acting in ways one doesn't expect farm animals to act, people are inspired to take the next step toward a cruelty-free lifestyle by adopting a diet free of animals. The Sanctuary's founder; Laurelee Blanchard, left a lucrative career in the corporate world to devote her life to animal rescue and humane education. For ten years, she served as Maui Director for the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii. She continues to be an active speaker and participant in educational events related to vegan living. Most recently, Laurelee worked as consultant to the World Society for the Protection of Animals in its campaign to end the long-distance transport of live farm animals from the Mainland U.S. to Hawaii for slaughter. In 2011, she succeeded in enrolling Foodland and Times supermarket chains in the implementation of policies prohibiting the purchase of pork from pigs cruelly shipped to Hawaii thereby reducing the number of pigs transported and slaughtered by approximately 7,500 per year. In 2012, Laurelee was presented the "Vegan of the Year - North America" commendation for her outstanding animal activist work. ~ www.leilanifarmsanctuary.org

Bergh in pasture
"Greetings from New Dawn Montana Farm Sanctuary. We are a 501.c.3 non-profit farmed animal sanctuary and the sole farmed animal sanctuary in the state of Montana, due to the type of farm animals we are willing servants to. We also sponsor the only vegan potluck in Missoula, as a public outreach to promote plant-based lifestyle. I've been vegan for over 10 years and my husband for 8 yrs. I am an ethical vegan. We were visited and filmed by the staff of Supreme Master Ching Hai and she gave us an award in 2010. Our famous resident is: Unsinkable Molly Brown cow. She escaped and ran off from a slaughter house in Great Falls, MT in 2006. She has her own Facebook page - Hope you will "like" it. We have a population of 50 farm animals which include: pigs, sheep, goats, bovines, poultry and 2 llamas. All of these animals were spared being slaughtered and instead came to their safe haven with us. This is a small grass roots sanctuary. My husband and I are retired and this is my second unpaid, but very rewarding job and joy. Sincerely ~ Susan and Lee Eakins.” www.NewDawnMT.org

Rachael and Arthur
Greener Pastures - Rachael Badger explains: “Greener Pastures Sanctuary was founded in March 2013 by myself  and my husband Dave. We have a 2 year old daughter, Phoenix. I’m proud to say we are a vegan family. My knack of rescuing animals stems from my many years working as a vet nurse. I also rode horses competitively which eventually opened my eyes to the ill treatment of horses across the board, not just race horses! The Sanctuary, our home, is situated in Waroona approximately 110 km from Perth in Western Australia’s Peel Region. We have 100 acres and at the time of writing this we have 65 rescued animals with more waiting to come as infrastructure is completed. We currently have pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, cows horses a pink and grey galah and our rescued dogs and cats. Our animals all come with a story, many of our pigs are ‘factory farm rescues’ their stories range from being found in the ‘dead bin’ still alive, to being bound up with tape so tight they couldn't move, couldn't feed and could barely breath, to having feet stuck down the grates in the floor, injured and unable to move. Most of our horses were saved from a bullet; they were either injured, too slow for racing or not suitable for the show ring. Our first rescue however was saving 7 cows and steers from slaughter; the farmer who we bought the farm off was retiring, he had 30 ‘breeders’ and their calves all of whom were sent to the abattoir. We arrived one day for a house inspection to see 6 left behind, we learned they had become stuck in a fence and had minor injuries. Injured animals aren't accepted at slaughter houses..... go figure! Long story short, we raised enough money from donations to buy the 6 lucky ones (for no less than market price!) I found out that the farmer had hand raised one and ‘the old one’ (who was 12 years old, cows can live up to 20 years) was possibly pregnant! He was right. A month later she gave birth to the most precious girl in the world. I since did some reading on the practice of slaughtering pregnant cows (which is legal and common practise), it can take up to 5 minutes for the calf to asphyxiate inside its dead mum. Not a quick and painless death by any means. Though their stories are hard to hear, even though they have a happy ending we believe people need to hear them to help change the way they view animals. We already welcome small groups to visit the sanctuary and meet the animals but our long term goal is to build a classroom and invite school groups, support groups for troubled youth, the mentally and physically disabled and minority groups. Not only do the animals help people physically and emotionally, we believe that hearing the animal’s stories, meeting them and learning they are like our beloved dogs or cats - allows people to make the connection, take those blinkers off and see the truth.... animals will continue to suffer unless people question what we are all told growing up. ‘Why eat one and love another?’ - www.greenerpasturessanctuary.org.au -

Lasa Sanctuary is a nonprofit public charity located in northeast Ohio. Our mission is to promote whole, vegan living through education and experience designed to celebrate the connectedness of all living beings, to provide sanctuary for animals in need, and to share our message of compassionate healing throughout the human community. At Lasa every life is respected and cherished. We believe in the power of unity and the strength of love to heal the hearts and minds of animals and people in need. We are located on 10.7 acres in Jefferson, Ohio and house over 40 animals of various domesticated species, including dogs, cats, cattle, sheep, and fowl. All except the cats are vegan as research does not back the efficacy of plant based diet for felines. The dogs and rat enjoy their V-dog! ~~ Still in our infancy, we are building our sanctuary, community, and outreach more and more each month. In the last year we welcomed our first farmed animal rescues and over 70 visitors for private tours. We have recently begun to explore outreach possibilities with senior living and day care centers and we are scheduling our first ahimsa-centered meditation programs at the sanctuary this spring. ~~ Lasa Sanctuary is a small, family-run organization intended to provide refuge not only to the animals who reside here, but to all who visit and follow our endeavors. We are a place of dreams and idealism, peace and love, unity and compassion. ~~ Events such as our Annual “Stuff” Sale, online fundraisers, and animal sponsorships help raise needed funds for ongoing animal care, feed, and supplies. Updates / Donation links can be found on our website. Pictured here, our rescued calf, Jasper Prana runs for the very first time after spending the first weeks of his life confined to a small isolated enclosure on a New York dairy farm. Listed in a Craigslist ad as simply “unwanted” and “must be gone by the weekend,” Jasper’s fate was uncertain before we found him. I can still vividly recall his wobbly legs, severely fly-bitten skin, and adorable under-bite. Now nearly 8 months old, he is a healthy and happy steer who loves human attention and exploring with the rest of his herd. www.lasasanctuary.org  - Facebook

Back into daylight Animal Sanctuary - "We are a vegan sanctuary in eastern Ireland. We actively promote veganism to all our family and to all visitors. We have almost 100 residents made up of: 58 ex battery caged hens, 16 mistreated cockerels, 14 to 18 cats depending on some of them being stray or free spirit that come and go as they please, 8 drakes, 1 goose called Aero, 1 billy goat called Louie, 1 wild boar called Arthur, and loads of wild animals including rats, rabbits, foxes, wild birds, and a crow rookery on our boundary trees. Arthur; our boar, wandered in to us. He came up our lane and into us even though we live near a busy road. When he arrived, he was a fully grown wild boar. We love him so, he came to us. ~~  My name is Declan and my partner is Sharon and we are so pleased to live in the company of so many beautiful creatures. They give us such will and energy to change the way that animals are treated in the world, and to fight for their freedom every day. Their majesty and their joy just to be alive - is so humbling to see. Both of us do outreach on the streets as often as we can promoting veganism and telling people about the beauty of all animals. I Declan, am the owner of the sanctuary and a vegetarian since I was about 8 years old, and I am vegan for the last 10 years. Sharon has been vegetarian since she met me 30 years ago and vegan also for the last 10 years. ~~ Some of our rescued cats got badly sick and we had to put them back on food with some meat in it. Also we have 3 very old cats that we took in and they would not eat meatless food and were starting to get sick and we had to put them back on food containing some animal flesh. We aim all the time to keep our diet for all the animals meat-free so long as the animals do not start getting too thin or very sickly. It is a struggle to keep them meat-free but we are learning all the time.” ~ www.backintodaylight.com

Babar smiling 
Full Circle Farm Sanctuary, in the picturesque mountains of Western North Carolina, was founded in 2010, and is the fruition of a lifelong dream of its founder and director, Kayla Worden. Kayla grew up surrounded by animals, and her love for them convinced her to adopt an ethical vegan lifestyle since 1989. Kayla has dedicated herself to animal advocacy. Initially with very little support, Kayla began the work with three rescued farm animals: Zephyr, a pig named Penelope Persimmon Pigsworth (Penny for short), and the resident heart throb and rooster, Noah Bradley. Gradually, with the help of a growing number of volunteers, the sanctuary expanded its fences and shelters so that it could welcome many others. ~~ Kayla says "When you walk through the red gate and into the sanctuary yard, you enter into a different world. Immediately all your narrow obsessions and concerns fall away, and your focus is drawn to the animal residents before you. You are greeted by the gregarious goat, Zephyr, and closely at his heels is your new friend Joshua. If you are a newcomer, and you can manage to look past Zephyr and Joshua’s playful advances, you may notice a pensive, yet inquisitive goat watching you from a safe distance. Fontine has no horns like the other goats, and her caution betrays a dark past – a history that is shared by too many farmed animals. When you learn that Fontine was once confined by a chain and that she was forced to stand by while her son was torn apart by dogs, your heart sinks to your stomach. Fortunately that was not the end of her story. Now Fontine and her daughter Isabella have the opportunity to run, play, and eat without torment; they will live out the rest of their lives in peace. ~~ Currently we are housing and caring for 36 residents including pigs, goats, chickens, guinea fowl, ducks, a llama, cats and dogs. (The dogs are fed vegan except for occasional eggs from the rescued chickens. Our dogs are fed Natural Balance vegan dog food...plus veggies, coconut oil, etc. The cats are now transitioning to a vegan diet.) At our public outreach booths we promote veganism and even offer up free vegan food samples and literature. Outreach and education is a BIG part of why we exist. Donations are much appreciated and essential as we are an all-volunteer, non-profit, humble sanctuary. One of the persistent struggles in sanctuary operations is securing the resources to fund expansion projects so that we can help more animals. Even now only a quarter of available land is being used. Chickens, especially roosters, are always in need of safe homes. That is why the first real explosion of incoming animals happened with the roosters and chickens. Many of the resident hens were “donated” to the sanctuary by “eco-friendly”, urban homesteaders after the hens' egg production declined or ceased all together. Incredibly many of the chickens surrendered to us started laying again once they were offered high quality grain and fresh produce…and love! These eggs are either offered back to the hens to meet their high calcium needs, or they are eagerly enjoyed by the resident pigs and dogs. Each chicken readily displaces a unique, distinguishable personality. They have preferences in terms of food and in terms of companionship. That is why it is sometimes so very comical remembering who is “in” with whom while settling them into their coups at night. We have several flocks with sizable enclosures. Each enclosure has a chicken-sized doorway that leads to the larger goat pasture. Due to the preferences just mentioned, only one flock can have access to this pasture at a time and so a rotating schedule is always in play. Occasionally one of the resident goats, usually one of the males, will decide that he wants to be a chicken for the day, mainly so he can enjoy unlimited access to the chicken feed, and he will try to squeeze through the narrow chicken doors. ~~ Frequent visitors to the sanctuary will remember those chickens whose lives ran full circle at the sanctuary: the exploratory and ever brave hen, Viva, the gregarious and affectionate Luna, who enjoyed sitting on our laps and greeting us at her gate in the evening, and the over-sized, yet affable “broiler” rooster, Victor. Viva was partially blind when she arrived at the sanctuary. We believe that her blindness was caused by the same animal that systematically wiped out her flock; that was allowed to live free range in the city. Through daily eye treatments, Viva’s eyesight improved considerably. Victor fell off of an animal transport and miraculously survived. Due to his enormous size, which is unnatural and yet typical for chickens bred for meat, Victor could barely walk. While he never explored in the way that Luna or Viva explored, he attracted the fancy of many hens. He didn't need to move around much, because his lady friends came to him! Indeed, we shall ever cherish our memories with these precious friends. Probably two of our most outgoing residents are the pigs, Penny and Babar. Penny was one of the three founding residents at the sanctuary. Early on in the sanctuary, before we learned about the wily ways of pigs, Penny dug her way out from under the fencing and took a short stroll around the neighborhood. She was quickly recovered during the Great Pig Rescue of 2010 with the help of four or five volunteers and a moving truck…and during an ice storm yet! Although her enclosure is considerably more secure now, she doesn't seem to mind a bit! You will often see her kicking her heels up, playing with Babar. However, she is never too busy to visit with her fans, especially if they come bearing fresh produce like apples or pumpkins. After she enjoys her treat, Penny will look at you with her soulful eyes, and respond to your vocalizations with deep grumblings and snorts of her own. Our newest residents are the ducks and our llama, Nemo! The hardest part about your visit will be trying to leave. First of all, Zephyr is not likely to let you pass through the gate without a final, prolonged farewell! Although interacting with the animals is the BEST part of farm sanctuaries, our mission is not simply to serve a limited number of animals residents. We lead tours, promote veganism through tabling and through our educational workshops, for the benefit of all animals, even human ones." ~ www.fullcirclefarmsanctuary.org – Facebook Page

Indraloka Animal Sanctuary in Mehoopany, Pennsylvania, US - "As one of Pennsylvania’s only all species and farm animal rescue, Indraloka provides 'heaven on earth' for 165 animals that have nowhere else to turn. We educate the community, especially children, on ways in which we can better care for ourselves and the environment while helping animals in need. Recently, we provided a permanent home to a pig who took a leap of faith from a truck on his way to the slaughterhouse  - and to a duck who was saved from the same fate by hiding in a back alley in trash and was brought to our attention by the Empty Cages Collective - At Indraloka, we try to spread the message of compassion and veganism whenever we can. We ask that people coming to work with the animals refrain from using animal products for at least 48 hours before the visit and we try to educate visitors on the violence of the meat and dairy industries. As a result, many of the volunteers and visitors have adopted a vegan lifestyle. ~~ One of the primary focuses at Indraloka Animal Sanctuary is education. We provide private and group tours and work to plan several public events each year. In November, we held a "Celebration of the Turkeys," at which our turkeys and all of our other winged friends were guests of honour. Two very special guests were turkeys rescued from a farm shortly before Thanksgiving week."  Indra Lahiri, founder of Indraloka Animal Sanctuary in the Endless Mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania (an hour northwest of Scranton), said: "We currently have 86 cats living at the sanctuary, most of whom came to us as strays or as feral cats that needed to be relocated for their safety. We have consulted with multiple veterinarians and feline nutrition experts and as yet, have not found a vegan cat food that will meet the cat's dietary needs. Providing them with non-vegan food is a source of pain and sadness for us here at the sanctuary, and yet their lives also matter and we cannot turn them away. We remain open to and eager for the possibility of a vegan diet that meets their needs. There are only 2 dogs at the sanctuary at present. Our third dog recently crossed over. He suffered an auto-immune disease triggered by allergies, and we were not able to locate a vegan dog food that did not contain one of his many allergens. Both of our other dogs are currently transitioning to a vegan diet. All of the other animals on the property eat a raw, vegan, and primarily organic diet consisting primarily of grass and hay, fresh vegetables and fruit, and whole grains, seeds, and nuts. No humans are allowed to bring any animal food products onto the grounds for any reason, and only vegan foods are served here for humans." Indra Lahiri may be reached at the email address indra@epix.net ~ www.indraloka.org

Uplands PEAK Sanctuary officially opened in October 2013, and immediately began rescuing animals, organizing legislative activism and community outreach activities. Uplands PEAK sits smack dab in the middle of animal agriculture country; located in southern Indiana (Salem) about 30 miles NW of Louisville, Kentucky. PEAK offers a 20-acre refuge for animals and people. There are now 5 pigs that can call Uplands PEAK Sanctuary their home. The first to be rescued were Annie and Andy, who were together in a backyard in Minneapolis, where they were about to be slaughtered for food. They bravely made a run for it, and were found by a wonderful rescue group, Chicken Run Rescue who sent them to PEAK to live together. With Annie and Andy now are also Isaac and his sisters, Brandi and Erica. They were part of a horrible neglect case from the state of New York. PEAK was able to permanently house all three and provide medical care for the pigs as well. Erica has needed special medical attention as she was allergic to the sutures used to heal her during a previous surgery. Thanks to PEAK, she is now healed and is back with her brother and sister. The trio were fostered By Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary while their court case was pending. The five pigs have formed a nice herd and it is amazing to watch them grow and develop special friendships. The pigs at PEAK get their veterinary care at Purdue University and the care, as well as their food and housing costs come from generous donors and proceeds from PEAK’s special events. PEAK is an official non-profit organization run by co-founders Mark and Michelle Pruitt, both vegan and educators on a vegan lifestyle, who also live at the sanctuary. The couple is responsible for the daily operations and animal care, at this time. They are helped by a Board of Directors and great volunteers. In Nov.2013, shortly after opening, PEAK held their first annual PEAKsgiving (a compassionate holiday celebration). The event was 100% vegan and was sold out. Other classes and activities in our future are day retreats, vegan cooking classes, overnight camping trips on the farm, and a modest bed and breakfast room at the Sanctuary.  All activities and food are always cruelty-free and vegan. Uplands PEAK is starting slow and steady to ensure that all the beings in our care have the best lives possible. We have hunkered down for this insane winter and cared for our 5 residents. We will begin to take additional animals/species in the Spring of 2014. As well, as have an official opening event! If you are interested in visiting they will be open for tours soon. You can also like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter at @UplandsPEAK. ~ www.uplandspeaksanctuary.org

Erol and Rocky - Photo credit: Andrea White
Animal Place, Grass Valley, California - Animal Place inspires compassionate action through sanctuary, rescue, and advocacy work. Founded in 1989, Animal Place operates three synergistic facilities in California – a 600-acre sanctuary in the Sierra Foothills home to 300 rescued farmed animals and education programs (tours, volunteers, etc), a 60-acre adoption center in Vacaville, and a 15-acre property home to our residential internship program. Our hearts are in the sanctuary and its 300 ambassadors, all farmed animals saved from slaughter or cruelty. Through hearing their harrowing tales, people are shown who they save by adopting a vegan lifestyle. By touching their sometimes scarred bodies, visitors feel who they benefit by choosing veganism. Our volunteer and intern programs create human emissaries spreading the message of compassion to friends, family, and colleagues. All efforts drive our mission of putting compassion into action. The 11 member animal care and education staff are ethical vegans with a desire to save suffering animals and advocate veganism. ~ Animal Place is open to the public for tours. Guided tours introduce visitors directly to rescued animals, educating them about animal farming and veganism. More than 2,000 people attend guided or self-guided tours annually. Speaking at events on familiar issues, like The "Humane" Hoax, exposes the public to the realities faced by nonhumans on farms. Rescue Ranch maximizes Animal Place’s ability to save lives by pulling hens about to be slaughtered from egg farms and preparing them for adoption. ~~ Pictured here is Errol the rooster who loves human companionship and is often found sitting on someone's lap. Errol turned three last month. He and his siblings were caged, left in the pouring rain at an auction yard. Six-weeks old - and larger than most adult chickens. What humans have done to Errol is unforgivably cruel. The abnormal growth causes babies to die of heart attacks or stroke. Though large, their bones still shatter with ease. They are always hungry. We call them peepers, while consumers and chicken farmers call them "broilers". Sitting in their presence is to sit in the presence of curious innocence. They stride forth on ungainly legs splayed out from too much feed on the farm. Their calls are the cheeps of the young, searching in vain for a mother who will never reply. In us, they find solace, comfort, food, friendship. Despite all that the human species inflict on them, they still choose to be in our presence. There is a sort of heartbreak in that. ~ www.animalplace.org

Volunteer Hannah and Hank the pig
"Out to Pasture is a 501(c) (3) non-profit animal sanctuary located in Estacada, Oregon and dedicated to sheltering abused, abandoned or neglected animals. We care for a variety of animals including horses, donkeys, llamas, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits, chickens and feral cats. We believe that animals value their lives as we value our own and deserve to live free of exploitation and cruelty. My husband John and I (Kit) run the sanctuary besides working at other jobs to support ourselves. Out to Pasture is a totally volunteer operation with no paid employees. We stopped eating meat and eggs over 30 years ago and went totally vegan 14 years ago. We promote vegan diets through our sanctuary and public speaking. We feed our animals a vegan diet with the exception of donated cat food. We are in the process of becoming distributors of vegan cat food to be able to get vegan cat food for our cats. We became involved with animal rescue through a woman who was running a rescue; re-homing unwanted farmed animals without having any land of her own and living off a low income job. She would transport animals from one home to the new one on the weekends using her truck and horse trailer. We had always thought we couldn't do a rescue since we didn't have enough land or large enough income. She inspired us to do what we could with what we had. We decided right then that it was better to do something rather than nothing. ~~ Our first rescue was a starving horse being sold at dog food prices. Next we got involved with other rescue groups in the Portland area. We now have over 150 animals and spend several hours a day before and after work taking care of our animals. ~~ Support from the vegan community in Portland has enabled us to grow and do way more than we ever could have on our own. We also belong to a group of vegan sanctuaries that meets once a month to share ideas and give support to each other. ~~ Our most popular resident is a 700 pound pig named Poppy who lived at an elementary school in Portland as a piglet until they realized she was going to be much larger than the 200 pound weight limit for city pigs, so they decided to let a man take her home to raise for meat. Luckily a vegan substitute teacher intervened and brought her to us. Poppy was so well socialized by children at the school that she still enjoys being petted and getting belly rubs. ~~ As a child, Founder; Kit, cared for goats, sheep, horses, rabbits, chickens and a cow on her parents' farm. Witnessing the slaughter of numerous farm animals made her question the necessity of killing and eating her animal friends. Years later, when Kit’s older brother returned from Vietnam as a vegetarian, he vowed never to participate in the killing of anyone, human or animal. Impressed, Kit went vegetarian in 1976 and vegan in 2000. In high school John read Henry David Thoreau’s story of planting extra rows of plants in his garden for the animals to eat. While other farmers chose to shoot the deer and rabbits that invaded their gardens, Thoreau chose compassion over cruelty."  www.outtopasturesanctuary.org

Mino Valley Farm Sanctuary is a safe haven for rescued farm animals situated in 15 peaceable acres of magical woodland in Galicia, Spain. We spread the compassionate vegan message through sharing the animals' heartwarming stories and helping people to see farm animals in a new light. We rescue all kinds of animals from pigs and donkeys to sheep and goats. We are passionate about natural medicine and try our best to treat the animals with herbal remedies. We are also eco-friendly, and love experimenting with sustainable building materials. To help us fund the sanctuary and give the animals the life they deserve we set up the ethical clothing company 'Unite For The Animals' where we sell t-shirts inspired by our beautiful rescue animals. Website: www.minovalleyfarmsanctuary.org/en


To be included in this directory of vegan-run animal sanctuaries, email: veganpoet @ hotmail.com (fix the spacing in email address.) 

Author's Note: Feeding felines a vegan diet is not always possible and difficult when you care for many. Personally, I don't understand living with these farmed animals and then feeding their remains to cats, and I generally choose not to live with cats because I could not purchase slaughtered animals to feed them. I recognize this as a grey area within veganism because cats are considered true carnivores. There are good products for feeding cats vegan, like VeganPet in Australia and VegePet in the U.S and Evolution Cat food. Humans have no requirement for animal products, and therefore eggs from rescued hens, while not vegan for humans, can be offered back to the hens or other omnivorous animals who might benefit from the eggs far more than a human.