I grew up in rural Nevada around cattle country, and veganism was the furthest thing from my mind. Everyone around me was a cattle rancher and I never thought anything of it—it was “normal.”
Many, many, years later I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. I decided to re-read a book I had read in high school entitled “The Voyage of the HMS Beagle” by Charles Darwin. I remember loving the book for its portrayal of the floral and fauna that he encountered on his journey. However, this time around when I read it, I was horrified by the animal cruelty and death and wondered: How was I so blind to this before? Something had changed in me and all I felt was the animal suffering, not the “exciting travels.” I decided to go vegetarian that day.
A few years later, my partner and I decided to attend a Farm Sanctuary Walk for Farm Animals event in San Francisco. When we heard people like Jack Norris from Vegan Outreach and Gene Baur from Farm Sanctuary talk about the dairy and egg industries, we knew we had to go vegan. We did it that very day, for ethical reasons, because what is happening to our fellow earthlings on factory farms is not right.
A short while after I read of the Turlock rescue of egg-laying hens who had been left to die. 50,000 egg-laying hens were abandoned at a California factory farm. They were left locked in battery cages without food or water for two weeks. By the time they were found, one-third of them had perished, and the rest were starving and near death. Sanctuaries, shelters, rescue groups and volunteers worked together and rescued over 4,500 of the hens.
I was so moved by that story that I decided to volunteer at Animal Place—Rescue Ranch. I volunteered regularly, cleaning barns, giving meds and care to hens who needed love. Then as fate would have it many years later, a position opened up and I decided to leave my job and join the Animal Place team! I have now been on rescues and have seen the conditions that animals are forced to live in and have had the wonderful benefit of rehabilitating these poor souls and finding them compassionate homes. I encourage everyone to visit an animal sanctuary and to meet these wonderful individuals face-to-face. They are each unique and wonderfully forgiving.
Photo by Lori Woods.