Activism with Compassion: Volunteering at Farm SanctuariesYael Tamar
As a vegan, you’ve already done your research about the horrifying conditions in factory farms. You probably also know that the majority of farm animals slaughtered for food in America (more than 99%, at some estimates!) are raised on these factory farms. Being the compassionate person you are, the severe animal cruelty these farm animals are exposed to probably factored into your decision to become a vegan in the first place.
But eliminating your consumption of animal products isn’t the only way you can make a difference as a vegan. Another opportunity for activism is to volunteer at a farm animal sanctuary. These farm sanctuaries are designed for animals that have been neglected, abused or abandoned in factory farms. They provide environments where rescued farm animals can peacefully live out the rest of their lives.
Farm Animal Sanctuaries
Animals in commercial farming institutions tend to succumb to failing health that’s brought on by their unbearable living conditions. They also don’t receive any medical attention as it’s cheaper for the institutions to let them die, however slowly. Such sad endings abound for most of the farm animals raised for cheap food. However, there are some happy endings. Some lucky farm animals do escape or get rescued from the cruel animal agriculture industry. These fortunate creatures are the ones that end up on farm sanctuaries.
At these safe havens, the rescued animals are not only properly cared for but also nurtured and cherished. Farm animals receive daily care in as natural an environment as possible. They are also free to live without any exploitation.
Over the years, awareness for the inhumane conditions of factory farming has grown. As a result, farm sanctuaries have been sprouting up across the United States. In almost every state you can find at least one. The mission of these farm sanctuaries is not just to rescue farm animals but to promote a wider understanding about them. They do so through educational, volunteer and visitors’ programs.
Take, for example, America’s largest farm animal rescue and protection organization, Farm Sanctuary. Since its founding in 1986, they have rescued and cared for thousands of animals at their sanctuaries in New York and California. However, they also work to educate people about farm animals’ plight and factory farming’s negative effects on our environment and health. They also advocate for policies and laws to combat animal suffering and reach out to businesses and legislators to inspire institutional reforms.
At Farm Sanctuary’s Watkins Glen, NY, sanctuary, visitors can tour their farm animal shelters and visit with rescued pigs, cows, turkeys, among other farm animals. Their website offers more details about tour times, activities and prices. For a more intense experience, the organization even offers families an opportunity to sleep at their shelter accommodations in upstate New York, to wake up with the rescued roosters. No matter the length of your visit, coming to hear the rescue tales of each animal is a memorable opportunity for adults and families with kids to learn compassion.
Given the constant care and labor-intensive work on these farm sanctuaries, the help of volunteers is always appreciated. Staff at these sanctuaries care for the animals no matter the weather. Volunteers are needed to help out with a variety of tasks, including farm chores, maintenance and animal socialization, among other responsibilities.
Obviously, the main benefit of volunteering at a farm sanctuary is the opportunity to interact with the farm animals themselves; it is a form of activism with mutual benefits – for you and for the farm animals. It can also be an invaluable experience to contribute in some small way to the wider vegan mission of helping to ensure that animals are free to exist in their own right.