My aunt and I had the amazing privilege of staying at a beautiful, 200 year old renovated farmhouse in Catskill, NY on the Catskill Animal Sanctuary grounds. The white farmhouse is called The Homestead, and is complete with dark blue shutters and a porch with two rocking chairs. Right when we pulled up we were instantly charmed. The inside was stunning and images of the rescued animals filled the house. As guests at The Homestead, we were able to walk down to the grounds by ourselves and interact with the animals at our own pace. Emmet, a chicken rescued from a meth lab in Missouri, greeted me right away. We were told by staff that Emmet liked to be picked up and sure enough he backed into me and ducked his head down as if he was asking to be picked up as soon as we walked onto the premises. Holding Emmet was a great experience & I thought to myself that farm animals are truly no different than our own pets that we let into our homes, lives, and our hearts. If there’s room for cats and dogs why isn’t there room for chickens, pigs, turkeys, and cows?
Our tour guide, Erica, was so informative and cooked us a delicious organic, vegan breakfast with pancakes, yogurt, cereal, bread, jams, fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee and creamers, fresh fruit and more the next morning. She then took us down to the grounds once more where we were led into some of the gated areas. We met Ginger and Moses the pigs who absolutely loved their bellies rubbed. They were happy to see us and plopped right down for us to have full access to their cute, pink bellies. We met Buddy and Mirage the horses who were blind – but still living enriched, happy lives. Buddy and Mirage most likely would have been put down by any other owner but they had a chance of life at CAS – and were living it happily.
The cows loved licking our hands and ran over to the gate when we approached. All of the animals were friendly and happy. A life they would have never lived on factory farms, in the homes of animal hoarders or in the hands of breeders. It was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget. I have visited the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY twice and now the Catskill Animal Sanctuary – and quite frankly my life will never be the same post visits. Martin Luther King Jr. said it right – “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way”. I know too much to look the other way now, and the information and compassion I have gained wants to burst from my soul and onto others. I want to spread the word. Too often people ask me questions in a negative light about being a vegetarian or trying to eat a mostly vegan diet when possible…are they intimidated? Do I make them feel lesser? Are they truly concerned about where I get my protein from or do they just want to try to get me to crack or find some flaw in my lifestyle. Yes, I could eat animals again if I wanted to. Yes, if I was stranded on an island and needed to eat an animal to survive I would (I get that question a lot) but I’m not stranded on an island. I’m living a very blessed life with the ability and capacity to make a decision for the greater good of myself, the animals and the environment. And that choice is the choice to omit eating animals. Who says that humans have the right to manipulate and control the lives of billions of animals? We don’t. They’re a part of this earth just as we are and they don’t deserve to be mistreated or ignored. They have emotions, feelings, and personalities just like we do. They form friendships with other animals just like we do with other humans. They deserve more. If you have the chance to visit an animal sanctuary, such as Catskill Animal Sanctuary, please do. It’ll change you for the better, I promise.