Everyone has their own reasons for becoming vegan, whether they be for health or ethics. Mine were health driven – I was getting sick from dairy, I felt sluggish all the time, and I was ready for a change. Yes, I considered myself an “animal lover,” but they were in the background of my thinking when it came to my decision-making process. Forks Over Knives was a huge influencer in my thinking, something I wrote about in an earlier post.
Once I started the transition to a plant-based lifestyle, I began watching more and more documentaries (Food Inc.; Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead) and reading more articles, posts, and books (Skinny Bitch). Most of these things touted the health benefits of becoming a vegan but also put a spotlight on the abuse that is behind the meat/dairy industry. I had no idea…I was shocked and disgusted, horrified that I was a part of such a revolting trade. Yes, I began my journey to better my health but it has led me to a deeper respect for animals and their plight.
For those reasons, I really wanted to make a visit to an Animal Sanctuary. Luckily, I grew up in upstate New York and there happens to be a Sanctuary in Woodstock, NY…a stone’s throw from my hometown. I was already planning a visit to my mom for this weekend and I knew that I had to make the sanctuary a part of it. I decided that bringing my mother, a non-vegan, would be a good idea as well – I have talked to her about changing certain parts of her lifestyle, but sometimes it is better for people to hear things from an outside perspective.
The drive up to the farm was scenic – tons of land and trees, open sky and puffy white clouds. WFAS (Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary) is only open to the public for visits and tours on Saturday and Sunday, and the parking lot was full when we arrived. I had to park on the grass! Walking up to the gate, you could see animals grazing the fields and walking up to the guests for some one on one time – what a happy scene! A tour costs $10 per adult and takes place every hour; you can pay and wander around until the next tour starts, spending some quality time with the cuties. That’s just what we did!
When our tour started, our guide Mike did a fantastic job of introducing us to all of his animal friends by name, telling us their stories, and telling us the sad tales of those that didn’t make it to the farm. The tour was a perfect combination of real (Mike spared no details) and hopeful. Each animal had a unique story and personality that is clearly cherished by the workers and volunteers of the sanctuary. I consider myself pretty informed, but I learned a lot from Mike. The energy and vibe at the sanctuary were like none other that I have been a part of – I wish that I lived closer so that I could volunteer my free time to be a part of it!
I was able to get tons of great pictures of the animals – I have compiled them into a slideshow for you below.Whenever possible, I included the names of each furry friend. I’m already looking forward to my next trip upstate, and will definitely be looking for animal sanctuaries whenever I am traveling to other areas. If you get the chance, please visit or support one of these incredible places. Getting a chance to witness the wonderful work that they do absolutely reinforced my decision to become a vegan. I could never look at those cute little guys and think “food” ever again!
Have you ever visited an animal sanctuary? What was your experience like? Please share in the comments below!