Finding Inspiration at Sasha Farm Animal Sanctuary

Saturday, September 14, 2013 , , 6 Comments

This story has a happy ending.

So lately I've been hearing about all these new vegan and vegetarian restaurants. More and more people know what I'm talking about when I say vegan. People are generally supportive and tell me that I'm doing a good thing. But then something silly happens like I'm in a hurry and this guy at the farmer's market starts hassling me about not eating eggs. And I wasn't hassling him about NOT eating eggs or any of the other crap he eats. He just started preaching to me out of nowhere. Then, we go to this catered event and we call ahead of time to ask them to make vegan food for us. We were aware that we were in a neighborhood where vegan is not that big so we asked what the food would be to make sure. (How many other vegans out there have been served 'vegan' food laden in cheese, butter, or maybe even beef broth? Sometimes you just have to make sure.) So she tells us veggie lasagna. We tell her vegan means no animal products - including no meat, no dairy. She says how about chicken. Seriously? This is a catering company?

At times like these I kind of wonder if my belief that vegan is getting more mainstream, accepted, easier and more popular is really true. I guess it's like how they say that you can receive a thousand compliments and just one criticism and you focus on the criticism. When these things happen, I should really just laugh and shake my head. I should be grateful that I educated that person for the next veggie eaters they cater for. But sometimes I get disheartened and I start wondering if what I'm doing even makes a difference. Is anyone out there listening? Does anyone care? And then it takes something revitalizing to bring me back up. It doesn't even have to be something big.

I'm not going to lie, I tend to lose my faith in humanity quite often. It's easy to see why. All you have to do is watch the news. All you have to do is read about some horrible thing that is going on. Sometimes just talking to someone and hearing that they really don't care about some great injustice makes me feel such a sadness and I wonder how I can go on in this world without being thoroughly depressed. But then, sometimes something great happens.

Maybe you become the witness to some great act of kindness or charity. Maybe you meet someone who is going for their dreams and making a difference in this world even though everyone tells them to follow the status quo and they are scared as heck. Maybe you fall in love and are so encompassed by it's embrace that you can't imagine anything but love in the world.

Recently we went to a Fun Day at Sasha Farm, the Midwest's largest farm animal sanctuary, located right here in Michigan. After a couple of days of feeling like I was just about the only one who cared about the abuse of farm animals and the environmental impact of our food choices (hello carbon emissions, air & water pollution . . .), I ventured off to the Fun Day with my mom and my very loving friend Amy. We had a nice drive over and were driving down beautiful country roads and a super cute country town when I saw a sign that said something to the effect of 'Livestock Auction Saturday.' I started to feel sick to my stomach. I was seriously obsessing about the vegan food I was going to eat at the sanctuary all week . . . until that moment. I could see the auction in my mind and I knew what was going to happen to those animals. I knew that those animals actually probably had it really good compared to virtually ALL of the farmed animals in the United States. Factory farming now accounts for more than 99 % of all farmed animals raised and slaughtered in the US. And I thought that the animals at this 'livestock' auction were probably not factory farmed. I really didn't know that; maybe I just hoped so.

The worst part of it was knowing that I was totally powerless. Sometimes the task feels so overwhelming and you feel like you're the only one doing it. Even if I saved every animal from that livestock auction that week, how many livestock auctions are going on around the world - every week? And how many animals WISH their life was so good that they were at a livestock auction because the reality of a factory farm is so much more disgusting and inhumane? At this point, I was feeling like I was kind of alone in this battle.

But then we reached our destination and, although the day was half over, the parking lot was still full! And I knew that all of these people cared. They cared about the animals. They cared about the planet. They probably cared about their own health. But I knew they cared about the animals because they came all the way to this sanctuary (which is kind of in the middle of nowhere) and took part in this fundraiser FOR the animals! I imagined all the people at home who wished they could have made it and all the people going to fundraisers and shelters and sanctuaries like this all around the world. I saw hope. I was inspired. These are two things which can sometimes seem hard to find. You can't just save up and go to the store to buy hope and inspiration. They have to come naturally.

It is so easy to feel powerless when you see something wrong with the world. We are so small by ourselves and the problems are so big. But when we remember all of the other people out there doing their little part and we add it all up, it amounts to a lot. There are still a lot of bad things in this world, but I think that, on the whole, things have improved over time. There are so many things we take for granted now that were once just dreams.

Sometimes being a person who cares in a world that seems so numb, I feel like an outcast or like I don't fit in. At these times, I often look to this quote from fellow herbivore, Steve Jobs, to get me back on track:
Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them.  About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.  Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Check out the makeshift parking lot.

The horses were so beautiful and friendly!

I'm not usually scared by animals, but I'm not going to lie - these guys scared me a little bit. I think they're bigger than me and one of them kept walking back and forth so close to me he was brushing up against me.

We took pictures of these guys hoping we'd figure out which one was the chicken we brought here, but we realized this section was only the males. There was a female in the other section who came right over to us when she heard our voices and wanted to be right by us. We thought she was the one.

The ladies. This is just before the chicken we suspect we saved came over to us.

This guy was SO friendly. He was supposed to be resting because he has sore hoofs, but he kept jumping up to see people.

A pig trying to stay cool on a hot day.

We watched the pig on the left come in and say something to the other pig. The pig on the right lifted it's head with eyes half-closed, said something back, and then went back to sleep. The one on the left reluctantly decided to take a nap too. This picture was taken during the 5 minute process of making the perfect bed. In the end, they were sleeping with their rears touching. I think these two must be good friends.

This cow was born with a neurological problem. It's actually what ended up saving her from slaughter in the end because it forced the farmer to get to know her by bottle feeding her for a long time and she couldn't stand the thought of her getting slaughtered.

They were given food by some of the visitors earlier in the day so they were really on the lookout whenever someone walked by.


  1. It seems to me that YOU ARE the hope & inspiration that you seek...Keep on spreading your beautiful light & message my soul sister❤❤❤!

    1. You are so sweet GT! Thank you for the encouragement and for the inspiration you bring to so many!!!

  2. It can be easy to get disheartened and depressed about the non-vegan state of things. I think visiting a sanctuary can breathe life back into being vegan-positive and rejuvenate your hope for a better world. I like that quote from Steve Jobs, who I had no idea was a plant eater. Was he vegan?


    1. You are so right, Ketty! I know he was a long-time vegetarian and also vegan at some point.

  3. I am lucky enough to live near Poplar Spring, which is another terrific animal sanctuary. And I grew up right outside the elephant sanctuary in Tennessee! It's always nice to reconnect with out reasons for being vegan in places like this.

    1. Awesome! I didn't even know about those ones! You are so right!