This essay is the first part in a series about
veganism, humane farming, and animal agriculture in the United States.
When most people think of a farm, it's fresh eggs and produce in the
morning, milking cows, and, sometimes, sending animals to slaughter. Not so
if you're an intern at Farm Sanctuary, a vegan-run haven where rescued
animals live out their days free from the possibility that a human would eat
their eggs or even shear their wool for a warm winter sweater.
Located in Watkins Glen, NY, Farm Sanctuary has an almost perfect creation
story. Founders Gene Baur and his then-wife Lorrie Houston raised initial
funds by selling vegetarian hot dogs from the back of a VW bus outside
Grateful Dead concerts. They rescued their first animal during a trip to the
Lancaster stockyard in Pennsylvania in 1986. Hilda the sheep was found
near-death on a downer pile, where animals too weak to stand or be sold at
auction are left to die.
In my real-world life in Brooklyn, I live
in an apartment and have not just one but three roommates. A vegetarian
couple is in the first room, a vegan on the other side, leaving me -- the
only omnivore -- stuck in the middle. If 3.2 percent of Americans are
vegetarian, this set up is a far cry from the norm.
... For me,
subtle signs like a panhandle wrapped in scotch tape reading, "NO MEAT!!"
made it hard to forget. ...
When Becky, the intern coordinator,
picked me up for the hour-long ride to Watkins Glen, she asked me, "How long
have you been vegan?"
I paused for a moment, thinking of the empty
sausage wrapper I'd just thrown in the trash, "Well," I said, "I am now."
Part Two: "A Chicken in Every Pot"