by Anu Yagi
Lauralee Blanchard of the Maui's own Leilani Farm Sanctuary will be
joining Sea Shepherd's Captain Paul Watson as part of
Vegan of the Year Awards. While Watson puts his hide on the line to save the
whales, Blanchard helped saved a different kind of creature coming across
the Pacific: the pig. The former consultant to the World Society for the
Protection of Animals (WSPA) helped document the cruel treatment hogs
receive when traversing the Pacific for slaughter and consumption.
"Every year, thousands of pigs are shipped alive from the mainland U.S. to
Hawaii only to be slaughtered upon arrival," says Blanchard. "During their
one-week voyage, these pigs are forced to endure intensely overcrowded and
unsanitary conditions; many suffer stress-related illnesses, injuries and
diseases. Those who survive the trip are then kept in cages, and then
slaughtered. The supermarket chains agreed to stop purchasing pork products
from pigs transported live from the mainland U.S. to Hawaii for slaughter,
as a result of the World Society for the Protection of Animals’
investigation, which I helped
document. The supermarkets cited animal welfare as the reason for their
change of policy."
Some of these pigs are also imported for military
training practices. Blanchard not only documented the treatment of these
animals but rallied the local community and spearheaded a petition on
Change.org that has topped 30,000 signatures.
The petition asked
Matson to stop transporting the pigs. The company refused, but supermarket
chains Foodland and Times Supermarket did stop buying pork from pigs
inhumanely transported. While the practice still exists, her activism
resulted in a reduction of about 7,500 pigs.
"The entire process, not
just the shipping, is inhumane and unacceptable," says Blanchard. "These
pigs [which she says have cognitive abilities equivalent to a three-year-old
human] are raised in cruel conditions on factory farms and then trucked
across the U.S. continent before being loaded onto the Matson ocean
containers. After arriving on shore, they are brutally slaughtered."
Blanchard also runs a sanctuary for animals that rescues animals. including
goats, chickens, cats ducks, rabbits, geese, tortoises, donkeys, pigs and a
deer. Her farm is currently at capacity, though she does want to expand.
"We work to find good homes for the rescued animals, but most of them
spend the remainder of their lives at Leilani Farm Sanctuary," says
Blanchard. "The sanctuary is now at the point where it has as many animals
as we can afford to take care of. Our future vision is to fence in
additional pasture land in order to accommodate more animals. We are working
to raise funds for this project and to help with the ongoing care of the
animals. Tax-deductible donations can be made on our website at
We are also working to expand Leilani Farm Sanctuary’s humane education
programs and outreach programs for people with special needs."
Blanchard believes being a vegan is an important part of her philosophy, and
the sanctuary offers assistance for people interested in changing their
lifestyle. The sanctuary also offers tours on Wednesdays and Saturdays for
"A vegan lifestyle is beneficial for optimal human health,
protection of the environment, and the reduction of animal suffering," says
Blanchard. "The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) resource panel
released a report stating that a global shift towards
a vegan diet is vital if we are to halt climate change and other
environmental problems. Adopting a vegan diet is easy and we are happy to
help! Leilani Farm Sanctuary provides vegan starter guides for anyone who is
Another way to get involved at the sanctuary is to
volunteer on Monday or Wednesday mornings at 9am. Blanchard needs assistance
with barn cleaning, gardening, carpentry, animal grooming, general
maintenance, manure duty, window washing, installations, repairs, etc.
Chores on a farm are plentiful.
I hear volunteer days do offer a good
vegan lunch, and reservations are required. Email
email@example.com to participate. Blanchard says she’s elated to
appear on the Vegan of the Year list, and is inspired to accomplish even
more in the future when it comes to veganism.
"Death at a
slaughterhouse is never quick and painless," she says. "The reality is that
over 90 percent of farmed animals in the U.S. are raised on factory farms in
intensive confinement. The Animal Welfare Act excludes protection for
animals raised for food. There are no laws requiring factory farms to
provide animals with spacious environments, clean surroundings, fresh air or
"The animals are regarded as mere commodities," she continued.
"They are treated like machines with no concern for their pain or suffering,
and are deprived of exercise so that all their energy goes toward producing
flesh, eggs, or milk for human consumption. Factory-farmed animals are fed
growth hormones to fatten them faster and are genetically altered through
selective breeding and gene splicing to grow larger or to produce more milk
or eggs than they would naturally. Their miserable lives end at the
slaughterhouse where they are frequently dismembered while still fully