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Why Sanctuaries Are Needed As Centres Of Vegan Education

A blog by Laura Buchenlicht

A group of highland cows, alpacas, pigs, and sheeps graze peacefully on a farm sanctuary meadow, with trees and mountains in the background. One cow is looking at the viewer.

Animal rights activists often point out the fact that most people never get to engage with farm animals, which makes it easier for them to stay disconnected from them and continue to lead a carnist lifestyle.

While it would obviously be hard to run a sanctuary inside a town and sanctuaries like the Piece Of Heaven Project are often found in the middle of nowhere, they are still, or maybe also because of that, much needed centres of vegan education.

Of course, like other activists, sanctuaries can inform people about the vegan diet, lifestyle, animal exploitation, and everything else a vegan needs to know. But unlike most other vegans, those who run a sanctuary know what it’s like to care for the victims of the animal exploitation industries.

This kind of knowledge that comes from lived experience, gives something no amount of factual information could ever provide. Non-human animals can’t campaign for themselves, but they certainly do communicate their feelings in a way that is intelligible for humans.

The people who take care of these animals know this better than anyone else. They are best placed to speak for farm animals in general, as they know so many of them personally.

Unfortunately, running a farm sanctuary is a full-time job, which doesn’t even allow for holidays. Thankfully sanctuary runners can still share their valuable experiences without having to take part in direct action activism.

Nowadays the internet gives them the possibility to reach people all over the world through a website and social media. It’s a win for everyone, because not only is this an important source of donations, but also a powerful way to spread the vegan message from the sanctuary point of view.

And then there’s allowing visitors onto the sanctuary itself of course. No matter how clever our technology becomes, nothing will ever replace the real, on-site experience. Whether it’s for a day, for a week or two as a retreat, or longer volunteering – everyone is sure to be somehow touched by their stay.

Just seeing the farm animals in surroundings where they are being well taken care of and not abused, is a powerful thing alone. And then, of course, spending time with them – no matter how little or how much you interact – is bound to make you think about the relationships between human and non-human animals. Especially when you also learn about the usually heartbreaking background stories of the sanctuary residents.

And although the sanctuaries tend to be remote, it’s precisely the remote mountain location which adds to what a stay at the POHP can teach people (as explored in previous blogs).

So, as can be seen, a sanctuary can teach people many things – not just in the general information that the founders and volunteers can give you, but most importantly emotional experiences. What you can learn about and from the animals by spending time with them, from the land, the mountains, the lake, and the creek, as well as from your inner self, when you open up to listen.

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