Tag Archives: veganism

Cattle Farm to an Animal Sanctuary: A Total 180


This past weekend I went to visit the Catskill Animal Sanctuary with some fellow Vassar students, about a 45-minute drive across the river and north from campus. Since opening its facilities in 2001, the sanctuary has rescued over 5,000 animals from a wide variety of harmful (and generally near-fatal) conditions, and now takes care of them while also offering tours and education about what really happens behind the closed doors of factory farms and even small, local farms. While I was there, they also were hosting a vegan cooking class featuring various leafy greens with the author of a cookbook. And there was free food, something I will never refuse!


After trying some tasty dishes, we started our tour around the facilities. They’ve got over 300 acres in this property, but fortunately, we didn’t stray too far from where we started! Our tour guide, Rocky, actually went to Vassar and was an active member of the Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) while she was on campus. Even though I myself have been vegan for three years now, she still taught me some amazing things that I still didn’t know. We checked out the chickens and a turkey they have there, and she told us that mother hens will actually “talk” to her chicks while they’re still in the egg, and–get this, it’s wild!–the chicks will talk to each other to coordinate when they’re going to hatch so that they all hatch within 24 hours of each other and will all be closer in development! Chickens are so amazing! And so cute and cuddly! I also learned that chickens naturally only are supposed to lay about 20 eggs per year, and the animal agriculture industry has them laying nearly one a day now–and as a result, chickens actually have very high rates of ovarian cancer and extremely poor quality-of-life because they’ve just been brought into existence to be machines of production.



She showed us a couple bulls that they have on the premises too, and we learned about cows being selectively bred and raised for meat, and we also talked about dairy cows and how traumatizing it is for the mother cow to have her baby taken away from her (which nearly always happens within 48 hours of them being born). Rocky also showed us two different breeds of pigs, and told us how smart and actually clean they are. She told us about a documentary called “The Last Pig” which explores a phenomenon of the same name–basically, that “humane” slaughterhouses will take the pigs into slaughter one by one so they don’t see their peers get killed, but they actually do understand what’s happening, and by the time there’s one pig left, they’re extremely distraught and stressed, and sometimes will actually break their own legs trying to get out. I don’t know about you, but that truly broke my heart when I heard that. Pigs are so smart and are treated so awfully–don’t even get me started on gestation crates (I’ll let you Google that one yourself).




Since our last field trip as a class was to JSK Cattle Company and we saw chickens, pigs, and cows, I thought it was important to visit a place that reminded me why I think that raising animals for food is an unnecessary, unsustainable, and just plain cruel industry (yes, even the small ones). Meeting farmers and encountering where our food comes from were the main objectives of this class, but I personally think that anyone who consumes animal products has an obligation to know about where those foods come from too. I highly encourage anyone and everyone to visit an animal sanctuary (Catskill or any other!) to learn about the labor that goes into everything on their plate, whether or not they truly want to. Plus, you’ll get to meet a lot of cute animals! And who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky like I did and try some new food, AND watch a goat climb into a truck and get in trouble! 🙂