Derek Pashupa Goodwin
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Writings on yoga and photography by Derek Pashupa Goodwin

Sloane & Matt's vegan Woodstock wedding

The bride and groom pose with a goat at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

The bride and groom pose with a goat at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

On June 5th I kicked off my 2010 vegan wedding season at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in Woodstock, NY. The couple, Sloane & Matt, are animal rights activists from NYC who hired me based on a recommendation from sanctuary founders Doug Abel and Jenny Brown. Sloane & Matt were blessed with a beautiful saturday full of sunshine and tattooed vegans. It is interesting to participate in weddings at sanctuaries (and vegan weddings in general). There are always the friends who are excited to be at a wedding where they can eat all the food and spend time with the amazing farm animals who are the residents. Then there is the family, who are sometimes a little freaked out and worried how they will get through several hours without eating anything that comes from an animal, all the while being surrounded by creatures that they usually only encounter in a different form on their plates.

I like to think about all the ripples of compassion that spread out from events that make a splash in people's consciousness. The flower girl seemed most enraptured in the company of the animals. Children live so much with their hearts for as long as they can keep at bay the cultural conditioning that emphasizes apathy over empathy. This is often the time when young girls become vegetarians, or have the epiphany that leads them in that direction.

My hope is that even adults who attend vegan weddings at sanctuaries will spend some time with the animals who live there, and some time thinking deeply about the reasons why vegans and sanctuaries exist. I have met people who have become vegan through visiting sanctuaries, and I am sure this transformation occurs at weddings as well. Weddings are about love, food and ritual. If there is to be a transformative effect all three of these elements must work together. Matt & Sloane's wedding was a great example of how this can happen.