A Poem for the Goats of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

A Poem for the Goats of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

A poem written for the goats of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, rescued from human abuse, yet still able to forgive. They are the ambassadors for the billions who are run through our system with no human compassion, to die violently for our fleeting desires. Learning to awaken human compassion for the ones who have no voice to beg for it, would surely be a complete and beneficial evolution for human consciousness.

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Gandhi on Vegetarianism

I have been reading Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth and it has inspired me to create this gallery of photographs I have taken at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary accompanied by quotes from the great yogi, and some of my own commentary.

"To my mind the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man." ~Mahatma Gandhi


"I do feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants." ~Mahatma Gandhi

Antonio & Bertha at Woodstock Sanctuary

"It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow beings." ~Mahatma Gandhi

The piglets in this photo, Antonio and Bertha, were born to a sow who was rescued after being beaten and burned by a factory farm worker. The abuse was so awful that it was reported by a co-worker, an almost unheard of act of bravery in this industry. The abuse earned the sow, who was named Julia, her freedom. Upon being transported to Farm Sanctuary, she gave birth to 16 piglets. Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary soon after provided homes for two of them, Antonio and Bertha.

It is a sad truth that in factory farms and slaughterhouses the workers treat the creatures, who already endure lives of horror and suffering, with additional levels of violence and cruelty, including beatings and sexual abuse. Before condemning these workers, imagine yourself working in these conditions, earning your living from the exploitation of other beings. In order to feel OK about it, you will have to create a mental barricade between your sentience and theirs. Once this wall is erected, these beings become insentient in your mind, and to reinforce this distortion of reality you must trivialize their brutalization. You at the very least participate in it, and may even escalate it, building the wall between "us and them" ever higher.

The workers in these industries are typically exploited themselves; often immigrants who can not find other work, do not speak English, and fear being deported. We who buy the flesh, milk and eggs stolen from those that they imprison, torture, rape, and kill - are not separate from the acts that they commit. We are an interconnected web of beings who have ourselves created mental barriers between the food that we take into our bodies, and the realities of where it comes from.


"I hold flesh-food to be unsuited to our species. We err in copying the lower animal world if we are superior to it." ~Mahatma Gandhi

While I feel that we are not superior to the "lower" animal world - we are a part of it - there is a meme of human superiority that we encounter everywhere in our culture. As vegans we often have to argue against it ("I didn't climb to the top of the food chain to become a vegetarian" "If god wanted us to be vegetarian, why did he make animals out of meat?" "Nature is red in tooth and claw"). I believe that we are evolving, and that our qualities of intellect and inherent spiritual nature give us the ability to choose the path of our evolution, to some extent. Shall we choose to continue on as a violent species, whose greed destroys everything in its wake? If so, then I predict we will not survive much further into the future.

There is another path, the one of compassion, that presents itself as a choice in every interaction we have with other beings. It is the path of the yogi. Every time we sit down to nourish our bodies with food, we have this choice. Let us use our vast creative and intellectual potential to imagine a world where we are nourished by plants, and where animals live liberated from the prisons we euphemistically call farms. Liberated also from zoos, science labs, entertainment industries (as Maybelle was), and pet stores.

"You must be the change that you wish to see in the world." ~Mahatma Gandhi

Please check out my photographs of farmed animals living in sanctuaries for inspiration. You can also purchase Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary's 2013 calendar which is filled with my photographs, to be inspired for a whole year!

Christmas for the Cows

Article originally appeared in my column The Vegan Examiner of New Orleans Precious the cow at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY Credit: Derek Goodwin

Christmas is a time to say "I love you." While it is nice to say it to other humans, we have all heard it so much it is nearly meaningless. Cows, on the other hand, don't get to hear it enough. If they did, they wouldn't understand your tiny mouth noises anyway. But if we truly did love cows, then everyone would be vegan. Or at least not eat, milk, or human-ually impregnate cows.

Some people confuse sex for love. Perhaps that is why in the dairy industry people are paid to artificially inseminate cows. In these times it is hard to find a job, and some of us turn to sex work, that is just a common reality. First the sperm has to be collected. This is done by a human, who uses an 'artificial vagina' to collect the seminal fluid. If you are curious how this is done check out this video. Next, another human dons a long latex glove and inserts his arm into a real cow's vagina and squirts a bit of sperm into the cow. If you are curious how this is done, here is another video. In case you are wondering, cows need to be impregnated every year to produce milk, and this is how the majority of cows get knocked-up.

This is not the ideal vision of a white Christmas, and Jesus probably would not have approved. Some Christians worry that if same-sex marriage is allowed it will lead to humans marrying animals. Yet every time a Christian drinks a glass of milk or eats some cheese they are practically paying someone to engage in sexual acts with a cow or a bull. Sex without marriage, as we know, is a sin. Either we should quit drinking bovine mammary secretions, or allow people to marry whomever they like. This would create lots of jobs in the wedding industry, and offer alternatives for sex workers who want to change careers.

For the record, the Vegan Examiner of New Orleans officially condones same-sex marriages and condemns bestiality. That is just how he rolls. Many people say they condemn bestiality, but then eat animal products produced through such practices. Domestic turkeys, for instance, can no longer mate naturally because of breeding and genetic manipulations that have grown their breasts too big for coital contact. Some humans may have reached these proportions as well, of their own accord. But let's not go there.

It is best to express your love for animals non-sexually. Take, for instance, the band The New Hot 5. While none of them are known to be vegan, and although they play New Orleans Jazz but don't live in New Orleans, they still have at least once been nice to cows. They went all the way to France to play When the Saints Go Marching In for some cows (see "Jazz for Cows" video attached to this article), who seem to genuinely appreciate it. No one knows what the band had for dinner that night, but we can be hopeful they might have thought twice about eating cow flesh.

If you would like to do something nice for a cow this Christmas, how about helping a cow out at an animal sanctuary? Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary offers animal adoptions, where you can pay a monthly donation to help out one of the critters living there. The national organization Farm Sanctuary offers the same. These can be given as gifts, and come with photos of the animal and other benefits. The biggest benefit being that you are helping to raise awareness about animal exploitation.

This holiday season, say "NO" to bestiality, and choose to eat vegan. Leave your outlandish comments below.