Students, faculty, and staff visited Farm Sanctuary, a 26-acre shelter for animals in Acton, on Sunday, January 14. A national nonprofit that rescues abused animals, Farm Sanctuary advocates for a vegan lifestyle. According to the trip organizer, Director of Library Services and YOZMA Animal Rights Advisor David Kates, the goal of the visit was to meet farm animals and learn about the animal advocacy organization. They met cows, pigs, chickens, a turkey, goats, and sheep.
Kates also hoped that students would begin thinking about speciesism – discrimination of one species over another. Why are certain animals sometimes treated much better than others? Why are some people more upset about abuse of dogs and cats than that of cows, pigs, and chickens?
"It is clear from meeting these animals that they are kind, sentient, and intelligent beings that deserve respect and good lives,” said Kates, who believes that a plant-based diet is the most compassionate, healthy, and environmentally friendly way to live.
For some students, like Hannah Rubin '19, the visit was deeply moving. Seeing so many animals, each with their own backstory of abuse and neglect inspired Rubin and others to even change their eating habits. “After visiting the Farm Sanctuary,” she shared, “I actually haven't been able to eat any meat, and I think this will last a long time.” Rubin was especially moved by the opportunity to pet a 2,000-pound cow named Bruno, who was rescued when he had fallen off a truck on the way to a slaughterhouse. Learning about abusive practices of factory farming, which often focuses on profit and efficiency at the expense of animal welfare, was an eye-opening experience for some of the students.
While Adi Arbiv ’19 is not ready to give up eating meat, she does have a greater appreciation of how much work and resources it takes to produce it and admitted she was surprised to see how good vegan chocolate was. “While I don’t believe I will ever become a vegetarian or vegan, I have definitely become more mindful about what it takes to get a piece of steak on my plate,” Arbiv explained. She even developed a soft spot for a little goat named Sofie, who wouldn’t stop smiling, calling her “so precious and adorable,” and adding, “I will remember that forever.”