Volunteering at Animal Sanctuaries

So as most of you know, I am vegan. Not plant-based (vegan DIET,) but vegan. I have nothing to do with the exploitation and torture of animals. (No animal meat or products, as well as no animal clothing like wool, leather, or fur, and no products that are tested on animals.)

I feel like part of the vegan journey involves meeting some of the animals you save daily and helping them and their caretakers. That is why I decided to volunteer at some farm sanctuaries. The first one I went to was located in Silverton, Oregon.

It was a little bit of a drive as I live in Portland, but it was well worth it.

So, me, my mother, and sister drove all the way there, and embarrassingly, we were a bit late. (My mother is slow at getting ready…) The owner welcomed us kindly and showed us around. The farm must have been more than 20 acres. It was beautiful. They had over 10 goats, many chickens and roosters, turkeys, cows, a cat, and ducks.

My family started off helping muck out the stables and replacing the floor with fresh hay. It was a little difficult for me because I have bad allergies, but it was so worth it to see how happy the ducks were when they got to go into their new and clean room. I also collected the duck eggs from the ground and we placed them into a bucket. I will state here that I’m not sure if they sold the eggs or threw them away, but from the looks of it, I think they were selling them. While I am in love with this sanctuary, as a vegan, I will state that I do not support that. Not just because it’s “cruel to the ducks” but because it is cruel to the consumers. Eggs, as most people know by now, are not healthy, in fact they contribute to obesity and heart disease because of the high amount of cholesterol.With that being said, I do not support the selling of eggs, especially if this is a vegan sanctuary. (The animals were saved from the meat, dairy, and egg industry, and the owners are vegan.)

After that, I washed some feed bowls, and then we were free to pet and play with the animals. It was incredible being so close to the animals. I just felt such a connection as a vegan. I felt so proud to say that I am helping these animals, and that because of vegans, animals are cared about, and worth something.

I also got to be about 3 inches away from a turkey that was supposed to be for Thanksgiving dinner. It saddened me because seeing him in person was so touching. He was absolutely beautiful, and the fact that somebody wanted to harm him was beyond cruel. They kept making a “thumping” noise in their throats to get my attention. It was adorable.

Lastly, my favorite part of the visit happened. I told one of the owners that I read on their website that they have cows and a bull. I politely asked if I may see them, because my absolute favorite animals are cows. She said, “Of course! Just call Hershey’s name, and he will probably come to you.” We walked over to the cow pasture, and there he was. I was so happy to see him. Hershey was rescued from the dairy industry. He was ripped away from his mother at birth so that humans can drink his mother’s milk, and he was to be sold for veal. Luckily, a kind-hearted soul purchased him for $7.50 and sent him to the farm sanctuary. Hearing his story, and seeing him in person really changed me. I was so proud to be vegan in that moment. He slowly walked over to us after some coaxing, and we fed him some hay from his trough. Hershey had the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen. I was so happy.

I went home feeling positive and proud to be vegan.

The next week, I decided that I wanted to check out another animal sanctuary in Oregon because it was so much fun. I found another one located closer this time, in Newburg, Oregon. I RSVPed and went there the very next day. I was, once again, amazed at the beauty of the countryside. It was around 30 acres, which was so great. This sanctuary had goats, cows, chickens, turkeys, geese, alpacas, a peacock, and some sheep. We arrived, and it was a bit hot that day. We were greeted by a very kind woman, and she showed us how to rinse and wash the feed bowls and pools for the geese. After doing that for 30-45 minutes (in the extreme heat might I add) we were free to pet and socialize with the animals. Of course, I had to go see the cows. My sister and I walked over, and we were greeted by some beautiful bulls and a few cows. They were all right in front of us, eating at their trough. I grabbed some food and started feeding them, and I pet them. They were so sweet. I must have spent 20 minutes just petting them when I realized I was the only one there. I bid farewell to the cows (reluctantly) and then walked over to where my sister was petting the goats. On the way there, I saw silky chickens for the first time. And they were beautiful! After socializing with the animals for a while, we finally went home.

Today I was supposed to go back to the Newburg sanctuary, but I had a ton of work to do so I decided to stay home. My sister and mother are there having fun while I write this.

In the end, I found new meanings to my life, and the joy that I felt seeing and helping these animals cannot be explained, although I tried. If you are vegan, vegetarian, or willing to learn, I highly recommend you look up a local sanctuary. You definitely won’t regret it.

Thank you for reading.

Religion vs Spirituality

Religion: the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. Spiritual/Spirituality:  related or joined in spirit.

I believe that there is a big difference in the two. Religions are regulated by man. Going to church or a community in which you worship a god/gods. They follow sacred writings and live from them. I feel like spirituality is different. I used to be what I thought was Christian growing up. I was part of the Christian club at my school, and I occasionally went to church. As I grew older, I started to educate myself about the different kinds of religion, what it stood for, and what it means. After researching a bit, I decided to become Buddhist. This is obviously different from Christianity, some may argue the exact opposite. But that’s because some people don’t understand the Buddha’s true teachings.

After experimenting with Buddhism, I was convinced that you couldn’t believe in God if you were Buddhist. Obviously, I now know that this is simply not true, but at the time I didn’t. Thus, I became agnostic. I did not hate God or reject God, I was simply unsure. I didn’t know if he was out there or not. After a while, something reached out to me. Call me nutty, but I felt God’s presence. I can’t exactly explain what it was, but I felt God saying that he was here, and he wanted to tell me that he exists. From an “atheist” to a believer, I thought that was spectacular.

If you know me, you would know that I’m a VERY logical person. I believe in a lot of scientific theories, even trusting the big bang theory at some point. But, the truth is… I couldn’t live without God. Something told me in my mind that I needed him with me. I needed him there in my life. By now you may be asking, are you Christian or something? My answer is no. I am still not Christian, nor will I ever be. Don’t get me wrong, I have a high respect for Christians, and I think that (most of them) are so caring and loving, especially my sister, but I don’t think Christianity is for me.

I found God through myself, despite being agnostic/atheist. This proves God’s strength. You might disagree, but to be simple, I can’t explain how it feels.

I am still Buddhist. I love most things about Buddhism and I think it could really help people struggling in life. I try to meditate frequently as I think it is a very important aspect, and I am getting into balancing my chakras.

I am writing this post to let you know that I struggled with religion, and now that I feel like I “solved” my spiritual “crisis,” I feel free and alive. I am a lot more positive and open to life. I found God through myself.