It was a wonderful opportunity to visit with the sanctuary animals (who loved the additional affection from visitors) and to learn more about how their lives have turned around thanks to those who do the important work of rescue and providing a safe home.
It was a broiling-hot day in Orland, but all of the animals were cool and happy; the barns had misting fans, and staff and volunteers made sure to keep the animals comfortable…such a contrast to their former lives on factory farms. The Orland sanctuary is on 300 acres, with more than 300 rescued farm animals, including pigs, sheep, goats, cows, chickens, turkeys, chickens, and waterfowl.
Because this was a Twilight Tour, one of the topics was bedtime for the animals, most of whom are only able to sleep for the very first time once they arrive at the sanctuary. Due to the horrible conditions at factory farms, animals from pigs to chickens don’t ever get to fall sleep (to lower one’s guard even for a moment means getting trampled or suffocated), which means they live their entire short lives under unbearable stress.
National Shelter Director Susie Coston talked about how the animals’ lives change so much when they arrive at the sanctuary; they can finally sleep in peace, for the first time in their lives, in addition to being able to enjoy other natural behaviors, like snuggling with others and being able to stay with their families. The animals also tend to sleep very deeply; Susie says that the sanctuary staff often receive concerned calls and emails from people watching the Farm Sanctuary Live Cam: the animals sleep so soundly that viewers worry they may be sick or injured. (Visit explore.org to virtually visit the sheep and turkey barns, the pig and cow pastures, the cattle pond, and more. And don’t panic if the animals don’t move for a while! When we visited the pig barns in person, the pigs were so happy and relaxed they didn’t even look up; they enjoyed belly rubs and ear scritches with their eyes closed.)
During our visit we also got a chance to chat with President and Co-Founder Gene Baur, who gave an inspiring talk about reaching out with kindness to educate those who don’t realize how much these animals suffer, and how making compassionate choices leads to a better world for animals, humans, and the planet.
Jonathan’s most recent book is the New York Times bestseller What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of our Underwater Cousins, an extraordinary journey underwater that reveals the vast capabilities of fishes. He is also the author of the books The Exultant Ark, Second Nature, Pleasurable Kingdom, and The Use of Animals in Higher Education.
Jonathan has three biology degrees, including a PhD in ethology (the study of animal behavior) from the University of Tennessee, and has published more than 50 scientific papers on animal behavior and animal protection. Formerly department chair for Animal Studies with the Humane Society University and senior research scientist with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Jonathan is currently Director of Animal Sentience with the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy in Washington, DC. Learn more at jonathan-balcombe.com.
This year marks our fourth annual Siskiyou Prize, and we are delighted to be offering a $1,000 prize and a four-week writing residency thanks to the generosity of our amazing prize partner PLAYA. All manuscripts submitted for the prize will be considered for publication by Ashland Creek Press.
Please visit the Siskiyou Prize website for complete details about the prize — submissions open September 1, 2017. We look forward to reading your work!
It’s frustrating to go to an fundraiser for an animal rescue and find animals on the menu. Many organizations that believe in saving cats and dogs unfortunately do not believe in sparing cows, pigs, or chickens. Slowly, education and progress is happening — Animal Place‘s Food for Thought program offers wonderful tools to help organizations see that all animals matter — yet many organizations still resist.
Likewise, very few environmental organizations make the connection between animal agriculture (which is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation combined) and the environment — and yet this is a vital connection to make, especially during a time when our government is rolling back environmental protections. We as citizens and consumers can do so much good simply by making wiser choices — not only in how we get to work but what we put on our plates. Consider these statistics, from the Cowspiracy website (Cowspiracy is a must-see film about the connections between environmental degradation and animal agriculture):
Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatons CO2e limit by 2030, all from raising animals.
Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually, compared to 70-140 billion from fracking.
Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of the water in the US.
2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.
5% of water consumed in the US is by private homes; 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture.
Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land.
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted — we could see fishless oceans by 2048.
For every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-catch.
There is good news, however: Increasing numbers of animal rescues see the myriad benefits of protecting all animals, and some environmental organizations do realize that saving the planet means being plant-based. I reached out to many of them to learn how they came to this realization and how they deal with those who challenge them … and most of all, to thank them.
All rescue and environmental organizations need to consider their food policies in order to truly do their best for animals and the planet. Oceanic Preservation Society executive director Louis Psihoyos puts it well: “You have to walk the walk in the environmental movement. I don’t believe in gray areas in this issue…People are starting to understand that the best way to make changes for the environment is to change what’s on your plate.” And GREY2K USA president Christine A. Dorchak says, “Helping dogs while hurting cows, pigs, or chickens just doesn’t make sense.”
Enjoy is an amazing vegan Chinese restaurant in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown.
The restaurant is spacious and welcoming, but due to time constraints we opted for takeout.
It was hard to choose what to order from this all-vegan menu, which includes mock meats and seafoods in every form imaginable, from “beef” and “chicken” to “sea slugs.” In the end, we chose an order of spinach dumplings, which were soft, fluffy, and absolutely divine. We also had the Ma Pa Tofu, which is good if you like your tofu soft.
The broccoli “beef” is great, with loads of fresh broccoli and thin slices of mock beef. The Kung Pao “chicken” is spicy and loaded with peanuts, with mock chicken that is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The veggie chow mein is also delicious.
This is a lovely spot to visit while shopping in Chinatown, and Enjoy also delivers if you’re in the city.
It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since the hardcover book tour for My Last Continent. It was not only a fabulous tour but so much fun to eat well along the way. I discovered one fabulous vegan eatery when I stopped in with friends at La Botaniste after my reading at Shakespeare & Co.
This entirely plant-based wine bar has a fabulous menu. You order at the counter, and the bowls are made to order.
I had the pasta, with vegan bolongnese sauce — it is a gigantic, flavorful, and wonderful meal.
I didn’t take photos of everyone’s food (it all disappeared very quickly), but everything was wonderful, from appetizers like hummus and red-beet caviar to the soups and rice bowls.
There is also a wonderful selection of pastries, cookies, pies, and puddings. It’s a friendly place with good wines and great prices, especially for New York.