I really didn’t know what to expect when I accepted an internship at Uplands PEAK. I knew it would be hard work, having volunteered at a work day I discovered quickly that I wouldn’t just be kissing cows and petting pigs all day. I knew that I loved animals, but what did I really know about taking care of them? I knew my schedule would have to change drastically, going from working late nights and sleeping in late to waking up at the same time every morning and immediately jumping into work was a bit overwhelming at first. It was intimidating for sure, but I tried to remain open minded about it all.
What I did not know was how much I would learn about my own journey with veganism. I was vegan for all of these big reasons, because it was healthy, because it was kind, because it was good for the earth. I had seen all the movies, Cowspiracy, Earthlings, and Forks Over Knives just to name a few. They were definitely impactful, to say the least. But that was all I knew, what other people were telling me. I hadn’t ever gotten to know personally what it meant to me to live compassionately towards animals. But that all changed when I started my internship. I got to meet, feed, clean up after, and love 13 new reasons to live vegan.
As I said, I was vegan for the big reasons, but living and working with all of the residents here, I am now vegan for lots of tiny reasons too. I am vegan because Isaac, the biggest animal I have ever personally encountered, will roll over like a puppy when he wants me to rub his belly. I’m a vegan because of the way Tulip will carry a little mouthful of hay with her into bed every night to make it just that much fluffier for herself and her pal Lucy. I’m vegan because of the way Nemo does the cutest little dive roll into a pile of fresh hay. Before arriving here I had no idea how charismatic these animals could be. I had never seen farm animals so at ease and enjoying life so much.
The residents here prove that animals are more than just meat or entertainment or something for you to play with, they are individuals. They have likes and dislikes and favorite foods and best friends! If you take the time, you will get to know them like just another friend. That is what makes all the hard work so worth it. Even if we are doing something like clearing land for new pastures or building fences or weed eating, it’s all so that we can gives these other beings a chance to live a comfortable and happy life. And to me that’s really cool.
If I’ve learned anything while being here its how different you feel when you get up every day and do work for a cause bigger than yourself. Not everyone can do a two month internship on an animal sanctuary, but there is always something you can do to be a part of such a positive and important movement. My word of advice is: VOLUNTEER! A day, an afternoon, or even just a few hours is such a help to the animals, to the earth, and to yourself. You may even meet your reason to go vegan along the way.
By Molly Rector