Big Pig

Photo Credit: Jacob Jones Martinez

A couple of weeks ago, not far from here, two horses were found surviving in a muddy dog run, the size of a small yard. A man living on an adjacent lot called authorities, who called Wayne at Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary. They were underfed and suffering from a variety of ailments like hoof rot. Now, relocated to the sanctuary, they are both gaining weight and seem to be doing much better. It is stories like this that can serve as a reminder for why animal sanctuaries are not only important, but necessary. It’s stories like this that help inspire many of us to action and to do more than we normally would.

At the end of September, my wife, some friends and I will ride our bikes 100 miles from Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary in Portland, Oregon to Out to Pasture Sanctuary in Estacada, Oregon and home to Portland again to raise money for the two sanctuaries, and a third, Project Hope (which is in Mississippi, so we won’t be stopping there). Because these organizations are so underfunded, understaffed and overworked, we are hoping to raise some money to help them out.

While most children my daughter’s age are visiting the Oregon Zoo or going to circuses and rodeos, she would much rather spend time with pygmy goats, llamas and chickens she can feed and get to know as individuals. Many of the animals at these sanctuaries bear scars left by battery cages or harnesses strapped too tightly. As a family we have visited and volunteered so they can continue to live stress-free lives in comfort without worry of ever being harmed again. In the past, the 3 Sanctuary Century route took us from Portland to Lighthouse in Scio, Oregon. This year, as a way of adding variety and turning the whole thing into a sort of vacation, we will be camping at Lighthouse with our daughter before riding our bikes back.

Over the past year, it seems veganism has become the “next big thing”. Talk show hosts, celebrities, and at least one professional cyclist have made headlines adopting a vegan diet. I suggest the next big thing for vegan families ought to be visiting or volunteering at an animal sanctuary. There is no better way to put your children in touch with reality than giving them the opportunity to meet some real animal friends (who needs Disney?). Do some research online and find one nearby. If there isn’t one close, make a roadtrip out of it. As a car-free family, visiting our nearest animal sanctuary is a quite a trek, but it’s always worth it whenever we make it.

Admittedly, the first few times I visited Lighthouse, I spent more time with a shovel in my hand than anything else, but it is definitely the toughest job I’ve ever loved. If you do look for an animal sanctuary to visit as a family, I suggest a farm animal sanctuary. Farm animals tend to be more family- and volunteer-friendly than others (for instance, my friend’s chimpanzee sanctuary). Obviously, all are necessary and all these animals need help, but for the kids chickens and pigs are probably better. If you’re interested in supporting me or my wife, Laura, on our fundraising bike ride, please visit our donation page and follow us on Twitter, @RideToTheLight, for news and ride updates.

**All in the Vegan Family is a weekly column about the issues that face vegan families and kids. It is written by guest contributors and VM team writers who are parents, or interested in family issues – or it is written by vegan kids. If you would like to be a guest contributor for this column, contact editor@veganmainstream.com.