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Accidentally Vegan

Accidentally Vegan

Twins Kerry and Kelly (left and right in the photo above) visited Catskill Animal Sanctuary recently and stayed at The Homestead. Kelly planned the trip as a surprise for her sister Kerry, a vegan of four years and an animal sponsor to *Maggie, a rescued pig living at CAS. Kelly imagined a fun getaway with her sister, enjoying the tranquility of the Catskills. What she didn’t plan on was a life-changing experience that made her rethink her own lifestyle choices.

Not a big meat or dairy eater, Kelly enjoyed the vegan dishes Kerry made but hadn’t given much thought to veganism as a lifestyle choice. After a tour of the sanctuary, Kelly took note of how “blissfully happy” the animals were and how invested the volunteers and staff were in their care.

Tucker and Kathy Stevens
Tucker and Kathy Stevens

Shocked and horrified to learn about the inhumane conditions under which animals end up in our food system, Kelly devoured two books that tell the heartwarming stories of our animal residents during her short stay here, Where the Blind Horse Sings and Animal Camp, both written by CAS founder and director, Kathy Stevens. Each animal who passes through our fenceposts here is a unique individual, from Tucker the two-thousand-pound steer to Cheech, the amorous rooster. Each one has a personality, each one, its own life to live. And just like domestic companions, each one is special to us. Kelly witnessed how animals who are typically given an inventory number instead of a name, who are treated as commodities instead of creatures, and who become part of a meal instead of part of a herd or a brood, were thriving joyfully at CAS.

Hungry for more information, Kelly immediately went online to better understand factory farming and the truth (non-violent infographic) behind the quaint, but deceptive, pictures and stories advertisers and the media present to us. For many, it’s easier to accept these myths and choose ignorance in order to stave off the inconvenience of having to change our habits. Author Alice Hoffman wrote, “Once you know some things, you can’t unknow them. It’s a burden that can never be given away.” In the context of animal agriculture, the quote is a searing truth. The burden of knowledge that comes with peeking under the covers to experience the horrors of factory farming cannot be given away; you can either bury it and think that it won’t affect your spirit, or make a choice to do something about it.

Kelly accepted the challenge that came with this knowledge. Unable to bear the thought of how these animals live in constant fear while enduring so much pain and cruelty, she decided enough was enough. “All this horror that I learned of, how could I continue supporting these companies by eating meat and dairy, wearing animal products in clothing, using products tested on animals? NOPE! I want no part of it, and I am so excited to be aware and be able to make such a positive impact by changing to a vegan lifestyle. What a significant change I can make!”

Empowered by knowledge and driven by compassion, Kelly is continuing to educate herself about the horrors of factory farming, its environmental impact, and all the benefits of living a vegan lifestyle. She has become a sponsor to several animals and has booked another trip so she and her sister can return to a place “where there is so much love radiating, it truly makes an impression!” Until then, Kelly is taking up the gauntlet and plans to share her powerful experience and new insights with friends and family. Visiting Catskill Animal Sanctuary was an unexpected “life-changer” for Kelly and one for which she says she is grateful.

* About Maggie:

Charlotte and Maggie
BFFs Charlotte and Maggie!

Maggie and her gal pal Charlotte came to CAS after being left at a dog and cat shelter for over a year.  She and Charlotte are never far apart; they even snuggle up in their straw together. Maggie and Charlotte spend their days rooting in the mud and taking naps. They love to sunbathe on warm days or cuddle up in a mountain of straw when it’s cold outside. When heavy rains or snowmelt flood the field, Maggie and Charlotte delight at taking a dip in the cool refreshing water. Like most pigs, Maggie’s favorite time of day is feeding time. She and her porcine pals let our squeals of delight each day when dinner approaches. Though she’s come a long way, Maggie is still shy around humans. She won’t accept pets or scratches but doesn’t mind if you sit quietly nearby and share her space. Learn more about connecting with a rescued animal through sponsorship.



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