Three farms that took the leap to ditch animal exploitation

Three farms that took the leap to ditch animal exploitation

We’ve all heard the stories about the small, local farm, where all the cows have names, sit at the Christmas dinner table and don’t have to share a room with their siblings, right?

Well, maybe not exactly. Nonetheless, tales of idyllic farms where nobody gets hurt tend to travel faster than Kevin Smith on his way to Veggie Grill.

But what about the small-farm owners who quit? What drives them to make such a drastic change? And if small, local farming is so sustainable, how could those in the industry see a need to stop?

Three farmers who changed their practices to vegan tell us why they made the change.

The Sanctuary at Soledad

Confronted with the unsustainable nature of their goat farm, as well as their love of animals, Carol and Julian Pearce decided they had to make a change to their family business.

“You’re bringing so many animals into the world,” Carol said.

“If you have 10,000 goats, the average is going to be 5,000 boys. What are you gonna do with them? And, you know, there is no humane kill. The amount of feed that you have to feed to these animals to produce that milk – you know, you can feed a lot of people for that gallon of milk. And so that’s why we transitioned. We said, enough. We’ve had enough.”

So, they turned their farm, based in California, into a sanctuary, but that’s not all they did.

“We decided that if we carried on eating meat at all, then you’re condoning corporate farming. You’re condoning all these sorts of things, and we didn’t. That’s our stand,” Julian said.

“We’re not going to be part of that, and so we decided that we had to go vegan.”

You can learn more about The Sanctuary at Soledad by clicking this link.

Bradley Nook Farm

The story of former farmers Jay and Katja Wilde, and their cows, may be the best known on this list, in part because of , a BAFTA-winning mini doc sharing their experience, that’s now available online.

Born into cattle farming in Derbyshire, England, and having struggled in school, Jay was confronted on a daily basis with work that was emotionally torturous for him but which he felt he needed to do.

“There are ways to handle farm animals that you have to follow, simply to get the job done,” he said.

And the job, for Jay, seemed to be the only way to put food on the table, no matter how much he struggled with the ins-and-outs of it.

“You felt as if you were betraying them, because you made friends with them,” he said.

“You knew you were taking them to what must be a terrifying experience. It was soul destroying, that’s how it felt.”

Eventually, he came to a crossroads and knew he and his wife were ready to make a change. While it was suggested that they sell the land and walk away, Katja and Jay refused and chose instead to go for what Jay says “felt like the future”, animal-free produce farming.

Despite conflict with other local farmers who disagreed with the changes they were making, they persevered and eventually went on to receive countless letters and postcards from people praising them for what they’d done.

“Everything that had bothered me about the process of beef farming in the past, all that burden of responsibility was lifted, and it was just such a relief to know that the animals I’d been looking after would have a happy life for the rest of their lives,” said Jay.

“And I know it sounds soppy but it was a joy to learn that the ones who were still living on the farm were going to be saved, literally, and enjoy just being cows.”

You can find out more about Bradley Nook Farm by following this link.

Rowdy Girl Sanctuary

Renne King-Sonnen and Tommy Sonnen met at a country gig in a bar. Renee was singing. Tommy was listening. They fell in love. Classic. But their story did not stay that way for long.

In 2010, they married and Renee moved to Angleton, Texas to be with Tommy, who had opened a cattle farm in the area — a move which didn’t sit well with Renee, especially not after two-month-old calf Rowdy Girl came into her care.

“I began to see all those cows as beings and not things, and not food,” she said.

While Tommy was not initially on board with her shift of perspective, Renee persevered, and when it came time for Tommy to sell a herd of cows, she made a bid to save their lives.

“If you’re gonna sell the whole herd, why don’t you sell them to me?” she asked.

So, in less than four months, she successfully raised $36,000 and bought her husband’s cows, a move which helped open Tommy’s eyes to the idea of veganism and sparing their animals’ lives.

“Veganism was shoved down my throat, but I’m glad I did it,” he said.

“I’m healthier, I’m more enlightened on what we’re doing to the Earth, and the animals don’t have to suffer either.”

After changing the farm into a non-profit sanctuary, and seeing the positive change in her husband’s life, Renee insists what she does is about more than just the animals.

“I’m not just an animal advocate, I’m a rancher’s advocate,” she said.

To stay up-to-date on Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, you can follow this link.

Header image: Lumena/ Body images: Instagram and Facebook

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