As someone once said, "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we’d all be vegetarian." Unfortunately, most people hide behind illusions when it comes to the animals who end up on their plates.
Nobody knows that better than Big Ag, which makes sure people remain in the dark when it comes to factory farms and slaughterhouses, and that images of animals raised for food stay as idyllic as most people want to believe.
For me, the light bulb switched on when I watched a film about farm animal production. That film was my glass wall, and that night I ate tofu for dinner. Then I cried for a week. However, it wasn’t until shortly thereafter, when I visited Farm Sanctuary, that it all came together: Farm animals are unique, charming and sentient. Farm animal production is unnecessary, cruel and misleading. Veganism is accessible, healthy and delicious. Duh.
The animals at Farm Sanctuary tell their story so much better than anyone can tell it for them. I have been convinced ever since that first visit that if only everyone could hear for themselves the sounds I heard on my visit to Farm Sanctuary – the cheerful chirping, squawking and ruffling – if they could see for themselves the spirited busyness of Jenny the chicken, the timid friendliness of Sullivan turkey, the hilarious jokes played by Clarabell goat, the warm mothering of the now departed, but never forgotten Maya, the cow – if they could just learn the harrowing and inspiring stories of these incredibly courageous survivors …
While, as we all know, most people don’t know what goes on in factory farms, the other missing ingredient for so many people is their misperception of the intelligence, soulfulness, personality, sense of humor, etc. of these amazing animals. Or at least, that’s how it was for me.
Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Tricia Barry, Farm Sanctuary’s communications director. She told me about the brand new Farm Sanctuary Virtual Experience and asked me if I could please blog about it today. Well, I had been planning on blogging about cupcakes, but…
Holy (rescued) cow! I had no idea how much the Virtual Experience would move me!
According to the press release, the Virtual Experience is a "new digital environment [that] offers a richly detailed simulation of two very different worlds: the factory farm and the sanctuary."
Yowsa, my dream has come true! With this Web tool, everybody can learn the stories from the inside and at their own pace – both the stories of horror from the factory farms and, just as important, the awe-inspiring stories of survival and hope that are unique to the individuals who find refuge at Farm Sanctuary.
With this virtual experience, you are the one with the camera. You can visit the sanctuary and meander through the chicken barn, meeting Saoirse and Jade, or you can investigate for yourself what poultry production actually entails and the countless nameless individuals it consumes. You’re the one who calls the shots in this virtual reality.
Afterward, send it to your people. If you don’t have people, get some.
There are 10 billion land animals killed for food each year in this country. The number is completely unfathomable, so I sometimes look at it like this: That’s 286 chickens a second, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There’s no time to waste. Let’s make some hay.
Happy Earth Day. Go vegan.