The vital work of farm sanctuaries
The animals that receive the most attention, the most funding, and the greatest legal and social protections are those we spend the most time with. These are the dogs and cats who we wake up to, see in our neighborhood, and who end up all over our newsfeeds. But these are not the species who need us most. It is the ones whose suffering is hidden in plain sight. It is the farmed animals we see driving through the countryside, the rows of their dead bodies wrapped in plastic in our supermarkets. These animals, 70 billion of them on land, are who need us most.
When we decided to add farmed animals to our crew of rescue residents, I was already vegan but was a very vocal campaigner against dog meat, something I very deeply regret now. It took me some years in Vietnam rescuing dogs and cats to even acknowledge that the animals I saw the most headed to slaughter whose bodies graced the plates of everyone I knew were farmed animals, not pets. In 8 years in Vietnam, I have seen exactly ONE dog meat truck and hundreds of pig, chicken, duck, and cow trucks. Rescuing farmed animals then became a no-brainer. The light went off and I knew what we needed to do as an organization. We had to fight harder for moral consistency within our field of rescue. Being vegan wasn’t enough. We had to be LOUD vegans. The animals deserved our voice.
We have been punished accordingly, however, with frequent attacks from “animal lovers” unhappy being confronted with their own participation in animal cruelty every single day. We were ostracized from the groups of rescues in Vietnam and around Asia. We lost many organizational friends, and personally, I was extremely isolated as I lost many people in my life I had called friends simply because I was vocal in our work about veganism and called out the industry as a whole for the destructive speciesism and hypocrisy that was making $$$ but not progress. Over time, I have ran out of f***s for this criticism and frankly, it has only made me louder and prouder. We love animals. Full stop. Nothing to be ashamed of here. And yes, I am addicted to making out with pigs.
Now we are faced with a calf who needs us. Over the years, we have had numerous close brushes with a cow rescue, but something always fell through. A few years ago when I decided to close the organization before the African Swine Fever epidemic closed off the options of getting our pigs out of the country for me to care for them privately, I no longer was able to even consider a cow as a rescue. We had almost no funding at all after losing our clinic, and I was desperately sick and burned out and felt like I had no choice but to stop all intakes. Cows are very big, very hungry, and not at all cheap, so this is not a small project. On top of that, they require vets who have at least two brain cells to rub together who do not look at them as a meal- a total impossibility in Vietnam and frankly, most of the planet. Vets learn about how to breed cows and how to kill them, everything else in between being inconsequential as their suffering is just a means to an end of being a profitable slice of meat. Without restarting our veterinary programs, it’s hard to justify taking in yet another farm animal who we cannot provide the best care for as we already deal with that stress with our pigs and chickens. It is a parent’s nightmare to know they cannot provide medical care for their kids, and as these are my kids, I know the stress well. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
But we have some funding coming towards restarting our vet work and even though the borders are still currently closed, we are going to be able to eventually start importing international vets to help us again. Things are looking up. Our vets will know what to do with our farm sanctuary animals. They will understand that every life is valuable and all species are here for us to protect and defend and to treat equally. In the meantime, the organization in Da Nang has an international vet and we can consult with her and speak with our other international vet contacts.
Commitment to vegan education
This little boy we are hoping to take was left on the side of the road to die. In the recent rain and cold weather, he was just an object, not a sentient being whose suffering mattered. This happens to animals like him every day around the world, yet the only ones we ever see in rescue are the dogs and cats. His suffering matters. His suffering is our responsibility. We have a moral obligation to stand up for him, even if no one else will, especially other “animal lovers” who would happily see her on a plate in front of them while calling people who eat dogs savages.
For the next 20-24 years, the average lifespan of a cow treated with love and kindness and not exploited for profit, we will worship the ground he walks on. Daily scratches, treats, hugs, kisses, and the best veterinary care available will be his standard. When 300 million of his own species are needlessly murdered every year, he will live a life surrounded by only love just like all our other rescues. He will join a family of adored babies who live a life of peace. His other life will be just vague memory one day. We will be the family he deserves, the protectors all of his species need.
This little boy will have a big job. He is an ambassador to her species. He is a mascot for veganism around the world, a loved being like any dog or cat, living his best life and getting hugs and love from our visitors from Vietnam and globally (when borders open). He will be a big draw for our vegan education projects that we have had over the years but had to stop due to the pandemic, and when they restart, he will be among our many stars that teach compassion and are examples of how all species should live.
We are working hard to get a new property, though for years we have tried and hit so many walls. Property shopping is one hell of a process and aside from being expensive to get a rental, we have to also get a landlord that understands what we do and to ensure we have a long enough lease to protect our investment and the animals at the facility for the long term. This is no small task in Vietnam, but we have to try. As the only farm sanctuary, we have a very big job to use our platform to educate and our current home is not ideal for this. We are currently on a tiny plot of land 2km from the center of town, and our small 3 stall barn is in desperate need of a redo. Taking on a calf is not just adding a lot of $$$ to our budget which is already stretched far beyond our current funding, but it is a commitment to expand the farm sanctuary for her to give her and the other animals more space to enjoy their lives.
We are never going to give up on the message that loving animals means living vegan. There is no way to love this beautiful little boy while advocating for “humane slaughter” or “grass-fed” beef. There is no way that anyone who comes to meet him, our pigs, or our chickens can walk away saying that our dogs should never be killed, but the others should just have a few feet more space before their unnecessary murders at a young age for a meal they do not need. Farm sanctuaries are a vital component to teaching compassion for all species and educating the future generations on how they can end their participation in the mass murder that society has indoctrinated them into.
We all have a chance for change. I know more than anyone that this is possible because I was an angry anti-vegan for 33 years before I finally saw the sickness of the industries I paid for. Now my son, Julian, is a pig. a decade ago he would have been nothing more to me than pre-bacon. I know we can change the world one person at a time with the message that ALL species matter, and with your help to keep our sanctuary open, we ca continue that mission.
Please join us in saving this baby boy, for him and for all the cows like him who will never get a chance at life.
Account name: Tran Tuyet Mai
Account No.: 0400 4638 4034
Bank name: Sacombank- chi nhánh Đà Nẵng.