This blog post deals more with opportunities to do activities related to my interests, rather than my work at NCSC.
Before coming up here, I decided I wanted to spend time doing activities and events in this area that I do not have access to back home. Environmental and Animal Rights are both near and dear to my heart, especially since becoming vegan a year ago to improve my overall health. I realized that not only did my health greatly improve, but I no longer contribute to the number one cause of carbon emissions - animal agriculture, which puts out more carbon emissions than the entire world's transportation systems combined. I did not have much of a connection to the ethical side of veganism until recently. I realized that while growing up and the way we are taught today, there is a great disconnect from the food on our plate and the process it had to take to get there. Before cutting out animal products, I did not want to hear about it or know about it. I was perfectly fine with being comfortably unaware. However, after watching documentaries and seeing the truth of how animal products get to our plates, my only wish is that I would have changed sooner. On Saturday, I took a step towards my goal of getting involved by participating in DC's first National Animal Rights Day event right in front of the White House. I met two people from Chesapeake, VA, and we discovered we have mutual friends in the Hampton Roads area.
I spent Sunday volunteering at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, and it was one of the best days in recent memory. I got to see happy animals in their natural environment, and it seemed like they knew they were in a safe place. Every animal there (including chickens, pigs, goats, cows, horses, and sheep) had been rescued from a slaughterhouse or some form of abuse. One cow, Lucy, had just gotten there the day before, and her baby calf is hours away in an ICU. A local slaughterhouse saw Lucy was sick and had just given birth to a male calf. Because she would have cost more money to save, and because males cannot produce milk, they were of little use and profit for the company - so they tied them to a tree and left them to die. They both survived after 3 days, miraculously, and the calf still only has a 50/50 chance of survival. I've heard of countless stories such as these, which is another reason I am glad I do not contribute to the industry. Lucy was definitely not a big fan of people, and I do not blame her; I would not like humans either if every one I encountered had been cruel towards me. We were told to keep our distance from her, but I'm hoping she is more calm and acclimated when I return to volunteer next time, knowing she is now safe.
I spent 3-4 hours cleaning all of the pens for the animals, feeding a few treats to the sheep, holding a chicken who kept falling asleep in my arms, and genuinely just being happy to be there. I do not have an animal sanctuary near me at home, so I am thrilled to have had this experience just an hour away from DC. I will definitely be back to volunteer more of my time and to spend time with the animals.