Documentary: Peaceable Kingdom

Standing in a field

Chris and I recently watched a documentary called Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home. It’s been in our periphery for a while now, but we hadn’t gotten around to it yet. I’m so glad that we finally did.

Peaceable Kingdom tells the stories of a handful of individuals in animal agribusiness who began questioning the work they were doing, leading them to make some pretty profound life changes. In the wake of reconsidering their livelihood, some of these people now offer sanctuary to rescued farm animals. Others, like former cattle rancher Howard Lyman, have written books and travel the country speaking out about the health, environmental, and ethical issues inherent to animal agriculture.

The documentary provides some information about the cruelties that underlie this industry, but it also shines a light on the beautiful lives that farmed animals can lead when offered sanctuary. There were moments that made my eyes well and breath shudder, my heart bursting with joy and pain all at the same time. Seeing these animals rejoice in being allowed the most basic right of sentient beings: life, it is starkly apparent just how much is taken from the billions of others who needlessly suffer and die within the industry.

Perhaps the most poignant aspect of this film is the stories of realization from people who were a part of this industry, people whose families and financial security were dependent on the raising and killing of animals. From early childhood experiences to fleeting moments of doubt and moral conflict, their stories feel familiar, hitting at something within the heart of each of us, something that most of us have been taught to push down, bury, and deny. Their raw honesty is compelling, heartbreaking, and inspiring.

It becomes so crystal clear while watching this film that there is another way. It’s undeniably more difficult for some to find than others, but it is possible. If they can see these truths and make these changes, certainly so can we.

The next time you’re browsing for a movie and nothing’s jumping out at you, give Peaceable Kingdom a watch. It is available for purchase in DVD format through the filmmakers’ websitevia Amazon, and can be rented or purchased digitally through iTunes.


Turkey Day


As part of our Thanksgiving celebration this year, our little family sponsored a turkey at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.  We plan to do this each year going forward as well.  We didn’t get to spend much time with the turkeys when we visited (thus the photo of the turkey hanging out with the pigs), but, especially as he gets older, I imagine it will be fun for Roman to meet them and then pick a specific one to sponsor in honor of the holiday.  What am I saying?  It’ll be fun for us too!

On one hand, we’ve decided to form this very fun tradition out of a positive desire to contribute to something good.  On the other, it is undeniably a response to some not-so-fun truths about this time of year.

Did you know that 46 million turkeys are killed each year for Thanksgiving alone?  46 million individual birds.  We fondly refer to this holiday as “Turkey Day,” but it is hardly a day for them to celebrate.

I’m not going to go into how smart and curious these animals are and detail everything they must endure to wind up on our plates, because several other people have already done this, and well.  Below are links to a few worthwhile reads, as well as an adorable video of some serious turkey talk.  I strongly encourage you to click through, read, and watch.  (At the very least, watch the video–it’s seriously adorable!)


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Accidental Activism

A friend of mine posted this video to social media the other day.  He’s not vegan as far as I know, but he is into philosophy, so I imagine he thought that this was an interesting social experiment.  It’s a candid camera style prank that was staged in a supermarket in Brazil.  I found it fascinating, so I shared it with Chris.  His reaction to it was so well-articulated, and he’s given me permission to share it with you.  Watch the video first, then read his response below.


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Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

A couple weekends ago, Chris, Roman, and I took our very first trip to a farm animal sanctuary. We drove two and half hours north of the city to Woodstock, arriving just in time to hop on the last tour.

The Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary currently sits nestled among the mountains of upstate New York. I don’t think we could have picked a better time of year to visit than the fall. The rolling mounds of patchwork orange, red, yellow and green surrounding us were stunning.

One of the first things we noticed as we drove up was a large array of solar panels on the property, announcing that sustainability is a priority here. Something else that I noticed immediately, before we even got out of the car, was the smell—or rather, the lack thereof.


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Vegan Among Omnivores

Proud vegan kitchen 2
We returned last Wednesday from an almost week-long visit to the Midwest. It was great to spend some time with my family, who we only see once or twice a year. Plus we were glad to be there to celebrate my cousin’s wedding and, a few days later, my not-so-little brother’s twenty-sixth birthday. However, it was also—a bit unexpectedly—the most difficult visit we’ve made yet.

We knew it would be more challenging going in. First, we’d be traveling with an active and independent toddler; the last time we took a trip like this with Roman, he wasn’t yet walking and still slept pretty easily through flights and car rides. Second, this would be the first time that we weren’t spending a good portion of our visit in the Twin Cities area. When you’re near a major metropolitan area, you can be fairly certain that you’ll have at least a couple of vegan dining options available. Pizza Luce is a staple for us whenever we visit, and we know that we can always hit up Whole Foods in either St. Paul or Minneapolis for provisions if needed. This time, we would be spending our entire visit in northern Wisconsin.

We prepared as much as we could for both of these things. We bought a set of headphones and downloaded a few episodes of Thomas for Roman and made sure to pack my entire purse and half of a small suitcase full of food and snacks (I’ll share some of my travel tips soon). Chris was pretty insistent in the days before we left that I was over-preparing food-wise. By the end of our trip, though, we were mighty thankful for Thomas the tank engine and glad for every bit of food we’d brought.

So while there were trying moments with the kiddo, and while we definitely found ourselves feeling hungry more often on this trip than others before, overall we felt that we prepared pretty well for the challenges we foresaw. What made things really difficult for us this time around was something that we didn’t see coming—how hard it would be simply being vegan in a region that is decidedly not.


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