It was our anniversary and I wanted a nice weekend getaway. But I didn’t want the weekend that most New Yorkers are accustomed to, like going to some bed and breakfast in New England. Rather, I wanted to take my meat-eating boyfriend to a farm sanctuary.
I had been vegan for a few years already, but my boyfriend was not. We’d go out to eat and he’d order a chicken Caesar salad wrap. While I never made his choice to eat animal products a point of contention, it was something I knew deep down I could change. You see, Brian loves animals as much as I do. If he had the opportunity to actually meet a cow, pig, or chicken, I knew the experience would open his eyes.
After about a week of research, I discovered Catskill Animal Sanctuary, a little slice of heaven nestled in New York’s Catskill region and just a short drive from New York City. The pitch wasn’t hard. I showed him some adorable goat videos and he was sold.
The morning of our sanctuary tour we grabbed a bite at this little diner in Woodstock. I enjoyed a delicious tofu scramble while Brian chowed down on a chicken BLT club. Little did he know this would be the last time he’d eat meat.
As we drove down the hill to the sanctuary, a group of friendly goats and sheep greeted us. Along our tour we kissed pigs on their snouts; held turkeys, chickens, and ducks; played with more goats and sheep; and met beautiful horses and dozens of other animals.
But there was one animal in particular that Brian had a special connection with, an incredibly gentle brown and white cow named Tucker. He greeted us with a soft moo. I remember Tucker lifting his giant head for Brian to reach under and scratch. The two locked eyes, and I truly believe at that moment Brian saw who was behind those eyes—a living being with feelings and thoughts.
Our tour soon came to an end, and it was in our car that my boyfriend turned to me and said, “I will never eat an animal ever again.” Three years later he’s still living that promise.
We’ve since gone back to visit Tucker and all our friends at Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Each and every tour is just as special as the first.
My fellow vegans, I’m not telling you that taking your meat-eating significant others to a sanctuary will instantly make them go vegan. We must be patient and give our loved ones the tools they need to learn about the horrors animals face at factory farms. This might be watching a documentary together, reading a book, cooking vegan meals, attending vegan festivals, or maybe—just maybe—visiting a sanctuary.
Most of us are raised consuming animal products and never once question where they come from or how animals are treated at factory farms. We’re far removed from the process. Yet when given the opportunity to see these gentle, sensitive, and intelligent animals as the individuals they are, we so often can’t stomach the thought of eating them.
I know we hear it all the time, but it’s true: Animals are our friends, not food.
Click here for tips on dating a meat eater.
Not vegan yet? Click here to get started!