It’s no secret that I am hopelessly devoted to Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. It is a magical place that changed my life. I discovered it by chance, back in 2007. Melissa and I were getting ready to celebrate our one year anniversary. She had always wanted to take a class at The Center for Photography at Woodstock… so we ended up booking a weekend up in the area so she could take a class and we could spend some time away together. Her course was two days long, during the daytime hours, so I was on my on for several hours during the day. I knew the town of Woodstock was adorable, so I occupied myself discovering all the sweet shops and flea market on the first day up there. While I was walking around town, I kept seeing posters for something called “The Blessing of the Animals” at a place called “The Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary”… I thought, oh, I love animals, this sounds right up my alley! At the time, I was still eating meat and dairy full-time – the complete opposite of what I am now. I even remember going to Woodstock Meats to buy some bacon! Regardless, I decided to attend the Blessing ceremony, conducted by some peaceful Buddhist monks from the nearby monastery. That was when the seed got planted. I recall driving away from our rental cabin expressing feelings about wanting to give up eating animals. I felt timid and overwhelmed at first, but knew that there was something to be said with that, and it was going to be the beginning of my journey.
Over the next few weeks, I had this nagging thought that was always in the back of my mind… I really don’t think I want to eat meat anymore. It only took a few weeks before we took the plunge and gave up eating animals. We made attending the Blessing a yearly anniversary tradition. Each time I went, the nagging changed, and got louder and louder, urging me to go vegan. Finally, last year we made the connection and went vegan. And it’s all because of a woman named Jenny Brown, her husband Doug Abel and their magical farm sanctuary.
Jenny Brown’s journey was similar to mine in the fact that her enlightenment came in increments. The path might have been different, but the final destination was the same. And it is all recounted with joy, humor and honesty in her first book, The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals. Co-written by Gretchen Primack, Brown recounts her journey from a cancer-stricken 10-year-old amputee to her thriving career in film which led to passion projects for PETA and finally turned her into a full-time animal activist, hero and co-founder of the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.
Interspersed with her personal journey, she includes mini-biographies of past and present residents of the farm. She tells their story, as well as hers, in truth and with love. She doesn’t shy away (nor does she ever) from exposing the truths of animal agriculture. The key thing, though, is that she does so with such finesse that she leaves you willingly questioning your own contribution (read: consumption of animals) to the industry. She makes you think. She helps guide you to make that connection. While she admits that she didn’t always have this knack of graceful truth-telling, it is something she can do now with ease.
This book was a pleasure to read. It reminded me of my own journey, why we do what we do, and inspires me to continue in my own form of activism whatever it might end up looking like. This world is a better place because of Jenny Brown, Doug Abel, and the other devoted animal caretakers and volunteers at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary… and for that, I am grateful.
If you live in or close to the New York City area, there will be a party to celebrate the release of The Lucky Ones tomorrow night (August 7) at MooShoes. Jenny will be there, signing and selling her books. Stop on by for some vegan camaraderie and to celebrate the release of such a wonderful book. Hope to see you there!