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    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    A Look Back.



Visiting Pigs Peace Sanctuary.

Saturday was a day that I had looked forward to for over a year.  Last spring we had just moved to Seattle when I read this inspiring post from my friend Gena.  Reading about her trip to an animal sanctuary really resonated with me, and I acted on her encouragement to find one in my own area.  My search led me to Pigs Peace Sanctuarya safe haven of love for pigs and their friends.

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I wasn’t able to get there within the visiting season last year, so I made sure to get my visit set up for this year.  Located on 34 beautiful acres just north of Seattle (in Stanwood), Pigs Peace is a non-profit sanctuary dedicated to providing a safe haven for animals that have been abused, neglected, or abandoned, and to spreading a message of compassion and caring.

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When we pulled up to the farm, we were greeted with rolling green grass, smells of fresh hay, and a vibrant woman named Judy, who emanates love and passion for her work – and her pigs.  She conducts visits by appointment only so that she can lead small groups (ours was just six), allowing us to ask many questions and really feel connected to the stories.

She led us to the first shelter barn, where two giant pigs laid sleeping in the hay.  Immediately the sanctuary name rang in my mind – peaceful indeed.

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It is one thing to be an animal lover, but it is entirely different to actually be in their presence.  I was amazed at the sheer size of these pigs – some of whom weighed up to 900 pounds.  And yet they looked so gentle and peaceful, napping in the sunshine on a hot summer day.

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The farm was decorated with colorful signs and pig art everywhere you looked.  You can tell that it is a true labor of love.  In the main barn, there were also big signs hanging with facts about pigs and the farming industry.

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After meeting a few of the big pigs sleeping in the hay, Judy led our group out to the feeding pavilion – a large concrete slab located under a fenced lookout area.  She told us we’d be feeding the pigs their dinner, and then pointed to 100 pounds of carrots.

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We hauled the carrots over to the feeding area.

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And as she rang a loud bell, we started hurling carrots through the air.  As we tossed, suddenly pigs emerged from every direction.

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The main pig area stretches deep into the woods, and has shelters, ponds, and plenty of room for the pigs to roam.  Before reaching Pigs Peace, many of these pigs had never felt live grass or sunshine, but now they have acres to roam and explore.  Over 150 pigs call this area home, and they all came running for their fill of carrots.

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As we watched them eat, Judy could point out each and every one of them by name, and she shared some of their stories, as well as facts about pigs.  Pigs are incredibly social animals, and over their long natural life spans, they make lasting friendships.  Judy could easily identify which pigs liked to roam and sleep together, and it was fun to watch them hang out in groups as they grazed. 

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As the pigs happily snacked and we watched from above, I asked her a few of the many questions rolling through my head.  Where did all these pigs come from?  The larger pink and black pigs were mostly rescued from bad farming situations – some were even escapees from factory farms.  Most of the smaller pot bellied pigs were either abused or abandoned pets.  For whatever reason, having pigs as pets became trendy for a while, and sadly many pigs suffered as a result. 

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After dinner time was over, we were taken into some of the smaller shelters.  Older pigs and pigs with special needs are kept in separate enclosures and smaller groups.  The first pig we met was Elsie.

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She was brought to Pigs Peace as an 8 week old piglet, after falling out of a pickup truck on a Washington highway.  She arrived with pneumonia, a broken hip, and many other severe injuries.  And yet on Saturday, none of that showed in her gentle demeanor and bright eyes.

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She welcomed us into her space, and snorted when we scratched her ears.  Many long months of rehabilitation and love on the farm have hopefully helped her to heal from her traumas.

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We moved along into the special needs pen, where we met Ziggy – a gigantic pink teddy bear. 

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Gorgeous Ziggy was a three-legged piglet that was on display at a Canadian roadside zoo.  The plan was to feed her to the lions once she grew up and “lost her cuteness.”  She had no bedding and no indoor shelter during a Canadian winter.  Thankfully, several people reported her conditions, and Judy arranged for her to be brought to Pigs Peace.

I could have sat and scratched her belly for hours.  She was gigantic – easily bigger than me, but laying next to her felt like curling up with a big lap dog.

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There were a few little potbellied piglets running around in the special needs area as well – keeping spirits high and keeping the old and more limited pigs still feeling young.

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I’ve thought quite a bit about how I wanted to share this visit with you.  While I feel very passionate about my vegetarian lifestyle, I rarely touch on the ethics that fuel my choices so deeply.  It is important to me that this space be a place where all diets and lifestyles are welcomed. 

With that said, I can’t help but want to share how strongly I feel about animal rights and food ethics.  A big part of my decision to become vegetarian was health-based, but as my experience evolved, ethics became the driving force of my commitment. 

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In the days that led up to our visit, I found myself having to explain that we were going to a “pig sanctuary” several times.  It was a reminder that our beliefs and our values are not only in the minority, they are often not even understood.

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I have never liked groups that use scare tactics and graphic images of animal slaughter as a means to persuade people eat less meat. I would much rather show all the delicious food that is available to vegetarians, and hope to entice people to eat more plant-based meals by leading a healthy, happy example.

I know it is generally considered funny to joke that “everything is better with bacon.”  But my visit to Pigs Peace really drove home that there are smart, social, and peaceful giants who would definitely disagree.

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Visiting an animal sanctuary deepened my commitment to my lifestyle, and it motivated me to continue to do my own small part to help protect pigs like the ones we visited.  I would highly encourage anyone who is considering moving toward a more plant-based diet to look for a sanctuary in your area.  It is a powerful experience to look into the real faces of the food industry.

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It is the love here that flourishes. The animals feel it the moment they arrive and everyday. I am so grateful to do this work. Look in the eyes of the animals and you will see it. Look in the hopeful faces of the children and other visitors and you will see it. Come visit us and you will know the peace. – Judy Woods, Pigs Peace Sanctuary

 

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181 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Jodi     at 8:12 am

LOVE THIS! I looked up an animal sanctuary near my house and am so excited to go!

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Emily Malone Reply:

This makes me so happy! :)

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Bri     at 9:00 am

Emily, this post is wonderful and the timing couldn’t be better. After going on a bit of a carnivore bender after being vegan for lent, my body has slowly been begging me to commit to a vegan lifestyle. I’m just finishing up reading The Kind Diet, and though that book can be a little pushy it does touch on a lot of the ethical issues that many of us fighting the transition to a committed plant based diet try not to think about. I’ve been meat free with exception of fish every now and then all summer. But last night I had sushi for dinner (my favorite meal) and felt terrible! Reading your blog has really helped my journey and everyday I move a little bit closer to being a full time vegan and your recipes have definitely helped me!

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

Thanks Bri! So glad to hear it! :)

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Shannan     at 9:05 am

This is awesome! I quickly looked to see if there were any of these around me, but no luck. :( The woes of living in the middle of nowhere! Thanks for sharing this. I think it’s a great approach to get people thinking about what is impacted when they eat meat. What a great thing, a pig sanctuary!

Shannan

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Laura     at 9:34 am

Beautiful post! Thank you.

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Kristen     at 9:41 am

This was a beautiful post. I am not a vegetarian but I definitely respect people that are.

I am a relatively new blog reader, so I am sorry if you have already addressed this issue- but I’ve always wondered how vegetarians with pets handle their feedings. Do you feed your pups a vegetarian diet as well? I’ve always thought that falls into a ethical gray area. It seems to me that it wouldn’t be a big deal to feed them an animal based diet just because they would be eating meat if they were left to their own devices. Is their such a thing as free-range dog food :)

It looks like you’ve addressed several vegetarian/vegan gray areas, so I’m interested to hear your thoughts!

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

Hey Kristen! I actually haven’t written about our dog food before, but since you asked, we actually buy vegetarian food for them as well. We did a lot of research before we switched. Science shows that cats cannot live on an omnivorous diet, but dogs can thrive on it just like people (and ours have!). We buy Nature’s Pride vegetarian formula, as well as Veg-E-Dog powder (just to make sure they get everything they need). It’s definitely a grey area!

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Ellie @ healthy belly ellie     at 10:06 am

Those pigs are SO cute! I am so happy they are in a safe sanctuary! If only all animals had a safe sanctuary to live in!

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Katherine     at 11:23 am

I’ve been reading your blog for a year, but this is my first comment! Thank you so much for this piece. I have been a vegetarian since age 7 (!) because my 2nd grade class took us on a field trip to a hog farm. I just couldn’t fathom how we could eat such smart, gentle creatures. My parents thought (probably hoped) it was just a phase, but 17 years later, here I am! I feel like if everyone had the opportunity to meet these animals firsthand, there would be a lot more compassion and a lot less meat consumption.

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

Thanks so much for reading, Katherine!

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Ella     at 3:39 pm

Emily, thank you for sharing your opinions in a friendly, enjoyable, even-keeled way – no snark, just calm words. Though I love animals I will always eat meat without guilt. But I appreciate the way you think and respect your views and especially the way you convey them.

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

Thanks Ella! :)

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Gabrielle     at 7:04 pm

Great post, as all the others have said, but I have to add that if I hadn’t seen videos of animals suffering while confined prior to slaughter, and being slaughtered, I’d still be eating them. Some people need to see the horrors to be truly affected. That said, it was someone who showed me how amazingly varied and delicious vegan food can be, Gail Davis, who inspired me to go vegan after finally going vegetarian. This extra push was done kindly and gently, with a plea to my taste buds. But the initial impetus was seeing the gory stuff. To each her own, really.

I used to love pork, but now I love pigs. :)

[Reply]

Michelle     at 5:33 am

I don’t comment a ton but I’m a long time reader and 16 year vegetarian. This post really struck a note with me because I too, went veggie for health concerns but it’s the ethical reasons that keep me eating this way. I am hesitant to talk about it with people I don’t know well, lest people assume I’m judging them for eating meat or I’m some crazy, scare tactic vegetarian. I guess I don’t really have a point here other then to say thank you for so beautifully articulating why I also choose to remain meat free.

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

I totally understand!

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Christina     at 8:06 am

“I would much rather show all the delicious food that is available to vegetarians, and hope to entice people to eat more plant-based meals by leading a healthy, happy example.”

And this is one of many reasons yours is my favorite veggie blog. I eat an 80% meat free diet. The only meat I do eat is form Whole Foods and scores high on the 5 Step Animal Welfare rating scale. In all honesty I hope to even cut all that out one day.

Long story short, I was a complete vegeterian from age 9 to 20 (of my own choice, the rest of my family ate meat). My choice was made only out of my love of animals. While I have never been a big meat eater to begin with, I really hope to again be on a completely meat free diet by the end of the year. Your blog keeps me motivated and is a constant reminder that a diet without meat can still be a very delicious and varied one! I don’t need/like gory images of slaughterhouses and have always sincerely appreciated you not using those low guilt tactics.

A great veg resource, cute dogs, and then add that adorable Cullen and what’s not to like!

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

Thanks so much, Christina!

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Stacy     at 10:42 am

First, this is by far my favorite post that you’ve ever done. I’ve been a vegetarian for the past 12 years but it wasn’t until I took home a pig from the Humane Society where I work that I truly fell in love with them. Caring for Priscilla for 8 years was a rewarding experience and a wonderful way to learn more about them.

I’ve been leaning towards vegan and I’m curious how you feel about other items (shoes, etc.). I’ve been vegetarian for a long time but still have multiple leather goods and I’m just curious on your opinion.

Thanks for the wonderful post!

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

Very cool, Stacy! Priscilla was so lucky to find you!

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Mary @ Veganfully Me     at 2:20 pm

Love this post! I just got to visit The Gentle Barn in Southern California and it was such a wonderful experience!

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JL     at 3:28 pm

Love this! Farm sanctuaries place us face to face with that which could have ended up on our plate. Visiting sanctuaries that save dairy cows and chickens also helps put cheese and eggs into perspective. The amount of suffering, years and years, that female farmed animals experience is horrific. I’ll take cashew “cheese” any day! Glad you have such a profound experience!

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Alex @ Raw Recovery     at 8:53 am

Aww I want to go there!! I love, love, love piggies. They are so cute and not many people know how smart they actually are. I love animal sanctuaries and hope to have one someday. It’s my mom’s dream for sure!

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Christina     at 11:19 pm

So yeah… when I saw this title I read it as a peace sanctuary for visiting pigs. When I read the piece it made slightly more sense.

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Orla     at 5:40 am

I became a vegetarian 2+ years ago for health reasons but I am finding more and more that ethics are also cementing my decision to continue to not eat meat. I also find myself not eating eggs unless at home as I can’t be sure that the restaurant etc has questioned where they came from in the same way I do at home.I am also dairy free- mainly for health reasons as it triggers my asthma.
It is hard to be the only non meat eater in my family & following a weeks vacation with them I found that they were the ones making the most noise about my diet. I never once would attempt to “inform” someone about the abuse & inhumanity animals suffer in order to satiate their palate. That is something they chose to ignore. That is not my place. I am happy with my decision and once I am that is all that matters. Thanks for posting about this idyllic place for the pigs. I swear they all look like they are smiling!

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Denise     at 3:12 pm

Question? Is there a certain protein amount I should shoot for if I decide to go vegetarian and dairy free? I’m afraid without the dairy that I won’t get enough protein, and I’m curious if you kept count at first. There is a huge discrepancy about how much protein a person needs, and I’d like to know your thoughts on this. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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So I Guess I'm a Pescatarian Now? | Girl Gone Veggie     at 11:11 pm

[…] for health reasons a lot of the ethical reasons started to really resonate with me along the way. (This post really struck a cord.) But the research I kept on reading about fish in my quest to understand more about health made me […]

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