We're in the middle of summer here in the Finger Lakes region of rural New York, amidst bustling farmer's markets and peaceful "pick your own" orchards and fields, which exemplify Earth's bounty and the simple beauty of eating plants instead of animals. In the evening fireflies trail across the landscape, and at sunrise, hummingbirds (who had migrated from Mexico) begin their rounds, collecting nectar. It's a beautiful time of year in this part of the world.
Last weekend, I attended Farm Sanctuary's Country Hoe Down in Watkins Glen, N.Y., where people pitched tents and camped out, enjoyed great vegan food and time with the animals, listened to inspiring and informational presentations, and danced and communed around the campfire late into the night. It is a joyful, welcoming event, and the feeling of community is palpable. Some Hoe Down attendees were longtime vegans. Others were not, though I hope and suspect many will eat fewer (or no) animal foods after their Hoe Down experience.
The hundreds of chickens, turkeys, pigs, sheep, cows, and other animals living at Farm Sanctuary represent and "speak" for the less fortunate members of their species who remain locked up in factory farms. We can connect directly with these cherished individuals living at Farm Sanctuary, and then remember the billions of animals who will never know a peaceful sanctuary, feel the warm sunshine, breathe fresh air, or experience human kindness.
Farm Sanctuary is a place of hope, where vegan is normal, and visitors are inspired to live conscientiously. Of course, the best thing each of us can do to make a difference for animals, as well as ourselves and the planet, is to adopt a vegan lifestyle, and eat food from plants instead of animals. And there is no better time to start than in the sweet summertime.