In honour of World Farm Animals Day, we asked Grow Your Roots Foods co-founder, Sarah Hogg, to tell us more about her journey opening a farm animal sanctuary, veganism, and how the two are connected. World Farm Animals Day was created in memory of Mahatma Ghandi, to highlight the immense suffering on factory farms around the world and create change. In Canada, approximately 700 million animals are slaughtered for food every year.
What inspired you to protect farm animals and create the Sweet Sanctuary?
Co-founding the Sweet Sanctuary was definitely an evolutionary process, but it started with rescue dogs, cats, and horses. I first considered opening a horse rescue, because I grew up with horses and was always very aware of the horse slaughter industry, and the need for rescue, but then I thought, wait a minute, what about all the other animals that need help too? I decided I wanted to create a safe place for all animals to live their natural lives, and experience kindness, love, and respect.
What led you to adopt a vegan lifestyle?
100% the animals. I came across this beautiful, inspiring article that featured former meat and dairy farmers, some multigenerational, that all became vegan (one even turned into a cow sanctuary)! It shared little snippets of their lives and often livelihood, and the moments that begged them to change. These first-hand stories touched my heart forever and made me realize I could be part of the solution too. Those words stuck with me and changed my life forever.
At Grow Your Roots Foods, one of our core values is being kind to animals. Do you think visiting farm sanctuaries can impact food choices?
I think one thing people all agree on, for the most part anyway, is that animals deserve kindness and compassion. At farm sanctuaries, we have a unique ability to let people see first-hand the true nature of farmed animals, and I think at first it is something that takes people by surprise. To see their personalities, emotions, the way they form strong bonds with each other, or to learn about their likes and dislikes, it all has the ability to extend our circle of compassion because we relate to farm animals in ways we didn’t know were possible. We learn that these animals are no different than the rest, they’re just the lucky ones. I talk a lot about the simple, everyday choices we all make, and how we can make those with the animals in mind. I truly believe that visiting the animals at a farm sanctuary is shifting perspectives, habits, and leading to more compassionate food choices.
How many residents live at the Sweet Sanctuary? Do you have a favourite?!
Right now we have 40 residents, most of which are large animals. To be honest I don’t have a favourite, but I do have very unique bonds with all of them! For example, we have a goat named Austin Powers that I refer to as one of my soulmates, and that’s something I cannot explain. We are extra connected on another level. We have a big pig named Arnie who runs with me everyday as part of his physio; he came here unable to stand, and after spending so much time together, dedicated to his recovery we have an amazing level of trust.
Can you tell us about your most recent rescue?
The last animal we rescued is a pig named Lola (Lola the Jumper)! She jumped off a transport truck while she was being moved from a factory farm to a “finishing plant” to gain weight for slaughter. Lola was only about 4 weeks old when she took her leap of faith and landed in forever sanctuary. Luckily, she only had surface wounds and has made a full recovery.
Pigs are one of the most intensely farmed animals, and jumping for their lives actually happens quite often. Most of the time though, these animals are not surrendered to sanctuary. Her rescue story and her photos have had a huge impact; everyone loves her. It is incredible to see her as the ambassador she has become, inspiring kindness and compassion for all of her kind. She is brave, beautiful, and one-in-a-billion lucky.
What are your future goals for the Sweet Sanctuary?
My biggest goal for the Sweet Sanctuary is to inspire global change for the animals. It is my dream that one day, farm animal sanctuaries are not needed because we stop breeding, exploiting, and slaughtering animals. Between now and then, I hope the Sweet Sanctuary is a place of connection; where people open their hearts and their minds to see farmed animals as intelligent, sentient, and equally deserving of respect and life.