Woodstock Sanctuary

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Kate, our tour guide, lays out the bare facts. Photo by Esha Samajpati © All rights reserved
Kate, our tour guide, lays out the bare facts. Photo by Esha Samajpati © All rights reserved

Let me begin by stating that I am an omnivore. Contrary to common belief, all Indians are not vegetarians or even vegans. I fall into the non-vegetarian category, although lately, I have been wondering about dairy, and a few other things. What made us humans think it would be splendid to drink the milk of another mammal, thereby putting it through distress of various kinds, depriving its young of nutrition, and making an auxiliary industry out of it? I love my butter and cheese and ice-cream as much as the next person, but at the same time, I am puzzled as to how we got here.

Amongst other things, the various food allergies cropping up in classrooms all over the country make me wonder. Is something not okay with the way we grow our food? Why are we injecting hormones into a chicken to make it abnormally large in an abnormally short amount of time? With so much technology at our disposal, why are we subjecting animals to daily torture before turning them into food?

We can do better. We can make sure that factory farming doesn’t go unchecked. We can do that by learning more about our food source. But sometimes labels don’t tell the whole truth. So we have to dig deeper. I don’t have it all figured out yet. But after a visit to Woodstock Sanctuary, which is comfortably spread out over more than 100 acres of land by the verdant Catskill Mountains, I am going to try.

Our friends, who are members, accompanied us for a day trip to the sanctuary. It was a crisp fall day, the kind that makes you pull your jacket a little tighter. And while we are on the subject of jackets, let me just add that wool and down are best avoided. There are alternatives available which do not involve unnecessary forced haircuts of unsuspecting poor souls.

We spent the better part of the afternoon amongst pigs, turkeys, cows, chickens, roosters, ducks, goats, sheep and rabbits. Hell, there was even a lama, whose name was Dalai incidentally. There are ways you can help the animals. Memberships and donations matter. You can read more about them on their website. You can read more about factory farming and the particular brands you purchase.

They give daily tours which are packed with information and anecdotes. But, if you have a young person with you, be aware that none of it is sugar-coated. There will be less-than-dry eyes and a few gulps all around. We started with a motley crew of toddlers, but by the time we reached the end of the tour, they had moved on to other interests.

The truth, as they say, is stranger than fiction. And sometimes, crueler.

Woodstock Sanctuary. Photo by Esha Samajpati © All rights reserved
Woodstock Sanctuary. Photos by Esha Samajpati © All rights reserved

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