Monday, 8 May 2017

Vegan in Australia - Volunteering at Farm Animal Rescue

I still have a bunch of posts about China to finish and I'm right in the middle of putting together some great round ups of Melbourne's epic vegan scene but I was having a think yesterday morning and I really felt like writing about where I am and what I'm doing right now. I always feel weird when my blog stops being in chronological order so I did a little Twitter poll & it turns out that nobody else really cares about that - y'all just wanted to see where I'm at so here we are!

Just in case you haven't been following me on social media I'm in Australia, Queensland to be precise. Nick and I have wanted to visit Australia for ages, since the very beginning of our travels in fact, but making it affordable was a real sticking point. We also desperately wanted to get more experience volunteering with farmed animals (#lifegoals) and felt a little unsure about whether we should be travelling more right now or focussing on the future - thankfully I came up with a cunning plan to combine the two when I discovered Farm Animal Rescue in Dayboro, and here we are, exploring Australia and spending time with these beautiful animals, learning how to care for them, and getting an in depth look at how the sanctuary works. 


We arrived from Brisbane on Wednesday so I've only worked three full days so far but I'm loving it. My work day starts at dawn and ends at dusk and I really thought that I might struggle with the early starts (I set my alarm for 5:40am and am outside working by 6:15am) but it's a tiring job so I hit the hay pretty early and I'm waking up before my alarm most days. I love being more in touch with nature and dawn has always been one of my favourite times of day. I'm not usually awake for it but I have some wonderful dawn related travel memories - exploring NYC hunting for bagels, watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat, waking up with the birds and the call to prayer on my first morning in Thailand... the list goes on!
Luckily yesterday there was an open day at the sanctuary so I tagged along on a tour to learn a little bit more about each of the animals living here. As a long term vegan and animal rights activist so many of their stories are familiar - pigs being bred to be so large that they can't hold up their own weight, babies being stolen from their mothers, hens arriving featherless and weak, sheep with horrible infections from muelsing and having too much skin. It's so sad and a really great reminder of why I'm doing what I'm doing with my life.

The animals here have wonderful lives now, there's so much space for them to roam around and they can basically go wherever they please on the sanctuary's 55 acres. Watching the pigs roll around in these ponds is the best and I love it whenever I go outside and see a goat up in a tree.


The area by the red barn at the bottom of the hill is one of my favourite parts of the sanctuary, when I'm working I come down here multiple times a day to feed the pigs and it's a really beautiful, peaceful spot.



One of my favourite things about volunteering here so far is just how well organised it is, at Japan Cat Network we were there to manage the volunteers at the shelter so putting the organisational structure in place was our job and often I find that the places I've volunteered aren't super streamlined in their processes. This is a whole different ballgame, the schedule for the day changes depending on the needs of the animals and there are daily and weekly tasks (just like we implemented at JCN), the processes for cleaning everything are also super specific which is a challenge because everything is new and there's a lot to learn but it's great because it just goes to show how well thought out everything is.

One thing that I'm super pleased to have had the foresight to arrange before coming over here was getting hold of some decent boots to wear. I travel with sneakers that work well for walking around cities and hitting the gym but they wouldn't be right for the kind of work I'm doing here. A lot of my day involves walking up and down hills and over rocky slopes to get to wherever the animals are chilling out and when I'm scrubbing and cleaning the barns or the hen house I need sturdy waterproof shoes. I did a whole bunch of research into boots and decided on the Vegetarian Shoes Approach Mid Boots which have soles with great traction - perfect for this kind of environment.


I've always like Vegetarian Shoes boots, I've had a pair of their 20 eye steel toe capped boots for over ten years now and they're in amazing condition and super comfy unlike the vegan DM's that I bought and then re-sold on Ebay after two weeks of constant pain and blisters. Sadly they're just that little bit too big and heavy to be a great travel boot so the lightweight Approach Mid was the perfect choice. They're actually so comfortable that I didn't even need to break them in properly, I wore them around the house a few times but the first time I went out in them properly was to walk The Great Wall and when paired with some thick bamboo socks there wasn't a blister in sight. They're also super breathable which is important if you're going to be wearing your boots all day. I love having the padded ankle support because I'm a little clumsy and without that I think I'd have twisted my ankle once or twice since being here. They also look really nice, I've been wearing them with dresses to go out exploring and on travel days with a stretchy skirt and leggings and they don't look clunky or silly. I love that they're ethically made and that when you buy from Vegetarian Shoes you're supporting a totally vegan company. The soles of the Approach boot are made in Italy and the rest of the shoe is made in Portugal so you can be sure that everyone involved it earning a fair wage. If you'd like to pick up your own pair of Approach boots then they're £99.95 and you can pick up a pair online or at their store at 12 Gardner Street in Brighton.

The volunteer accommodation is right in the middle of the sanctuary which is fantastic. Portia the pig sleeps outside our kitchen window and multiple hens, a few roosters, and a duck live right outside the back door.


There are also wild turkeys here and I've been woken up by them running about on the roof more than once. I'm getting quite good at making mine and Nick's space at shelters and sanctuaries cosy and I think I've done a good job here! We re-hung some curtains that'd fallen down, gave everything a mega clean and unpacked our backpacks. I'd like to stick up a couple of pictures and some art a friend drew for me but I don't have any blue tack or anything and there isn't really a good spot for them. I also found the cosiest blanket for my lower bunk because it does get chilly in Australia despite what Neighbours led me to believe! My handbag is acting as my bedside table so I've got all of my necessities like moisturiser, lip balm, and a head torch shoved in there and I'm using my travel pillow as an extra pillow for reading and Netflixing in bed. Sleeping in bunk beds isn't my favourite, it feels weird not to be able to snuggle up next to Nick, but it's worth it to be surrounded by animals.


The kitchen in the volunteer house is pretty great, it's a totally vegan house which is super awesome, getting into shared house situations is weird for me after living on my own / just with Nick for so long but living with two totally awesome vegans makes it way easier. The kitchen's pretty well equipped, there's a blender and an oven that actually works so I've been whizzing up my favourite crock cheez recipe from The Uncheese Cookbook, baking banana bread, marinating tofu, and making simple lunches like jacket potatoes and pasta with tomato sauce. I just made the cheesy sauce from Veganomicon and ate that on pasta with peas and I need to make the epic tofu scramble recipe from the Taco Cleanse cookbook soon. I also bought stuff for a rice noodle, tofu, and veggie stir fry from the local supermarket yesterday so I'll be firing up the wok this week too.


The only challenge thus far is that our scheduled days off together have been on Sundays when there aren't any busses so the only place we can get to is Dayboro. There's a cafe there with vegan options as well as a pizza place with a vegan pizza on the menu but the only supermarket is an IGA which is a little pricy and they don't seem to have vegan margarine or fancy tofu products like the supermarkets in the cities had - I even spotted the vegan egg at a supermarket in Brisbane which is super cool! I've been hearing rumours of a good local fruit and veg market though so hopefully we can catch a lift there soon and we're definitely contemplating placing an iHerb order for essentials like nooch, chocolate, Clif bars and green tea!

If you couldn't already tell I'm basically super stoked on this volunteer gig, we're here until the end of June and I can't wait to learn more and to feel more confident around the larger residents at the sanctuary. If you'd like to help support Farm Animal Rescue from afar then you can donate, join the supporters club, or sponsor one of the animals and if you're nearby you should come along to an open day sometime.

This post was sponsored in part by Vegetarian Shoes. All opinions are both unbiased and 100% my own. 

25 comments:

  1. How exciting, it sounds like a really great set up! It must be tough doing quite physical work for long hours, but it sounds really rewarding. It's a shame there aren't great vegan options nearby, so fingers crossed you get a more convenient day off soon!

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    1. It's such a great place to be! Definitely crossing my fingers for some weekday day off fun with Nick soon.

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  2. It's so wonderful that you are getting to learn so much about animal sanctuaries! And to get to hang out with all those sweet animals, what a wonderful life!
    I love the bright kitchen. To me a kitchen needs windows or it's so dreary and I don't have as much interest in cooking.
    I hope you are able to find a better store soon.
    I can't wait to read more about your sanctuary adventures!!

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    1. Thanks vegan peace, the kitchen is lovely and bright. I've been whipping up some fun stuff in there during my downtime.

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  3. Would you try hitch hiking? look up hitch wiki for some pointers if your thinking about it! in rural areas its pretty reliable (even in spain where its hard to hitch, you could do it in rural places easily)

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    1. I've hitch hiked before but only when there was really no other option. It definitely makes me anxious and I wouldn't want to rely on it especially on the way back home in the evening!

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    2. ah what a a shame, maybe do small rides and slowly get used to it, it is amazing when you get into the swing of it. bit out of the swing of it, swapped it for a cycling, but do need to do it again soon! people you meet, the adventures, stories you hear... so many stories I could tell you!

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  4. Real shame the IGA isn't carrying much vegan stuff but nevermind seems like it's working out well and looks super rewarding.

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    1. It's pretty great here and at least the IGA has tofu!!

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  5. It looks pretty bloody amazing to be honest, I hope you continue to have an amazing time!

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  6. This looks amazing, I'd love to do something similar.

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    1. It's so great here. I bet there's a farm sanctuary somewhere near you if you wanted to do something like this.

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  7. So lovely to hear about all your experiences there. Can't wait to catch up more and eat more and hear even more about it!

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    1. I'm super excited that we're in the same place right now!! So fun!

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  8. It makes me really happy that you guys are getting this opportunity and it's lovely to read that it is going well. I'm with you on Vegetarian Shoes, We've both had a few pairs over the years and they are so well made and long lasting.

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    1. Thanks Caroline! It's going really well!

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  9. What an amazing opportunity and experience! That kitchen is so adorable and really homey. I'm going to have to check out Vegetarian Shoes too. I'm in major need of new shoes :) I'm excited to see your updates!

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    1. Thanks Sarah! Definitely check them out, they're a great company.

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  10. Sounds like it's been an awesome experience so far, it sure looks like a great place! And very helpful and informative review of the boots - stylish and vegan. :-)

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    1. It really has, the other night they hosted a hoedown fundraiser which was yet another new and fun experience.

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  11. It's so good to hear that there are places like this out there in the world - great for the animals, beautiful environment, happy volunteers. What more can you ask for? Also, I was just about to tweet if anyone knew where to get some good vegan walking boots, and now I know the answer!

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    1. Yay! Glad that I could help. I'm literally wearing them every single day and I love them.

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  12. What a lovely post!! I've been loving yours and Nick's pictures from this part of your adventure, and reading about it just makes it better. How refreshing to work at such a well-organized facility that you don't have misgivings about. That is a great place to learn from! The setting looks so totally stunning too. I'm so happy for you two! <3

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    1. Eeek! Thanks Amey! It's tiring work but I'm loving it so far.

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