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if you’re ever near syracuse…

April 15, 2010

From what I can tell, my readers are academics, vegan foodies and animal rights folks. On a recent three day trip to upstate New York I found a little something fabulous, inspiring,  heart-lifting and totally amazingly awesome for all of you! I am considering packing my bags and bearing the cold so that I can have these amazing places in my life.

For the academics.

SUNY Cortland, Cortland, NY

This university rocks because it is progressive. In an age when academic repression is dominant, where people lose committee positions, are denied promotion, have their research rerouted and even get hauled into jail for protecting the anonymity of research participants, there is SUNY Cortland. They housed two progressive conferences this weekend: The Anarchist Studies Initiative and the Institute for Critical Animal Studies. This is a very small town and it felt a bit sleepy at times. However, the scholarship is enough to get anyone riled up.

For the foodie.

Strong Hearts Café, Syracuse, NY

Happiness and comfort entered my day by way of my belly last week when I visited Strong Hearts Café.  This place is g-o-o-d. There is a chill vibe, nice staff, sweet environment, comfy tables and a kick-ass menu. And let me reiterate that the food was stupidly delicious. We ate and ate and ate and passed plates around the table. Everything I had there was good: fake egg breakfast muffin, Caesar salad, seitan sandwich, grilled Daiya-cheese sandwich, soy shake, peanut butter-chocolate “cheese” cake, berry muffin, Tofurkey sandwich. ALL of it was delicious!!!! Not to mention, FIVE of us ate for about $40. (That was until we got a round of desserts and “milk” shakes). It was so good I went back the next day. This time I arrived with only my work to keep me company. They happily let me sit and surf the internet while I binged and sipped French pressed coffee. And then they let me hang out and work after I was done with my meal.

I must also mention that the staff was awesome. Everyone wore their own gear and there were animal rights shirts galore. My heart was thump-thump-thumping in this place. I am officially in lust with the ambiance, staff and food at Strong Hearts café. If only I didn’t live thousands of miles away…

For the animal rights person (and anyone who wonders why animal rights people feel the way they do).

Farm Sanctuary, Watkins Glen, NY

Farm Sanctuary was one of the most amazing places I have ever been. (It ties with Animal Acres!) It is a place where animals who have suffered the horrors of factory farms, slaughter houses, hoarders, live food markets and other atrocities at the hands of humans find refuge. These lucky few get to live out their lives in peace with daily access to large pastures, dust baths, ponds and humans eager to serve them. They are given a new life here that allows them the social environments and space they deserve. And I think humans benefit a lot from getting to meet them. At least I have.

It is shocking to see the ways that these animals were once abused and mutilated so that the American population could have cheap food: missing beaks, severed talons, broken horns, weak joints, missing feathers, blindness and scars. Some animals bear the psychological scars of their suffering, while others accept humans into their space and allowed us to give belly rubs, chin scratches and hugs.

Where ever you live, find a farm sanctuary nearby and learn from the amazing experience.

Meeting animals that survived torture and were shy around humans reminded me of our species’ selfish sins. I also met animals that survived torture and were able to forgive humans enough to accept us as visitors in their home. These animals accepted us as individuals and accepted that we wanted to learn from them and not hurt them, even though other humans had injured them greatly in the past. If, like these animals that I met at Farm Sanctuary, humans could also recognize that each non-human animal was an individual, I do not think the situation for animals in our society would be so atrocious.

The animals at Farm Sanctuary are home. They are not at a petting zoo. The animals that didn’t want to be near us didn’t have to be. If an animal was “dangerous” to humans, s/he wasn’t removed, we simply didn’t visit. It is their home. We were visitors. That seems so just. But the fact that this situation is so abnormal seems ridiculously unjust.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 15, 2010 7:12 am

    What a great account of an inspiring city committed to good values!

    That restaurant sounds DI-VINE!

    • April 15, 2010 11:53 pm

      being there gave me a great idea for your blog actually. they have a zillion smoothies. i have a vita mix but only ever make fruit shakes. maybe you could give me the 411 on some veggie drinks that don’t need a juicer. mmm…

  2. April 16, 2010 1:22 pm

    Great post…well said and true.
    Getting to know some-body.
    One of the most efficient ways to rid a societie’s prejudices or apathy of another is by ending the ignorance surrounding those who have been oppressed.
    Segregation is wrong for obviously many reasons but specificaly because for instance in the US it kept racists from ever really knowing who they hated and why they actually hated African Americans.

    Farmed animal sanctuaries are are not only live saving places of refuge for the non humans who were abused, destined for the slaughterhouse and whose lives were disrespected but they are also places where humans can see up close that they are individuals with lives and interests. Animal sanctuaries can help end the ignorance regarding who these individual non humans really are and help bury the speciesism and prejudices that perpetuate the horrible cycle of killing that goes on every second.

  3. chinarose permalink
    April 28, 2010 2:12 am

    Totally psyched and very pleasantly to hear the great news about SUNY Cortland.SUNY Cortland, Cortland, NY Had no idea they had become a progressive institution! Hoping that Anarchist Studies and Critical Animal Studies will become a big part of their curricula. This is really a miracle. I am familiar with the area, and did not think much of it — until NOW!!

    Thanks for the great news.

  4. April 30, 2010 5:05 pm

    I’m glad you mentioned Strong Hearts in Syracuse. I got to eat there last year and it was freaking awesome. The best part for me was the staff.. there are so many vegan (and vegan friendly) places where I feel eyeballed and scoffed at, but everyone there was so nice! right as I sat down one of the guys came over and started asking about my vT hoodie, where I was from etc. Definitely a comfortable atmosphere. the food was awesome as well!

  5. rabbit permalink
    February 25, 2011 5:05 am

    Seeing that picture of that happy piggie has actually got me crying tears of joy. I have to go there some day!!!

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