cruelty-free living. animal protection. pet adoption.

A Gentle Thanksgiving

A few years ago, shortly after going vegan, I stumbled upon The Gentle Barn on Facebook through a sweet story about the rescue of a cow named Dudley in Tennessee. He had been taken away from his mother at a young age for slaughter and accidentally got baling twine wrapped around his ankle for several days without getting any help. The prolonged constriction of his ankle caused the blood flow to his foot to stop which made his foot fall off. He suffered for months hobbling around in pain and his muscles atrophied. A friend of the rancher contacted The Gentle Barn (who - at the time - were only located in California) to see if they could help. 

They flew to Tennessee to save Dudley from slaughter by finding a surgeon and a company to make him a prothesis for his foot. He spent months in the hospital and had multiple surgeries to repair his foot. Once he was ready to be released from the hospital, they set up another location in Knoxville and began rescuing more animals. Dudley quickly became a lovely favorite of guests and visitors with the love he gave despite all he had been through. 

Unfortunately, last year Dudley developed an ulcer that ruptured and was irreparable. Since Dudley's passing, The Gentle Barn has moved from their Knoxville location to larger farm in Nashville, where they can carry on Dudley's legacy and rescue more animals and welcome more guests. 

Every year, The Gentle Barn hosts an event on Thanksgiving they call A Gentle Thanksgiving when they welcome guests to come not only to visit with the animals, but to celebrate them as well with a delicious all-vegan Thanksgiving meal. This year, my family and I decided to go to Nashville to partake in this event. 

After arriving, we began the evening by feeding the resident turkeys and chickens blueberries and corn. As the sun went down, we all gathered in a circle around a bonfire to participate in a Native American drum circle. The turkeys even joined in by singing along with the music!

Once the drum circle finished, we were invited into the barn where some of the animals stay for our all-vegan Thanksgiving feast! There were tables set and loads of food from Field Roast and Imagine Vegan Cafe.  We enjoyed dining on all the traditional Thanksgiving food (bean green casserole, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and even pumpkin pie for dessert). We dined in the barn among the horses, turkeys, and goats and we even received goodie bags! There was also a silent auction in the pig barn!

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It was a great evening with great food and surrounded by great like-minded people as well as animals! It was definitely a worth-while experience that I would love to do again and would highly recommend! This night was a great reminder for me as to why I am vegan. I always loved animals, but somehow thought of some as food and others as companions. Since making that connection that all animals should be treated equally, I feel more at peace with my morals matching my lifestyle. 

The Gentle Barn hosts open-barn Sundays each week at all of their locations. If you're not near one of their locations but still want to hug a cow, give a pig belly rubs, and feed a turkey, then check out the Farm Animal Sanctuary Directory to search for a sanctuary by state.

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Based in Columbus, OH, Stephanie’s an avid animal rights advocate and PRANA Run’s Content Manager. She enjoys outreach events and exploring plant-based food options in the Columbus area. Have a suggestion? Let her know!

ssopczak@gmail.com