Recent Posts

Episode 22 – Jonathan Brant – Discussing the Surging Plant-based Market and Growing Competition with the Animal Agriculture Industry

Episode 22 – Jonathan Brant – Discussing the Surging Plant-based Market and Growing Competition with the Animal Agriculture Industry

Jonathan Brant is an animal rights activist, a writer, an artist, a musician and singer, a student at Eastern Michigan University, and author of “An Open Letter to a Curious Omnivore.” In this episode, Jonathan and I are back together again discussing important issues surrounding…

Episode 21 – Cultivating Peace Through Ahimsa and Meditation with Kim Beller

Episode 21 – Cultivating Peace Through Ahimsa and Meditation with Kim Beller

*Audio typo correction!! – In this episode I say 100 billion animals have died in Australia wildfires. I meant 1 billion. Sorry for the audio typo! Happy New Year! This episode is different from others in that there is no guest. In this raw and…

Episode 20 – Party Animals Catering – Mike Barootjian

Episode 20 – Party Animals Catering – Mike Barootjian

Episode 20 – Party Animals Catering – Mike Barootjian
Sanctuary Tour Podcast

00:00 / 31:10
Mike with Villette at Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary

Mike Barootijian is the owner and head chef of Party Animals Catering – A vegan catering service and meal plan service in the Hudson Valley in New York. It was a pleasure to sit down with Mike and discuss his work, his vegan story, and much more.

Mike working hard at the Farm and Flea event at Motorcyclepedia in Newburgh, New York.

We talked about his recent trip with me to tour Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary and how connecting with the animals fuels his fire and validates why he does the work he is doing. We discussed the work Mike does at various events, including Hudson Valley Veg Fest, and other veg fests, his meal plan service and how to connect with Mike to order his food or book Party Animals for your next event.

Kevin Hillier and Mike Barootjian

We are excited to announce that Mike will be the chef cooking at the first Vegan Cooking Class and Tasting with Party Animals Catering at Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary in their new location just down the mountain from the previous location in Poughquag, New York on Saturday, January 18, 2020. This is a free event open to the first fifteen people who sign up. Mike will demo how to make his FAMOUS Mac n cheese, vegan meat loaf, delicious roasted Brussel sprouts and share this deliciousness with all participants!! In addition to the cooking class and demo, everyone will enjoy a guided tour and meet some of the rescued animals who call this beautiful sanctuary home.

Sanctuary Tour at Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary
Kim and Mike with some of the rescued goats who call the sanctuary home.

To connect with Mike, please visit Party Animals Website or find him on Instagram or Facebook. If you are in or near the Hudson Valley, Mike will help you with your next event or party, or provide delicious gluten free – vegan food for you to pick up at designated locations.

Mike and Violet.

Please visit Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary to learn more about the incredible work they are doing with rescued animals and to support this crucial work.

Jules before her friends came to join her at the sanctuary.

If you are interested in the vegan cooking class or future vegan cooking classes, please email

Episode 19 – Sarah Beth – Animal Rights Activist

Episode 19 – Sarah Beth – Animal Rights Activist

Sarah Beth is an animal rights activist and avid volunteer living in upstate New York. After learning about the many deaths of horses associated with horse racing, Sarah began protesting with Horseracing Wrongs, an organization founded by Patrick Battuello, that exposes the many wrongs in…

Episode 18 – Helena Lundblad – Magical Creatures of Hamakua

Episode 18 – Helena Lundblad – Magical Creatures of Hamakua

Helena Lundblad and I discuss the details of how Magical Creatures of Hamakua began and how she became a large sanctuary overnight. She tells the story of her best friend Janice the goat and how she nursed her back to health after Janice burned all…

Episode 17                                         Cows Come Home Sanctuary –                   Randie Gentry

Episode 17 Cows Come Home Sanctuary – Randie Gentry

Episode 17 Cows Come Home Sanctuary – Randie Gentry
Sanctuary Tour Podcast

00:00 / 44:01

Cows Come Home Sanctuary located in Talbott, Tennessee is such a magical place filled with lots of love and a very inspiring story. Randie and I sit down on her front porch overlooking the cow pasture, and have a heartfelt conversation. She shares her story publicly for the first time, which is not only heart wrenching, but also profoundly connected to her incredible desire to end the multi-generational cattle ranch that her husband and father-n-law had been running for many years.

She explains why she just couldn’t not speak up and do something for the cows and babies that were being separated every time they were taken to auction. The look in their eyes reminded her of a time when she herself feared for her own life.

As a survivor of long-term domestic violence, who am I to turn a blind eye to the fear, sorrow and hopelessness to other living beings?”

Leaving an abusive relationship is one of the hardest things someone will ever do. In the end, I was able to do for them (my pig, Tusok and Scottie, Cubbie Roo) what I was not able to do for myself. I would never have wound up on a cattle farm if not for my second pig, Tobie. So, my first pig saved MY life. My second pig led me to the cows so I could save theirs.”

Randie shares how Cows Come Home came to be a sanctuary, and “The Mayor” who turned everything around by sharing a message with Rick Gentry. (The Mayor is a cow, by the way)

In addition she talks about the cold and rainy day that a sweet little calf named “Lou” was born, and how everyone thought he was dead until Rick Gentry saw him blink his eyes. The road to recovery for Lou was long and arduous, until a magical moment happened in Randie’s kitchen after many days and nights of touch and go for the calf, who was living inside Randie’s house. Lou’s love for Silk Soy Milk has become the talk of the town, and his sweet and kind demeanor makes him the perfect greeter for all who visit the sanctuary.

We discuss ways to support Cows Come Home and the work they are doing. The new barn needed for Lou, shelter for the cows in the pasture, and extra hay to make up for what was lost in the drought season.

Randie talks about opportunities to visit and tour the sanctuary, as well as unique volunteer needs. To learn more about this incredible sanctuary and the work they are doing, please visit the website and follow on social media.
Episode 16                                        Farmshire Animal Sanctuary

Episode 16 Farmshire Animal Sanctuary

During a recent trip to North Carolina I was excited to visit Farmshire Animal Sanctuary located in Clyde, just outside of Asheville. It was awesome to visit with the animals, and to sit down with Sarah and Calen to talk about this beautiful sanctuary and…

Episode 15 –                          Mark Hawthorne – Author of Striking at the Roots – A Pratical Guide to Animal Activism

Episode 15 – Mark Hawthorne – Author of Striking at the Roots – A Pratical Guide to Animal Activism

I had the immense pleasure of sitting down with Mark at the Gray Barn at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, to discuss his book, Striking at the Roots- A Practical Guide to Animal Activism. Mark recently released the second edition of the book, (ten year anniversary) with…

Do vegans wear leather?

Do vegans wear leather?

my favorite leather boots before becoming vegan.

This is a question that is asked often, and I believe there is more than one answer. Becoming/ being vegan looks different for each individual person, and I feel very strongly that we are to respect where everyone is on their journey. I know that some vegans feel adamant that you absolutely do not wear leather or any other animal product, but that’s not where I stand. Personally, I don’t wear anything leather, fur, with feathers, etc. but that’s my personal decision and it took a little while for me to phase out those things.

I still wore leather for a little while after becoming vegan, but wasn’t fully comfortable doing so. My favorite boots (pictured above) were the hardest thing to stop wearing, but every time I put them on, all I could think of was the cow that they came from. I now have strong bonds and relationships with rescued cows and can’t imagine wearing their skin. Another thought is that I don’t want to wear something that someone else would see as appealing and want to go out and buy the same thing. For example, my leather boots were purchased (years ago) solely on the fact that my friend had a pair and I loved the way they looked, so I bought a pair. I wasn’t vegan yet and had no connection whatsoever to what had happened to the animal I was buying…. I just knew I wanted the boots. This is one of the reasons that my personal decision is not to wear animal products. In no way am I judging anyone else for wearing animal products. My friend Kelsey who is vegan, is a business owner of a wonderful vintage shop in Wilmington, NC, (The Wonder Shop) and sells vintage leather, silk, etc. This is a great way to shop and not buy into fast fashion, while also supporting small businesses. There has been controversy in the vegan world about selling these products, but again, I believe we all need to respect where people are on their journey and not judge. Buying into fast fashion is worse on many levels than buying used/ vintage clothing, and this is something to think about before going out and replacing everything we have. There are many ethically sourced cruelty free products, but we have to be diligent about finding those companies.

In 1944 Thomas Watson wanted to come up with a word other than vegetarian for those who didn’t consume dairy or eggs. He coined the term “vegan” along with some friends from The Vegan Society, and they defined the word as this: “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” – The Vegan Society

When we become vegan (unless we are born vegan) we usually have products that are not cruelty free. For most people it can be a process to eliminate things from our wardrobe, our pantry, and our household. It’s not conducive to everyone to just get rid of everything “non” vegan right away. The words “as far as possible and practicable” are important to remember, as well as the fact that no one is perfect and hopefully everyone is doing their best with what they have to work with. We live in a world where we can find a cruelty free item to replace anything made from animals, yet some of these products can be pricey, and worse, some are not environmentally friendly. Not everyone can afford to replace everything they have with vegan items, and to shame them for not doing so doesn’t exude compassion, which is to me, the tenant of veganism.

What do we do with items that are not vegan? This too can be a very complicated subject. I once heard someone say they burned their leather sofa when they became vegan. I’m not here to judge anyone for their choices, but feel strongly that I personally do not want to waste, burn, or throw away something that was made from an animal. To me that is just throwing more disrespect to the animal that has already been exploited and killed for human use and deems their life totally worthless. There are so many thrift stores that we can donate items to, and finding a homeless shelter to donate old coats, boots, and blankets is also a great way to pass on the items you no longer wish to use.

In a nutshell, there isn’t an easy answer to this question. The bottom line is to do our best and to be compassionate and non-judgmental towards all living beings.

Episode 14                                       Rebecca Moore – Institute For Animal Happiness

Episode 14 Rebecca Moore – Institute For Animal Happiness

After years of experience working with animals at different sanctuaries, Rebecca started her own “micro-sanctuary,” Institute For Animal Happiness. She and I sit down in her home in Woodstock, New York to discuss micro-sanctuaries, Hudson Valley Vegfest, and much more! Rebecca explains what a “micro-sanctuary”…