Farm Sanctuary Hoe Down

by Linda Lebedovych
Provided by Linda DeStefano
Translated into Spanish by Rob English

I had the privilege of attending my third annual “Hoe Down” at the Farm Sanctuary at Watkins Glen, N.Y. – a meeting of like- minded animal lovers, vegetarians and vegans from all over the country. The co-founder of this sanctuary is Gene Bauer, an iconic figure who was selling vegan hot dogs out of a VW Van at Grateful Dead concerts before “vegan” became a common word.

The event includes music and dancing.

It also includes presentations from authors, under-cover slaughter house workers, medical doctors, environmental experts and other movers and shakers changing the world views on “meat eating”. Three authors presented to us; Nil Zacharias (author of Eat for the Planet), Carol Adams (author of The Sexual Politics of Meat, Living Among Meat Eaters and Protest Kitchen) and Katie Gillespie (The Cow with Ear Tag #1389 Aad other Stories). I’d love to talk about some of these lectures at PAR’s next vegan social. Needless to say, I left with some new books.

The session opened with speaker Dominick Thompson, a gentleman of color who spent 3 years in prison for drug selling. He grew up in a poorer community which he called a food desert. In other words, his community only had fast food and convenience stores within its 2 miles radius so there was almost no access to vegetables and fruits since he didn’t own a car. When he was in prison, he began to empathize with caged animals who were put in cages having done nothing wrong. He began trading his meat portions in prison for the vegetable portion out of respect for these helpless animals. This didn’t slow him down from becoming a “ripped” athlete. Upon release he helped his community with food choices and founded a clothing company called crazies and weirdos. His T-shirts have the logo: “Eat What Elephants Eat”. He provides nutrition counseling to less affluent communities and to anyone interested in the vegan lifestyle. He’s also listed by VEG NEWS as one of the seven vegan men of color to follow on Instagram.

One of the youngest activists is Genesis Butler, a 13-year-old girl of color who spoke to us about her epiphany while eating chicken nuggets and how she came to reject the typical American diet at age 10. She’s learning how to protest events and becoming one of the youngest public advocates in the media. She is influencing school children and adults alike.

These are just some of the highlights, and the priceless experience includes meeting so many other like- minded folks and the lovely vegan meals which were beyond delicious and “animal time” touring and interacting with the hundreds of saved farm animals.

Social justice for all is always on the forefront for which this group is committed.

The next event is the Celebration for the Turkeys on Saturday, November 16 with the feeding of the turkey ceremony, and the lovely vegan Thanksgiving Dinner along with a silent auction and more presentations. See for details and more events.

In the Syracuse area, there are many opportunities to try vegan food and socialize with others, such as through People for Animal Rights or Syracuse Vegan Meetup or VeganCNY.

Linda Lebedovych is a member of People for Animal Rights (PAR). PAR can be reached at or (315)488-PURR (8 a.m. – 10 p.m.) or P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358.
Reach Syracuse Vegan Meetup at
Reach VeganCNY at