LAST UPDATED: 26 March 2021
Hundreds of millions of animals are killed every year in Australia's food systems. It's hard to comprehend the sheer scale of these operations ... But it only takes one animal to remind us that each of those beings is an individual — with their own personality, quirks, feelings and needs. Here are 8 individuals whose unique personalities and quirks have touched the hearts of those around them — because they were given a second chance at life.
Bumble the chicken was in really bad shape at the 'free-range' factory farm in NZ where she began her life. Thanks to genetic engineering of her species designed to maximise the amount of flesh her body could produce, she grew so unnaturally quickly that her legs couldn't actually support her. Luckily Bumble's predicament caught the attention of a caring human who thought she deserved better...
After receiving medical attention and a bit of TLC, she found herself adventuring outside, sunbathing, snacking on fruits ... all the natural activities chickens love to partake in when they have the opportunity. When her legs gave out again, her carers fashioned a special therapy chair to ensure she could continue to live as full a life as possible.
Eventually, it was heart failure that took Bumble's life — the sad result of having a body that was simply too large for her heart to operate. But despite her genetic challenges, Bumble was in fact one of the lucky ones. In her short lifetime she felt the sunshine, roamed in the grass, snacked on fresh fruits, was provided safety and comfort, and most importantly — she was treated with dignity and kindness.
Flossie was born in a piggery. At five months old, she was taken to the Royal Hobart Show and entered into the porker competition. She won a red ribbon — and then she was promptly booked on a truck to leave the following day for a slaughterhouse. While she awaited this final, fateful journey, she caught the attention of a woman named Emma. Eager for some social connection, Flossie played with Emma's shoelaces through the bars on her pen. Moved by this friendly pig's yearning for attention, Emma contacted the pig farmer and bought the youngster to save her from slaughter. That was about eight years ago — and Flossie has been a family member at Emma's property, Brightside Farm Sanctuary, ever since.
Flossie the pig is playful, confident, and a bit cheeky — having proven she's unafraid to sneak into the human kitchen and bee-line straight for the dog food. She's a shining example of what quality of life means for a pig. She spends her days basking in the sun with her fellow pig residents and, on occasion, bathing in whatever body of water is closest by — even if that means mistaking Mum's gardening project for an afternoon bath-n-snack.
Like most male chicks born to the egg industry, Red Baron was considered an inconvenient by-product of an outer Melbourne poultry operation. On his first day of life, he was gassed, frozen and hauled off to become snake feed. But this fluffy little fella had more fight in him than that. His weary chirps were heard amongst his deceased brethren, and he was rescued by a kind soul who recognised that he deserved a second chance at life — and delivered him to Edgar's Mission Farm Sanctuary in Victoria.
Knowing his personality and strength of spirit now, it doesn't surprise anyone at Edgar's Mission that Red Baron survived the cruelty inflicted upon him in his first two days of life. Quite the extrovert, he spends his days strutting around the farm, chatting up his neighbours, and hitching rides on his best friend Pam's shoulder (or head!). He is curious, handsome as can be, and has a keen eye for fashion — just wear your most colourful gumboots around him to win the Red Baron stamp of approval.
Red Baron's experience is a rare exception to the 'norm'. His day-to-day — full of love and adventure — is a remarkable example of how full a rooster's life can (and should) be... if he's given the chance.
Valentine entered the world on 14th February 2015. As a male calf born on a dairy farm in Australia, his fate was almost inevitable — to be slaughtered within his first week of life. But by a mere stroke of luck, this playful guy was rescued and brought to Where Pigs Fly Farm Sanctuary in New South Wales, who welcomed him with open arms and compassion.
At his new home, Valentine quickly made friends of the furred, feathered, and hooved variety and remains a mightily popular resident amongst the staff and other residents today. He is gentle, laid-back, and almost always late for dinner.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of 'bobby' calves, like Valentine, aren't so lucky. Merely 'waste products' of Australia's dairy industry, they are killed before they even get the chance to run in a paddock or feel the warmth of the sun. Valentine may not have known his mother, but he will only know love and kindness for the rest of his days, which makes him one of the most fortunate cows in Australia.
Cassie's early life was spent at an egg farm in Tasmania — crammed into a little cage with a few fellow battery hens, with barely more space than the size of an A4 sheet of paper to move, let alone walk around or stretch her wings. Likely having fallen off a transport truck en route to her slaughter, Cassie was rescued from the side of the road by a concerned passer-by and brought to Brightside Farm Sanctuary. She was skeleton thin (weighing barely 1 kg), looking sickly pale, and very quiet — utterly depleted of energy.
A couple trips to the vet, a generous diet, and lots of love turned Cassie's life around. She is healthy and strong, full of silky feathers, and indeed full of beans — no longer the timid bird who entered the sanctuary but rather an adventurous, curious hen who spends her days with her human best friend Emma, or her feathered one, Rose the turkey.
There's no telling how many eggs Cassie churned out for humans before her farm decided she was ready to become pet feed. But it's clear the battery cage life had taken its toll on her body, as well as her spirit. While her outward appearance led her farm operator to believe she was 'spent' — in fact the only thing she was sick of was constantly laying eggs from the monotonous confinement of a cramped battery cage. And she's since proven she's got plenty of vibrant life left in her.
The good-natured Howard was born to an Australian piggery (factory farm). As is standard for this industry, he was genetically designed to grow so quickly that he could be slaughtered for meat at just 3 months old. But he met no such fate — rather, he was brought to Farm Animal Rescue in Queensland along with three other piglets, where they would be treated for their respiratory infections and learn what kindness feels like.
At Farm Animal Rescue, Howard quickly became a favourite among visitors to the property. He was easy-going, friendly to those who extended a hand, and loved belly rubs more than anything. He spent most of his time with Holly, the love of his life, until she passed away after a couple years of friendship.
Howard's inevitably mammoth size (matched only by his famously 'overgrown personality') made him progressively less active as an adult — but his life was nonetheless filled with days of swimming, mud bathing, and cuddling with other farm residents before he passed away peacefully, surrounded by loving friends and carers, at seven years old.
Like all mammalian species, cows have strong maternal instincts, forming close bonds with their babies. It's no wonder dairy cows cry out in distress for hours, even days, when their calves are torn from their sides within hours of being born.
Clarabelle spent the first several years of her life on an Australian dairy farm, enduring this heartbreaking cycle every 9 months: forcibly impregnated, carrying her baby to term, giving birth, losing her baby so that her milk could be harvested for human consumption, and forcibly impregnated again.
But then Clarabelle's luck changed ... Instead of being sent to slaughter when she was deemed no longer 'productive' enough, a very pregnant Clarabelle was welcomed to Edgar's Mission Farm Sanctuary. And despite her growing trust in her human carers at Edgar's, she had her own plans for this birth...
Clarabelle gave birth to her dear Valentine (no relation to the aforementioned) quietly in a wooded corner of her paddock, and actively hid her new baby — moving her around to a different inconspicuous spot on the property each day, ever watchful of the humans who approached her baby. It was clear to the team at Edgar's Mission that Clarabelle, scarred from the trauma of having every one of her previous babies taken from her, was determined to ensure that this time around was different; and indeed it was. For the first time in her life, Clarabelle has been able to raise her calf with the all the affectionate love you'd expect from a doting mother, and her baby will be by her side for the rest of her life :)
A few years ago on a 2-degree morning in Victoria, a little lamb was spotted in a paddock, shivering cold, lying next to his mum who had died whilst giving birth to him. A couple of kind humans scooped him up and brought him inside to care for him, named him Louis — and the rest, as they say, is history...
It didn't take long for Louis' carers to fall deeply in love with him. He became part of the family as quickly as any canine companion would! In a span of two weeks they rescued two more similarly orphaned lambs — Henry and Lance — and with that, The Lamb Clan was born.
Having joined an older flock of rescue sheep who lived on the property already, this clan would soon grow to be 16 friendly fluffballs! And it's safe to say they might be 16 of the happiest sheep in Australia, spending their days lounging under the trees, munching on WeetBix, and frolicking in their paddocks. They also happen to be some of the luckiest sheep. About a quarter of the lambs born in Australia each year (around 15 million) die of exposure in the winter months — an unfortunate reality of sheep farming. But this Lamb Clan will get to live out their entire lives — an average lifepan of about 12 years — on a loving, peaceful farm, with the warmth and care they deserve. Now that's something to dance about!
You can help more animals live the dream
It's easy to hear a statistic about the number of farmed animals in our food systems and forget who those animals are and what potential their lives hold. But if you take a little time to get to know one of them, it becomes clear how unique each animal is... Every time you choose to eat a plant-based meal, you're choosing to give an animal like Valentine, Flossie or Bumble the second chance at life that they deserve.
Want to learn more about plant-based eating but not sure where to start? We've already answered all the top questions we get — head here to learn about what to eat, where to get your protein, how to choose the right non-dairy milk, and more :)
And if you're ready to get into the kitchen, pop over to VegKit.com for heaps of plant-based recipes to feed you and your loved ones for days! You might also like to order a Veg Starter Kit (it's free!) for more plant-based tips and inspiration, if you haven't already done so.