Meet Israeli native Meital Ben Ari and Adit Romano, the founders of Freedom Farm Sanctuary, a first-of-its-kind establishment that will combine an animal sanctuary with a museum and educational visitors center.
Meital and Adit met through their volunteer work at Vegan Friendly, a not-for-profit vegan organization dedicated to making life for vegans in Israel accessible and enjoyable. Soon after they met, Meital visited Sasha farm sanctuary in Michigan where she encountered farm animals living the lives they deserve, and realized the dire need for a similar sanctuary back home.
Upon her return to Israel, Meital learned that her friend, Adit, had already started looking into the idea of establishing a local farm sanctuary. They met up to discuss this possibility, and soon after they began putting their mutual vision for the sanctuary into motion.
Honoring a rescued calf
Freedom Farm Sanctuary is named after Freedom, a rescued calf that had his legs broken in the birthing process, deeming him useless to the veal industry. This injury spared Freedom a short and horrible life. He was rescued and given a chance to recover with the help of physical therapy. But living in his rescuer’s back yard wasn’t safe. Farm animals kept in back yards in Israel are in danger of being stolen.
Freedom now has a temporary home where he happily lives with a couple hundred donkeys. He will be relocated to Freedom Farm Sanctuary once it is up and running, together with Maayan, a calf who was rescued after being found in the middle of a road, probably after falling off a truck, and other lucky animals who escaped the meat, eggs and dairy industries.
Why is it important to have this type of sanctuary in Israel?
About four to five percent of the Israeli population is vegan, and one out of seven people are vegetarians. It might take a while to find someone who does not know what veganism is, so it’s surprising that there are no local sanctuaries for animals rescued from the agricultural industry.
Freedom Farm will be Israel’s first sanctuary for farmed animals. There are already 800 volunteers in line, and a generous contributor — who is willing to match donations dollar for dollar — who have gladly signed up to help the farm prosper.
A farm that is more than a farm
In addition to the farm, Meital and Adit are also planning to build a restaurant, an auditorium, a small veterinary hospital, and a museum.
The museum will educate visitors about current practices in animal agriculture, farm animal reproduction, and the types of facilities farm animals live in. There will be a display of tools used to control and slaughter animals, and an historical display of the use of animals as commodities. In addition to the ethical aspects, ecological and health impacts of using animals for food will also be discussed by the sanctuary’s educational staff and guides.
Connecting animals and humans
Freedom Farm Sanctuary’s Facebook page states that “the farm will serve as a ‘heaven on earth’ and will grant the opportunity to approach and spend time with the animals, listen to lectures, participate in workshops and witness the mighty and grating differences between these animals and their ill-fated brothers.”
Meital and Adit believe that when people are educated and truly understand the plight of individual animals, they will be inspired to change their own lives. When animals are “far from eyes” they will also be “far from heart”, Meital says.
This notion expressed itself in Meital’s own life three years ago after she went vegan. She swiftly began to add vegan friends onto her social media accounts because she felt she needed to see images of animals in the various industries to remind her on a daily basis of what the animals go through.
Being the first isn’t always easy
Although both Meital and Adit come from business oriented backgrounds (Meital comes from a professional background of economics and management, and Adit is an entrepreneur in the field of marketing and commerce), they still find the project quite challenging: Because Freedom Farm Sanctuary is the first of its kind in Israel, new rules and regulations need to be established with the government and stumbling blocks have arisen.
But it has all been a labor of love, and I believe Meital and Adit when they say it will be a lovely and loving place.
“Despite the various difficulties we are facing, we are blessed to be constantly surrounded by moving displays of support from various directions. We definitely feel that Freedom Farm Sanctuary is the right project at the right time.” Says Adit.
The sanctuary is anticipated to open in the coming year. If you would like to donate to help grow the Freedom Farm Sanctuary, please visit their donation page, and contribute to their success.