Read Lee’s inspiring story, in her own words, about why she decided to become a vegan at the age of 68!
I am 68 years old and worked for many years as a visiting nurse and later as a family nurse practitioner, specializing in the care of the elderly, folks with dementia and folks at end-of-life. I have always cared for and about people of all ages and their pets. Our family has always adopted pets from local animal shelters.
One Sunday in the spring of 2016, I was having dinner at my brother’s house and my niece, Katie, mentioned an article she had found online about artificial insemination of dairy cows and how the calves were taken from their mothers at birth. I found it difficult to believe and decided to research it for myself. Once I learned the truth, I was horrified at the treatment of farm and dairy animals.
In my research, I came across the website for Maple Farm Sanctuary (MFS) and read Cheri and Jim’s story. I decided at that time I would not be the cause of suffering for any animal. Katie and I visited MFS a short time later and had a chance to see firsthand the compassionate care and treatment of the animals there.
During my research, I also came across an article about the mayor of Marshall, Texas, reversing his high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and prostate cancer by working with his doctor and changing to a whole food, plant-based diet. I am diabetic and have high blood pressure and thought a change to this kind of diet might help me as well.
I won’t say becoming vegan was easy. I didn’t eat that much meat at home. As a single person with a very small kitchen, I was the queen of the microwave frozen dinner. For me, the most difficult thing to give up was cheese. I read books, I studied, and I decided to move outside my comfort zone. I soon learned about the negative aspects of processed foods and the positive benefits of unprocessed, whole foods and plants. I started cooking soups for myself and created my own recipe for no fat, no salt, pasta e fagiole and minestrone. I bought a pressure cooker and later a food processor.
I discovered vegan alternatives such as Gardein, Field Roast, and Chao cheese. I got my chocolate cravings satisfied with Silk Cashew chocolate milk and love Silk Original Soy milk on oatmeal. I discovered vegan Parmesan cheese and often take that with me when I go out to eat at a restaurant. I have worked closely with my primary care physician and found her very supportive. Her only concern was Vitamin B12 deficiency so we keep an eye on that and I take a supplement.
My family is not ready to make the change but are very supportive. My first Thanksgiving, I took Gardein’s individual serving Sage Turkey and gravy. My sister-in-law made delicious vegetables and used almond milk in the mashed potatoes. When we go out to eat, I study the menu ahead of time and call the restaurant if I have any questions.
This past Thanksgiving it was my delight to be able to meet Cheri in person and thank her and Jim for their story and the inspiration to become vegan. We are so blessed to have MFS in our area. We can all learn a lot from Cheri and Jim about compassion for all!
The day after Thanksgiving, MFS got a phone call from a rather unexpected source: a hunter.
The hunter told Cheri that he had been out looking for a wild turkey to shoot for Thanksgiving dinner but came across a domestic turkey instead. He could see that she had been injured and knew that she would not survive long on her own.
MFS does not condone hunting, but we were grateful for the act of compassion shown by this man and agreed to help the turkey. He brought her to MFS a few days after Thanksgiving and we named her Gwendolyn.
Cheri immediately examined Gwendolyn and determined that she had likely been attacked by a coyote or other animal. Fortunately her injuries were not too severe, and Cheri will be treating them to prevent infection.
Gwendolyn is now settling in at MFS in a cozy stall where she has lots of clean water, nutritious food, and room to rest. She has already begun making friends with some of our resident chickens and is sociable with people as well—she even responds with a soft purring noise when Cheri talks to her.
One of the first things we did when Gwendolyn arrived was give her a belated Thanksgiving feast of fresh vegetables and feed. We suspect she was being raised on a turkey farm or by an individual in order to become someone's Thanksgiving dinner, and we wanted to show her that she is now free to just be a turkey.
We are so happy to have Gwendolyn with us and know that she will be an amazing ambassador for turkeys and other farm animals!
November 2016 - GoFundMe Hay Appeal Donor Recognition
Thank you to our amazing supporters who contributed to our 2016 GoFundMe for Hay! We’ve already raised nearly half of our goal of $20,000—enough to purchase one trailer load of hay. Our llamas, goats, pigs, sheep, and chickens can’t say thank you enough for your generosity!
Supporters who give $50 or more are recognized on our website. See the other giving rewards levels, including a framed animal print, MFS t-shirt, and free tour, here.
We still need to purchase two additional hay loads. Please help us spread the word about our campaign by sharing it on Facebook.
Paula Foley, Framingham, MA
Kevin Smith, Royal Oak, Michigan
Claire Bosma, Pittsfield, MA
Haven Daniels, Boston, MA
Mark Gillono, Aurora, IL
Adam Japko, Carlisle, MA
Lucy Roberts, Madison, AL
Melissa Zafirelis, Waltham, MA
Naghmeh Ahi, Brooklyn, NY
Victoria Andreoli, Ashaway, RI
Rosemary Antonucci, Cambridge, MA
Nancy Barre, West Roxbury, MA
Carol Belding, Sarasota, FL
Jen Brindisi, Falmouth, MA
Nolan Burke, New York, NY
Terri Lee Carabillo, Topsfield, MA
Peter & Nanette Cardos, Belchertown, MA
Carole Carnovale, Mendon, MA
Diane Carr, Waltham, MA
Susan Costello, Sherborn, MA
Cathy Coston, Bar Harbor, ME
Cynthia Cruser, Stuart, FL
Holly Davenport, Norfolk, MA
Todd DeMartinis, Cambridge, MA
Anne Deuster, Saint Petersburg, FL
Linda Deveau, Swampscott, MA
Meghan Dibble, Berkeley, CA
Jessica Faherty, Melrose, MA
Chris Farrell, Brookline, MA
Ryuoh Faulconer, Newton, MA
April Forsman, Worcester, MA
Jenney P. Gallerane, Milford, MA
Barbara Glover, Mendon, MA
Rob Haworth, Bethesda, MD
E. N. Hingkeldey, Burdett, NY
Kate Horsley, New Port Richey, FL
Corey Hunter, New York, NY
Jill Korff, Wayland, MA
Susan Korte, Dalton, MA
Susan Labandibar, Cambridge, MA
Lisa Landsverk, Cambridge, MA
Ollire Lane, Dover, NH
Tisa LaPadula, New York, NY
Andrey Levin, Millis, MA
Danielle Lizotte, Milford, MA
Peter Lombardo, Rocky Hill, CT
Sharron Luttrell, Mendon, MA
Becky Martin, Belchertown, MA
Everly McCormack, Hudson, MA
Robin McCormack, Hudson, NH
Libby Meehan, Watertown, MA
Kathy Melchin, Middleboro, MA
Marnie Meyers, Windsor, MA
Jo Irvine, Montgomery, MA
Edward Moran, Milford, MA
Janyce Murray, Whitinsville, MA
Nicole Mushero, Jamaica Plain, MA
Christina Neally, Seattle, WAS
Daryl Nuese, Westborough, MA
Katharine O’Brien, Sudbury, MA
Jane O’Hara, Little Compton, RI
Alyssa O’Mara, Canton, MA
Patricia Panitz, Seattle, WA
Dawn Pavao, Harpers Ferry, WV
Veronica Perkins, Kyle, TX
MaryAnne Polich, West Roxbury, MA
Jennifer Powell, Pflugerville, TX
Karen Rosati, Northbridge, MA
Lindsey Ross, Ann Arbor, MI
Bridget Sebern, Aurora, CO
Mary Jane Serfilippi, Delmar, NY
Emily Shay, Norwood, MA
Neil Simmons, Somerville, MA
Kyle Sinclair, West Roxbury, MA
Amanda Tarbet, Allston, MA
Karen Thomson, Eugene, OR
Harika Tuna, Herndon, VA
Susanna Wang, North Tonawanda, NY
Sherry Weiland, Sudbury, MA
Matt Weiss, Natick, MA
Teresa Willett, East Lyme, CT
Sue Williams, Silver Spring, MD
Deborah Wright, Warwick, MA
Elaine Zagame, Northbridge, MA
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Maple Farm Sanctuary is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization with tax-exempt status.
Maple Farm Sanctuary 101 North Avenue, Mendon, MA 01756