Inner Light Sanctuary
Living in the Midwest has some day-to-day vegan-related challenges. I pass countless trucks headed to slaughterhouses or meat processing plants. The evening news promoted meat month in May (don't get me started)... Everyone in my neighborhood wheeled out grills on the summer holidays and fired up burgers, hot dogs, and more. I get it, I know I live in what some would call the epicenter of factory farming, but what happens when you discover an animal sanctuary not too far away? You immediately message them, thank them for all they are doing, and ask to come visit.
I found Inner Light Sanctuary on TikTok (I am not that old yet) and instantly loved the humor behind the education. Andrew, co-founder of Inner Light, posts stories about each rescue and highlights the crew's personalities. If you aren't already, you must follow inner_light_sanctuary, you will not be disappointed. After finding their page and looking into their social media accounts, I followed what was happening with Ralph. You see, Ralph was part of a duo. He and Bella were rescued and headed back to Inner Light Sanctuary. When it was time to move them into their new home, Ralph had other ideas and headed for the neighboring property, a cow farm... Fortunately for Andrew, and Ralph, the neighbor was cool with Ralph and assured them he would make his way back to his forever home eventually, he just needed to cool off from the road trip. Follow Ralph's adventure and other updates here.
Bella, enjoying the single life, until Ralph returns
Okay, back to how I ended up lost on a gravel road. After reaching out to Andrew and setting up a time to come out and chat, take pictures, and learn more about Inner Light Sanctuary, I packed up my camera and hit the road. Fast forward 30 minutes and I was on the side of the road, calling Andrew, and getting new directions. I eventually made it and met Andrew and his family, apologizing for my 'I have no idea where I am'ness. We chatted for a few and I met Andrew's wife, Hilliary, who is clearly the humor behind the operation.
It was time to meet the residents of Inner Light Sanctuary. First stop...a bunny! Juniper, newest resident, was recently surrendered by her owner. Before relocating to Inner Light, she was living in the garage in her cage. Safe to say she has a much better residence now.
Juniper not only has a beautiful view of the Sanctuary, she has tons of space to hop and lounge (as seen here).
As I met Poppy and T'Chella, I asked Andrew, "How did this all start, what's the plan, and what do you need?" Meeting Poppy and T'Chella, Andrew watched them become members of his family and realized they were no different than either of us. They wanted to live, and live freely. They wanted to be affectionate and explore the yard (and chew shoelaces as I learned during our visit). This encouraged Andrew to,
"Try and live a little more gently."
Poppy + T'Chella enjoying supper
(this tub of veggies was kindly donated by a local grocery store).
Blue skies + dinnertime. (L to R - Cathy, Amelia and Frienda)
Andrew and his family have worked closely with Hercules Haven, another wonderful sanctuary here in the Midwest. They have also learned about the connections between sanctuaries and the importance of leaning on others as mentors as they navigate this process.
Hazel + Tot were just babies when they tumbled off a transport truck and eventually made their way to the sanctuary (now they feast on watermelons, cucumbers, and more).
Hazel and Tot were just babies when they fell off a transport truck headed to slaughter. Fortunately, the Animal Rescue League was involved and were able to locate a home for Hazel and Tot at the Inner Light Sanctuary. The Animal Rescue League is another resource for sanctuaries and anyone looking to help rescue animals.
As I learned more about Andrew, his family, and his now growing sanctuary, I had to ask... about food. Andrew, a former Casey's donuts and breakfast pizza guy, has now moved into the world of lentil tacos and vegan pizza. We chatted about kids and school lunches and as always, I was curious about parenting with kids who weren't plant-based or vegan from the start. What did that transition look like? Here at Plant-Based Point, we often talk about the many ripple effects your food choices have, but it's never more clear than when you're standing in front of Bella or Poppy (or any of the other residents) at Inner Light Sanctuary.
I can't thank Andrew and his family enough for allowing me to wander and ask questions, meet their crew, and snap some pictures. I hope this encourages you to reach out to anyone in your area who's doing the work to rescue animals. The time, energy, and love that goes into this field is felt as soon as you step onto the sanctuary property.
It wasn't until a few days later I thought to myself, wow I didn't even ask about the sanctuary name, Inner Light. I sent a quick email and Andrew wrote back something beautiful...
"The Inner Light is a Quaker term used to describe how we all carry God or I like to think "Good" in our hearts and within us. I chose it for the name of the sanctuary because I wanted to show that all living things have that light within them. Their existence. Their soul. It's something that makes me feel connected to them. I really feel that animals are inherently good in the purest form.
How to Help
A sanctuary requires a lot of time, funds, and support. Here are some fantastic ways to support Inner Light Sanctuary: