Yesterday, I visited Hopefield Animal Sanctuary in Brentwood, Essex, England. The sanctuary has actually been open since 1983, but it wasn’t on my list of sanctuaries to visit before, due to the cafe there not being vegan – which seemed incredibly confusing to me. BUT last month, Hopefield addressed this and made their cafe completely free from animal products, so I was excited to finally visit!
Hopefield Animal Sanctuary is located just a few minutes away from Brentwood High Street, this sanctuary is much easier to visit than others I have gone to in the past, as normally they’re in a much more rural area. It is also very visitor and child-friendly, with plenty of parking, a gift shop, a vegan cafe, and information about where the animals came from so you can learn about them too. I was particularly happy about the information given about the pigs here – addressing the harsh reality that most pigs have to endure. I even witnessed a child reading out loud the information about one pig in particular, and she literally gasped in shock after finding out that this animal was born and raised in order to be killed for meat.
Other farm animals that reside at Hopefield include turkeys, hens, goats, sheep and of course, a few absolutely stunning cows who I was particularly excited to meet.
Something great about Hopefield Animal Sanctuary is that it is not at all prejudice about the type of animal taken in here. As well as the farm animals, there are so many other types of animals, including (but not limited to) horses, rabbits, ferrets, alpacas, donkeys, ponies, many types of birds and also reptiles. I was really interested to see a few foxes living together too, and one of the volunteers explained to me that some of these had been kept to be killed for fur in their previous life. Fur farming is an incredibly cruel and unnecessary industry, and unfortunately the sale of fur is still permitted in the UK. (If this is something you feel strongly about, please sign the petition to completely ban the sale of fur in the UK here).
The Tearoom is the vegan cafe on-site, and I felt sad to learn that it had gained a mixed reaction so far – with some customers complaining because they were not serving any meat. It seems unfathomable to me that any animal sanctuary would serve meat on-site – spending all their time, energy and money to rescue animals, but then at the same time paying for somebody else to kill them. All the food here is now 100% vegan, and seemed to be really popular amongst the adults and children visiting. There was a great selection of cakes and hot lunch options to choose from. Everything was great and I hope the selection continues to grow as they experiment with more vegan dishes.
I was also really happy to overhear a conversation between a young girl and her mother behind me, where she questioned if the turkey meat they ate at home would have come from a turkey just like the one they had just seen at the sanctuary and seemed really sad about this. A seed was planted. And this was my favourite thing about the sanctuary being so visitor (and particularly child) friendly. It’s so important for children to meet animals that are commonly used for meat or used by humans in another way. We are all born with a natural compassion for animals, it just seems like some of us forget this along the way.
Overall, I had a really fun day out at Hopefield Animal Sanctuary, and I am so glad it now has a completely vegan cafe, so that everyone can enjoy the experience here. I would definitely recommend anyone to visit and support this sanctuary, and I think it’s a great way of showing children and non-vegans how amazing all animals are, and that all animals are here with us, not for us.
Find out more!