Chickens and Goats and Pigs, Oh My.

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Volunteers Aloha Animal Santuary
Volunteer Appreciation Day

Aloha Animal Sanctuary appreciates their volunteers.

I was Leah’s + 1 at the Aloha Animal Sanctuary volunteer appreciation event.  A safe haven for animals like cows, pigs, chickens, and other farmed animals, the Sanctuary is 100% volunteer run.    At the Sanctuary are animals who have been abused, abandoned, and/or neglected and have nowhere else to go. Sometimes, there are animals there who were at risk of being sent to slaughter without legal intervention.   

Leah started volunteering in 2020 as a school project. Her job was to provide TLC, ‘tender loving care’, feeding and interacting with the resident animals there.   At the time, I thought this assignment was perfect for a 10-year-old animal lover who could pet and cuddle animals.     Located in Kahaluu, Kaneohe, I wondered why this town girl would travel all the way there… or more specifically why her mom would drive out there, adding to an already busy schedule week after week.  After attending this celebration… I get it.  


100% volunteer run

The Aloha Animal Sanctuary was celebrating and recognizing the 125 volunteers that run the organization.   Tender Loving Care Givers, Animal Caretakers, Habitat Care, Egg Collectors, Animal Wellness and of course all the background administrative stuff that is not glamorous, but needs to get done.   100% volunteer run, Aloha Animal Sanctuary is funded through tours, donations, and love.    Leah started on the TLC team, feeding and caring for the animals. 3 years later, school assignment done, she continues to volunteer.   It became a family project, her little brother joining in with the chores.    A family activity, infused with core values, provided educational opportunities for the kids. More about the family’s adventures here.

Family visiting animals at Aloha Animal Sanctuary

Little brother learns to interact with goats.

Animals are Ambassadors at the Aloha Animal Sanctuary

Many animals live on property!  My favorite is Haku… the pig.

Sort of reminded me of the 1995 movie, Babe and of course the 2006 movie Charlotte’s Web.  Both of these drama’s depicted pigs as intelligent, personable, and adorable.  No, he didn’t make me think of bacon, OR barbeque ribs!

Brian Heithaus received the Volunteer of The Year award. He is the overnight caretaker who lives onsite and does repairs and assists with emergency care of the residents as needed. Brian called the resident animals.  “Ambassadors for the cause”.  Fits!  Many people have never had the chance to interact with animals like pigs, cows, chickens, or turkeys, although we slaughter and eat them by the billions annually. The Aloha Animal Sanctuary helps people form personal connections with these animals and see them for the individuals that they are.

Here’s Andi.  Raised on a cockfighting farm, rescued by the sanctuary.  Ok, I’ll admit that I am not a fan of birds… having watched the 1963 Horror film- The Birds.  Produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, this film made quite an impression.   Still, meeting Andi put a face to my favorite food, and gently persuaded me to consider the why behind the Aloha Animal Sanctuary.

Animal agriculture

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and deforestation. Up to 137 plant, animal, and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction in the name of animal agriculture. 

Every year, over 56 billion land animals are killed for food.  These animals are bred into existence purely for human consumption, and require lots of water, grain, and land. 1.5 acres of farm land can produce 37,000 pounds of plant-based food, but the same 1.5 acres can only produce 375 pounds of beef. 

Plant Based  

This is Hawaii.  This is a celebration of the volunteer service.  Naturally then, there’s FOOD!!    One catch.  All food, in recognition of the mission was vegan.  No eggs, dairy, honey or animal flesh ingredients.  (Hmm, I packed my own emergency chocolate chip cookies just in case.)

I needn’t have worried! Amazing food!  Super delicious, lots of variety.  The primary ingredient of all the dishes was NOT tofu.   (whew). 


My favorite, called “dirty cauliflower” made with tempeh, porcini mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, cauliflower, and various herbs was delicious. Wow.  This dish matched my local tastes.  I got the recipe and will try this at home!


The lead author of a recent Oxford University study, the biggest ever conducted of global agriculture and one that has been praised by other researches in the field, stated that “adopting a plant-based diet is the single biggest choice an individual can make to make the greatest positive impact on the environment.” 

Dessert was coconut nice cream, a slice of delicious double chocolate cake, and whipped cream.      For this omnivore, it was not so scary, somewhat different, and oh so delicious.  I can do this!!

A Sanctuary for animals AND people.     

After lunch, we had the requisite thank you and speeches each volunteer introduced themselves, telling everyone what they did at the sanctuary, and how long they had been involved.   The newcomers talked about how the sanctuary welcomed them, and gave them a sense of place, made the islands feel like home. The old timers talked about what the place means to them.    No one railed about animal rights, or guilted me into eating plant based.   None of that, only kindness and aloha.  This is their style.   No bombardment, no preaching.  No guilt.  Leading by example, and educating the public, while gently opening our minds and hearts.  

The Aloha Animal Sanctuary holds regular visitor days, as well as volunteer days, and special events.   Find out more on their website, or email the Director of Public Relations at




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