Intern Interview – Amanda Blanchard
Amanda Blanchard spent two months in our education and advocacy department, helping promote veganism and sharing the truths about animal farming to visitors. She and all the interns participated in our large-scale rescue of 1,525 hens from an egg farm where hens lived in cages so small they could not spread their wings. After graduation from college, she hopes to enter the animal rights world and continue her advocacy on behalf of other animals.
How did you develop your interest in vegan lifestyle?
When I was 12, I saw my dad BBQ an entire pig with an apple in her mouth. Before that, I had never made the connection between pork and pigs. I haven’t eaten meat since. Over the course of four years I learned that the dairy industry and the meat industry are one in the same, so I went vegan when I was 16.
Is there a particular animal on the sanctuary with whom you connect?
The animals I connected the most with were the potbellied pig boys. Like me, they can only handle people in small doses and that’s on a good day. They’re a melodramatic trio. I don’t expect anything of them and they don’t of me. I like that.
Besides animals, what else are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about social justice issues – the environment, racial equality, gender equality, Native American rights, feminism. As long as it’s for a good cause, I’ll advocate on behalf of any underprivileged, marginalized group of individuals.
What advice would you give people interested in transitioning to a vegan diet?
Progress is progress. I gave myself an entire month to transition from a vegetarian to a vegan diet. Don’t overwhelm yourself on the first day by trying to memorize all the tricky animal ingredients. Focus on the basics at first, like milk, eggs, cheese, honey, whey, casein, and gelatin. You’ll learn as you go and you will make mistakes. But being vegan isn’t just about avoiding certain ingredients, it’s about actively trying to reduce the amount of cruelty you inflict on animals everyday in all areas of your life. As long as the animals are your focus, you’ll be fine.
I’ve learned that Animal Place IS my future career. I knew before I came here that I wanted to work for a non-profit animal organization, but I know for sure now that I want to work in a sanctuary setting. At a farmed animal sanctuary, the idea of advocating for animals isn’t abstract. Everyday I see the faces of once abused animals – Panda, Jelly Bean, Wilbur, Carma — and am reminded of why I chose to pursue animal activism as a career. I’m not these animals’ voice, but I can make it my purpose to make sure their voice is heard.
Do you have any advice for anyone interested in applying to the Animal Place internship program?
Do it! I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I applied, but it was by far the best decision I ever made. You will meet amazing people and have unforgettable encounters with the animals. It’s a very uplifting experience that will give you all the motivation you need to stay active for farmed animals when you return home.
Also, I’m a pretty introverted person and living with five other girls and not having a car didn’t kill me, so you will be fine!
Interested in becoming a residential intern at our Grass Valley or Vacaville shelters? Apply today: http://animalplace.org/get-invovled-sanctuary-internships/. Internships are available year-round.