GRANT WINNER: The Microsanctuary Movement

By on July 24, 2014

We are delighted to announce the next recipient of The Thinking Vegan’s grants for animal activism: The Microsanctuary Movement, and co-organizers Justin and Rosemary Van Kleeck.

The Microsanctuary Movement is a new model for rescuing farmed animals. As Justin wrote in Our Hen House recently, most people think they need a large property to have a farm sanctuary, somewhere out in the country, with a staff and hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. Au contraire, mon frère. The Microsanctuary Movement is a grassroots, populist approach, in which individuals use whatever resources they have to provide sanctuary and care to farmed animals. It’s not about the size of the property, but the size of the heart giving care and respect to animals, and the commitment to non-exploitative practices. (If you’re a vegan who has provided a home to rescued chickens, you might be a microsanctuary.) For those doing “sanctuary” differently, this grant will be used to establish a network for people with microsanctuaries, create a robust website for educational resources and support, discussion forums for people to share tips and advice, multimedia, and more.

Why did we pick this? Because in every rural, urban, and suburban shelter in North America, you’ll find abandoned and escaped farmed animals. Here in Los Angeles, we have personally met hens, roosters, ducks, turkeys, pigs, goats, and more who have been turned in to local animal control. Unless sprung by a vegan, most will be “adopted” for a per-pound cost that’s less than the local market and killed for food in someone’s backyard. Microsanctuaries – and thinking differently about how humans can rescue and provide care to farmed animals on a smaller scale and within a smaller real estate footprint – has real potential to change this cycle. However, in this new homegrown movement, there needs to be a way for individuals to network and share resources, and for novices to learn from experts, so animals will get the best possible care.

We spoke to Justin about their plans.

What’s your goal for The Microsanctuary Movement?

The Microsanctuary Movement is made up of activists, vegans, and caregivers interested in providing homes for animals aligned with this model. We want to bring together people who are doing the same things in their own communities, and to interconnect individual animal rescue with the larger effort to promote veganism and end exploitation. Our primary goal is to rescue and care for individual animals while also helping people make the connection between these individuals and the exploitative industries they have escaped from. By creating an online hub, we can establish a place for writers, thinkers, activists, and caregivers to participate in discussions and outreach, and give people the resources, tools, and personal guidance to change their lives in order to stop the exploitation of all beings.

How did you personally connect to animal activism? How did your project get its start?

I have been an ethical vegan since I was a sophomore in college in rural Virginia. I have been an animal lover all my life, but it was not until then that I realized I could not justify participating in any practice that caused suffering to animals. Since then, I have been a writer and grassroots activist, doing everything from organizing classes and large community events to running a vegan baking business. After Rosemary and I moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, we quickly realized there was an urgent need for rescuing farmed animals in the Triangle. After helping secure a good future for a white goat named Lily and then for Bubba the famous ram in Durham, we started thinking seriously about putting more – and better organized – energy into getting farmed animals off the agricultural assembly line. We got together with some of our close friends, all ethical vegans as well, to put together a board and devote our energy to making a difference. Thus was born Triangle Chance for All. There was and has been an astounding response to our efforts to rescue and provide or secure permanent sanctuary to farmed animals, and to couple that with outreach and education to promote a vegan lifestyle.

What is the impact of this form of activism?

Rescuing farmed animals helps individuals but does nothing to stop a system of exploitation, and focusing only on advocacy leaves many individual animals with no chance for a better life. For me, vegan advocacy is filled out, completed, and made fully consistent by this life of animal rescue and care.

Since we started TCA, we’ve had numerous comments and e-mails from people, near and far, who are interested in rescuing farmed animals and asking for advice on starting or running their own microsanctuary. We have also founded a group on Facebook called Vegans with Chickens, which is a networking group for vegans from all over the world to share information, tips, and guidance on caring for chickens. Although it is a very new way of living, I find it very natural to live in a home that is also our microsanctuary for rescued farmed animals (along with our own rescued cats, dogs, and rabbits). It also makes sense to be building a community around this twofold idea that veganism is the only satisfactory response to the suffering of non-human animals and rescuing individual victims of that system is a worthy endeavor to pursue as a vegan.

Congratulations to The Microsanctuary Movement for this recognition and grant. Until the site is officially up and running (we’ll keep you posted), learn more about Triangle Chance for All here:

While we are no longer accepting applications for this grant, if you have an idea that will change the world for animals, you are welcome to apply directly through The Pollination Project.


  1. Justin Van Kleeck
    July 24, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Thank you so much for this amazing award! We will begin working on the website, but in the meantime please check out our Triangle Chance for All pages and our Facebook page for The Microsanctuary Movement:

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