Kayla Worden is the founder of Full Circle Farm Sanctuary. She is an animal rights and LGBTQ activist.
We recently sat down with Worden to ask her about her activism and hear her thoughts on the vegan movement.
1. Tell our readers a bit about yourself.
I grew up on a small family farm in rural northwestern Pennsylvania, where my father, in addition to being a farmer, was a relentless hunter and trapper. For as long as I can remember, I have always had an affinity for animal beings of all kinds and have deeply empathized with them. Growing up, I spent countless hours interacting with my animal friends out in the barnyard and in the pastures. Witnessing firsthand the routine cruelty that happened to the animals in my life was deeply traumatizing. It broke my heart to see, for instance, baby calves routinely torn away from their mothers and to hear the tormented cries from momma and baby as the calves were sent off to be slaughtered for their flesh. Their heartbroken mothers continued to search the pastures and cry out for them for days, even weeks.
As I struggled with my own private dilemma of knowing that I was a girl trapped in a boy’s body, I began to deeply relate to the struggles that the animals around me were going through, as we all seemed powerless together to find a way out of our oppressive situations.
As a longtime postoperative transsexual woman, I know what it is like to feel oppressed by a callous, judgmental, myopic society. I can relate to the plight of our animal friends. I also clearly recognize that animals have it far, far worse than I ever did, and I know that it is unfair for me to demand understanding, consideration, and respect for who I am if I am unwilling to extend the same to others who are oppressed ever so much more than I. Animals are certainly worthy of equal consideration.
Throughout my life I have been involved with animals in one way or another, as I have worked as a veterinary assistant, have been a state- and federally licensed wildlife rehabber, and have both volunteered and worked for various animal advocacy organizations on the local, national, and international fronts.
2. How long have you been vegan and why did you make the switch?
Since receiving a random mailing from PETA in 1989. As I read over the informative pamphlet, everything fell into place and I realized that I could no longer support the senseless suffering of feeling animals who were being killed for our habituated palate preferences. It became very clear to me that I could no longer be a part of this horrific madness. I went vegan overnight for the sake of the animals and have never regretted this. In fact, it has been the best decision I’ve ever made.
3. What advice do you have for new vegans?
Be bold—step through your fear and be courageous! Speak up and take action whenever and wherever you witness abuse of animals. It’s crucial that you put your compassion into life-changing, all-important ACTION. It’s not enough to simply live as a vegan. Help sow the seeds of compassion for ALL everywhere you go. The more we all do this, the sooner society will reach that “tipping point” in favor of true justice and kindness.
4. Why did you start Full Circle Farm Sanctuary?
It has been a long-held dream of mine to create a haven for the most abused beings on the planet, where these beautiful rescued individuals could find relief from their torment, where they could experience the transformative, healing power of love and peace. It is truly a privilege to be able to witness firsthand these animals blossom, to see them simply be their wondrous selves, and to experience meaningful relationships with them.
These same rescued beings become the best ambassadors for others of their kind as people visit our sanctuary and experience how beautiful, sensitive, and intelligent farmed animals are. Truly, sanctuaries such as Full Circle Farm Sanctuary are quite special places, where hearts are moved and minds are changed every day.
5. What is one thing you wish you'd known before starting the sanctuary?
How important it is to think ahead and plan for the future as you are creating your sanctuary. It’s so much easier and less costly to get things right the first time when it comes to putting in a fence here or a gate there, for instance, as opposed to having to go back and redo such things.
6. What’s one thing you’d like people to know about farmed animals?
Farmed animals are no different than your beloved dog or cat. They possess rich social lives and complex intellects. They are so much like us in all the ways that matter. They simply wish to live out their lives in peace and thrive on love. Like us, they experience fear, pain, joy, and happiness. They deserve our respect and the very best we have to give.
7. Is there an animal you've met who has made an enormous impact on your life?
Oh yes, indeed. There have been so many! One special friend who comes to mind is Penny the pig. Penny is our sanctuary’s matriarch who escaped from a farm as a piglet and became the impetus for Full Circle’s formation. To rescue her, I rounded up several volunteers to help quickly construct a fence and proper habitat for her, as we had only a small window of opportunity to save her life. That was in 2010 and it just goes to show what a small group of determined people can do together! Penny remains a fixture here at Full Circle to this day and her friendship enriches my life immeasurably. She is an old soul who loves people, and there is such wisdom in her eyes. She trusts me and I know she has my best interests at heart as well. I feel so blessed to have her in my life.
8. How can activists help animals locally?
Get involved! Volunteer at farmed animal sanctuaries. You will receive so much in return! It nourishes one’s soul to DO something to help those in need. We have many volunteers who have expressed how much better they feel after putting in a volunteer shift here, working among our beautiful rescued residents. Several volunteers have expressed how it is like meditation for them, and the deep bonds they form with various individual animals become life-changing experiences for them. And be sure to bring along a non-vegan friend or two when you volunteer so the animals may work their magic on them!
9. If you could eat only one vegan dish for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?
Wow, that’s a hard one, because there are so many delish vegan dishes to enjoy! Some of my faves would have to be lasagna, pad thai, and pizza. I never get tired of these, as they are mouthwateringly delectable and so very satisfying!
10. Is there anything you’d like to add?
I believe that the ultimate purpose of our lives is to be of service to others who are most in need of our help. To achieve that purpose, I believe it is crucial that we courageously move beyond our egocentric interests and selflessly give our very best. It’s amazing how quickly the phrase “to give is to receive” will manifest itself magnificently in your life!
To keep up with Kayla, be sure to follow Full Circle Farm Sanctuary on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!