In light of recent events surrounding the Friends Not Food Sanctuary, I feel I needed to write a post. If you're unfamiliar with this story (which I also was until very recently), here's the deal.
Friends Not Food Sanctuary is a animal sanctuary in Tennessee. I've been following them on Instagram, I've even donated to them before! You're probably aware of those horrible Tennessee wild fires that happened recently, which is just gut wrenching. I tried avoiding pictures but I couldn't, and they made me cry my eyes out.
Well, in the midst of all of that, they said that their entire sanctuary burned down, but that the animals were all safe. They posted such heartfelt things on their Instagram and a lot of very well known vegan Instagrammers got behind them urging people to donate. I'm not a well known Instagrammers, but I was reposting their stuff as well, because I wanted to help the animals! I wanted to do my part to help.
Just recently, it's coming to light that their entire sanctuary could've been a scam. I'm not sure if there was ever a sanctuary, where they got their photos and videos, if there ever was two elderly vegans running it.. basically, we know nothing true or false at this minute.
Nothing has been officially set in stone yet. PLEASE, remember that. I don't wanna condemn a true sanctuary, but there's a lot of negativity that seems justified. Right now, from what I have seen, it's just been a bunch of Instagrammers doing their own research. The Vegan Zombie and Alba Paris are two I have been following for updates. Apparently, people reached out to local Sheriffs offices and they've never even heard of their sanctuary, and the fires were quite a distance away. So these people who have been scamming people for quite some time, had to have had this planned and saw this TERRIBLE wildfire situation as their chance to get the most from people. If that doesn't make you sick to your stomach, I don't know what will.
Things started to get suspicious when these well known Instagrammers wanted to come out and film some of the damage, to really get people to see their desperate need for help. People had asked questions and they got blocked. Their GoFundMe went from $8k, to $35k, to $1M dollars. The GoFundMe page is now closed and they got $35k. Now, their entire Instagram is gone.
I'm going to be closely following this as much as I can. I've googled and tried to Facebook but haven't had much luck, which I find strange. I've never had an issue finding information about sanctuaries I know and trust. The only things I have read are from other people's post. Poor Alba Paris posted a video where she's crying and apologizing for being behind these people and it being a lie. Poor girl, it's not her fault at all! So many of us believed this, and wanted to believe the good in people, but it's an eye opener. It's an eye opener to all of these companies that "donate" a portion of sales to animal rescues, and it's a reminder to really do your due diligence with all these companies and sanctuaries before you donate or make a purchase. I suggest always donating directly at the source. Not through PayPal or GoFundMe or some 3rd party option. Not only that, but this is gonna cause a lot of damage to real life sanctuaries that need help, and now people are gonna think twice. It's good to be mindful, but PLEASE, don't stop yourself from donating to real sanctuaries. If you go to the IRS website, you can find non-profits that are legit.
You can bet that 9/10 times I make purchases, I support companies that donate to animals. There's a few I feel confident from purchasing from, and that's: Alba Paris, The Tree Kisser, Compassionate Paws, Craig Robinson Designs, Meaningful Paws, and Arm The Animals. I know that there is more but off the top of my head these are the companies I've made repeat purchases from and feel confident they are doing their part to help animals. It's heartbreaking because a lot of these companies donated their own products, ones they've created and put their entire heart and soul into, into a giveaway to help them raise money, and these people took advantage of that generosity. It goes to show you just how deep the love for helping animals goes in the vegan community.
But all of this really makes you question things, and so it should. We shouldn't always believe the best in people. It's a cruel world out there and people suck, let's just be real. I'm physically sick to my stomach over this. If this is true, then these people pandered to the vegan community, one of the most generous communities, making us believe we were doing our part to help animals, which is our ENTIRE lives. And to take advantage of that is one of the more cruel dirty and rotten things to do. I hope that these people get what's coming to them, if in fact this all turns out to be true.
Please follow Alba Paris and The Vegan Zombie on Instagram, not just because they're awesome, but because they have been posting updates about this as they find them out. We all want the truth.