Originally posted in March 2015

Edgar's Mission is becoming more and more recognised and reknowned for their relentless and amazing work in raising rescuing and offering sanctuary to farm animals in need. Too often, these creatures have been kept their whole lives in abhorrent conditions, not knowing the feeling of love and compassion, or the feeling of grass beneath their feet. Pam Ahern has changed all this and continues to change the world, one pig, lamb, goat (and all the rest!) at a time. Their mission is kindness. Through education and advocacy, Edgar's Mission has empowered countless animals and continue to promote compassion, cruelty free living and acting to the highest ethical standards.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview the founder of Edgar's Mission - Pam Ahern who generously answered my lengthy questions - discussing how it all began, the state of the food industry and what we can do to protect these beings.

At what point as a young person, did you realise that rescuing animals was your calling? 

For as long as I can remember animals have always held centre stage in my heart and home.  I have always been fascinated with animals from the bees in our backyard to my toy farm set filled with plastic farm animals.  I was always the kid who would befriend the neighbourhoodstray dog or cat, so there was always a natural empathy with animals. My mother was a huge cat lover and our family shared our home with two catsand a dog and my father was a very religious man and equally stern about doing the 'right' thing.  I think it is to him I owe my sense of justice and I guess the marriage of these two qualities from my mother and father, coupled with my natural empathy for animals caused and still causes me to be drawn to the terrible injustices that happen to animals on my watch.  From
taking in stray cats and dogs, then seeking to find homes for them, Mum and myself joined the local animal aid group.  But I quickly came to realize that there was no more maligned group of animals than farm animals.

Can compassion be learned?

I truly believe in the goodness of the human heart, that our species is programed to care.  This is what keeps me going and I do see it shine through every single day, whether it is from a member of the public who reports a farm animal in distress, a child who emails to say they want to help animals or the feedback we receive from one of the many facebook posts we put up.  Over and I over I see people responder to creatures in trouble, be they human or no-human.  But I also do believe in 'monkey see, monkey do' in that many children (and even adults) do take the lead from their parents, care givers or those around them.

When did you discover for yourself that that animals were worth fighting for?

This would have to have come from my interactions with our family pets. I wanted to protect them, I wanted to make sure they were always happy and safe.  That they had food they enjoyed and that they were warm when it was cold and cool in the heat of summer, that they had things to do in their day that gave it meaning and purpose - that their life to them was worth living.  Our little grey and white cat, Tiny, loved to have her tummy tickled.  She would climb into bed with me every night and curl next to me, as I would rub her tummy she would purr wildly, I would try and keep going for as long as I could because I loved her and wanted her to be happy.  But my arm would get tired and l would have to stop, but I promised her when I grew up I would make lots of money and I would pay someone to keep rubbing her tummy all night. Alas Tiny has long passed away, and I never made much money but I most certainly knew then as I know today animals have feelings and can suffer greatly when we disregard them.

How do you stay compassionate to people when there is clearly an injustice towards animals by humans on a global scale?

Getting angry with those who harm animals or are indifferent is a negative emotion which will only harm me and do nothing to help animals.  Actually it will harm animals if anything as anger breeds hostility which will only break down lines of communication.  I truly believe kindness begets kindness andI believe a lot of animal cruelty and injustice is not deliberate, rather it is born out of ignorance or 'blindness'.  What the animals need right now is not our anger, but our effective action.

What made Edgar the special pig?

He found me!! He was the first pig I ever rescued.  For me it was a step into the unknown as I really did not know that much about pigs until Edgar.  While Edgar was a truly amazing, trail blazing, myth busting, rockstar of the porcine world he really was no different to any other pig except he got to live a life truly worth living and in doing so his inimitable personality shone through. 

I assume you're vegetarian or vegan? How long for?

Hmm, 30 years vegan (I went vegan overnight).

What continues to shock you?

Nothing and everything.  It is human nature to not want to be told you are a bad person, you are doing the wrong thing, you are being cruel, people do not want to hear this, so when people start telling them this, or pointing the finger at them people will shut down.  Very few people will change their way of thinking because someone was rude to them or belittled them.  So there is a natural reluctance for people to acknowledge the harm they are causing to animals and for many of those who make a living out of animal based agriculture they know of no other way to feed their family.  It is very easy for people to make a different choice at the supermarket but when all you know is farming animals it is very hard to just walk away. It pains me greatly to think about animal suffering and what farm animals endure but I think we need to set achievable goals and seek the best ways to engage people in dialogue if we want to achieve meaningful change for animals.

In what way do you think that your mission can magnified to effect the masses?

By more people hearing about our work, by more people coming to visit our farm.  And it is to these goals I am working doubly hard every day.  The first step has been to secure our new farm, which we have done.  We are now working on getting it open to the public so we can recommence our ever popular farm tours.  And we are working on our next exciting book.

If people don't have the time to volunteer, or they don't have the funds to donate - what are some things people can do to exist in harmony with our animal pals?

To live their ethics.  Most right thinking people would never wish to cause harm to an animal yet somany of the choices they make in their life are very unkind, cruel, unnecessary and very harmful to animals. Empowerment is our greatest key to a kinder world for all of those that share the planet,
and it rests as close as our fingertips and thoughts. And most importantly for people to think about this very important question, you answer will define you as a human being -"If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others why wouldn't we?"

In a perfect world, what does the future look like for animals in the food industry?

I see so many reasons for hope. Change will not happen overnight, but it is happening on an exponential level.  You only have to read many of the comments on our Facebook page or look to stories in the media.  Animal rights is now the next great social justice movement and those in animal based industries are keenly aware the public is watching them.  Caring for animals has moved centre stage in the thoughts of many, now we just need that transposes into action.

Who are your heroes in real life?

My heroes are not your traditional type heroes. My heroes are the eighty year old lady who vows she will never eat animals again after reading dear little Frostie's story, my heroes are the school children who are learning about the plight of orangutan and how palm oil use is contributing to their destruction, my hero is the child who tugs at my jumper and says 'hey, I don't eat animals Miss'.  The young man who is dedicating his life to helping wild animals in Africa, the class of teenagers who listened attentively and asked wisely after one of my presentations, they are my heroes.  There are heroes all around me, people who are standing up and making a positive difference.  And then there are the animals, the incredible creatures that show such resilience and forgiveness.  They are my heroes.