Sarah Heiligtag, Founder of Transfarmation

Sarah Heiligtag, Founder of Transfarmation

“I cannot change the whole world, but I can change the world for a whole lot of living beings.”

Directed by Thomas Machowicz and Sabina Diethelm

Switzerland is proud of its image as a rural country with mountains, alpine pastures and traditional family farms. Switzerland Tourism likes to advertise with cows grazing on beautiful mountain meadows, and Swiss milk chocolate and cheese are world famous. In 2021, 48,864 farms were registered in Switzerland along with 1.5 million cattle and 1.4 million pigs. One woman who has recognised the animal suffering behind these pretty scenes is Sarah Heiligtag: she has identified how farming animals for food harms the entire ecosystem.

As the founder of the “Transfarmation” concept, Sarah works to fundamentally change the system, not to simply oppose agriculture or to close individual farms. She wants a plant-based, nonviolent, more environmentally sustainable agriculture, not one that relies on farmed animals. Together with her husband, Sarah acquired a farm in Hinteregg near Zurich and transformed it into a vegan farm and sanctuary in 2013. As of August 2022, more than 200 rescued pigs, goats, sheep, horses, donkeys, chickens, turkeys, ducks, cats, and dogs have found a new, peaceful home here.

Soon after Sarah created her “Lebenshof” (this German term coined by Sarah Heiligtag literally translates to “farm of life”), a farmer who had heard about it contacted Sarah, seeking to change his farm, too, because he no longer wanted to exploit and kill his animals. Sarah helped him to transform his farm into a successfully functioning, violence-free, vegan farm. This attracted media attention and other farmers expressed interest in Sarah’s farming methods. As of August 2022, Sarah has helped more than 100 farmers transform into vegan farms, and she is currently working with more who are in the process of changing.

While on assignment for We Animals Media and the Unbound Project, Thomas Machowicz and Sabina Diethelm visited Sarah on her “Lebenshof” in April 2022 and accompanied her to different farms all over Switzerland that she is working with and who are in various phases of their “transfarmations”.

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

“I want a future where, as a human species, we understand the interconnectedness of violence.”

Directed by Henry A. Hopkins

Dr. A. Breeze Harper is the founder of the Sistah Vegan Project, which explores how black women practice veganism and animal rights. In the course of almost twenty years doing this work, Dr. Harper has engaged with various advocates and scholars on the intersections of race and animal issues.

“We can make lives of nonhuman animals a life of non-suffering and have their own agency,” Dr. Harper explains, “but [we must] also understand that human beings are part of that and if they feel they aren’t included, if they’re not getting justice, then it’s really hard for them to do the work they need to do for nonhuman animals.”

The success of this work and the vital conversations it has facilitated has led her to create her own diversity, equity and inclusion consulting firm focusing on animal advocacy organizations and vegan companies. Through this consulting and the Sistah Vegan Project, Dr. Harper demonstrates how the just inclusion of people improves animal advocacy.

Malena Blanco

Malena Blanco

“In the slaughterhouse there is not only death. There is the birth of this human. So I start to reframe if in reality we should propose ourselves to go back to our animal self. It seems to me that that’s the place of that better world. Be more animals and less humans.”

Malena Blanco is part of VOICOT, an anti-speciesist movement in Argentina that fights for animal liberation. VOICOT began around 2014, first by selling shirts with anti-speciesist art and messages, and in time began to create posters used to cover advertisements that promoted animal industries and products. Now VOICOT also investigates these industries, documenting the ways farmed animals are kept and killed to show people what is kept hidden from view.

“It’s a super painful process,” Malena explains, “because you start with an investigation in a cow slaughterhouse, then in a chicken slaughterhouse, with the egg industry, with the milk industry and everything is a little worse than before.”

Malena’s own journey with animal liberation also began with images like the ones featured in this video. After seeing an animal killed on TV, she asked her mother, who had just placed a piece of meat in front of her, if that meat had also come from a killed animal. In that moment, she realized she didn’t want to eat animals because of her love for them. Now at VOICOT she works so that others may one day arrive at a similar realization.

Video by Angel Giovanni Hoyos



Miyoko Schinner

Miyoko Schinner

“Why am I making cheese out of cashews and legumes? Because it’s all about the animals. They are entitled to a life of their own, to live life according to their wishes, and that’s a story we want to tell.” ~ Miyoko Schinner

Miyoko Schinner is the founder of the animal sanctuary Rancho Compasión and of Miyoko’s Creamery, a multi-million dollar vegan cheese and butter company.

Vegetarian since the age of twelve and vegan since the mid-1980s, Schinner has dedicated her life to advocating for animals. Her sanctuary, with compassion at the heart of its name and mission, provides a lifelong home for rescued farm animals and strives to change public perception about animals typically viewed as “food.” In the video featured here, see Schinner at the sanctuary as she proudly shows off the “Phenomenally Vegan” tattoo she got on her 60th birthday.

Continuing with her compassion-centered theme, Schinner focused her skills as a chef on bringing compassion to the table with dairy free cheeses, spreads, and butters. Miyoko’s Creamery products are all 100% vegan, lactose free, GMO free, palm-oil free, and cruelty-free. Schinner invented the category of artisan vegan cheese, and she is often referred to as the “Queen of Vegan Cheese” or as the woman on a mission to revolutionize the entire dairy industry. Schinner’s mission to create the creamery of tomorrow also sees today’s independent dairy farmers as allies who can play an essential role. Her company works with them to grow plant milk crops and thus, transition to the prosperous world of plant-based dairy. The Miyoko’s brand promise, reminiscent of her tattoo, is to be “phenomenally vegan in everything we do.”

“From our humble beginnings with four employees in Miyoko’s home kitchen, to a 30,000 sq ft. state-of-the-art facility in Sonoma, we’re leading the way in transforming the future of the creamery. In just a few short years, our products can be found in 1,000’s of stores and our ‘cheese’ wheels are on the road to global distribution in the near future. We’re changing perceptions of vegan food, to inspire people from all walks of life to enjoy a phenomenally vegan lifestyle.” ~ the Miyoko’s Creamery website

In 2021, Schinner’s company continued to attract millions of dollars in capital investments and won a lawsuit to maintain the right to refer to her products as “butter.” With food as a powerful form of activism, the Miyoko’s Creamery mission continues on, striving “to create the blueprint for the animal-free dairy food system of tomorrow, for the urgent salvation of our planet and all that we share it with.”

Video by Henry Hopkins



Yumin Chen

Yumin Chen

“My job is to do everything, wherever there is animal suffering.”

Directed by Kelly Guerin

Yumin Chen is known by many as one of the most beloved and hard-working animal advocates in Taiwan. With over 25 years of experience, she is a long-time animal advocate and the Director of EAST (Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan). Her work involves inspecting farms to help enforce welfare standards, advising on the development of these standards, leading campaigns against animal cruelty, and petitioning corporations and government bodies to implement anti-cruelty practices.

Dr. Carole Noon

Dr. Carole Noon

Founder of Save the Chimps

We’re at the end of Carole Noon Lane on the grounds of Save the Chimps, a 190-acres sanctuary in the Florida Flatwoods. The grounds here are divided into twelve three-acre islands, one per ‘family.’ Each parcel is outfitted with hurricane-proof concrete dwellings and what look like oversized park playground structures. During our time on the grounds, some of the chimps have taken an interest in our presence and our interviews, watching bemusedly from their far off perches.

This sanctuary would not be here without the tenacity of its founder, Dr. Carole Noon. It doesn’t take long into interviews with friends and staff before a very clear image comes to light – Dr. Noon was a force of nature who would not take no for an answer.

In 1997, the US Air Force was set to ‘retire’ the 141 chimpanzees in its space program. With only $150,000 and no sanctuary to speak of, Dr. Noon submitted a bid to purchase these animals, unsurprisingly, to no avail. Instead, most of the chimps were sold to the Coulson Foundation, a medical research lab in New Mexico. The chimps would be sent to live in isolation in the dungeons of Coulston, suspended in 5’x5’x7’ metal cages while awaiting the next experiment.

And so, Dr. Noon sued the Air Force in 1997. In 2001, after four years of legal battles, the first chimps arrived at their new home in Florida. Dr. Noon succeeded in her mission and spent the final years of her life dedicated to her cause. In 2009, she passed away at her home on the sanctuary grounds.

Dr. Noon’s legacy lives on in the over 250 chimpanzees who have been rescued from research, entertainment, and the exotic pet trade and who now call Save the Chimps their home.

“One thing about Carole is she did not take no for an answer. If someone told her she could not do something, that was the guarantee she was going to make it happen.”

Film and story by Kelly Guerin. Photos by Jo-Anne McArthur.