We, the undersigned religious leaders from many faiths, urge aid development charities, including Oxfam, World Vision, Heifer International and Cargill’s “Hatching Hope” project, Christian Aid, Save the Children, Plan Canada, Lutheran World Relief, Feed the Children, Tearfund and others to end animal gifting programs and implement plant-based projects to alleviate poverty and create long term sustainable solutions for the climate.
As Maimonides pointed out, the highest form of charity is to help a person become self-sufficient. Well-meaning animal gifts have unintended consequences that often exacerbate existing problems such as extreme weather events, sea level rise, severe water scarcity, risk of pandemics, forest fires, diet related diseases, and put vulnerable people at greater risk of being dependent on external aid and create greater numbers of climate refugees.
"Animal gifting expands animal agriculture to impoverished communities instead of planting true and literal seeds of peace via sustainable plant based agriculture," said Lisa Levinson of the Interfaith Vegan Coalition.
Shifting diets towards nutritious, plant-based foods provides opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, halt deforestation, free up land for rewilding and reforestation, and improve public health, biodiversity and air quality.
We call on aid development charities to alleviate poverty and hunger by
- Creating community seed hubs
- Rolling out water irrigation systems
- Providing training in permaculture and veganic farming techniques
- Reforesting lands and regenerating soils
- Planting trees to increase canopies to help improve the water cycle and restoring Savannah to rainforest and restoring key ecosystems
It is humanity's responsibility as good stewards of the earth to truly help one another up and shift to plant-based food projects that will address systemic roots of poverty, starvation, and avert a climate catastrophe. The implementation of such projects is where and when the real charity begins. Plant based food projects, not gifting animals, will create a compassionate, healthier, and more sustainable world for all of us. The sooner this happens, the better for those of us on earth today and the generations to come," said Tams Nicholson, Executive Director, All-creatures.org
We are facing a Code Red for Humanity. The 6th Scientific Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that business as usual will lead to temperature rises of 1.5C around 2030 and a catastrophic 2C around 2040. There is a methane emergency and cuts to methane are our biggest hope of limiting future temperature rises. Cuts of around 75% in methane emission now are required for temperatures to plateau at 1.5C.
Our world is now threatened as never before, with human extinction a very real possibility. We need a rapid and sustained phase out of fossil fuels and animal agriculture in order to limit global temperatures to 1.5C.
We implore charities to stop animal gifting programs and projects. Replicating the mistakes of developed countries by expanding animal agriculture and causing ecological devastation is the worst gift in the world.
"Impoverished people do not need more mouths to feed, vet bills, more trips to carry water to animals. The harm to the animals who are transported in cruel ways to homes where they may not be able to care for them is also a serious issue. As we ponder how each one of us can bring more love to the world and how we can end the violence and suffering around us, let us give where our gifts will really help. Let us give gifts that do no harm," said Judy McCoy Carman, M.A., author and co-founder of Interfaith Vegan Coalition
"Animal gifting schemes such as those offered by Heifer International and Oxfam are a particularly pernicious form of philanthro-capitalism that are designed to exploit both farmed animals such as cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, and fish, as well as the impoverished human beings who are "gifted" these animals, and who then are obliged to feed and house these animals and learn to view them as mere exploitable commodities, leading to ever-escalating levels of violence and abuse, not only of the animals so gifted, but also of the local ecosystems and wildlife, which are destroyed in order to grow more feed for the animals. This perpetuates a cycle of violence that siphons money directly to the transnational chemical, pharmaceutical, petroleum, and financial corporations who are the real winners in this devastating hoax, which preys on donor's gullible yearning to help, and their complete unawareness of the underlying agricultural and economic dynamics involved. The local people are taught to purchase pharmaceuticals for the animals, chemical fertilizers and pesticides for the feed-crops, and loans from banks to finance all this and are turned into slaves inflicting ever-greater misery on defenseless animals and ecosystems, and getting increasingly sicker with the western diseases of cancer, diabetes, etc., or getting hungrier than ever when the exploitive schemes fail due to a variety of factors. An organic whole-food, plant-based approach is far more sustainable, healthy, compassionate, and in harmony with traditional indigenous values and practices, but fails to enrich the corporate forces in the background, and so is completely ignored by philanthropic scams like Heifer and Oxfam," said Dr. Will Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet and co-founder, Circle of Compassion ministry and the Worldwide Prayer Circle for Animals
We the undersigned are asking development charities to play a crucial role by putting sustainable plant-based systems in place now to help communities better adapt to forthcoming climate changes and to change course and be part of the solutions to avert climate catastrophe.
"Animals are not a "gift." In Jewish understanding, God has given animals both a life and a soul. In the Torah, animals are called "baalei chayim," owners of life. They own their own lives. We don't own them, and therefore we can't give them or receive them as gifts. We can only be blessed by their companionship," said Jeffrey Spitz Cohan, Executive Director of Jewish Veg
Many thanks for your consideration.
Very truly yours,
Aytzim: Ecological Judaism
The Center for a Humane Economy
Catholic Action for Animals
Circle of Compassion
The Compassion Project
FRA-Fraternité pour le Respect Animal
Interfaith Vegan Coalition
Israeli Environmental Organization "Hayim Usviva" ("Life and Environment")
United Poultry Concerns
Interfaith Vegan Coalition
World Vegan Assembly