Catholic charity accused of worsening climate change and poverty with animal donation scheme
September 09, 2022 — A coalition has formed to urge the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) to end its animal donation program to honor its commitment to climate change and animal justice. The criticism came after a whistleblower allegedly discovered that CAFOD had launched an appeal to replace goats that were unexpectedly eaten by beneficiaries.
Interfaith Vegan Coalition, In Defense of Animals, Plant Based Treaty and Catholic Concern for Animals are among those challenging CAFOD to end its animal donation program. On August 18, the coalition sent a letter to CAFOD and an article titled “7 reasons not to ‘donate’ animals”.
Many organizations encourage the sending of live farm animals as “gifts” intended to alleviate hunger and poverty in low-income countries. However, the true cost of sending a goat, cow or chicken, argues the coalition, is environmental degradation, zoonotic disease outbreaks, health issues such as diabetes, more community slaughterhouses and even the childhood traumas of watching beloved animals being slaughtered.
In response to criticism, A CAFOD spokesperson recounts FoodIngredientsFirst that livestock can mean the difference between life and death and are usually provided to families who have no other means of earning money.
“It is right that we respond to people’s immediate needs, especially when it can prevent malnutrition or starvation. But CAFOD is also helping some of the world’s poorest farmers adapt to climate change and grow food sustainably,” they say.
A treadmill for goats?
In a parish in the Diocese of Lancaster, UK, a CAFOD representative reportedly explained in an email to his supporters just before Christmas that he had to buy more goats because some beneficiaries were eating them.
The coalition asked CAFOD how many goats had been eaten in this way and the number of times CAFOD had sent an extra goat because one had been eaten. In an email response on April 28, CAFOD said, “Our policy is not to replace goats if the goat has been eaten.
“They’re not saying it’s their policy not to replace goats that have been eaten,” says Virginia Bell of Catholic Animal Action. “There is a difference. What I want to know is do they have a specific written policy not to replace goats that have been eaten? On the other hand, if it is their policy not to replace the goats eaten, so why did they go against that in Lancaster?”
Pile up on poverty
CAFOD supplies goats to marginalized communities, where it maintains that herding is a traditional way of life, providing families with an essential means of income. Families receive one or sometimes two goats, which can provide milk or cheese, fertilizer to improve crop yields, and raise kids to sell as meat.
However, the World Land Trust calls animal donation programs “madness…ecologically unsound and economically disastrous” and considers it “extremely irresponsible…to continue such programs…as a way to rapidly collect funds for charity over the Christmas period”. insists that donated animals will intensify environmental problems in areas of drought and desertification.
“These vulnerable animals are being sent to vulnerable people – is it any wonder things are going wrong? It is because of short-sighted business models like this that the planet is now suffering from an environmental emergency,” adds Nicola Harris, Director of Communications at Plant Based Treaty.
Meanwhile, Maneka Gandhi, India’s former minister for social welfare and animal protection, says people receiving the goats are living an even poorer lifestyle within two years. “A goat destroys the fertility of the land and any milk or excrement it may give is very little (in value) compared to the havoc it causes,” she says.
Promote plant-based diets
The coalition recommends that charities focus on adopting plant-based diets amid growing fears of climate change and evidence of health problems linked to meat and dairy-based diets. It suggests that development charities reduce poverty and hunger by:
- Create community seed centers
- Deployment of water irrigation systems
- Training in permaculture and veganic farming techniques
- Reforest the land and regenerate the soil
- Plant trees to increase canopies to help improve the water cycle and restore key ecosystems
Plant-based diets are suitable for all stages of life, and poorer parts of the world urgently need help with access to tools, seeds and irrigation, Harris says. “Communities are often unable to grow food because they don’t have access to large quantities of quality seeds. Charities should prioritize community seed centers and help set up community gardens, which focus on a diverse range of protein-rich crops such as beans, lentils and peas,” she says. . FoodIngredientsFirst.
However, the inertia around plant-based diets also stems from the animal agriculture industry’s “disproportionate lobbying power” and governments’ concerns that telling people how to eat is “politically risky”, adds Harris. .
“Therefore, it is imperative that the UK Government rolls out public education campaigns alongside incentives that support farmers in the plant transition. We know from consumer research that one in three Britons would support government calls to promote plant-based foods to tackle the climate crisis.
This week, Haarlem in the Netherlands became the first city in the world to ban meat advertisements in all public spaces to discourage meat consumption.
A plant treaty
Harris is urging governments to reach a global agreement on a plant treaty that will halt the expansion of animal agriculture and encourage the shift to a plant-based food system this decade. Governments can use economic and political tools such as subsidies, taxation and public information campaigns to encourage a plant-based food revolution.
“Animal donation programs are prevalent due to the predatory nature of the animal agriculture industry. They create new markets in vulnerable communities; in a tactic pulled straight from the industry’s toolkit tobacco,” she continues.
“Other charities demonstrate a responsible attitude towards the poor, animals and the environment, such as A Well Fed World, Food for Life Global, Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and International Fund for Africa, by providing solutions plant-based food CAFOD needs to change.
By Joshua Poole
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