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Just Think Before You Give
By Jenny Moxham
It's that time of the year again when major charities are urging people to send cows, pigs, goats and chickens etc. as Christmas gifts to Third World countries.
While it's praiseworthy to help the poor, giving animals is not in the best interests of either the recipients or the animals concerned.
Animals require food and water - both of which are in short supply in poor, semi-arid countries. If allowed to forage, animals will rapidly destroy the environment, turning vegetation and grass into dust and leaving the land even less productive than before.
The harsh environment will be hard on the animals too, and with no laws to protect them, many will lead miserable lives and be inhumanely slaughtered. Although families may value their animal for what she can produce, their desire to keep her alive and productive does not mean they will keep her comfortable or meet her needs.
It is somewhat ironic that our major charities are promoting the raising of animals as a solution to world hunger when, in fact, the worlds hunger problem would not exist at all if the food fed to animals raised in the West - 540 million tons of grain annually - was fed directly to humans. According to the United Nations, the amount of grain needed to end extreme hunger is 40 million tons.
Because 10 kilogram of good quality protein is required to produce one kilogram of meat, producing meat is clearly a scandalous waste of the worlds precious food. On top of this, the majority of the protein grown to feed animals in the West is exported from poor countries where people are starving.
One charity devoted to helping the hungry without exploiting animals is Vegfam [feeding the world without exploiting animals]. Donations are used to supply such things as wells, irrigation, seeds, fruit and nut trees, tree nurseries and plants.
These projects empower the poor to become self-supporting without degrading their environment and harming animals.
In a world that is becoming increasingly aware that our non-human counterparts are intelligent, sensitive individuals with feelings and needs much like our own, putting price tags on them and offering them as 'gifts' is reverting back to the ignorant past where non-humans were viewed merely as human 'possessions,' to be used and abused in whichever way we saw fit.
For more reasons to not support the expansion of animal agriculture, see The Heifer Project: A Bad Approach to Solving World Hunger Problems.
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