Alongside prominent scientists, celebrities, and religious leaders, Dr. Jane Goodall is calling for an end to animal gifting. A well-meaning practice used by numerous charities, the primatologist says it’s unsustainable. Recipients are often plunged into debt trying to feed an extra mouth. Animal suffering has also been identified as a consequence.
Animal gifting sees live animals given to communities to reduce hunger and poverty. The practice is underpinned by good intentions. In reality, the cost is extensive and ranges from zoonotic disease to childhood trauma at witnessing slaughter. Goodall is urging a switch to plant-based gifting programmes instead.
Food for thought
The Animal Save Movement and In Defense of Animals’ Interfaith Vegan Coalition are working together on the initiative. The duo is campaigning for plant-based gifting to become the new norm. This will support crop growth, food security, and sustainability practices.
Goodall pledged her support in a video statement.
“In the lead-up to Christmas, many people are feeling generous and want to help those less fortunate than themselves. There are a number of organisations that have launched campaigns, suggesting that one way to help those suffering poverty and hunger is to gift them an animal, such as a heifer,” Gooddall says.
“As a result, farm animals are purchased in great numbers by generous donors. Unfortunately, this can result in unintended consequences. The animals must be fed and they need a lot of water, and in so many places water is getting more and more scarce thanks to climate change. Veterinary care is often limited or totally lacking. It will be ever so much better to help by supporting plant-based projects and sustainable irrigation methods, regenerative agriculture to improve the soil. Well, this means charities must develop plans to create a gift package that will appeal to the generosity of those who want to help those less fortunate than themselves.”
The Stop Animal Gifting campaign is leveraging open letters, petitions, and more, to add weight to the movement. Direct confrontation of charities is also being used to call for carbon disclosure of projects and an immediate end to animal initiatives. Alternatives, like veganic farming, community seed hubs and water irrigation systems, are being called for. So far, all charities contacted, including Oxfam, Christian Aid and World Vision have declined meetings with the Animal Save Movement.
“Animal gifting does more harm than good. Gifting cows, goats, or chickens sucks resources from those who need them most, burdening those who can least afford it,” said Fleur Dawes of In Defense of Animals in a statement. “We are proud to stand alongside Dr. Goodall as a beacon of wisdom, reason, and charity in the giving season. Gift sustainable plant-based aid to support long-term wellbeing for all people, animals and the planet.”
A voice of reason
Goodall is a prolific animal rights activist. Earlier this year she joined other leading scientists to call for a blanket ban on meat and dairy advertising. Advocating for plant-based eating, she highlighted the inconsistencies between EU food policy and advertising action.
Goodall narrated a film released earlier this year about the cultivated meat sector. Meat The Future charts the journey of U.S. company Upside Foods as it attempts to supersede the animals-for-slaughter meat methodology.
Lead image courtesy of the Jane Goodall Institute.