The holiday season is here, which means many of us are aswirl in festive decorations, joyful songs, gift-giving ideas, and of course, advertisements luring us in for lots and lots of shopping. Yet as the COVID pandemic continues to threaten our global health and economic stability and the ongoing climate crisis wreaks havoc around the world, millions of people are thinking outside the box and embracing impact giving.
But how can you be sure your gift has the impact you’re intending, especially if you care about protecting the planet, feeding communities, and being kind to animals?
This time of year, groups like Heifer International, Oxfam, World Vision, Send a Cow, and many others, are ramping up their “animal gifting” campaigns, urging you to make a donation so a live animal — typically a cow, pig, goat, or chicken — can be “gifted” to families and individuals experiencing poverty in developing countries. While these campaigns seem well-intentioned, they ignore an important reality rooted in scientific consensus: raising animals for food is a major driver of the climate crisis and actually increases food insecurity.
In 2006, the United Nations resolutely proclaimed that “livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.” It has further studied and concluded that “the world’s food supply is made insecure by climate change.” And in another report, the UN declared that “A substantial reduction of impacts [from agriculture] would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change away from animal products.”
In 2018, the US Global Change Research Program issued a 1,600-page scientific warning that our planet is on the brink of devastation that includes worsening weather extremes and severe storms, disease outbreaks, altered coastlines, and more. This will in turn have severely negative consequences on human health, particularly those in impoverished or marginalized communities, especially as the world’s most food insecure populations are also those most harmed by climate-related events.
As stated in the Washington Post, a 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report links the increase in extreme weather conditions to a decrease in food security, acknowledging that “The effects of ongoing climate change are likely to lead to decreased production of rice, corn, wheat and soy — the four essential crops upon which the world depends.”
The list goes on. An abundance of research and environmental organizations all point to the same conclusions. And yet climate change is only one of the ways that animal agriculture contributes to food insecurity. Farming animals is notoriously inefficient and wasteful when compared to growing plants to feed people directly, with the end result that “livestock” animals take drastically more food from the global food supply than they provide.
Simply put, our animal-based food systems are straining food availability and undermining urgent climate mitigation. Supplying animals to families and communities in need not only fails to ameliorate the world’s hunger crisis, it entrenches and expands unsustainable animal-based food production, ultimately making matters worse for people and the planet we live on.
And while animal gifting charities often present animal farming as the default “best” way to feed people and help bring them out of poverty, “Send a Cow’ and “Give a Goat” campaigns focus on increasing livestock production not because this is inherently better for the recipients or the regions they live in. Rather, the emphasis on “gifting” farmed animals reflects Western culture’s deeply held pro-meat-and-dairy biases.
In reality, severe drought and weather extremes are increasingly seeing subsistence pastoralists forced to abandon livestock herding to grow more drought-resilient crops and food trees instead.
All of this is an alarming reminder that efforts to reduce global hunger should focus on sustainable plant-based approaches wherever possible. And considering that less than 3% of all charitable gifts given in the U.S. go toward environmental and animal protection work, your support is urgent, now more than ever.
That’s why A Well-Fed World created our Plants-4-Hunger gift-giving campaign as a compassionate, climate-friendly alternative to “animal gifting.” This unique global program empowers grassroots groups engaging in four proven-effective areas of plant-based feeding and farming, providing both immediate assistance and long-term solutions to improve food security and nutrition — all without using animals.
Through our partnerships with these groups, 100% of your support for Plants-4-Hunger will help:
- serve plant-based school meals, and establish mushroom-growing projects and bakeries on school sites to nourish children in Ethiopia and Nepal so that they are better able to learn, grow, and thrive
- plant food trees in villages to address the triple crises of global hunger, climate change, and biodiversity loss by providing food and income, carbon sequestration, and wildlife habitat
- build backyard and community food gardens in underserved urban areas that in turn help feed school children and teach plant-based farming skills to young people
- provide organic vegetable seeds and growing expertise to food insecure communities around the world, creating a cycle of self-sufficiency that gives people long-term resources to stay nourished.
When you donate to our Plants-4-Hunger program (directly or in someone’s honor), we send 100% of your contribution to our plant-based feeding and farming partners. If your gift-donation is in someone’s honor, we’ll mail (or email) them a personalized card and our colorful program book. Either way, it’s a perfect gift to help create a world that is healthy, well-fed, and kind— all at the same time.