MEDIA RELEASE: Groups Call on CAFOD To Stop Animal Gifting Program
LOS ANGELES (September 1, 2022) — A coalition of groups has formed to urge the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) to end its animal giving program to honor its commitment to climate justice and animal justice ahead of Climate Sunday on September 5, during the Season of Creation from September 1 through October 4.
Interfaith Vegan Coalition, In Defense of Animals, Plant Based Treaty, and Catholic Concern for Animals amongst others are challenging CAFOD to end its animal gifting program after a whistleblower discovered that CAFOD was appealing for money to replace those goats who were unexpectedly eaten by recipients. On August 18, the coalition sent a letter to CAFOD and an article on 7 Reasons Not to “Gift” Animals.
In a parish in Lancaster Diocese, a CAFOD representative explained in an email to its supporters last year that it needed to buy more goats because some recipients were eating them.
The coalition asked CAFOD how many goats have been eaten in this way and the number of occasions when CAFOD had sent an additional goat due to one having been eaten. In an email response on April 28, a CAFOD representative stated, "It is not our policy to replace goats if the goat has been eaten."
“They do not say it is their policy not to replace goats who have been eaten,” said Virginia Bell of Catholic Action for Animals. “There is a difference. What I want to know is do they have a definite, written policy of not replacing goats who have been eaten? On the other hand, if it’s their policy not to replace eaten goats, then why did they go against this in Lancaster?”
The whistleblower told Bell that just before Christmas in 2021, a CAFOD representative explained in an email to supporters that CAFOD needs donations to buy more goats to replace ones who have been eaten by the recipient families due to hunger.
"This makes a mockery of CAFOD's claim that the practice of sending farmed animals is sustainable,” said Lisa Levinson, Co-founder of In Defense of Animals’ Interfaith Vegan Coalition. “It is time for CAFOD to realize that God loves all creatures, not just humans.”
“While the rest of the world is beginning to understand that we have to transition from meat and dairy production and consumption to organic, plant-based production and consumption to combat the climate crisis, CAFOD is continuing to promote animal farming rather than being a leader in climate justice and ending their animal gifting program,” said Anita Krajnc, Global Campaigner for the Plant Based Treaty.
“CAFOD says that goats are sent to provide milk for the most marginalized people,” said Nicola Harris, Communications Director for the Plant Based Treaty. “These vulnerable animals are sent to vulnerable people - is it any wonder that things go wrong? It is because of short-sighted economic models like this that the planet is suffering an environmental emergency now. Other charities are showing a responsible attitude towards poor people, 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 plant based food solutions. CAFOD needs to change.”
The World Land Trust calls animal gifting programs “madness….environmentally unsound and economically disastrous” and considers it “grossly irresponsible…to continue with these schemes….as a means of raising quick money for charities over the Christmas season.’’ According to the World Land Trust, gift animals will intensify environmental problems in areas of drought and desertification.
“Within two years, the people who get goats have an even poorer lifestyle,’’ said Maneka Gandhi, former Indian Minister for Social Welfare and Animal Protection. “A goat destroys the fertility of land and any milk or dung it may give is very little (in value) compared to the havoc it wreaks.’’ Gandhi also said, “a cow will drink up to 90 liters of water every single day.’’
Climate Sunday and the Season of Creation were established to demonstrate our care for all of creation in prayer and action. To honor the Season of Creation, Pope Francis said, "Our common home, creation, is not a mere 'resource.' Creatures have a value in themselves and each one reflects in its own way a ray of God's infinite wisdom and goodness."
From Pope Francis' prayers at the close of his Encyclical Laudato Si':
1) Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognise that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.
2) Awaken our praise and thankfulness for every being that you have made.
3) God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love for all the creatures of this earth.
Several well-meaning organizations promote sending live farmed animals as “gifts” intended to reduce hunger and poverty in low-income countries. The true cost of sending a goat, cow, chicken, or other farmed animal is environmental degradation, soil acidification, water contamination, air pollution, global deforestation, forest fires, extreme weather, flooding, zoonotic disease outbreaks, health problems such as diabetes, more community slaughterhouses, and even childhood trauma from watching beloved animals get brutally slaughtered.
Last December, Dr. Jane Goodall along with fellow scientists, religious leaders, and celebrities urged the world aid charities to end animal gifting. Animal gifting programs hurt gift recipients by burdening them with more mouths to feed in areas where food and water are often scarce. They also worsen the climate crisis, decrease food stability, undermine sustainable development, contribute to animal suffering, and cause health impacts by promoting unhealthy western diets.
The Plant Based Treaty and In Defense of Animals’ Interfaith Vegan Coalition implore charities to switch to plant-based aid programs which provide more food, and more stability by growing crops to eat directly instead of feeding them to animals. Plant-based projects can help alleviate poverty, reduce world hunger, and create sustainable practices for a healthy planet. Thousands of In Defense of Animals supporters and concerned citizens joined the campaign over the holiday season.
Dr. Jane Goodall says in her 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 organizations 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. 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. Thank you.
The Stop Animal Gifting campaign includes open letters from scientists and interfaith leaders with endorsements from prominent scientists and religious leaders, action alerts, a petition and email letters calling on development charities, such as 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 undertake carbon disclosure of their projects, stop animal gifting, and implement plant-based food system projects as a crucial step in addressing the escalating climate crisis.
Development charities can 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
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Churches Together in Britain and Ireland started Climate Sunday as an ecumenical Christian movement for climate justice during the Season of Creation with at least 40 denominations calling on the government of the United Kingdom to act on climate change.
The World Council of Churches started the Season of Creation as a month-long celebration to care for the Earth with prayer and action, which begins on September 1 with the Day of Prayer for Creation and ends on October 4 with the Feast of St. Francis de Assisi to commemorate the patron saint of animals and ecology.
Concerned citizens can send letters urging charities to end animal gifting:
Plant Based Treaty, Executive Director, Anita Krajnc, email@example.com, +1416-825-6080 and Communications Director, Nicola Harris, firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 7597514343
In Defense of Animals, Interfaith Vegan Coalition co-founder, Lisa Levinson, email@example.com, 215-620-2130
Catholic Action for Animals, Virginia Bell, firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 (0) 1908609647
The Plant Based Treaty initiative is a grassroots campaign designed to put food systems at the forefront of combating the climate crisis. Modeled on the popular Fossil Fuel Treaty, the Plant Based Treaty aims to halt the widespread degradation of critical ecosystems caused by animal agriculture and to promote a shift to healthier, sustainable plant-based diets. Scientists, individuals, groups, businesses and cities can endorse this call to action and put pressure on national governments to negotiate an international Plant Based Treaty. www.plantbasedtreaty.org
Catholic Action for Animals established the St. Francis of Assisi Group to educate and promote concern for our fellow creatures, and to be a witness to the Church’s concern for animals in response to Pope Francis’ call for dialogue and action concerning the care of our common home. www.catholicactionforanimals.wordpress.com
In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 38-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi. www.idausa.org/sustainableactivism
The Interfaith Vegan Coalition (IVC) helps animal activists and spiritual leaders bring vegan values to spiritual, ethical, and religious communities. The IVC provides tools to help all faith and secular wisdom traditions practice the ideals of nonviolence, lovingkindness, and harmlessness toward all animals. www.interfaithvegancoalition.org
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