helping the hungry

This holiday season, donate trees not animals

By HEATHER FARAID DRENNAN / People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Source: The Bellingham Herald With the holidays fast approaching, most of us are receiving solicitations for a variety of charitable programs, some good, some not so good. I would include animal-donation programs – in which a cow or a goat or some other animal is given to an impoverished family overseas – in the latter category. When I was about 10 years old, my mother volunteered to milk goats at a farm near our home in Massachusetts. It was a noble sentiment in theory, but in practice it involved weekly ordeals with feisty, intelligent goats, each of whom had her own plan of resistance when it came to getting them into the milking pen. Once a goat was in the pen, it was my job to try to distract the animal so that my mother could get the milking done without getting kicked or having the pail kicked over, spilling all her hard-fought milk on the barn floor. I imagine her reaction would not have been one of gratitude had someone presented her with a “full-time” goat. But daily tussles with goats are the least of the problems that impoverished families have to face when animal-donation programs foist animals upon them. Organizations that send animals to families may mean well, but they do not provide a sustainable solution for global hunger. World Land Trust called these programs “environmentally unsound and economically disastrous.” Grazing animals often cause topsoil runoff and land degradation, which can exacerbate the problems of drought-prone areas, and growing plants for animal consumption is a much more inefficient use of resources than growing plants for people to eat directly. For families on the receiving end of animal-donation programs, the animal is just another mouth to feed. […]