Gift-Wrapped Goats and the Marginalized
As cookout season draws near, it is easy to forget about the billions of people who have no sustenance, no access to the many vitamins and minerals found naturally in meat. The children, the sick, the widowed and orphaned.
But if eating red meat does cause you to think about such people, have no fear! You can help! Just send those poor people a goat. Or a cow, or a bunny, or honeybees.
Groups like Heifer International, Oxfam, World Vision, and many more now offer livestock for purchase. After you send your donation, the animal is either shipped to a developing country, or purchased near the recipient’s home.
Most of these non-profits have very successful fundraising campaigns using this livestock option, especially around Christmas. But they have also been cited as abusive and irresponsible by animal rights groups and even some development experts.
One concern is that animals must have proper access to water, nourishment and veterinary care – all hard to come by in developing countries. Most of the non-profits working in livestock development claim that such concerns are not a problem, that they work within the recipient community to make sure the gift will be useful there, and train the caregivers in veterinary care and animal husbandry.
Even if their defense is true, it does not ease some protesters, who argue that while a donated heifer might have access to proper water, it will still consume resources (farmland, in particular) that could otherwise go to the community. Goats in particular have a tendency to destroy trees and gardens. And all livestock carries disease risks.
Animal rights activists are also concerned about the transporting of the animals over long distances and in extreme discomfort. For example, they claim that many chicks sent to needy families do not make it there alive.
And they express disapproval over the animal’s future after it is unable to produce any more milk, eggs, offspring, etc. When slaughtered, heifers can sometimes feed entire villages. So… they usually get slaughtered. Rather than being given an elaborate burial service, which might be what certain protesters would prefer.
Whatever your view on this debate, which has become increasingly public in the last five years or so, one thing that groups like Heifer International, Christian Aid, and all the rest offer is a reminder of what a blessing having livestock, and the resources to care for our livestock, truly is. But considering that we use our livestock to make frozen pancake-wrapped sausages, we probably aren’t learning all we could from the gift-wrapped goats.
Where do you stand on this debate? Do you think it is socially responsible to send animals to struggling communities?
Is there a better use for our money? Add your thoughts here.
Opportunity in New York City:
For those of you in or near NYC, there will be an inter-faith rally at the Nigerian Consulate next Wednesday, April 7, to raise awareness for the mass slaughtering of Christian men, women and children in Nigeria in previous weeks. Please see the event’s website for more details.