By Crystal Kozlak, Food for Thought Program Manager
Have you ever seen an animal shelter host a barbecue or pig roast? Many shelters serve animals to raise funds for animals. Their mission may focus on cats and dogs, but they do not consider their impact on farmed animals.
Animal Place’s Food for Thought Program seeks to bridge the gap between the animals we love and the animals killed for food. We ask animal welfare organizations to broaden their circle of compassion. We encourage them to adopt a policy to serve fully vegan or vegetarian food at their events.
Do you know someone who is involved in animal advocacy, sheltering, or rescue? The following thoughts are valuable to consider!
COMPANION VS. FARMED ANIMALS
Animals raised for food are no different from the animals with whom we share our homes. Just like cats and dogs, farmed animals are individuals with their own personalities. They have the capacity to feel happiness and they want to avoid fear and pain.
Many people have rabbits, chickens, pot-bellied pigs, goats, and other species as companions. If any of these animals came into your shelter, you would provide them with the same level of care as a cat or dog. As a rescue organization, where do you draw the line between those you love and those on the dinner plate at events?
Farmed animals suffer in the food industry. In the meat industry, they are confined in small cages or large sheds with thousands of animals. They cannot move around freely or perform their natural behaviors. Farmers slaughter the animals at a young age. Dogs experience the same fate in certain Asian and African countries. People don’t eat dogs in the Western society. Animal welfare organizations work hard to rescue and protect dogs. Why are we comfortable eating other species?
In the egg industry, chickens are debeaked. Debeaking is a process where farmers cut off the tips of a chicken’s beak with a hot metal blade. They do this to prevent chickens from pecking the farmers and the other chickens. They are not given any pain relief for this procedure. It is extremely painful and chickens will feel phantom pain for the rest of their lives. Declawed cats experience similar phantom pain. Animal welfare organizations advocate against declawing cats. They should avoid supporting the egg industry too.
In the dairy industry, female cows must give birth to produce milk. Once a cow gives birth, farmers take away her baby. The farmers don’t want the calf drinking her milk because it’s meant for human consumption. If the calf is female, she will go back into the same dairy system as her mom. If the baby calf is male, he is unwanted because he won’t be able to produce milk. Farmers slaughter male calves for veal at 18 weeks old. A female cow will be pregnant for about 5-6 times before they are slaughtered. Female dogs in puppy mills have a similar experience. Animal welfare organizations promote rescue instead of the breeding of animals. Your organization can extend your mission of compassion by boycotting the dairy industry.
This is a small fraction of the cruel practices farmed animals face. To learn more, please visit Animal Place’s Virtual Museum.
ADOPT A VEGAN OR VEGETARIAN MENU POLICY
Animal Place’s Food for Thought Program helps nonprofit organizations extend their compassion to all animals by adopting a vegan or vegetarian menu policy. This is a written, board-approved policy. It states your organization will only serve vegan or vegetarian foods at your events. Adopting a vegan or vegetarian menu policy aligns your menu with your mission of saving animal lives.
Here are a few reasons to adopt a policy:
Be a humane leader in the rescue community. Our society expects animal protection organizations to adopt policies that do not support animal suffering.
All animals deserve compassion. If a farmed animal came into your organization, you would provide them with the same level of care as dogs and cats.
Show dedication to saving lives. Three million dogs and cats are killed in shelters across the US annually, yet more than 55 billion land and sea animals are killed for food each year.
Practice responsible donation use. Using donated money to buy only vegan foods for events is responsible and ethically consistent.
Protect the Environment. Animal farming is one of the leading causes of climate change and environmental destruction.
HOW TO ADOPT A POLICY
Adopting a vegan or vegetarian menu policy is easy! Follow these simple steps and submit your policy. If you need help, please contact us. We’d be happy to write a custom policy for your organization.
Read our virtual brochure for answers to frequently asked questions.
VEGAN EVENT IDEAS
Do you need inspiration for what to serve at your next vegan event? We offer sample event menus. A fun fundraiser you can do is a “Spayghetti and No Balls” for spay and neuter fundraising. Taco bars can easily be made vegan with beans, rice, grilled veggies, and salsas. For BBQ’s, you can cook up veggie burgers and grilled veggies or corn. Hosting a bake sale? Choose an egg alternative and plant-based milk for delicious vegan desserts.
Food for Thought offers several grant opportunities to help your organization adopt a vegan or vegetarian menu policy:
Vegan Event Grant
Does your organization want to try a fully vegan event? With the Vegan Event Grant, we’ll reimburse the food expenses up to $1,000 for your organization’s first fully vegan event. This grant is perfect for organizations that are considering adopting a policy but have some concerns. It’s a great opportunity to try out a fully vegan event and see how your supporters respond.
You may combine the Vegan Event Grant with the screening of the award-winning film The Last Pig for the ultimate event!
Vegan Ticket Subsidy Grant
With the Vegan Ticket Subsidy Grant, you’ll host an event where attendees can purchase their meal option ahead of time. Charge your attendees half-price for the vegan meal option and we’ll cover the other half up to $1,000! Hosting a gala is a perfect example of how you can use this grant.
The Policy Grant is a one-time gift for organizations that adopt a new board-approved vegan or vegetarian menu policy. We offer $1,000 for a vegan menu policy or $250 for a vegetarian menu policy.