Eating animals to help animals? We can do better.

Thoughts on the Animal Rescue League of Berks County‘s Ham Dinner fundraiser by one of our members.

happy_campers_206891It strikes a painful nerve when local animal-helping organizations raise money through activities that involve animal suffering, like a ham dinner or a burger festival.

When I see ham on a plate, I see the trail of suffering that began with the birth of the piglet. It follows his short life of confinement, and ends in his fear and slaughter at about 6 months old. It’s taken me a long time to face what I knew was going on and make lifestyle changes to avoid this sanctioned violence.

Not everyone is there yet. But people who work with dogs and cats understand the love of animals and that they can suffer. They just don’t always connect it to animals considered livestock — or maybe they feel the fight against such as massive and powerful industry is futile.

01_14_7---Pot-Bellied-Pig_webMore than once, animal lovers who still eat meat have confided to me, “I know you are right — I just can’t do it.” This means something to me — people are seeing and feeling injustice and moving in the right direction. After all, they could be snickering at my chickpea salad and baiting me with nonsense about protein. And they aren’t.

When you see animal abuse as a social justice issue, you see the full range, from Michael Vick to the suffering on factory farms. But many organizations working to help pets don’t address the same range.

It’s the old argument of animal rights vs. animal welfare. The two movements have much in common — they both say they love animals and give large amounts of time and money to help animals in need. And I think we share more than we don’t share. An example of this is the recent change in factory farming standards Nestlé enacted after Mercy for Animal’s investigation.

Forest-3If we aren’t yet at the point of creating fundraisers without animals as food, how about offering a vegan alternative at every event? A local restaurant, Chen in West Reading, makes an excellent smoky vegetarian ham that is featured in many of its dishes. Veggie hotdogs and burgers are available in almost every grocery store and are much healthier than their animal-based alternatives. I’d be very excited to see this and would tell my larger-than-you-think vegan community.

Would some animal activists be turned off to see and smell meat cooking? Yes. Would some give it a chance? Yes. I believe someday that humans will stop eating sentient beings and will find it strange to imagine a time when animals were raised to be killed. Maybe just maybe we are moving in that direction.

Food for ThoughtIf you feel the same, please contact the Animal Rescue League and encourage them to visit Food for Thought for suggestions on creating fundraisers than are friendly to ALL animal species. Please politely encourage truly cruelty-free, vegan options, void of any animal products. We realize the ARL and other groups are doing the best they can to help the animals in our area with limited resources, and therefore need to have successful fundraisers.

Judd Meinhart, Shelter Director
jmeinhart@berksarl.org
610-373-8830 ext. 121

Ashley Mikulsky, Director of Administration and Development
amikulsky@berksarl.org
610-373-8830 ext. 117

We do not yet have contact information for the Board of Directors, but you can access their names and affiliations here.

Find sample letters here.

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