World Hunger And Meat Consumption

People in industrialized countries become more and more aware of the impact their lifestyles have on the rest of the planet. Consumers realize that most goods they buy come from countries where workers are exploited for cheap labour and have to endure terrible working conditions. Corporations that operate in these countries usually are not mandated to follow specific labour codes and are not subjected to any pollution control or protection of the environment. We become more and more aware of the toll our materialistic lifestyles takes on the environment, poverty-stricken people, factory workers, sewers etc. so we can buy cheap consumer products. However, we seem to be oblivious to what impact our eating habits have on the planet and people in need for food.

According to the World Food Programme there are about 795 million people in the world who do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. Poor nutrition is also the cause for nearly half of deaths in children under five, that’s 3.1 million children each year.

Some of the reasons for people going hungry are fluctuating weather patterns as a result of climate change, extremely low grain reserves, high oil prices, the surge in biofuels production, and the “meatification” of the global diet have contributed to the increase in the number of hungry in recent years, states an HSI Report.

Much of the growing demand for animal products is being met by industrial animal operations—large-scale production facilities that are spreading around the world, including Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Thailand, and Vietnam. On a global scale as of 2001-2003, these operations produced 67% of the world’s farmed chickens, 50% of eggs, and 42% of farmed pigs. (HSI Report)

A study by the University of Minnesota from 2013 found that only 55% of crop calories (calories from plants that grown on farmland also suitable to grow food for people) worldwide are actually consumed by people. Further more the study states that the U.S. agriculture alone could feed an additional 1 billion people by shifting crop calories to direct human consumption. That’s more than 795 million who are currently starving. 

After facing the facts it seems utterly irresponsible to support such a wasteful animal agriculture system but even if you’ve decided to shift to a 100% plant-based diet, your tax dollars will still support the animal agriculture industry with various subsidies. Shifting to a plant-based diet is the first step fighting hunger in the world but ultimately our food system has to be transformed to be just and sustainable. Exploiting and killing animals for food is not only cruel and unnecessary for human health, it also wastes resources, is a major factor for climate change and ultimately competes with the ability to provide all people on the planet with nutritious food. 


Robin Hood Was Right

Change vs charity

The following text is from the book "Robin Hood Was Right"

We give to help the poor, but poverty prevails. We contribute to save the environment, but corporate destruction of our land and waters continues. We donate to shelters, but millions remain homeless.

Much of our giving is limited to “safe” causes as we support services that provide temporary relief but do not challenge the status quo. Our efforts temporarily alleviate problems, but in the end they allow the symptoms we see today to grow tomorrow.

Social Change Kicks the Status Quo

Progressive social change is characterized by its insistence on addressing the root cause(s) of problems rather than the alleviation of symptoms. Because the goal is systemic change, conflict with those who hold power is often inevitable. The power that social change organisations bring to the table is their ability to organise, to educate, and to mobilise.

How Social Change Happens

Money alone does not bring about change; neither do individuals. But when individuals band together and form organisations to focus on their collective power, social change can happen. When a large number of organisations work together toward a common goal, that’s a movement. Movements make change.

The goals of social change organising:

  • Aim at root causes, not symptoms.
  • Build collective responses, not individual solutions, to problems.
  • Change attitudes, behaviour, laws, policies, and institutions the better to reflect values of inclusion, fairness, and diversity.
  • Insist on accountability and responsiveness in such institutions as government, large corporations, and universities.
  • Expand democracy by involving those closest to social problems in determining their solution.

Analysing the root causes of why a situation exists is a primary difference between charity and social change. Charities don’t ask why. Social change organisations do.

Examples of change vs charity

  • Charity: Donate to a food pantry to provide supplemental food for lower-income working families.
  • Change: Raise the minimum wage so people can afford to purchase the food they need.
  • Charity: Send money to a shelter for homeless families.
  • Change: Send money to a housing coalition working for affordable housing.
  • Charity: Fund a scholarship for one high school student to attend college.
  • Change: Fund a student association organising to ensure that higher education is affordable for everyone.
  • Charity: Give to a telethon for services for people with disabilities.
  • Change: Give to a group of disabled people and their allies pushing for their elected officials to make public buildings accessible.


Social Change Vs. Charity

Social Change is not Just Charity

Social change cannot be confused with charity. While charity reflects the benefactor’s compassion for humans or animals and is measured in terms of the generosity of donations to the less fortunate or helpless, social change reflects more than the good intentions of its practitioners, who are not merely driven by compassion, but are also compelled by a desire for social change.

Oftentimes, charitable organizations survive at the mercy of their donors whose contributions vary with the economic climate. A nonprofit that practices social change, on the other hand, relies less heavily on donor funds because it creates social programs that are meant to be self-sustaining. Social change makers manage donor contributions in an effective manner, investing in social ventures which can then generate their own revenues to sustain themselves. 

In other words, while charity uses donor funds to buy food to ease the poor’s hunger, albeit only temporarily, social change makers use their funds to make a lasting social impact, creating instructional programs that teach the poor how to grow their own food so that they can take care of themselves in the long run. 

“In society, I’d like to see more value placed on social impact and success than on good intentions or effective marketing or the severity of the need you’re claiming to serve. I’d like to see a fundamental change in ethics or culture around that. We still have the lingering effect of a culture of charity, which honors people for their sacrifice—how much they give and the purity of their motives. The word charity comes from the word “caritas,” which is Latin for love or compassion. We’re rewarding people for demonstrating their love of humankind, but we’re not often looking to see whether it has the intended impact. So I’d love to see an ethics change, so that we honor people for the impact they’ve had directly, or indirectly in choosing to support programs and organizations and individuals that have had impact, not just for how much they give or how generous they are.” - Greg Dees

Why we focus on doing good not only feeling good

Real Good, Not Feel Good.

Today, everywhere we look, we see another global challenge from poverty and disease, to climate change and the economic meltdown. And even our own finances are not what they used to be. But we still need to do whatever we can to help the world. So now more than ever, we need to use our limited philanthropic dollars in the best ways that we possibly can.

“We can no longer afford to spend scarce funds on things that simply feel good. Instead we need to support initiatives that do real good, and that have the potential to generate large-scale and lasting solutions to the world‘s biggest problems”


Four Questions

Here are the four most critical questions to ask a non-profit or social enterprise to determine if it has the potential to create real, large-scale and lasting change, and if it is worthy of your support.

1. Does the project have measurable and proven impacts?
2. Are the impacts cost-effective?
3. Will the impacts be sustained?
4. Can the model be scaled and replicated?

(Large-scale, lasting change requires that you can answer ―yes to all four of these questions.)

Any high impact project must have a well thought-out plan for making its impacts sustainable. It must know which exit strategy it plans to use, and implement a strategy from day-one that drives toward that end.

Real Good, Not Feel Good.

Social change is not easy, and any project that can generate proven and cost-effective impacts is already well ahead of the pack. However, the problems to be solved are enormous, and the resources are very limited. To solve the problems we need to be as efficient as possible, which means generating sustainable impacts that can be scaled and replicated. Only if you can answer ―yes‖ to all four of the questions can your investment create truly large-scale and lasting change.

Philanthropic resources are finite, but the needs are huge. If we want to make real progress on the big problems, then we need to pair donor funds with efforts that satisfy these criteria.