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Vegetarian Summerfest 2012

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Dawn Moncrief of A Well Fed World at the 2012 Vegetarian Summerfest
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Image courtesy of A Well Fed World

Dawn Moncrief of A Well Fed World spoke at the 2012 Vegetarian Summerfest on two related topics - misleading "humane meat" labels and Heifer International. The two topics are related because, as Moncrief states, they're both about breaking down the myth of Old McDonald's Farm.

For example, with cage-free eggs, male chicks are still killed, chickens are still debeaked without anesthesia, and workers must do the backbreaking manual labor of collecting the eggs by hand in the ammonia-laden air of the crowded barns. When comparing humane meat to factory farmed meat, neither is humane; there are different types of losses. Grass-fed animals create three times the amount of greenhouse gases, and 70% of the Amazon rainforest has been cleared to grow crops to be fed to livestock. While the "organic" label is regulated by the USDA, the "natural" label is not regulated by anyone. Smaller farms and "humane" farms may treat the animals a little better than factory farms, but it's still not the myth represented by Old McDonald's Farm.

Similarly, people envision Heifer International as a benevolent giver of livestock and livelihoods to 3rd world countries, but the truth is far from the image. For example, Heifer International prohibits grazing the livestock because grazing tends to destroy grass and land in areas that may already be environmentally fragile. In order to raise the animals, the people must buy feed, which they may or may not be able to afford, but either way, it calls into question the efficiency of buying food to feed to livestock when that food could be purchased and fed to people directly. Children are sometimes pulled out of school to care for the animals, including sleeping in the stable with the animals so that no one steals them. While HI provides initial training, there is no follow-up in 50% of the cases and animals are sometimes slaughtered shortly after they are received because they are difficult to maintain.

Instead of giving and exploiting an animal and increasing the environmental devastation of animal agriculture, A Well Fed World offers its Feed More International campaign, which gives grants to grassroots organizations that are teaching people to grow crops or feeding people vegan meals.

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