Eating some animals to rescue others?

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Eating some animals to rescue others? How addressing speciesism can help more animals.

I recently came across a fundraiser for a cat and dog shelter near Bristol, and whilst it’s really worthwhile supporting groups that are helping cats and dogs, it is worth considering that in terms of animal suffering cat and dog issues aren’t particularly neglected, and that we also wouldn’t need to harm some animals to help others, we can also help more animals by not supporting the industry of animal consumption.

The fundraiser itself refers to a dinner party serving animal products, and whilst it’s not unusual for rescue groups to do this type of thing, there are probably a number of reasons behind it.  Perhaps the primary one is that some animal shelters may be concerned that serving vegan food may put people off supporting them, or cause people to think it is extreme to help animals to the extent that we wouldn’t eat them.  In cultural terms most people presently believe it is perfectly fine to eat animals, even if it is unnecessary for us to do so.  Another issue could be that people associated with the shelter aren’t vegetarian or vegan and so wouldn’t think about the reasons in favour of having a vegan menu, instead a single vegetarian option exists in each savoury category on the menu, with the consequence of placating, rather than celebrating the diversity of non-animal food.

A better way forward for various animal rescues is to be more inclusive and progressive, reflecting the ethic we wouldn’t replace calves on our menus with cats and dogs, and yet this could still require careful promotion to encourage people to support the fundraiser.  However, I do think if most people care about cats and dogs, then even if they didn’t care particularly about not eating other animals then they would still support cat and dog shelters for the good work they are doing.  In this way ‘enduring’ a delicious vegan meal rather than going to the effort of finding other cat and dog rescues that support the consumption of other animals, and so reinforcing their ideas.   For animal rescues themselves another alternative could be to avoid organising fundraisers that involved ‘food’ altogether.

There are also several broader issues to consider too, such as dogs and cats eating other animals anyway.  This is indeed the case, but at the same time isn’t necessarily going to be the case either, whilst it also wouldn’t add a layer of legitimacy for what humans choose to consume.  Another point could be the issue of domestication, in terms of animal companions this is still situated within speciesism. From a western perspective we tend to treat cats and dogs differently from ‘food’ animals, and yet this still varies depending on how we use them (for instance within the greyhound industry, vivisection labs, puppy farms), whilst from a vegan perspective rescue (or non-use) would be encouraged and purchase discouraged.

At the end of the day I think there are good reasons for animal rescues to serve vegan food at fundraisers.  For some supporters this may be an issue of concern, but for one night we ought to be able to put aside those issues and appreciate the reasons why it is a good thing to do.

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5 thoughts on “Eating some animals to rescue others?

  1. Great article! Possum Valley Animal Sanctuary in Perth Western Australia shares your sentiment and applauds your comments. We would never cause the unnecessary death of one animal to save another and are comfortable our name accurately reflects our mission

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  2. I am writing from Holly Hedge Animal Sanctuary and I must say that I am very disappointed that you have used our logo and made this blog a personal attack when actually I think you will find most if not all rescues allow meat at their events.
    Firstly we are a cat and dog animal rescue shelter – we work endlessly hard to rescue and rehome hundreds of cats and dogs each year – there is no false advertising there, we do not market ourselves as vegan activists.
    Secondly the menu in question is what is offered by the restaurant – it is their set menu and the only way we can have the event there and at such a rate allowing us to make money to support our work – I would like to add that we are a charity that received no funding from the government so we rely solely on donations and the help of our supporters. I also feel that numbers would be greatly affected if meat was not on the menu – so much so that we would not be able to hold the event (we held the event last year and 80% of attendees were meat eaters). The restaurant would also not come up with a whole new vegan menu just for us – if this was something we wanted we would likely either be refused or charged through the teeth.
    There is one meat option, one fish, one vegetarian and one vegan and we are also able to cater for other dietary requirements such as gluten free etc so we have really been as fair as possible there and covered all bases.
    Our events do not increase meat consumption, those that choose to eat meat at our events would most likely eat meat at home the same evening.
    I really do suggest that rather than trying to damage the reputation of a small local charity you instead look at the good work that we do. The level of animal care at Holly Hedge is second to none – unlike many other rescues we never put an animal to sleep unless we are advised to do so by a veterinary surgeon or qualified behaviourist. We will do all in our power to make sure every cat and dog that enters our doors has every chance of happiness. That is our main focus and our events help fund us to achieve this goal.

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    • Hi Hannah, just a couple of comments…..

      1.”Firstly we are a cat and dog animal rescue shelter – we work endlessly hard to rescue and rehome hundreds of cats and dogs each year – there is no false advertising there, we do not market ourselves as vegan activists.”

      You use the phrase ‘animal sanctuary’ in your logo and branding, perhaps you should drop it in favour of something that reflects what you concentrate on, dogs and cats. There is no sanctuary for the animals you will be serving up at your fundraising event.

      2. “Secondly the menu in question is what is offered by the restaurant – it is their set menu and the only way we can have the event there and at such a rate allowing us to make money to support our work”

      Choose a different venue then, one with a more enlightened approach to food?
      But as you carry on you make it clear that it is not the fixed menu that forces your hand, you believe that the sacrifice of other animals is worth it to raise money for the dogs and cats in your care, to which I suggest again that you should drop animal sanctuary from your logo and branding.

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  3. I couldn’t agree more and I like your calm, gentle approach. We are battling the same issue with our Raystede campaign (https://violetsvegancomics.com/write-a-letter-to-raystede/) and I find it hard to stay calm, though I know I must. The even more heart breaking situation in the Raystede case is that its founder was vegn and would never have allowed them to serve animal products in their cafe if she was still alive. So they have betrayed her as well as the animals. In her day they gave sanctuary to rescued cows, now they serve beef burgers. I just can’t understand it. Their CEO is vegetarian; many of their staff and volunteers are vegan. It just doesn’t make sense. We have been writing to them for years and someone else has started a petition with nearly 2000 signatures on it, but still they ignore our pleas. We will not give up of course 🙂 Thank you for this post. Surely one day all those who consider themselves animal lovers will understand.

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