Friday, December 10, 2010

Heifer International ~ Compassionate Charity or Animal Slave Trade?

When I went to the post office to get my mail today I found a Special Holiday Edition catalog from “Heifer International” in my box. The cover has a picture of a sheep and the title says "The Most Important Gift Catalog in the World".

After looking at the catalog I was quite disgusted. The goal of this company is to “bring help, healing and hope to millions of impoverished families worldwide.” Basically, you (as the “gift giver”) buy an animal and they send it to a family in a third world country to use as they wish.

The catalog pulls at the heartstrings because it has photos of small children hugging the baby animals. Who doesn't love little kids and baby animals!?

Here is a list of the animals that you can buy as a gift to send to a family. 

Gift of Goats: The gift of a dairy goat is a lasting, meaningful way for you to help a little boy or girl on the other side of the world while sharing your caring spirit with those closest to your heart.

Pigs as Presents: Heifer animals are like “living savings accounts” for struggling families, and the pig may well be the most interest bearing. Each gift can give a valuable source of protein, income from the sale of offspring and natural fertilizer to nourish crops and soil.

Wrapping Paper, Ribbons…and Rabbits: Giving the gift of a trio of rabbits from Heifer International for the holidays is a low-cost, high yield gift that helps impoverished families increase their protein intake and income.

Other animals you can “gift” are: Sheep, Chickens, Honeybees, Llamas, Buffalos, and the “GIFT ARK” Which includes many of the animals Noah “saved”.

As you can see, this holiday season you can buy these animals and send them off to die.

Now, I’m sorry, but I do not think that animal products, milk, flesh, etc. are good for anyone, let alone people living in poverty.

Colleen Patrick –Goudrea, from
did a podcast about this topic a few years back, and this is what she recommends:

There are many other programs dedicated to providing solutions to hunger without exploiting animals. Trees for Life ( and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation ( enable you to buy a fruit tree in someone’s name, providing a food source to communities in developing countries. Every time you buy a gift from the Women’s Bean Project (, you help a woman break the cycle of poverty and unemployment by supporting their programs that provide skills and training to women. One of Plenty International’s ( programs includes training villages in soy bean agriculture and production as a way to improve nutrition, soil quality, and food security. Through Sustainable Harvest International, whose website is, you can contribute to planting trees in Central America, which has lost more than half of its rainforests in the last 50 years, and of course we know that much of this occurs to provide grazing land for cattle, who will be slaughtered and exported, so that Americans can have cheap meat. Finally, Animal Aid, a UK charity,, is supporting a tree-planting initiative in Kenya, which will provide fruit-bearing trees for local families. The aim is to help 100 families to plant 20 trees each, which will bear oranges, avocados, mangoes, and macadamia nuts, with a few additional trees for timber and firewood.

So, in conclusion, I will be making a donation to several charities this Christmas that do not exploit anyone, as well as sending a letter to Heifer International expressing my thoughts and to request that they take me off their mailing list immediately. I hope to get a response letter from them to publish on a later blog entry.

Please, for the animals, for the people, and for true PEACE ON EARTH…..Go vegan.


  1. Thanks for including Sustainable Harvest International, Michael. In addition to helping families to plant trees, we also help them to improve production of traditional staple crops such as corn, rice and beans while helping them diversify their diets and income with organic gardens and other new crops.

  2. Heifer International (HI) is an organization that claims to work against world hunger by donating animals to families in developing countries. Its catalog deceptively portrays beautiful children holding cute animals in seemingly humane circumstances. The marketing brochure for HI does not show the animals being transported, their living and slaughter conditions, or the erosion, pollution and water use caused by the introduction of these animals and their offspring.

    By definition, animals raised for food are exploited in a variety of ways. The animals shipped to developing countries are often subject to; water and food shortages, cruel procedures without painkillers, lack of veterinary care resulting in extended suffering as a result of illness or injury.

    A large percentage of the families receiving animals from HI are struggling to provide for themselves and cannot ensure adequate living conditions, nutrition, and medical care for animals they have been given. HI provides some initial veterinary training to individuals and the initial vaccines. But, long term care for these animals and their offspring is up to the individuals.

    To make matters worse, animal agriculture causes much more harm to the environment than plant-based agriculture. The fragile land in many of the regions HI is sending the animals cannot support animal agriculture. Although they say they encourage cut and carry feeding of the animals to avoid erosion, the reality is often quite different.

    The consumption of animal products has been shown in reputable studies to contribute significantly to life-threatening diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and a variety of cancers. Regions that have adopted a diet with more animal products see an increase in these diseases. The remote communities supposedly served by HI have no way of dealing with the health consequences of joining the high-cholesterol world.

    While it may seem humane and sustainable to provide just one or two dairy cows here or there, the long term consequences are an increased desire for animal products in local cultures leading to an increase in production. These communities may be able to absorb the additional water use of one or two cows, what happens when there are hundreds or thousands of dairy cows, each consuming 27 to 50 gallons of fresh water and producing tons of excrement? The heavy cost to animals, the environment and local economies is not figured into HI's business practices.

  3. Thanks very much for the feedback Flo and Anonymous. Anonymous, thanks for the great info to share with my readers!!! It's a terrible shame that people are duped into believing they are doing something wonderful when they buy into the propoganda that Heifer dulls out.

  4. Quite honestly if you hate the world so much go live in the forest where no one else has to hear you complain about the perfectly good food chain the good Lord created.

  5. Thanks for your comments "Anonymous". Contrary to what your comment says, I actually care about the world and all the animals in it, Human and Non-Human. As far as the food chain is concerned, we do not need to eat animals to live a healthy life. Animal products actually cause more health problems for us than plants. You may want to check out a few websites or where you can read about such issues. Thanks again for the comment.

  6. I admire your courage for posting this. Keep on having compassion for animals.


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