36. Why and How to Engage Abroad

If we believe that all animals are equal, then saving animals raised for food abroad should be just as worthy and perhaps even more cost-effective than saving one in the U.S.  Indeed, a number of U.S. animal organizations are heavily invested abroad. Please join us in exploring the why, who, where, and how to engage abroad for the animals.

Why Engage Abroad

There are lots of obvious reasons for U.S. animal organizations to engage abroad:

  • All animals are equal, so saving a pig in China should be equivalent to saving one in the U.S.
  • Other cultures are less obsessed with animal consumption
  • U.S. dollars can purchase more activism abroad than in the U.S.
  • Imitating U.S. culture has contributed to growing animal meat consumption abroad
  • U.S. animal meat industry has been developing foreign markets for its products
  • U.S. consumers have contributed to animal abuse abroad, as in the Indian leather trade

But the reasons were not always so obvious. The first two decades of our movement saw little interest in engaging abroad.

At the turn of this century, the Farm Animal Rights Movement set up the Sabina Fund to provide small grants to dozens of Indian organizations offering to conduct local observances of Meatout and/or World Day for Farmed Animals. A couple of years later, we extended our funding to the fledgling Israeli animal rights movement.

However, the past decade has seen a monumental growth in U.S engagement abroad. More than a dozen U.S.-based and other international organizations are involved.

How and Where to Engage

While the reasons for engaging abroad are pretty obvious, the restrictions in so doing are less so.

  • Local staffers may lack basic communication and technical skills that we are used to
  • Their work and performance ethic may be different
  • Few people in Latin American and Asian countries where we tend to operate speak English
  • Local regulations may not favor public education campaigns
  • Their social, political, and economic norms may be very different from ours, calling for different strategies and tactics

In other words, engaging abroad requires some knowledge of local language and customs, as well as infinite patience, and a large dose of good humor.

Legendary bank robber Willie Sutton once said that he robs banks, because that’s where the money is. Following that maxim, we should all be working in China. That’s truly where farmed animals are. China raises as many pigs and more farmed fish than the rest of the world combined. To make matters worse, the Chinese culture holds little empathy for animals and harbors no anti-cruelty law. Foreigners are discouraged from supporting local groups.

Fortunately, other countries, like India next door, are more welcoming, and animal consumption is rising everywhere, so opportunities for engaging abroad abound.

The Funders

Organizations engaged in saving farmed animals abroad may be classified according to their respective roles as “funders,” “retailers,” or “activists.” The “funders” are wealthy individuals or foundations that actually generate the necessary funding. Some shun publicity for obvious reasons. They have recently formed a “Farmed Animal Funders” association that does not list its members.

As the name implies, that is not the case with Open Philanthropy, launched in 2014 by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna. In the past five years, Open Philanthropy has donated $130 million to a number of “farm animal welfare” organizations. It’s hard to determine how much of that has found its way to other countries, but top beneficiaries – The Humane League, Mercy for Animals, Animal Equality, and Good Food Institute all have extensive operations abroad.

The Greenbaum Foundation dispenses $4 million per year in grants to end the use of animals for food. Beneficiaries that are active abroad, include Beyond Carnism, Centre for a Responsible Future, Compassion in World Farming, Food Frontier, Good Food Institute, Mercy for Animals, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Open Wing Alliance, Proveg International, Sinergia Animal, and several smaller foreign organizations.

Another funder who prefers to remain anonymous funds the Federation of Indian Animal Protective Associations (FIAPO), Proveg International, A Well-Fed World, VegFund, a dozen Israeli organizations, and other groups that advocate animal rights and veganism abroad.

The funds generated by the “funders” may be then distributed by the “retailers” to smaller organizations and individuals abroad or used directly by the “activists” to fund their own foreign operations.

The Retailers

“Retailers” are organizations that convert large grants from the “funders” into smaller grants to small organizations and individuals operating abroad. Here is a sample listing:

  • A Well-Fed World has offered hundreds of small grants in 70 countries to promote plant-based eating and prevent food scarcity.
  • Open Wing Alliance, a global coalition of 80 organizations based in Brazil, awards grants to local organizations working to free laying hens from cages in 27 countries.
  • ProVeg International offers 80 medium grants per year in 50 countries to organizations that promote plant-based eating.
  • The Pollination Project has offered $1,000 grants in 116 countries in seven focus areas including animal rights.
  • VegFund funds community events, special projects, and online campaigns promoting plant-based eating.

The Activists

“Activist” organizations are those having actual offices and employees conducting operations abroad. Here is an incomplete list:

  • Anima International conducts campaigns to promote plant-based eating and release of farmed animals from cages in ten countries, mostly in Eastern Europe.
  • Animal Equality conducts undercover investigations, corporate campaigns, political outreach, and large-scale education programs in United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, and India.
  • Animal Save Movement conducts thousands of vigils and protests at slaughterhouses and related facilities through its 1000 chapters on six continents.
  • Good Food Institute works with investors, entrepreneurs, and scientists throughout the world to promote plant-based and cultivated meat and dairy products.
  • Mercy For Animals engages in public education, investigations, and corporate engagement through chapters in Mexico, Brazil, and India.
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is the world’s largest animal rights organizations with active chapters in United Kingdom, France, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, India, and Philippines.
  • Proveg International promotes plant-based products and administers the V-label, arranges festivals and conferences, and supports local chapters in Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, and China.
  • Sinergia Animal promotes plant-based eating and release of farmed animals from cages in Latin America and Southeast Asia through petitions and demonstrations.
  • Vegan Outreach conducts a “10 Weeks to Vegan” online outreach program in 20 countries, in their own languages, with 200,000 sign-ups.
  • Veganuary inspires people in 192 countries to go vegan in January and beyond.

In closing, we rejoice in the amazing inroads that our movement has made in saving animals abroad in the past decade. And, we apologize to folks whose good work abroad was left out by our 1000-word limit.

The views expressed here are of the author and do not necessarily
represent the views of the Farm Animal Rights Movement

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