Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ethical dilemma

I'm vegetarian, but I'm not evangelical about it. I'm not out to convert people, especially people who live relatively sustainably in the third world, to my diet.

Nonetheless, I was excited when this year's Heifer International catalog showed the opportunity to donate--in lieu of the usual pigs, cows, chickens, or rabbits--a "knitting basket" (four wool-producing animals for one family), honeybees, and tree seedlings. I'm not nearly generous enough with charities that help the poor, so I thought, "What the hey, I'll donate some honeybees and seedlings."

But then I read the fine print on page 3 of the catalog: "Each purchase from this catalog represents a contribution to the entire mission of Heifer International. Donations will be used where needed most to help struggling people."

Hmmmm. So now I have a dilemma. I don't want to presume to say exactly what struggling people should eat--after all, people need protein--but I also don't want my donation supporting the eventual slaughter of animals.

Thoughts? Do you know of vegetarian-friendly charities that also do good work?


Anonymous said...

Try a microfinance outfit, or oxfam, or a fairtrade coffee co-op. If you go on the Ms. Magazine archives, you should be able to find an article about women in Haiti who learned to paint silk scarves since their traditional livlihoods were wiped out by environmental degradation. They sell their stuff online through some people in Massachusettes. Great stuff. (I have a scarf, but I can't remember the name of the co-op. I saw it in the last 2 years in Ms.) Makes a great gift.

Rev Dr Mom said...

Episcopal Relief and Development does great work---besides disaster relielf it supports AIDS orphans, and women in Africa with AIDS as well as other causes.