Sunday, September 20, 2009 - Do You Want to Give a Pig?

I was flipping around the T.V. yesterday and came across the Bonnie Hunt show. Her guest was a sheep and – as I love sheep, stopped to see what the topic was. The other guest was Jane Kaczmarek, who is probably best known for her role as the mother on Malcolm in the Middle. Anyway, she was promoting an organization called Heifer International.

Heifer International is a non-profit organization that provides assistance to communities in the United States and around the world. Their website,, boasts that they have aided 8.5 million people in over 125 countries. They are of the “teach a man to fish” school of thought, though they have created the phrase “not a cup, but a cow” instead.

When encountering a disadvantaged area, they first provide the “immediate” necessities required for survival (food and shelter), and then grant residents with livestock and other goods to help sustain their community. Heifer distinguishes itself by focusing on ensuring they are trained to utilize these contributions to the best of their ability. They also encourage recipients to “pass on the gift”, which means: if a family receives two rabbits that in turn produce 20 offspring, they should give away some of the baby rabbits to another family in need.

Heifer International also addresses other big issues such as the HIV crisis, special needs of young people, and the distribution of small loans to new enterprises.

The point that Jane Kaczmarek was making is that instead of donating cash (though I’m sure you can do that as well), you can “give” a cow, a trio of rabbits, a flock of chicks, a pig or other animals. Being a vegetarian, I am very conflicted about that. I will say that this organization seems as though it really focuses on proper treatment of the animals under the care of these communities. Considering the deplorable way this country’s corporations treat their livestock, they would probably have better lives on Heifer’s areas than here in the States.

The good part is if you’re not interested in giving away livestock that will inevitably be slaughtered, you can give a basket, bees or some trees.

I was just curious as to what other vegetarians thought about this. I feel quite torn between my wish for all people to be adequately fed and their communities to be prosperous, but can’t quite bring myself to send livestock for a gift.

Let me know what you vegetarians think! Should I be more open minded about this? How do you feel about it?

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