When animal rescue organisations EAT animals
Updated: Feb 28
Many years ago, we learnt that a local animal shelter in my area was planning a live crab boil in order to raise funds for abandoned cats, dogs and rabbits. (To clarify, this shelter was not based in Northern Ireland.)
The shelter was inundated with emails and phone calls from concerned individuals, baffled and angry that any animal rescue organisation would opt to raise money for some animals while boiling others alive. As this was about many years ago, the idea of the shelter serving solely vegan food was far too controversial (it is, unfortunately, still a 'step too far' for most organisations today) but clearly, even many non-vegans were pretty disgusted by the proposed fundraiser.
The controversy continued, even making the news, and eventually the shelter manager did the right thing and relented, though she complained that it made no difference as the crabs would be eaten by somebody anyway.
Others argued that the crabs were wasted when they could have been used to raise money to help the shelter save more animals. What these people missed was the fact that the crabs' bodies were not food any more than the bodies of the dogs and cats who had been put to sleep at the shelter. Would anybody argue that those were wasted?
Animal shelters serving animals and their byproducts at events continues to be a widespread problem across the world. However, there now exists a North American organisation named Food for Thought which helps animal shelters--as well as social justice organisations, conservation groups and wildlife rescues--transition to food choices more consistent with their stated values. This excellent article from Sentient Media details the success they've had.
There has been backlash, of course. Speciesism is so deeply entrenched in our culture and our idea of what it means to be a human versus an animal that to suggest that the entirety of the animal kingdom does not exist for our purposes is a concept so threatening for some that it shakes their entire sense of identity. This is why we must continue to work towards a new way of understanding that breaks down the species divide, at least insofar as it exists to create injustice, not just between dogs, cats, cows and chickens but between ourselves and the monolithic term 'animals'--none of whom share any one characteristic besides simply not being human.