You may want to write to Seventh Generation asking the company to remove Heifer International from their list of ways to make a difference, and to choose a more sustainable and animal-friendly alternative to help people in the developing world, like Food For Life or VegFam.
Refer the company to Global Hunger Alliance, a site that lays out the inefficiencies and inequities of the types of animal production Heifer International is truly concerned about. It would be nice if Seventh Generation would recognize that we should not be increasing the number of mouths to feed on this planet.
I do want to take a moment to address this issue philosophically. There is no area more fraught with trouble for animal activists and vegans than the developing world, where those with plenty are often seen as dictating food choices and values and not understanding the needs and concerns of local peoples.
For instance, in the developing world and especially areas of extreme poverty, animals are seen as far more valuable and reliable than plant agriculture, to the point that they are seen as currency. This is particularly true in climates where droughts are common, and plant-based agriculture is not well-developed (though one questions why modern science hasn’t made efforts to reclaim this land).
But the FAO, while acknowledging the detrimental impact of livestock on the environment, states the following:
the livestock sector is socially and politically very significant in developing countries: it provides food and income for one billion of the world’s poor, especially in dry areas, where livestock are often the only source of livelihoods. “Since livestock production is an expression of the poverty of people who have no other options,” FAO says, “the huge number of people involved in livestock for lack of alternatives, particularly in Africa and Asia, is a major consideration for policy makers.”
Everything I’ve ever read about trying to address animal concerns in those climates has demonstrated an uphill battle for animal advocates, usually with well-meaning people arguing that the activists care more about animals than people, and they often take an intractable position once they’ve made up their minds about that.
I do have difficulty understanding why they are so resistant to the notion that one can help both non-humans and humans at the same time.
I agree with HI’s stated goals, that our humanitarian aid should increase self-sufficiency, rather than relying on handouts to fight hunger, teaching techniques for working with one’s environment, and inspiring self-reliance, but one can do this without exploiting animals or taxing the environment. Granted, on a small scale, the environmental impact is geared to be positive, but the ultimate goal of organizations like HI — with which I emphatically do not agree — is to create large markets for livestock around the world, which leads inevitably and unsustainably to factory farming.
We need not support animal exploitation while helping people, whether we want to support vegan hunger relief organizations like Food For Life, desert reclamation projects, or other ingenuous innovations, and Seventh Generation could be an important part of that, with our encouragement.
The online form to contact Seventh Generation is meant for questions, even though it allows for comments, and they require you to choose options to help them route your question, none of which really suit comments related to their giving list. You may want to mail a hard copy, call, or fax the company at:
Seventh Generation, Inc.
60 Lake Street
Burlington, VT 05401-5218
800-456-1191 (toll free)