The Farm Sanctuary Movement Reaches Asia

Tied up Indian dairy cows

Tied up Indian dairy cows

By Jessika Ava

This blog post originally appeared on the Brighter Green website.

As social awareness increases over dietary choices, industrial farming methods, and animal welfare, more individuals are choosing a vegan lifestyle while simultaneously the farm sanctuary movement is becoming a global phenomenon. Farm sanctuaries provide a retirement home for animals removed from the agricultural industry, and often build community awareness regarding animal behavior, healthy eating habits, and the environmental impacts of our diets. In India, two such farmed animal sanctuaries are changing the country for both animals and people, by creating safe homes, building vegan communities, and implementing humane education efforts.

The VSCPA Kindness Farm located in Andhra Pradesh, South India recently opened in 2012 and continues to be a work in progress. Located in in the pristine jungle miles away from the polluted city, this sanctuary offers a peaceful retreat for rescued animals, visitors, and employees. Behind the Kindness Farm gates live hundreds of animals rescued from India’s traditional, small-scale farming industry: cows and buffalos rescued from illegal slaughter, emus left abandoned on the streets, chickens and ducks removed from trading markets, as well as street dogs and feral cats. In addition to helping animals, the sanctuary provides stable employment and livelihoods to local villagers, and the thousands of organic fruit trees and vegetables that line the landscaped grounds provide nutritious food to both employees and the animals. A biogas plant, fueled by the bovines’ manure and urine, provides electricity throughout the self-sustaining shelter, while the manure provides a natural fertilizer for the fodder fields.

Animal Aid Unlimited located in Rajasthan, West India was founded by three American ex-patriots who were so moved by the plight of India’s animals that they devoted their lives to creating a rescued animal sanctuary. The free-range, open ground shelter is home to animals saved from the farming and labor industries, including cows and buffalo saved from the dairy and slaughter industries, former working donkeys, other farmed animals, and feral street dogs who can no longer compete on the streets. The sanctuary provides regular shelter tours, educating local and international visitors on the impacts of diets and empowering individuals to make healthier, more ethical, and more sustainable lifestyle choices. The NGO also provides humane education courses at local schools, teaching children about animal protection, human rights, environmental stewardship, and local cultural issues, while “instilling… the capacity to live with compassion, integrity, and wisdom.”

As more individuals are becoming aware of the environmental, animal welfare, and social consequences of a meat and dairy based diet, the farm sanctuary movement seems to be growing alongside this trend. In countries across the world, sanctuaries are filling the crucial niche of providing lifelong, safe retirement homes for animals who have found their way out of the agricultural industry, while also creating public awareness for the innate needs of farmed animals and empowering individuals to make more informed, ethical lifestyle decisions.

Photo courtesy of Jessika Ava


Update on Brazil: The Effects of the Soybean and Meat Industries

By Lauren Berger
This blog originally appeared on the Brighter Green website.

Soybean fields in Brazil

Brazil, the world’s second largest producer and exporter of soybean, and the world’s largest exporter of poultryreports a 39 percent drop in greenhouse-gas emissions between 2005 and 2010.

However, this “good news” is not all its cracked up to be. For the first time, greenhouse-gas emissions from the agriculture industry make up the largest share of Brazil’s total emissions.

Cattle raising and industrial soybean farming have wreaked havoc on the Amazon and Cerrado. In an effort to stop deforestation, a 2006 moratorium on soybean farming on deforested land has dramatically decreased deforestation rates in the country. This accounts for the 76 percent drop in emissions from deforestation from 2005 to 2010. However, emissions from the agriculture industry increased 5.2 percent from 2005 to 2010 with crop yields growing faster than emissions, indicating an increase in agricultural production and an increasingly potential threat to the environment.

Historically, deforestation in Brazil has been a direct result of cattle raising and industrial soybean farming. In order to increase soybean production and exportation, parts of the Amazon and Cerrado forests have been deforested for farmland. The moratorium helped dramatically decrease deforestation, but the soybean industry has been complicit in indirectly contributing to deforestation. The soybean industry has been using abandoned cattle raising plots to plant and produce soybeans. Cattle ranchers continually burn down the jungle (as it is inexpensive) and plant grass in order to raise cattle. When the land is no longer viable, ranchers typically move on to deforest other parts of the jungle while the soybean industry buys this used land that is easier to cultivate soybean production. And while deforestation has declined over the last few years, Amazon deforestation has increased 5-fold in 2013 compared to 2012, believed to be linkedto the soybean industry’s continual “indirect” deforestation.

Additionally, Brazil’s meat production is expected to expand over the next 10 years, which will indubitably contribute to Brazil’s agriculture industry’s greenhouse-gas emissions. Increasing meat production will also directly increase Brazil’s grain production as soybean (projected to increase 22 percent over the next decade) and other grains are continually used in animal feed.

While the moratorium and overall decrease in greenhouse-gas emissions in Brazil seems positive, when looked at more closely, the soybean industry continues to negatively effect the environment through deforestation, pesticide use, and greenhouse-gas emissions. The effects of increase soybean and meat production have direct links to the environment and while past actions have helped decrease environmental effects, its clear that with continued growth expected, the negative effects will only continue to increase.

Photo courtesy of Dami Izolan/Flickr