'Tis the season for giving...and for catalogs. This week I opened up my mailbox to at least half a dozen
gift catalogs sitting there. As I stood next to the recycling bin I thumbed through each to see what they were about. One caught my eye, but not because I want to place an order.
The World Vision catalog caught my attention because the cover had a cute picture of a goat and on the bottom it read "Inspiring gifts for everyone on your list." So I opened it up and started looking. I am all for inspirational gifts, so I wanted to see what was offered.
I didn't like what they were selling as inspirational gifts. Chickens, goats, cows, sheep, ducks, rabbits, etc. Yup, I guess some people find it inspiring to purchase one of these animals, thus giving it a death sentence. The catalog is chock-full of explanations of how giving these gifts help others.
First, I find it odd that I would take my list of people I need to buy for and then tell them I bought a goat for someone in another country, and then somehow convince them that it is their gift. It immediately reminds me of the Seinfeld episode (see the clip here), where they focus on this type of gift giving. While it's a great way for charities to tug at heart strings, it's a concept that I'm not comfortable with.
Secondly, I don't think buying animals for those in need is a good gift. It's exchanging one life of suffering for another. There are better ways to help, I am sure. On page 5 they are offering the "gift" of a goat and 2 chickens for $100. They state that it is the "Best $100 you'll ever spend." Really? I just don't agree. I think the "best" gift will always be subjective. What I feel is the best, isn't necessarily what someone else will feel is the best. My best gift would never include purchasing animals for someone so they can go on to eat them and their by-products (the gift description states that "...you'll provide a steady supply of eggs, milk, and meat to feed children and save families." (You can save lives with fruits, veggies and grains!)
There were only a few things in this catalog that I thought had merit, such as the mosquito nets, water well, soccer balls, etc. But even so, I can't see my kids waking up on Christmas morning, running to the tree and finding a note that says "You got a soccer ball...for a child on the other side of the world." Somehow I just don't think that will sit well.
World Vision isn't the only time I've seen this type of gift (and how did they get my name/address to send me this catalog??), I've seen the ads online for it as well, through OxFam.
These gifts are not "inspiring" and are not the best $100 someone can ever spend. They perpetuate the idea that animals are things and to be used at human disposal. They continue to create the desire to eat meat and dairy products.
If you really want to support this type of gift giving, opt for the vegetable seed gift on page 9. At least you will be providing food, without paying for animals to be slaughtered.