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A Word on the World Vision Gift Catalog

'Tis the season for giving...and for catalogs. This week I opened up my mailbox to at least half a dozenGoat  
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 "'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.


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Enslaving, exploiting and eventually killing a living being to "help" another living being is repugnant and immoral.

Surely these people can figure out a way to assist others without causing suffering.


Absolutely, I completely agree!


I think you’ve done a good job of highlighting the struggle that I face…Organizations like these (I think Heifer International is the most famous) are helping people. It makes all the difference in the world if they can have animals to help them (like oxen to plow the fields for planting) or to get milk/meat from. But those who are more sensitive to animals have a hard time with this idea. I was recently re-reading The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff, in which he explains his belief that all creatures lived peacefully, symbiotically together until power came into play; over time humans took advantage of their bigger brain and started doing things like subjugating other creatures and eating them. And now we’ve gotten so far away from our beginning that that time has been almost completely forgotten, and even discounted, by people today. So here we are, and the difficulty is knowing what the right thing to do is to help our fellow citizens of the world – all of them.

The struggle for me in the issue you’re talking about is knowing that these people are trying to survive - and when that’s your top priority then concern over the life of an animal is probably at the bottom of your priority list. Every year at this time I get solicitations to buy a needy family a Thanksgiving meal with turkey and all the trimmings. And I can’t do it. But I do give money to my local food bank to spend as they see fit, which may or may not include meat. I think every action has positive and negative consequences, and the intention is really the only thing we can control – I hope I’m helping someone and I hope that I’m not hurting anyone.

As far as the “best gift” stuff – that’s just advertising. You see it everywhere all the time. I think we all accept that there’s no truth in advertising (especially in the US), right? :-)



Thanks for your feedback. I agree about the whole "survival" aspect, but people don't need animal "foods" to survive. I wouldn't take issue with the idea if the catalog was filled with veggies, fruits and grains you could buy the people (although it would still be weird to try to justify giving someone else someone's gift).

We have choices and even in helping someone else on the other side of the world to surivive we have a choice that we will participate in the demise of animals or not.

I know what you mean about the local charities. They ask for things this time of year. I donate, but I only donate vegan items.

You are right, there is at least very little truth in advertising, if any at all! :)



There is something especially sickening about these catalogs. There are images of children clutching baby animals--how many of their hearts are broken when their "pets" are snatched away and killed?


Excellent point as well, thank you!

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