Africa: Sharing What I’ve Learned
By Julia Feliz, Guest Contributor
It can be a bit daunting to try to imagine how life could be outside of the bubble where we’ve grown up. I’ve often wondered what the vegan movement is like elsewhere and how our choices in the western world affect those in places like the Amazon and Africa. While information abounds on the destruction aided by a meat, egg, and dairy focused diet in the Amazon rainforest, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I fully realized just what kind of an impact our meat-obsessed society is having on Africa.
Did you know that there are now factory farms in Africa? This was the alarming opening statement given by Dr. Anteneh Roba during his presentation at the IARC in Luxembourg. Dr. Roba is a native Ethiopian living in the US and the founder of iFundAfrica.org – a non-profit dedicated to help both humans and non-humans in Africa. Although they do not occur in as high a frequency as in other parts of the world, factory farms have started to take root in places like South Africa, Kenya, and even Ethiopia. Corporations like McDonald’s have moved in and the demand for fast food has rocketed. According to Roba, with it, there has also been an acceleration of habitat loss and an increase in westernized diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. Dr. Roba highlighted the fact that countries such as China have even started leasing large portions of land used to cultivate corn that will ultimately be used for factory-farmed pigs. GMO’s have also made an entrance. A third of the planet’s arable land is used for agriculture. Out of that about 70- 80% is used to grow the feed needed to keep mass numbers of animals fed. What is the problem with this? There are over 9million people worldwide dying each and every year from starvation and malnutrition. Factory farms are not the answer despite being sold as the solution for hunger in Africa.
How can we help Africa? Dr. Roba’s suggested focusing on your area of expertise and going to Africa as an individual or with a group to lend a hand. He also mentioned that it is not too late. Factory farms have not taken off as they have in the US or Europe, so there is still a chance to stop them in aid of non-human animals. Speak up and let your government know that you support equality for Africa and believe that food produced in Africa should go feed its people first. Dr. Roba further suggested engaging people in all paths of life and sharing the knowledge that you have gained with others like I have done with this article. Every time someone asks you about your veganism, it is a chance to help those around you make the connection – apart from all the animal abuse that comes with animal agriculture and exploitation, every individual’s meat-eating habits directly contribute to the death of millions of people in Africa alone from starvation and malnutrition each year. I hardly think this is a figure anyone can ignore particularly when it is preventable through a simple choice.
Photo: Abel Mosingisi