The We Animals Archive — changing the world for animals, one photograph at a time

Last month, photojournalist, author, and educator Jo-Anne McArthur launched the We Animals Archive,* a free archive of photography depicting our relationships with animals around the globe.

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Creator of the We Animals project, author of two books (We Animals and Captive, due for release this summer), and subject of the critically acclaimed documentary Ghosts in Our Machine, McArthur has been documenting the plight of animals for more than a decade, telling their individual stories with her thought-provoking and moving imagery.

McArthur’s photography evokes a spectrum of emotion —  from heart-wrenching and haunting to joyful and beautiful.

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

The We Animals Archive is a collection of hundreds of images and videos of animals in the human environment, many of which have never been seen before — animals we use for food, clothing, research, experimentation, work, entertainment, and companionship.

Some words from the photographer:

“I’m thrilled to be releasing the We Animals Archive into the world. My work has shown me that, so often, the animals languishing in cages on fur farms, suffering at the end of a rope, or even resting peacefully in the arms of their rescuers, are invisible to so many of us. I want these images to be used in the hope that people truly see the way animals currently exist in our society.” – Jo-Anne

The archive is a free resource for individuals, organizations, and media outlets around the world who are working to help animals. To date, the We Animals images have been used widely on social media, for banners and posters, in slide shows, newsletters, and even on book covers and for billboard campaigns. Browse the We Animals images and start planning how you might use them to educate and enlighten!

Find out more about this wonderful archive and the simple steps required to request photos in  this short video by McArthur herself:

VegFund highly recommends that you take advantage of this great resource in your outreach efforts. And please share widely with your activist buddies!

Support this project: weanimals.org/support

*The We Animals Archive is free to use for animal rights groups, not-for-profit and charity organizations, and educational organizations. The archive is also available on a commercial basis to commercial and media organizations. View Terms of Use.

Provoke, Inspire, Educate: Five Vegan-Related Documentary Films to Consider for Film Screenings

So you want to host a documentary film screening but you’re not sure where to start or what to screen? You’ve come to the right place. We’d like to point you to five noteworthy documentaries that have proved popular and thought-provoking among audiences on topics related to vegan living.

Documentaries as tools for social change

Documentaries can be powerful tools for social change. Great documentaries engage the viewer emotionally through compelling stories of real lives and events while conveying information or perspectives that are often obscured from the public eye. The viewer becomes a participant, an insider privy to these truths. Documentaries have the potential to involve the audience emotionally and shift their awareness or change their assumptions about an issue. And, importantly, documentaries (most often) offer the possibility of change.

As vegan activists, we’re working to connect people emotionally with the hard realities of lives of animals raised for food and convey the profound impact that vegan living has on animals, the environment, world hunger, health, and nutrition.

Recommended vegan-related films

Lucky for us, we have a number of fascinating vegan-related documentaries to choose from. Our feedback* from VegFund grantees points to a few films that have been particularly successful with general audiences. Many of you are already familiar with these films, but for those of you who aren’t:

  • Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret  – A feature-length documentary that follows filmmaker Kip Andersen as he explores the devastating effects of animal agriculture on deforestation, water consumption, pollution, greenhouse gases, rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean dead zones, and more. Anderson investigates the world’s leading environmental organizations and uncovers what appears to be an intentional refusal to discuss the issues of animal agriculture. Read the Screening guidelines for this documentary.

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  •  VegucatedThis entertaining documentary profiles the personal journeys of three New York meat-lovers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. The film follows their evolution as they explore the world of vegan living and its effects on personal health — and as they take their first glimpse into the world of animal agriculture. The film doesn’t shy away from presenting the challenges as well as benefits of vegan living. This film offers an often-humorous take on transitioning to a vegan diet. Read the Screening guidelines for this documentary.

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  •  Forks Over KnivesForks Over Knives investigates the potential role of a “whole foods, plant-based” diet in avoiding, controlling, or reversing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, obesity, and cancer. The film advocates removing animal-based foods, including dairy, as well as highly processed foods from our diets. The film follows the journeys of pioneering researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, nutritional scientist at Cornell, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, surgeon and head of the Breast Cancer Task Force at the Cleveland Clinic, whose experiences led them to take a close look at the role of animal-based foods in degenerative diseases. Read the Screening guidelines for this documentary.

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  •  Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home – An engaging story of personal transformation , Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home portrays the stories of seven people who grew up in traditional farming culture as they re-examine their relationship with animals. The film follows, among others, a humane police officer whose conscience is in conflict with the laws she upholds and farmers who begin to question their way of life in light of their connections with the animals they care for. This heart-warming film enlightens us about the factors that open people’s hearts to animals and depicts the rich lives and personalities of farm animals. Read the Screening guidelines for this documentary.

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  • Speciesism: The Movie – The term “speciesism” refers to a “prejudice in favor of the interests of members of one’s own species over members of another species.” This concept manifests as the idea of human superiority over non-human animals and, at its extreme, that animals exist for our use. Director Mark Devries examines the questions around speciesism through conversations with a variety of people including anti-factory farming activists, a member of the American Nazi Party, a vivisectionist, and known personalities such as Peter Singer, Temple Grandin, and Richard Dawkins. The film is a provocative foray into the moral questions regarding species. Read the Screening guidelines for this documentary.

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Customize your vegan film-screening event

Documentary screenings are ripe for your creative vision. Screenings can be held publically in theaters, libraries, schools, churches — or privately as a house party. Combine screenings with vegan potlucks or food sampling. Consider including a Q&A session or inviting subject experts to speak or lead the discussion. Use the event to encourage an action such as try veg, sign up, donate.

On the websites of most documentaries, you’ll find a section on hosting a screening. Requirements vary, but a reasonably-priced film purchase (with license) is usually needed. On many sites, you’ll find supplementary material, such as designs for promotional materials and topics for discussion. The Screenings section of the VegFund website guides you through planning your screening event and submitting a request for funding assistance.

We recommend that you view the documentary in advance to ensure its suitability for your audience. Some films, for example, have graphic images that may not be suitable for children. Some films have the option for subtitles, which may be important for some audiences.

Check out our new film-screening partnership program

More extensive lists of animal rights/vegan films can be found through a quick Internet search. Look for new films too. As the pace of awareness grows, more and more inspiring documentaries emerge.

We are particularly excited about two newly released documentaries The Last Pig and Eating You Alive. VegFund is experimenting with a new partnership model to help our activists screen these new and important films. We are inviting you to partner with VegFund to use the power of these films to reach your communities and build networks of activists to energize local connections for vegan outreach.

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How to apply for a partnership screening grant:

  •  Apply to VegFund for a grant through our Screenings program and indicate your interest in screening The Last Pig and Eating you Alive  in your community and the date(s) you hope to screen the film(s). Both films will be available to screen beginning in June 2017. Within your application, you can provide ideas of how you might incorporate food sampling, literature, or speakers from your community into the event to make it all the more interesting and informative for the audience.
  •  VegFund will locate and book a screening venue in your city, pay for the venue directly, and then pay the film license fee directly to the distributor.
  • Once VegFund has selected and booked the venue, we will turn the event back over to you, the applicant activist, to complete the event organization and host the film. That means 1) recruiting your friends, family, and community to attend the film, 2) organizing food sampling, local area speakers, etc., as approved by VegFund, 3) attending the film to introduce it to the audience and tell them why you are hosting the film, and 4) raising awareness of VegFund’s grant opportunities.

If this new partnership model shows promise, VegFund will develop a screening toolkit in the near future to make the process as effortless as possible!

Choose a film. Take action!

You can still apply for traditional screening grants through our standard process for any film that may be of interest to your community, including The Last Pig or Eating You Alive. But, if you’re interested in hosting a larger public screening at an independent theater of one of these new documentary films and need support finding a venue and working with the distributor (and having those items paid for by VegFund in advance), we are here to help!

As a vegan activist, you are at the core of VegFund’s vision to create a compassionate vegan world. So, what are you waiting for? Educate and entertain the public. Change the world. Apply to host a screening in your area!

Stay in touch — tell us about your next screening event!

*relative to popularity, most effective, and recommended.

VegFund Sees Green as the New Black for Microfinance

Moving clients to plant-based diets to enhance institutional profitability and leading a more comprehensive practice of responsible finance

By Leslie Barcus, VegFund Executive Director

Microfinance conference

The Microfinance Centre of Poland (MFC) invited VegFund to serve on two panels, one on Pushing the Boundaries of Responsible Finance: Lean, Green and Mean(ingful) and another on The Impact of Animal Agriculture Microfinance on Customers’ Health and Well-being as a part of the MFC 2014 Annual Microfinance Conference held recently in Istanbul.

Sponsored by VegFund, Dr. Richard Oppenlander, Founder of Inspiring Awareness Now and a noted author on promoting plant-based foods, addressed the ills and negative externalities resulting worldwide from animal agriculture. He spoke about the attribution of animal agriculture to global soil depletion, water overuse, land scarcity, pollution and the devastation to human communities of climate change.

Microfinance clients represent some of those people most deprived of clean and adequate water and access to land and are at risk of the loss of their homes and assets resulting from natural emergencies driven by climate change. They equally represent the estimated 800 million people who go hungry each and every day.

Jakub Sobiecki, a nutritionist and dietician from Poland and a second panelist sponsored by VegFund, noted the link between the increased consumption of animal fats in the developing world and the rise of chronic disease and related deaths from diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The global microfinance community is dedicated to closing the financial inclusion gap across the developing world where the increase in the current global demand for meat and dairy is anticipated to rise by 80 percent in the coming years. The irony is that the developing world may effectively eat its financial and economic advances into yet greater problems of climate change, pollution, flooding, fresh water shortages, greater food insecurity and income vulnerability owing to poor diets.

Grappling with these challenges will bring greater financial and personal vulnerability to microfinance households. That, in turn, spells problems for risk management and financial performance for microfinance institutions. The potential for these scenarios suggests that the notion of responsible finance should include the care of the microfinance community for the well-being of clients and the environment as microfinance institutions reach for financial sustainability.

Aspiring to serve millions of low-income households around the world, those professionals working for financial inclusion have a unique opportunity to lead in the development of responsible and ethical finance through the redirection of feeding the planet with plant-based foods.

A healthier client base will translate into a lower rate incidence of illness, less vulnerability to household loss of income and less risk of loss for microfinance institutions.

The microfinance community can boost clients’ assets by helping people feed themselves more food with the input of fewer already scarce resources. Plant-based foods produce tens of pounds more food using less water and less land compared to non-vegan foods, and plants are significantly less polluting.

Promoting health, abundance and environmental sustainability for the world’s vulnerable poor is the essence of true sustainability and responsible finance.

Veganism and the Environment

Corey Wrenn, VegFund’s Spring 2013 intern, summarizes the latest research on the negative environmental impacts of animal agriculture as well as the environmental benefits of vegan diets. 

While most individuals tend to go vegan due to ethical concerns for other animals or for their personal health, the heavy impact Nonhuman Animal products have on the environment is another important motivator (Fox and Ward 2008). According to the United Nations, Nonhuman Animal agriculture has been a primary contributor to the following environmental degradations:

  • Desertification
  • Deforestation
  • Rising temperatures
  • Rising sea levels
  • Melting icecaps
  • Water scarcity and depletion
  • Water pollution and eutrophication
  • Land erosion and sedimentation
  • Reduced biodiversity
  • Introduction of non-native species
  • Release of antibiotics, hormones, and ectoparasitides
  • Release of antibiotic-resistant and pathogenic bacteria
  • Release and accumulation of heavy metals and organic pollutants
  • Increased disease risk

In 2006, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States conducted a report warning that present levels of livestock production are unsustainable and were responsible for as much as 18% of greenhouse gas emissions (Steinfeld et al. 2006). However, a more recent World Watch report, found that Nonhuman Animal agriculture was actually responsible for as much as 51% of those emissions (Goodland and Anhang 2009).

Research also abounds that recognizes the importance of vegan eating in relieving environmental strains. A recent analysis of seventh day Adventists found that those ascribing to the vegan diet had a 42% lower contribution to greenhouse gas emissions than respondents who consumed the standard American diet based on Nonhuman Animal products (Soret 2013, Watson 2013). Another report calculated the impact of various diets and found that the vegan diet could reduce an individual’s environmental impact by as much as 66% (Baroni et al. 2007).

A plant-based diet is also found to reduce water consumption by 54% (compared to only 35% savings with efficient water fixtures) (Marlow et al. 2009).  Another report suggests that vegan eating can reduce an individual’s contribution to carbon dioxide emissions by about 701kg annually (Eshel and Martin 2006). Finally, vegan diets have been found to be the most resource efficient. For instance, the grain used to feed livestock in America alone could feed 840 million vegans (Pimentel 2004).

For even more facts and figures, visit the For the Planet section of the VegFund website.

References

Baroni, L., L. Cenci, M. Tettamanti, and M. Berati.  2007. “Evaluating the Environmental Impact of Various Dietary Patterns Combined with Different Food Production Systems.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 61: 279-286.

Eshel, G. and P. Martin. 2006. “Diet, Energy, and Global Warming.” Earth Interactions 10 (1): 1-17.

Fox, N. and K. Ward. 2008. “Health, Ethics and Environment: A Qualitative study of Vegetarian Motivations.” Appetite 50 (2-3): 422-429.

Goodland, R. and J. Anhang.  2009. “Livestock and Climate Change: What if the Key Actors in Climate Change are Cows, Pigs, and Chickens?” World Watch, November/December.

Marlow, H. et al. 2009. “Diet and the Environment: Does What You Eat Matter?” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 89 (5): 1699-1703.

Pimentel, D. 2004. “Ethical Issues of Global Corporatization: Agriculture and Beyond.” Poultry Science 83 (3): 321-329.

Soret, S. 2013. “Evaluating the Global Warming Mitigation Potential of Healthy Vegetarian Dietary Patterns.” Symposium: Efficiency and Environmental Aspects of Meatless Diets. The 6th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition. Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA.

Steinfeld, H. et al. 2006. Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Watson, E. 2013. “Environmental Footprint of Vegan and Vegetarian Diets 30% Lower Than Non-Vegetarian Diets, Says Researchers: ‘We Have to Drastically Cut Consumption of Meat and Dairy.’” FOOD Navigator-usa.

Make Every Day Earth Day: Tips on Eco-Friendly Activism

By Elana Kirshenbaum, VegFund’s fall 2012 intern

For many activists, veganism is a way of life that extends far beyond our food choices. It’s a philosophy of living that embraces compassion and reverence for all species. And since we have reverence for all species, it’s important to consider how our choices impact the planet we share. When buying materials for events, concerns of price are always a factor, but what about the costs to the air, forests, rivers, oceans and wildlife caused by sourcing ingredients and manufacturing? For example, one of the materials you may be using regularly during food sampling events is plastic. While convenient and cheap, our modern dependence on plastic is devastatingly harmful to the oceans and many species. When event items are thrown away throughout the day and during cleanup, do we stop and consider where it goes? While it certainly can be overwhelming to gauge the best ways to minimize our environmental impact, here are some tips to get you started and help make your activism kinder to the earth and all beings.

Bring Your Bags: When shopping for food sampling events, bring your reusable bags.  Store them in your car or leave them in a visible place near your door so you don’t forget them. If you don’t have any, they can be purchased inexpensively at many supermarkets. Natural foods markets and online sources sell bags made from recycled fibers like Chico Bags that easily stash into a small pouch. In addition, many organizations give reusable bags away to promote their business or cause, and friends may have extra bags that they would be happy to give you.

Easy on Earth Set Up & Storage: Reusable tablecloths will spruce up your display, keep trash out of the landfills, and reduce our reliance on disposable plastic or paper tablecloths. In addition, reusable storage containers (e.g., used boxes, large canvas bags, recycled content plastic bins) can be used to neatly store cutting boards, knives, literature, etc.

Trade in the Plastic: Food samples that can be eaten without plastic utensils reduce the garbage produced and potential for plastics to get into the ocean. Quartered sandwiches, ice cream sandwiches, and dips/spreads with crackers etc. are great because people can eat them without utensils. Other bite-sized samples can be held together with toothpicks. For scooping, earth friendly wooden taster spoons work well. If you are serving soy milk samples in small cups, or need small plates for food samples, consider post-consumer paper goods or bio-plastics made from wheat, corn, or other starches that claim to biodegrade more quickly. These can be purchased easily online and you can save money by buying in bulk from online sources such as Green Home and Eco Products where shipping is typically free. Buying in bulk also saves time as it allows you to have materials in stock for future events

Choose to Reuse: When serving food, consider using serving utensils, platters, trays, and bowls that can be washed and used repeatedly.  While VegFund is typically unable to reimburse for these items, they can be purchased inexpensively at discount or thrift stores and yard sales. Even better, you may already have some items at home that you don’t use or don’t want anymore. These items can become dedicated outreach-ware!

Clean Up With Kindness: Reusable cloth towels to wipe down your table and keep your area clean can be laundered with other items and save money long term. A spray bottle with one-part vinegar and one-part water is a great homemade non-toxic, inexpensive cleaner to keep on hand as necessary. Garbage can be placed in plastic bags made from 100% recycled plastic which are readily available in many natural foods stores and online. Just make sure that the bag is tied securely when full to prevent garbage from escaping.

Seek Donations and Older Models: Technology is changing fast and many people are frequently upgrading to the latest equipment, and plenty of perfectly fine but used equipment is trashing the earth. Some local companies or friends may be happy to donate laptops that they no longer want. If you are interested in doing pay per view events, consider seeking a donation or buying used laptops or other electronic equipment on Ebay, Craigslist, or Used Laptops to help ease the electronic pollution burden on earth.

What is Your Paper Trail?  As we all know, paper comes from trees, yet half of all the world’s forests have been cleared or burned already. For event flyers, brochures, recipe cards, and signs, invest in paper that has a 100% post consumer recycled content which harms less wildlife habitat. Soy and vegetable based inks are less polluting and there are more and more printing companies adhering to greener principles. To learn how to save money, the article, A Nonprofits’ Guide to Green Printing offers great information, tips, resources and ways to save money on earth friendlier printing. If serving food, napkins and paper towels made from post consumer fibers and no chlorine bleaching as whitening agents are readily available. They can be purchased in bulk online and in natural foods stores.

Through the materials we use, there are many ways to show reverence for the earth and all living beings. When planning future events, ask yourself the following three questions before making a purchase:

  1. Do we really need this particular product? 
  2. How does this product impact the earth, people, and other species?
  3. Can we find less harmful alternatives?

These questions can go a long way toward shifting our perspective and developing creative solutions. If you have additional suggestions, resources, or ideas on making activism more earth-friendly, we welcome your comments!