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Fighting World Hunger
Vegans are often the butt of every joke in pop culture, from comments on their hair and hygiene to their fondness for eating “rabbit food.” Yet, vegans are more than their food choices; veganism is a form of activism. This article will explore five vegan groups fighting world hunger.

Veganism and Global Hunger

Plants produce 9.46 quadrillion calories each year, enough to feed every human 2,700 calories a day for a year, with 2 quadrillion calories leftover. If this is the case, why do people go hungry? Unfortunately, humans only consume a little over half of these calories, with 36% going to animal feed and 9% to industry. This leaves humans with only 5.6 trillion calories — well below the amount necessary to solve world hunger. When consuming animals, a staggering 89% of calories of these plant calories disappear when humans consume animals secondarily.

Moreover, animal-based diets require 1,000% more crop growth than plant-based diets. Moving to a plant-based diet creates 70% more room to grow crops, and, even accounting for population growth, could bring an end to global hunger.

Fortunately, many activism groups are working to fight global hunger and poverty while serving healthy vegan meals. Here are five vegan groups fighting world hunger.

5 Vegan Groups Fighting World Hunger

  1. Food Not Bombs: Anti-nuclear activists founded Food Not Bombs in 1980 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their goal was to spark an anti-violence movement against war, poverty, food waste and global hunger through education, protests and providing individuals with meals from recovered food waste. The organization feeds people in 1,000 cities in 65 countries around the world. Food Not Bombs believes that food is a right, not a privilege.
  2. World Central Kitchen: World Central Kitchen uses food to empower communities and provide relief during difficult times. Jose Andrews and his wife founded the organization to cook meals, including vegan and vegetarian ones, for those suffering from hunger abroad. The organization works by giving women in other countries access to cooking supplies, training chefs in Haiti to cook and providing healthy meals to families in need. WCK does international frontline work during natural disasters, providing over 3.7 million meals to victims of Hurricane Maria in 2o17.
  3. Food Empowerment Project: Lauren Ornelas, a woman of color, founded Food Empowerment Project as a way to educate people about making ethically sustainable food choices. Among fighting for animal rights, Food Empowerment Project also fights for racial equality, poverty reduction and environmental justice. By making ethically sustainable food choices, people can prevent deaths and empower those with fewer resources. Through its website, Food Empowerment Project provides the public with education about veganism, including access to sustainable, vegan recipes.
  4. Food for Life: In 1974, the founder of Srila Prabhupada told his yoga students to begin serving food to the hungry, believing that “No one within ten miles of a temple should go hungry.” From there, his yoga students began creating food kitchens around the world, creating the basis for Food for Life. The organization aims to promote Vedic values of equality by giving vegan meals to those in need and during times of crisis. To date, volunteers have served over 6 million meals since the organization’s start, amounting to nearly 20 tons of vegan food.
  5. Vegans Against World Hunger: Helen Wright and Julian Wilkinson founded Vegans Against World Hunger in 2019 as a way to fight global poverty and hunger through vegan meals in the U.K and abroad. The nonprofit works to create food forests that provide food stability, combat deforestation and establish food banks around the globe. While it is a new organization, Vegans Against World Hunger has a bright future ahead.

These vegan groups fighting world hunger show that vegans around the world are using their plant-based diets to help solve one of the quintessential issues facing the world today: global hunger. While the transition to a completely plant-based diet brings challenges, scientists see that it could be a step forward in fighting global poverty and hunger through ethical and sustainable food choices.

Breanna Bonner
Photo: Pixabay

al otro ladoMore than 4,000 asylum seekers in Tijuana have written their names on a waitlist in hopes of presenting themselves at the U.S. port of entry. It is unclear how the list began since the U.S. government doesn’t claim jurisdiction and neither does Mexico. Regardless, the waitlists are followed and migrants’ names are slowly crossed off as they are brought to state their cases. Most asylum-seekers are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, many of whom are fleeing gang violence, political instability and extreme poverty. Al Otro Lado and other nonprofits are helping the migrant crisis.

The Migrant Crisis

Central Americans from the caravan have been labeled everything from refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants to invaders, aliens and criminals. However, despite widespread disagreement and confusion about the caravan, U.S. immigration and international laws dictate that people have the legal right to seek asylum. Asylum seekers’ have the right to present their cases to an immigration officer, but with so many asylum-seekers to process, thousands of individuals and families are left waiting in limbo.

As Policy Analyst at the American Immigration Council Aaron Reichlin-Melnick explains, “The government would argue that high [asylum] denial rates indicate they’re fraudulent asylum claims… the more likely answer is that people are genuinely afraid for their lives–they may not know the ins and outs of a complex asylum system.” For many nonprofits, the situation is clearly a refugee crisis, and they treat it like one. Since caravans began arriving at the border, humanitarian organizations have been on the ground providing shelter, medical care and legal assistance. This is one way that Al Otro Lado is helping.

Al Otro Lado

Al Otro Lado is a legal services nonprofit based in Los Angeles, San Diego and Tijuana. Over the last four months, Al Otro Lado has helped more than 2,000 migrants in Tijuana while also fighting larger battles to protect the legal rights of asylum seekers. Operating out of an Enclave Caracol, a three-story community center turned migrant shelter, Al Otro Lado provides legal orientation and know-your-rights training to asylum seekers waiting in Tijuana.

Though Al Otro Lado is focused on upholding international and U.S. law, it is not immune to the controversy and violence that has accompanied the migrant caravan. The organization and its staff have received death threats, and co-directors Erika Pineiro and Nora Phillips were detained and forced to leave Mexico in January. Still, Al Otro Lado continues their operations in Tijuana, but now they just unplug their phones between calls to cut down on the death threats.

Other Notable Organizations Helping the Migrant Crisis

  1. In April 2018, Food Not Bombs served food to migrants out of the Enclave Caracol community center. They accepted donations of food, spices and reusable plates among other items.
  2. UNICEF works with the Mexican government to provide safe drinking water and other necessities to asylum seekers. The organization also provides psychosocial services and trains authorities on child protection.
  3. Save the Children provides emergency services, legal representation, case management and works to reunite migrant families.
  4. Amnesty International, like Al Otro Lado, is concerned with upholding immigration law. The organization monitors the actions of Mexican authorities at the border and also documents the situations and conditions that migrants face.

Organizations like Al Otro Lado, Save the Children and Amnesty International see the migrant caravan as a humanitarian issue beyond party politics. They have wasted no time supporting migrants and asylum-seekers who have risked their lives journeying to the border. However, unless governments and organizations address the larger issues that led the people to leave in the first place, they will continue migrating. Faced with violence, persecution and poverty, it’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t do the same.

Kate McIntosh

Photo: Flickr