A growing body of evidence tells us that animal agriculture is a primary threat to world wildlife survival. Vast tracts of forests are cleared for beef cattle grazing and to grow feed crops like soy and corn – making beef the biggest deforestation driver in the world. Almost 4 million hectares of South American rainforests disappear each year. In the United States, nearly half the landmass of the lower 48 states – 149 million acres – is used to grow feed for food animals, resulting in significant habitat loss. Additionally, some 3 million wild animals, including threatened and endangered species, are killed each year by the USDA Wildlife Services, a federal agency whose goal is to destroy wildlife that is deemed a threat to animal agriculture. More details here.
In light of all this, I am particularly proud that one of the two largest initiatives of the Gregory J. Reiter Memorial Fund is a partnership with Food for Thought – a North America-wide program of Animal Place, the California organization that inspired Greg and me to become vegetarian and then ultimately vegan.
The Food for Thought program provides resources to help organizations adopt vegan or vegetarian menu policies for their events.
In the first months after Greg’s death, I contemplated how I might best honor his legacy – combining his commitment to veganism, animals, and the environment. Brainstorming with the Animal Place team, the answer became clear: through the Greg Fund, I would help the Food for Thought program expand from its initial focus on animal shelters to also support wildlife and environmental organizations.
In 2016, the Fund made an initial grant to support targeted information and outreach to these organizations. Then in 2017, the Fund made an additional contribution specifically to provide one-time recognition grants to wildlife or environmental organizations that newly adopt vegan or vegetarian menu policies.
As of today, 27 North American wildlife organizations have signed up as formal endorsers or supporters of the Food for Thought program, along with eight environmental organizations. These and other groups have shared their sample vegan or vegetarian menu policies via the Food for Thought website.
Also, in the second quarter of 2017, Food for Thought awarded the first four grants through the Fund to wildlife organizations that newly adopted vegan or vegetarian menu policies for their events:
- Animal Help Now (Boulder, CO, USA)
- Colorado Native Bird Care and Conservation (Lyons, CO, USA)
- Fauna Foundation (Carignan, Québec, Canada)
- Wildcare (San Rafael, CA, USA)
Through the Greg Fund, I look forward to continuing to work with Food for Thought to help many more wildlife and environmental organizations adopt vegan menu policies for their events.