Aiiiight fellow Vegangstaz!
Time to do a post on one of my favourite charities, who are sadly largely unheard of.
Vegfam was formed in 1963 by Chris and Janet Aldous, and the premise is simple. I’m sure most people reading this will have heard of Oxfam – a charity that deals primarily with poverty and the host of problems that it brings with it in the Third World, and are particularly noted for their work in famine relief. Now, Vegfam, as the name may suggest to you, works in very similar fields. However, Chris and Janet Aldous supported Oxfam‘s ideas but found the use of animal food sources to clash with their vegan ethics. So, upon this basis, they formed Vegfam and collected their first donations, which were used to finance vegetable food production in areas of the Middle East.
The organisation works by using funding to either follow its own projects or support collaboration projects between various charities (ensuring that the collaboration projects suit the standards of being vegan-based, or ensuring that Vegfam‘s portion of the funding for such a project is used exclusively in vegan-based food production). Vegfam has also been heavily involved in water aid, and to a small extent in providing clean fuel and efficient energy utilisation (such as efficient cooking apparatus). Their projects rest on a basis of practicality combined with sustainability. As the Vegfam website states, they provide and “fund ethically sound plant-food projects, which do not exploit animals or the environment: seeds and tools for vegetable growing, fruit and nut tree planting, irrigation and water wells. Also, emergency feeding in times of crisis.”
Their work also extends to trying to persuade other well-meaning charities that animal food production is not necessarily the most efficient way forward when it comes to solving the hunger issues of the Third World, and allegedly more and more charities are beginning to realise this and are moving onto more vegan-based projects.
It’s tempting to look at the ideas of Vegfam and view them negatively as our own Western ethics of veganism interfering with famine relief, but this is not what Vegfam is about. There is no denying that the Western diet has proven to be a disaster ecologically. Vegfam‘s intention (and they are one of only a few charities doing this) is to prevent the Third World from slipping into the same traps that our modern diet has, creating a whirlwind of unsustainability. So, if you are even remotely interested in environmentaism and sustainability then Vegfam‘s ideas should be of interest, regardless of whether you follow veganism/vegetarianism.
It is also important to note that Vegfam ensures that an exceptional amount of a donation goes to actually funding relief projects. They are proud that 90% of a donation will go directly to funding relief, which is very high for the charity industry. Oxfam, the organisation Vegfam is obviously based on, send just under 80% to relief projects, whilst some charities are even less efficient, wasting up to 25% of their money on admin costs, rewarding their CEOs, and other unnecessary pay outs.
Have a look at Vegfam‘s website – http://www.vegfamcharity.org.uk. They aren’t shy of highlighting exactly what they’ve spent and where, listing all their projects over the past few years. And perhaps if you’re feeling generous, you may feel like sending them a donation whilst you’re at it.
For a little more insight into Vegfam also check out this interview with one of the trustees – it’s pretty old but useful nonetheless – http://www.veganviews.org.uk/vv67/vv67vegfam.html