Promoting animal welfare and conservation advocacies are often at odds regarding sustainability. The UN Sustainable Development Goals encourage everyone to create a world where “humanity lives in harmony with nature and wildlife and other living species are protected.” However, there are gaps in our understanding of the links between animal suffering and environmental harm.
Conservation advocacy means that we strive to protect the continuation of the earth’s natural processes, populations, and ecological systems. This includes addressing the issues of biodiversity. If there is a reduction in one species, it will disrupt the ecosystem and threaten other species that rely on it for food supply and survival.
Wild animal habitats are being destroyed to make space for agriculture and crop farming. When animals lose their homes, their chances of survival sharply decline because of multiple factors. Like humans, being displaced makes animals vulnerable to physical danger, disease, and starvation.
Ironically, our demand for food supply as a human species is driving wildlife to extinction. Whether we eat meat or go on a plant-based diet, the earth’s resources are limited, and we need to adopt a sustainability mindset to protect the environment.
The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) recently passed a resolution to help world leaders understand the relationship between improving animal welfare and tackling the drivers of wildlife loss, pandemic diseases, and climate change. This is a milestone achievement for animal NGOs because, for the first time, the United Nations is recognizing the potential benefits of animal welfare to solve environmental problems. Doing this unlocks investment and research towards the cause.
Most of us will not encounter a wild animal in the wild throughout our lifetimes. Their habitats are disappearing, but their healthy existence is continuously being ignored due to a lack of awareness.
To advocate for animal welfare means that we ensure a high quality of life for all animals. It’s our responsibility to be the voice for animals that can’t communicate in our language. Spending time in farms, zoos, and animal shelters can benefit our understanding of the 8.7 million species out there, even if we start with only one.
Supporting innovative food companies and eating cruelty-free products are also effective. The future of food and agriculture relies on systems that promote sustainability without causing further harm. For example, the livestock sector accounts for 14.5% of human-induced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually. Raising more animals on a farm creates more environmental problems than it solves, which is why superfood production and insect ingredient companies are growing globally.
Check the fridge – how many animal-based products do we consume regularly? Are sustainable alternatives like oat milk and local eggs readily available? We don’t have to be vegans to start promoting animal welfare. We just have to start making more mindful decisions like where we buy our food and who manufactures them. A sustainable approach to caring for animals is more accessible than we think.