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Anyone who has ever worked for an animal-focused nonprofit knows that, in addition to amazing staff and volunteers giving their time, passion, and energy, donations are absolutely vital if any initiative for animals is to be a success. From small rescues taking in animals in need to international organizations with far-reaching programs; everyone needs to raise funds in order to do their job well.

At this time of year, as the weather is improving for those of us in the northern hemisphere, charity fundraisers and fairs are being organized to encourage people to get to know their local animal groups better and, importantly, to help them to raise much-needed funds. More often than not, the events are fun-filled family days with activities for children, arts and crafts, bake sales and a barbeque. Many of these events, as you might expect from animal NGOs, make it clear that the barbeque will be serving mouth-watering veggie burgers, delicious vegetable kebabs, and, well… no cooked animals.

But there are also a quite staggering number of organizations which happily promote their close relationship with their local butcher to encourage people to attend their events.  Promising “delicious hog roasts,” “chicken barbeque dinners” and “pulled pork barbeques” – meat is firmly on the menu at many animal fundraisers. One farm animal rescue in the UK which takes in pigs as part of its work held a fundraising barbeque in recent years and even served guests bacon sandwiches. Seriously, that happened.

Meat on the Menu at Animal Charity Fundraisers

One Green Planet spoke to two managers of animal shelters who have recently advertised barbeques for their fundraisers to see why they were not omitting meat from the menu. The first manager, who runs a dog, cat and rabbit rescue in the UK told us: “Well, we would never serve rabbit meat, obviously!” It seemed in this instance, the manager in question had simply not made the connection between the animals she considered friends and the animals she considered food.

The second manager recognized the conflict but raised concerns over visitor expectations. He told us that people go to a barbeque and expect meat. The money raised by the annual barbeque each year for this small rescue, which takes in homeless cats and dogs, makes a real difference to their ability to provide care for the animals, he told us.

While recognizing the need for vital funding for the great work these rescues do, we also know that pigs are just as intelligent as dogs and we know that young lambs and young cows need their moms just as much as those abandoned puppies and kitten that rescue centers open their doors and their hearts to every day. Importantly, we know that all of these animals – dogs, cats, lambs, cows and pigs – want to live.

8437027477_a140abeb4c_zNeil Turner/Flickr


So, is there ever any excuse for an animal charity to have meat on the menu? While recognizing that visitors may expect meat, and that bacon sandwiches and beef burgers may get people parting with their cash quicker than tofu grills and veggie kebabs, we still can’t understand how raising money for the protection of one animal should come at the cost of killing another is a justifiable action.

Embrace The Meat-Free BBQ And Inspire Supporters!

But we also don’t believe that this should sound the death knell for successful fundraising barbeques. In fact, we really believe that those people caring for abandoned animals are in a wonderful position to encourage people to try delicious plant-based options. Indeed, what better place to do that than at a fundraiser when everyone is feeling inspired and excited about the organization’s work?

Meat-free barbeques can be a match for meat grills any day and, importantly for animal rescue organizations, taking meat is off the menu helps to ensure that the hard work to help one group of animals does not cause suffering to another group of animals. It might also plant new seeds of compassion in the group’s supporters; not to mention a taste for delicious veggie and vegan foods!



There are thousands of amazing recipes on this website alone for anyone who is unsure of what to offer guests in place of meat at their charity events. For those of you organizing fundraisers and feeling daunted about tackling gourmet vegan cooking, you can simply opt for some of the great meat substitutes available. Hot “dog” sausages, meaty looking (and tasting) burgers, even vegan “chicken” are all easily accessible in most countries and, importantly, are 100 percent cruelty-free.

So, if you are planning your next fundraiser and you want to ensure that you are helping ALL animals with your efforts, please make sure meat is off the menu!

Lead image source: Hearty Lentil and Brown Rice Burger

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0 comments on “Is It Ever Okay for an Animal Welfare Organization to Serve Meat at a Fundraiser?”

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Rudy Kazudi
3 Years Ago

Marketing is key. You are not depriving them of a meat experience, you are giving them a new and delicious one.

Karin Nelson
3 Years Ago

The answer to the headline? NO, NO and NO. It is NEVER OK to kill one animal to save another. NEVER. We do not need to kill and eat animals!!

Em Miller
3 Years Ago

For petes sake, this is ridiculous. A great many ANIMALS are meat-eaters. Are you people going to serve THEM only vegan food, too? And someone put forth the *hypocrite* word..... yup, eating a vegan meal in front of animals, so to speak, then leaving the premises to go buy a burger. How many of y\'all do that? Get a life and do something that actually makes sense, why doncha?

N Kay
15 May 2015

Em, I believe it is you that\'s missing the point. Non humans who eat meat are carnivores by nature. They don\'t have a choice in the matter. Humans can choose to eat meat, or not to. I have attended Humane Society events where they made a big deal about their rescuing dogs and cats, while the attendees were dining on cows and chickens. And among the silent auction items is an excursion to kill fish . . And this seems OK to you? All animals are sentient and deserve our compassion and respect. Your suggestion that animal advocates \'get a life\' seems ironic, in light of the fact that you are promoting our consumption of death...

17 May 2015

Serving meat at a function that raises money to SAVE animal lives makes absolutely no sense, period.

Not to mention it\'s expensive. So if you\'re a nonprofit, why not make better food cheaper and leave out the meat? Win-win.

No vegans sneak off to eat meat burgers, BTW. If they wanted to eat burgers, they wouldn\'t be vegan (insert eye roll here).

Rudy Kazudi
18 Jun 2015

Em, it\'s all in the context. Serving animals at an animal rescue function would be like abusing children at an orphanage fundraiser. Not hypocrisy, just congruency.

cath ens-hurwood
3 Years Ago

Our local group decided years ago to only serve vegan food at our events. and for 13 years each spring we had our \'party for the paws\' event, which was well attended. We had a vegan buffet....we didn\'t make a big deal about it...that was the food and we did our best to make sure that delicious, well-presented items were included. Sure, we had the odd critical comment, but by far we received more positive praise. If people can\'t do without meat for one meal...something is wrong!

Virginia Greenwood-Warner
3 Years Ago

It is totally unacceptable to serve any animal product whatsoever at an event for animals. There is such a huge variety of delicious vegan food available that there are absolutely no excuses why this shouldn\'t be done.

Terry Ward
3 Years Ago

What a great idea.
Cater to two percent of the population.
Assure the other 98% they are hypocrites and should get out the animal advocacy bidness.
I swear to god you people do not have the sense you were born with.

Sue V. Grisham
12 May 2015

Years ago, a few people from my church organized a dinner/silent auction for a local wild life rehabilitator. One of the ladies was a vegetarian, and suggested that we serve vegetarian food, since we were doing a fundraiser for animals. We were all meat-eaters, but thought it was a good idea. We didn\'t mind going one meal without meat. The dinner, which was all donated dishes (like a pot luck) was $25.00 per person, where all the proceeds went to the wildlife rehabilitators. My brother thought that was a lot to have to pay for a meal that didn\'t have any meat. So I told him, it\'s a "free dinner with a $25.00 donation to the wildlife hospital". Same thing, but a reasonable donation, instead of an "overpriced" meatless meal. If people care about the cause, they don\'t need to be enticed by some item on the menu. And the food was amazing.

I personally have a hard time attending an event that helps some animals at the expense of others. And I think it\'s an inconsistent thing to do, especially if meat is the enticement that gets people to show up.

13 May 2015

Because every single meal that every single non-veg person eats HAS to have meat in it?

13 May 2015

Yet you would all happily eat a meat free meal on a normal day for a normal meal without thinking through the fact it\'s vegetarian!
Seriously, it\'s one meal or snack, if you CHOOSE to eat it.
And they are not saying everyone has to eat it, if you don\'t support equality for animals then don\'t go. If you cared about them then their wouldn\'t be a problem with not eating meat for ONE meal.

Thea Tapson
14 May 2015

Yes, this is how the article is presented. Is it okay to support animal rights while you still eat meat? Vegans do not hold the patent on concerns with animal welfare. A lot of meat eaters, including hunters, are avid supporters of welfare for animals, there is such a thing as ethical omnivores.

17 May 2015

Kinda confused here - are you against eating food that doesn\'t have meat in it? Do you HAVE to eat meat at every meal? Got something against potato salad, or macaroni salad?

Something isn\'t computing.

Marji Beach
3 Years Ago

It would be great if you mentioned (or linked) to Animal Place\'s Food for Thought campaign! Our campaign has been greatly expanded with three regional coordinators across the United States.

Our website addresses all the reasons why dog and cat shelters should adopt a plant-based or animal-friendly menu policy for their events. We also have a fabulous How-To video, featuring Jackson Galaxy (My Cat from Hell) and experts in the shelter world...all talking about their shelter\'s experience adopting an animal friendly menu policy.

This is an issue supporters of these shelters must tackle. We offer comprehensive how-to guides and will assist directly in the process, providing much needed support and expertise.

More information here: http://www.foodforthoughtcampaign.org/


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