April 22, 2011
HSI Workshops Bring Together Hundreds in Brazil
HSI workshops in Rio and Recife raise awareness about the impacts of industrialized animal agriculture in Brazil
This past March, more than 200 environmental, animal welfare, public health, and human rights advocates came together in Rio de Janeiro and Recife for HSI-sponsored workshops on factory farming. The aim of these workshops was to raise awareness about the environmental and social impacts of factory faming, both at a national and global level, and to discuss collective efforts to address this issue in Brazil.
The speakers included Leslie Tavares, representative of the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) and former coordinator of the “Operação Boi Pirata” (Illegal Cattle Operation) in the Amazon, who explained that "the production of soy for animal feed and the clearing of forests for cattle pastures have been the two greatest challenges to containing illegal Amazon deforestation." Tavares stressed that, while regulation and law enforcement are important in slowing deforestation, we will not see a long-term solution if we all do not become more conscientious consumers.
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Guilherme Carvalho, HSI's campaign manager in Brazil, also encouraged more conscientious consumption. Speaking on the animal welfare impacts of factory farming, he exposed the routine cruelty to which laying hens and breeding sows are subjected on factory farms. The majority of egg-laying hens in Brazil are nearly immobilized in battery cages, and most pregnant sows spend their entire 114-day pregnancies confined in gestation crates that prevent them from walking or even turning around. Carvalho emphasized that "just like cats and dogs, farm animals are able to suffer and deserve our respect. By both switching to higher welfare products, such as cage-free eggs and crate-free pork, and reducing our consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy, each of us can help animals and the environment."
Dr. Eric Slywitch, health director at the Brazilian Vegetarian Society, discussed the health benefits of a plant-based diet and highlighted that “scientific evidence shows that meat-centric diets increase the risk of the most important non-transmittable chronic diseases, such as cancers, heart diseases, and diabetes.”
At the end of the workshops, attendees participated in group discussions and debates on how to most effectively fight factory farming both in their own communities as well as on a national scale. “Only by coming together can we really raise awareness about this issue. I really enjoyed the workshop and I plan on taking part in this cause,” said Alexandra Vasconcelos, a government official in Recife. HSI hosted a similar workshop last year in São Paulo and will continue offering such events in cities throughout Brazil, with the aim of raising awareness and empowering Brazilians to join the worldwide movement against factory farming.