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By Frank Molteno, OWL

factory-farmsThe burgeoning demands of human society is drowning out the voices of our fellow creatures as they cry for mercy in the face of every sort of cruelty, neglect and destruction of their habitats and homes.  Yet all of the world religions, to one of which the great majority of us belong, subscribe to some or other version of the Golden Rule that we should not treat others in ways that we would not want to be treated by them.

At this time of every year, with World Day for Farmed Animals on 2nd October and World Animal Day on 4th October, which is also celebrated in the Christian tradition as the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, patron Saint of animals, we renew our awareness of the plight of our fellow creatures and we redouble our prayers for them and for a world that is fairer and kinder for all living beings.  

We re-commit to exposing the needless suffering and death of sentient animals raised and killed for human consumption only. Did you know that every year in South Africa . . .

  • 2.9 million cattle and calves, 6.8 million sheep, lambs and goats, 2.8 million young pigs, 1 billion broiler (meat) chickens and 350,000 ostriches are slaughtered?
  • 600,000 cows produce 3 billion litres of milk?
  • 24 million laying hens are confined in battery cages at any given time?
  • And some 24 million male chicks –  considered wasteful by-products by the poultry industry – are ‘destroyed’ each year, most of them ground up alive?


Most of these animals (with the exception of sheep and ostriches) are raised on factory farms, where they cannot live out their natural behaviours and are instead confined, mutilated and raised to grow so large, so quickly, that they literally suffer to death.

Our vision is of a kinder, more compassionate world where animals are no longer seen as commodities, raised for their flesh and by-products, tortured and degraded to perform for ‘entertainment’, hunted and killed for ‘sport’, and goaded into fighting one another to the death as a spectacle and object of gambling.

happy-animalsEach and every one of us can be a compassionate voice for animals.  We can be part of the groundswell of people who are living their lives in solidarity with our fellow creatures, committed to making a positive difference for them and helping to make the world a more just place for all of them as well as for all of us humans.

If the prospect of trying to conscientise, inform and mobilise your faith community, as individuals and collectively, to make a difference for animals, seems a little daunting, SAFCEI’s One Web of Life (OWL) programme is available to assist.

One of the first steps that you and your faith community could consider, is to become a Green Monday partner with SAFCEI.  The Green Monday movement encourages people to make more and more of their diet plant-based.  Shifting to a diet of more plant-based food helps reduce the demand for farmed animal products and will, over time, spare more and more of our fellow creatures as well as the Earth, as factory farming is a large contributor to deforestation, greenhouse gases and water wastage.

We can all start by committing to eating only plant-based foods on Mondays – or any other day or days of the week.  To become a SAFCEI Green Monday Partner, a congregation or faith community commits to a few further simple actions:

  1. To distribute copies of the SAFCEI Green Monday pamphlet and recipe book;
  2. To make at least 50% of dishes served at your events plant-based;
  3. To promote ‘green eating’ to your congregation at least once a month;
  4. To hold one fully plant-based event each year.

In fulfilling these commitments, OWL and other Green Monday Partners will be alongside to assist and support.

Currently OWL is working on two other campaigns that you are also encouraged to support:

  • The campaign to persuade McDonald’s to follow some of its international counterparts and adopt a policy of cage-free eggs. If you haven’t already signed the online petition, please go to and sign now.  Then inspire your fellow faithful, family, friends, colleagues and neighbours to do likewise.
  • The Compassion for Pigs campaign to draw attention to the extreme cruelty suffered by almost all the pigs in South Africa that end up in one form or another on people’s plates. Do you know. . .
    • That female pigs (sows) are tightly confined in a metal ‘crate’ for most of their lives, unable to express basic behaviours; they cannot even turn around.
    • That once they give birth, sows are moved to farrowing crates, where a sow is again so tightly confined that she cannot turn even to see her young.
    • That at some abattoirs in South Africa, pigs are asphyxiated with CO2 gas as part of the slaughter process during which they experience extreme terror and distress.
    • That male piglets are routinely castrated and have their tails sliced off (‘docked’) without pain relief.

Speak up for pigs who cannot speak for themselves and communicate to the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO) your rejection of these cruel practices by making Christmas 2016 pork-free.

As people of many faiths, we are aware of the diversity of each other’s respective beliefs and practices.  At the same time, we are drawn together by our shared commitment to peace, mercy and compassion.

We have named our species ‘homo sapiens’, in Latin ‘wise man’.  Let us live up to our species name and act with wisdom.

We call ourselves human.  Let us live up to our name and be humane towards not only each other as humans but towards our fellow species. 

We refer to ourselves as humankind.  We are human – let us also be kind.

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