Serving Animals to Animal Rescuers

This post is about food, while it’s aVegan MoFo post it’s also a bit of a downer. If you’re a MoFo reader and are hoping for something light and upbeat, I recommend passing on this one. It’s okay, I don’t mind.

Raelene, Corinne, and I volunteer for the Mickaboo bird rescue. It’s a great organization, and I am proud of what it does and my very small part in it. Every year Mickaboo has a holiday fundraiser. Mickaboo volunteers are distributed across the greater bay area, from Sacramento to San Francisco to Santa Cruz, and normal communication is done via email. The holiday party is the one time each year when we come together in once place and see who is behind the email addresses. That, and because it’s a fundraiser turn out our pockets and empty our wallets. 🙂

Since it’s an evening party, traditionally food is served. The first Mickaboo party Raelene and I attended, which I think was six or seven years ago, was small and the food was from CostCo style sandwich platters… which if I remember correctly contained turkey and chicken, among other things. I don’t think anyone was thinking about serving animal at an animal rescue function, but then Mickaboo was still a very young organization back then.

Mickaboo has grown considerably since then. The name Mickaboo Cockatiel Rescue was changed to Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue because we were rescuing far more than cockatiels. These days we rescue virtually any non-wild bird in need, including ducks, chickens, and bird species I never knew existed. There is even a branch of Mickaboo called MickaCoo that is dedicated to rescuing domestic (read “meat”) pigeons and doves. You can find out more about MickaCoo at The Rescue Report.

As Mickaboo grew and matured, things of course changed. A few years ago (four?), a more dedicated effort was made to have poultry free mostly vegetarian food available at the party. For most people, even for the animal rescuers who weren’t vegetarian, it made sense to not serve factory farmed birds and factory farmed eggs at a fundraiser to help save the birds. The menus also usually included fish, so they weren’t even 100% vegetarian. But the fundamental principle was, no bird served to bird rescuers. This isn’t rocket science, it’s a no brainer.

It’s amazing how many people this upsets, year after year. It happened again this  year, with individuals insisting loudly that meat, including bird, be served at the party. Their basic argument is no one can tell them what they should and should not eat, and therefore they should be allowed to have the food of their choice at a catered fundraiser. One person happily pointed out, without irony, that vegans can eat meat and  so they should be okay with eating meat once a year. Another person announced that he was going to bring meat to share despite the fact it was a catered event and not a potluck. One volunteer went as far as to say he was fine eating birds at the party as long as they weren’t birds he knew. What the f*ck? Hypocrisy aside, these people are passionate and unswerving in their belief that animals should be served at an animal rescue event. The idea of going a single meal without meat is anathema to them, they cannot deal with it. It’s amazing.

Every year, it seems like the issue gets resolved. And yet every year it comes up again, and every year volunteers quit over it. Yes, people have stopped volunteering for Mickaboo because the only meat at the holiday party was fish. People have stopped helping birds in need because they could not eat the flesh of a bird at a fundraiser. It’s mind blowing, but it’s true.

Other organizations don’t have this problem. In other rescues, it never comes up. Of course you do not serve animal to animal rescuers. How could you do anything different and still be considered an animal rescue? I have to remind myself that it’s a vocal minority that make it an issue, most of whom I personally have little respect for regardless of their food choices. My hope is that Mickaboo will make a formal policy decision and end the discussion, but who knows if and when that might happen. In the mean time, well, this is obviously something that bothers me and I wonder if it’s time for me to move on as well.

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