Today, November 1, is World Vegan Day. The event was established in 1994 by Louise Wallis, then Chair of The Vegan Society in the United Kingdom, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the organization and the coining of the terms “vegan” and “veganism”. This year, we are proud to celebrate World Vegan Day by marking the fourth year of our committed giving program to support animal advocacy and farmed animal protection efforts as a core focus of the company’s activism.
Since 2014, Dr. Bronner’s has run a dedicated philanthropy program to support organizations and efforts that are working to expose and reduce the suffering of animals while advocating for healthier and more sustainable food systems. This commitment is made alongside institutional support of causes such as fair trade, regenerative organic agriculture, drug policy reform, and wage equality. By the end of 2017, Dr. Bronner’s will have donated more than $600,000, totaling over 1.4 million in the last 4 years given to animal advocacy causes.
Our CEO David Bronner explains his motivations for engaging the company in this important work this way:
“When I chose to adopt a vegan diet over 20 years ago, I concluded that though I have the capacity to forget, shut down, and not care about my consumption choices, I want to live in compassionate alignment with the vision that what we choose to eat matters. Now, many years later, I’m proud that my family is committing resources over the long-term to take on the terrible plight of factory farmed animals and to promote more compassionate and sustainable dietary choices.”
Our goal is to support organizations and efforts that are smart, strategic and passionate — and ideally ones that are filling a void by taking an approach or tackling a specific angle that other, often better funded, groups aren’t. We choose to work with those who fight to achieve real change and who ultimately, do. Our partners win: from transforming eating habits to exposing abuses on factory farms to changing corporate policy and enacting legislation to rescuing animals and saving lives. It is important for us to support a broad and diverse range of organizations, from the seemingly radical and grassroots to the more conventional and mainstream. Our approach is based on building relationships with key leaders, organizers and advocates within those organizations, making sure we engage as partners in the work and not only write checks.
Because we are concerned with advancing broad progressive change for social justice and environmental sustainability we strive to work with groups who hold intersectional perspectives and approaches. We give priority to groups who are mindful of other issues we work on, such as climate change, regenerative organic agriculture, fair trade, and wage equality. We choose to spread resources to groups working on differing scales and who are serving diverse communities.
Overall, our animal advocacy donations are made with the following goals in mind:
1. Demonstrate Dr. Bronner’s commitment to supporting the animal rights movement, in particular: farm animal protection efforts, meat reduction, and vegetarian / vegan advocacy.
2. Support innovative and high impact work to improve animal welfare policy and practices; advance protection efforts for farmed animals; expand the market for plant based alternatives to meat and dairy, and promote vegetarian and vegan diets.
3. Cultivate relationships across the spectrum of the animal rights and animal protection movement – especially among the most effective and strategic organizations and activists.
4. Increase the resources available to animal advocates, especially under-funded organizations and efforts, and nurture the growth of the movement.
5. Model an example of a successful business that uses its resources and influence to change consumption habits and thereby make a positive impact on human health, the environment, and the well being of animals.
Support Across the Movement
In 2017, Dr. Bronner’s made donations to a variety of highly effective organizations and initiatives across five designated giving categories determined by donation levels and operational focus. These areas of focus range from our core objective to fuel and sustain large national and international organizations, to providing fire power to mid-size organizations and seeding small start-ups, volunteer-led efforts, and other emerging initiatives that otherwise have limited or no access to funding. This model enables us to take a holistic approach to our animal advocacy support while also modeling an effective, digestible, and concrete strategy for supporting the movement in a profound way.
Core Partners ($25,000-$100,000): Compassion Over Killing, Good Food Institute, Humane Society of the United States, and Plant Based Foods Association.
International Allies ($50,000-$100,000): Compassion in World Farming USA & Global, Sea Shepherd USA & Global.
Grassroots ($10,000): Factory Farming Awareness Coalition, The Humane League, Mercy for Animals, and Vegan Outreach.
Movement Builders ($5,000-$10,000): Black Vegans Rock, Gentle Barn, Our Hen House, PETA, Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, Sistah Vegan Project, and VINE Sanctuary.
Films and Education: At the Fork, Eating Animals via support for Farm Forward, Running for Good and Vegan Advocacy Initiative.
In addition to financial donations, the company has donated its soaps and other products to support vegetarian and vegan festivals, educational events, fundraisers, animal sanctuaries, and direct action campaigns across the country and around the globe throughout the year.
Josh Balk, Vice President of Farm Animal Protection at the Humane Society of the United States had this to say about our work:
“Dr. Bronner’s has a holistic approach when it comes to addressing the horrors of factory farming, which is a major reason why its philanthropy is so unique. Whether it’s plant-based food advocacy, legislative wins to ban the worst practices, or working with major corporations on policies to eliminate factory farm products, all are necessary to create the type of world where society views farm animals with mercy and respect, rather than inanimate objects to be used as we wish, Dr. Bronner’s backs all these effective approaches to ensure numerous paths to a humane society are pursued, including efforts that have tremendous opposition from multi-billion dollar agribusiness interests. The animal movement knows Dr. Bronner’s has its back and more importantly, the animals have a powerful partner on their side.”
Support of Farm Forward and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals
This year we are especially proud to note our continued support of Farm Forward. The organization supports advocacy around the New York Times best-selling book Eating Animals, which has been adapted into a documentary produced by Academy Award winning actress Natalie Portman and directed by Christopher Quinn, the award-winning director of God Grew Tired of Us. The film premiered at the Telluride film festival this past September. Farm Forward collaborated extensively with board member and author, Jonathan Safran Foer, for three years while he wrote Eating Animals and is planning to organize advocacy around the film. Just like Foer’s book, the documentary uses a combination of humor, adventure, muckraking, and memoir to explore the realities of contemporary animal agriculture alongside the complexities of food ethics.
Aaron Gross, Founder and CEO of Farm Forward recently shared a reflection on our partnership.
“We’re incredibly grateful for Dr. Bronner’s generosity and commitment to an ethical, just, and sustainable food system. Eating Animals has galvanized resistance to factory farming like no other work. With the support of Dr. Bronner’s, Farm Forward and other animal advocates are able to leverage the book and ultimately the film in tremendous ways.”
Launch of Sea Shepherd Germany’s First Ship
This year Dr. Bronner’s expanded its support of Sea Shepherd to purchase Sea Shepherd Germany’s first vessel, the MV Emanuel Bronner. Dr. Bronner’s donated the ship to support the organization’s efforts to defend wildlife in the Baltic Sea. Earlier this year, Dr. Bronner’s published a blog post and a video entitled Protect Our Oceans, detailing the partnership.
In the blog post, Michael Bronner, David’s brother, and Dr. Bronner’s President, explained the unique partnership:
“On June 1, I brought my family to Bremen, Germany, where Sea Shepherd Germany’s first ship, the MV Emanuel Bronner, was unveiled. The more I’ve gotten to know the amazing individuals involved in this organization, the more I’ve come to believe the soul and mission of Dr. Bronner’s and Sea Shepherd is “All-One”! Motivated by a mutual concern and compassion for the environment and wildlife, both organizations hold a deep belief in the power and responsibility of individuals to take direct action to right the wrongs of the world.”
Read the blog and watch the video here.
Bridging Animal Protection and Regenerative Organic Agriculture to Fight Climate Change
This year, our company also supported a variety of organizations and efforts working to promote regenerative organic agriculture to increase soil health and mitigate climate change. In particular, Dr. Bronner’s believes in promoting the farming and ranching of only grass-fed and pasture-raised animals as an alternative to horrific factory farming practices.
To this end, the company supports advocacy promoting the consumption of much less and much more humanely sourced meat, raised to high-bar pasture-raised animal welfare standards.
In our press release this week David Bronner explained our holistic stance:
“Dr. Bronner’s is particularly keen to help power and coordinate the animal protection and regenerative organic movements, in their mutual aim to end the horribly cruel and unsustainable factory farming of animals, fed by monoculture deserts of carbon and water-intensive grain. One-third of the Earth’s land surface is covered in arable farm and range land. Regenerative practices can restore soil health and organic matter relatively quickly, and coupled with a global commitment to eating much less but much more humane, sustainable, and pasture-raised animal products, can also significantly mitigate climate change.”
As part of the company’s efforts to support advocacy of regenerative organic agriculture, Dr. Bronner’s helped develop the first comprehensive Regenerative Organic Certified standard based on three pillars: soil health, social fairness, and pasture-based animal welfare. To complement the promotion of the book and film, Eating Animals, the company is also promoting Kiss the Ground, a new book and film from Josh Tickell, on the benefits of regenerative agriculture. David Bronner’s manifesto on the growing regenerative organic agriculture movement, “Regenetarians Unite!”
I feel honored to work for a company whose motto of “All-One” is backed up by a coherent strategy and plan of action to, as outlined in Dr. Bronner’s Cosmic Principles, “Be an engine for positive change—share profits, share talent, share muscle, share voice—give & give, fund & fight!”
Further, it’s Dr. Bronner’s customers around the world who make these donations possible by purchasing our products, without whom there would be no profits to share with these worthwhile and righteous causes. Thanks for helping Dr. Bronner’s stand up for animals and for supporting the fight against factory farming!