Why animal welfare is a corporate and an individual responsibility

CSR activities geared towards animal welfare can be crucial starting points towards a world where animal lives are valued and respected, while living in peaceful symbiosis with humans.

Tejashree Thatte

Sandeep Reddy

Why animal welfare is a corporate and an individual responsibility

Friday May 19, 2023,

5 min Read

The Bhimbetka cave paintings in Bhopal, dating back to approximately 30,000 years, depict humans involving animals in ritual practices and riding horseback. An analysis of the Mesopotamian civilisation shows animals being domesticated and used for meat, milk and hides.

Human dependency on animals is undisputed, but the utilisation of animals and animal products to meet capitalistic demands is increasingly detrimental to the environment and human lives. About 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 64% of total ammonia emissions are emitted by rearing livestock. Animal agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane and nitrous oxide, which are potent greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.

Although April is recognised as the designated month to promote public awareness for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, it is essential to understand that any day presents an opportunity to encourage individuals and organisations to support the well-being and safeguarding of animals.

Over the past decade, CSR trends indicate that India Inc’s philanthropic focus has primarily been on human healthcare and education, closely followed by relief work, poverty alleviation and rural development. Animal welfare, however, has conspicuously escaped this focus, even though it is listed in Section VII Part 4 of the CSR list. Less than 0.5% of available CSR funds go towards animal causes.

CSR activities geared towards animal welfare can be crucial starting points towards a world where animal lives are valued and respected, while living in peaceful symbiosis with humans. But, there are still those who ask the question - why should companies choose to prioritise animal welfare as part of their CSR initiatives over societal issues? To this, it is worth noting that most companies that prioritise animal welfare would also be prioritising social issues as part of their CSR initiatives.

A step in the right direction

Undoubtedly, there is a growing awareness among consumers and businesses about the ethical treatment of animals and the impact of animal agriculture on the environment. The increased demand for plant-based food options is an example, with many people now choosing to reduce their meat consumption or eliminate it altogether.

Many companies commit to animal welfare through ethical and sustainable sourcing and internal policies. Some also support animal welfare organisations through donations or partnerships. By prioritising animal welfare as part of their CSR strategies, such companies not only build their image as a socially responsible brand but also contribute to a more ethical and sustainable business landscape.

In India, current efforts in animal welfare through CSR initiatives include Bajaj Auto’s support in the sterilisation and vaccination of canines by aiding Canine Control and Care Trust, an animal welfare NGO in Pune. Tally Solutions aids in the renovation of animal rescue and rehabilitation centres by supporting Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA) through CSR.

Should we reconsider our choices?

Our approach towards animals needs to evolve from merely considering them as commodities, to a more empathetic one. Their treatment has a direct impact on our well-being. Choosing goods and services that either avoid animals altogether or treat them kindly, and giving to animal causes are great ways to make a difference in the world and help create a better future for our children. Healthy, well-cared-for animals are less likely to be carriers of disease and are less likely to require antibiotics, which in turn promotes human health.

Most of us do not realise the extent of animal suffering or the environmental impact caused by the goods and services we consume. We are also unaware of the alternatives that exist. There is tremendous scope for bringing down animal use in our daily lives while maintaining and even improving nutrition, taste, efficacy and functionality.

A recent trend that has been noticed is that businesses that address animal welfare increase productivity, leading to access to new markets with higher standards for their animal rearing. These businesses then become the brand of choice for a growing pool of retailers and consumers who are concerned about animal welfare. To cite an example, the plant-based leather market is projected to reach $97 million by 2027 growing at a CAGR of 7.5% from 2022 to 2027, according to a report by Research & Markets.

Growing awareness can also lead to changes in government policies and regulations as well, as lawmakers and regulators will feel increasingly pressured to address animal welfare concerns. For instance, 42 countries have passed laws to limit or ban cosmetics animal testing, including India, Australia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Iceland, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, every country in the European Union and several states in Brazil.

Additionally, focusing on animal welfare as an important CSR activity is not just beneficial for an organisation, but can also help better the mental health of employees, and make the world a more peaceful and sustainable place to live in.

The time is now ripe for businesses to work on a broad strategy and consensus to integrate animal welfare as an important part of their CSR-based activities. Concerted efforts will eventually lead to changes in consumer behaviour and business practice, yielding holistic benefits sooner rather than later. 

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)