How to Feed the Hungry and Help Animals


I was asked a dozen times by store clerks over November and December if I wanted to donate money to provide a holiday meal for a poor family. It tugged at my heart strings to think of people being hungry on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I didn’t donate because I knew the meals wouldn’t be vegan.

I’m sure that there are many who disagree with my choice. Those who believe that the lives of people are more important than the lives of animals and thus that it was callous of me not to donate. There are people who might even shame me with the question, “Don’t you even care about starving children?”

I understand this position (for gosh sakes, I’ve been there!), but my perspective has shifted. I have more respect for animals now, and I do not want to take their lives even to feed starving children. Besides, it isn’t necessary. I can help feed starving children AND respect animals (not to mention help the environment) by giving poor people free vegan food.

This thought made me fantasize about starting a non profit that feeds needy people plant-based meals. I romanticized about this for days and went on and on to my husband about my plans. At some point, my down-to-earth better half interrupted me and said, “Maybe you should see if something like that already exists before you go any further.”

My husband was right, so I did some research and found out that such a thing does exist. Food Not Bombs is a worldwide movement that shares free vegetarian food with hungry people while also protesting war and poverty. What’s more, there’s already a chapter close to where I live.

Phew! I don’t know that I had it in me to start a non-profit anyway. Helping out an existing one sounds a lot easier.


One of my readers, Mychael, shared in a comment that Food Not Bombs is not strictly a vegan organization. Mychael says, “I checked out Food Not Bombs, and it appears that while they try to be vegan, they are really not. As you and I both know, there is as much pain and suffering in a piece of cheese as in a hamburger, perhaps more.”

Thanks for sharing this Mychael! It’s something to think about.

I also recently read Facts About Hunger and How You Can Help that I found interesting.

Photo courtesy of

About celestedimilla

Hey there. I’m Celeste, California girl, writer, psychotherapist and burgeoning plant-based foodie.
This entry was posted in Animal Welfare, Daily Life, Resources and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to How to Feed the Hungry and Help Animals

  1. mllaurie says:

    I absolutely agree, and have been in similar situations, and like you, have refused to donate for that same reason. I’m so glad there’s a movement that is feeding the hungry without killing animals; off to check them out…thanks for posting this!

  2. Poppy says:

    I’m glad you found Food Not Bombs. I love the charity VegFam who supports plant based projects in the underdeveloped world. There’s a great list of similar organisations here too;

    • Thanks for the link Poppy! I checked it out and am so happy to see that several organizations are helping the poor in a cruelty free way. VegFarm looks like an awesome organization!!

      Hope all is well in your neck of the woods Poppy. I know school can be stressful – I remember those days! Celeste 🙂

      • Poppy says:

        Another one I support is HIPPO (Help International Plant Protein Organisation);

        It is so great that these organisations exist. Sadly I have had to witness the use of animals for meat in the developing world and it’s not a pleasant sight. So, it’s great that there are people out there showing that poverty isn’t a reason to make it OK and that in fact there would be less hunger in the world if all were vege! The amount of mouths the soy and grain fed to livestock could feed in comparison to how many the animal would feed is a lot more!

        All is mainly well here in Kent thank you Celeste. Thank you for asking. My adopted dad was diagnosed with throat cancer over Christmas but I am hopeful that it is caught in time! School is stressful but I love it all the same!

        I hope things are good with you too. Hugs to Mambo!

        Poppy 😀

    • Sorry to hear about your adopted dad Poppy – that’s rough. I’ll keep him in my thoughts. Celeste 🙂

  3. ahealthybean says:

    I have a similar issue with donating to one particular charity in Australia… while I acknowledge that they do a lot of wonderful work, I cannot conscionably donate to a charity with a drug program and political lobby (“no tolerance”) that I strongly believe is counter productive. I have similar issues with some international charities that strongly push their religion when I feel that a true mission would be to provide support irrespective of faith.
    Strangely enough, as a vegetarian for 17 years, I’ve never even considered that the money I do donate to food relief charities will probably go towards meat! Hmm, your post has provoked some naval gazing – thanks!
    PS Awesome that Food Not Bombs is local to you!

    • What a thoughtful comment! And don’t feel bad that the money you donate to food relief charities may go towards meat, I only made the connection because I was asked to give money for a Thanksgiving turkey. It’s wonderful that you donate at all and if you adjust who you donate to in the future, that’s great. Poppy mentioned some great organizations above. Have a lovely week!! Celeste 🙂

  4. Interesting! What a great website!

  5. naturalfuel says:

    Aw this post made me nostalgic, I set up a branch of Food Not Bombs in my home town when I was 14 🙂 It’s a great concept and so decentralised that anyone can open up a chapter if they wish.

    • When you were 14? Really? That’s impressive!!! All I cared about when I was 14 was tennis, hanging out with my girlfriends and boys. I’m curious, how much effort was involved in setting a branch up?

      • naturalfuel says:

        Haha well I was in to those things too, but I was getting really in to punk and anarcho politics at that time so I was very critical and mindful and trying to change the world! 😛 I am unfortunately more apathetic now in many ways, mainly because I get overwhelmed by the state of our world and how we treat each other and fellow non human animals but I still have the spirit in me! Now I use my blog mainly!

        It wasn’t any effort at all really, just some forethought and organisation in terms of cooking, transportation, location, advertisement etc. I had a book on it at the time which helped, I’m sure you can buy it second hand online or the information is probably also on a website.

    • I don’t care what you say, I think that’s an amazing accomplishment for a 14-year-old!! And you certainly are making a difference through your blog!!! You’ve probably inspired, educated and moved more people than you even realize.

      • naturalfuel says:

        Thanks Celeste!!! 🙂 And the same definitely goes for you!! Lets remember that next time we’re giving ourselves a hard time!!
        Rowena x

  6. stacilys says:

    Hahahahaha. I’m not laughing about the cause, but about your husband interrupting you and saying what he did. Men seem to be so much more logical then us women eh. They are able to step aside of the feeling aspect of it all and look at things purely logically. Love it. We really are wired differently (men and women, that is).

    I’m so glad you were able to find this group that is already working for something that’s in your heart. I’m going to have to check them out too.

    Blessings =)

    • Hehe! Okay, now you’ve got to know something about me: I’m always coming up with grandiose ideas. In the past month, in addition to wanting to start a vegan charity to help the hungry, I’ve also contemplated opening a vegan restaurant, come up with an idea for a product and have had several ideas for books I wanted to write. I’m an idea person, but I don’t have a lot of follow through. My husband knows this SO well, and he’s always bringing me down to earth. Maybe one day I’ll actually finish something. I suppose I’ve been good at following through with my blog, so there’s something! Have a great week! Celeste 🙂

      • stacilys says:

        Hahaha. That’s great. Love it. I’ve had a few big ideas myself, but usually things that were way out of my league. Right on that you’ve been following through on the blog though. I’ve been blessed because of it.
        Blessings =)

  7. colleenkayoh says:

    I do hope you’ll keep us updated if you start helping out with them! What an awesome cause!

  8. veganvitals says:

    I’m so glad that you found food not bombs. I was going to recommend them 🙂

  9. reocochran says:

    This would have been a great and massive endeavor! Quite a project for you to have thought about undertaking, Celeste! My youngest daughter scolds me, berates me gently and is often giving me hints on eating more healthily. I am on a fairly stringent budget, too long to explain, but about $20 a week groceries. I challenged her and we ended up with quite a few bean oriented meals, I agree that it is a great and personal choice for you and also, she has more of an eclectic choice, includes cage free eggs and other humane foods that may not be ‘vegan.’ Interesting post and a great acknowledgment to MLK, Jr. Day, too! Robin

    • Wow – $20 a week for groceries is stringent! (I hope all those guys you date pay the bill for ya chica!) Of course, I have to remember that I live in an expensive beach area in Southern California and everything here is priced to gouge. Maybe where you live it’s more doable. Vegan food can be budget-friendly, if you know how to manage it. Like you say, it means lots and lots of bean dishes!! Veggie soups area also a cost effective meal.

      I certainly don’t judge you for not being vegan chica. I am excited that despite your budget limitation that you still spend the extra money to choose humane foods when you can.

      Thanks so much for all of your support on my blog – I really appreciate it!! Celeste 🙂

  10. run4joy59 says:

    What a great charity…glad you brought this to our attention.

  11. maggie0019 says:

    Personally, I would have done both. I don’t always agree with the charity’s viewpoint, for example, but I think if they are doing more good than harm, they should be supported, especially at the holidays when so many are doing without.

    • I wish I had your energy!!! And to be honest, I have not read up on Food not Bombs yet so I don’t know a lot about their viewpoint. I plan to order their book to find out more about them. I’ll admit that I was disappointed that they had more of a political agenda than just feeding people. If I set up a non profit I’d do it differently. Hmmm – maybe I should still do that. We’ll see! Celeste 🙂

  12. I’m glad you have found one with the same ethics as you (and me), I’ll be checking them out. My town has a Buddhist centre that gives out free veggie meals also.

    • How cool that your town has a Buddhist center that feeds people for free. I’ve heard from neighbors that the Buddhist center in Laguna Beach does that as well, but when I tried to find out more info about it I was unable to confirm this. Have a lovely weekend! Celeste 🙂

  13. diahannreyes says:

    A great reminder that our choices reverberate and how by aligning them with our values there is great power to that. Thanks, Celeste.

  14. Hi, Celeste. It seems you and I have been thinking about similar things. I recently stopped giving to the Nature Conservancy after many years of giving to that great organization because I really just want my money to go to vegan organizations. I checked out Food Not Bombs, and it appears that while they try to be vegan, they are really not. As you and I both know, there is as much pain and suffering in a piece of cheese as in a hamburger, perhaps more. If anyone knows of an organization out there that feeds people vegan food and is unequivocal in that stance, I would love to know about it.I still think you should start your organization, Celeste. Whatever I give each year (besides PBS) would go to your group!
    Cheers, Mychael McNeeley

    • Hey there Mychael! Thank you for reading up on Food Not Bombs and learning that they’re not strictly vegan. This gives me pause about them too. I wish I’d read more about them before posting this, but what’s done is done. I still plan to read their book and learn about their philosophy, but I don’t know that I want to be involved in an organization that’s not strictly vegan.

      Thank you SO much for your belief in me with starting a vegan non profit. I haven’t completely eliminated the possibility from my mind. Maybe I’ll do something in time, we’ll see.

      I hope all is well with you Mychael! Celeste 🙂

  15. Cosy Words says:

    Hi Celeste, I think you’re absolutely right, no one should be sacrificed for the benefit of others. I would also add that there can never be too many vegan food organizations, so I believe you should definitely follow your hunch and, why not, start your own organization.

    • Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment and for following my little blog too!! I’m still toying with the idea of starting my own organization. I think it will be easier if I work with an existing organization first so I can learn the ropes. Maybe at some point in the future I’ll start an organization – we’ll see. Celeste 🙂

  16. Michael Lane says:

    So it looks like your idea is still in play. 🙂

    • Hey Michael! Thanks so much for stopping by. And yes, my idea is still in play. It’s something that I’m sitting on at the moment and we’ll just have to see where it goes. Celeste 🙂

  17. John says:

    I started my own little vegan project last April here in Melbourne, Australia. It’s called Vegan Hills (we live in the hills area). I volunteer at an emergency relief organisation. We help people in crisis due to issues such as loss of job, illness, domestic violence etc… As a Vegan, I wanted to start a branch of the organisation which deals specifically in free vegan food and toiletries for people in need. I source vegan donations from the public/companies and use it to feed the people facing hardship. I also organise volunteers to get together and we do cook ups. The food is then fed to people who come to the drop in centre our emergency relief runs. And/or we freeze the food and it’s given out when people come in for help at our emergency relief building. A group of us put on a Christmas day community lunch for people who might be in need of company (I was told more people commit suicide on Christmas day than any other day) The food I use from the emergency relief building is gathered from warehouses, after it’s been donated by shops, supermarkets etc.. due to being deemed unsalable. It’s still edible. So much perfectly edible food gets chucked away in the world it’s crazy.

    “Food For Life” is the worlds largest food relief program. They feed vegan food.

    Anyway, I have a facebook page for my Vegan Hills program if anyone is interested.:

    • Hey there John! I just checked out your facebook page and what you’re doing sounds wonderful!!! I may be more talk than action, but you’re really doing something. Thank you so much for sharing this with me and my readers. Rock on! Celeste 🙂

  18. John says:

    Thanks Celeste. If you’re looking at starting a charity/project, I say take the plunge and go for it. 🙂

    • Thanks for the inspiration John. I think in time I will do it, but I need to rest on the idea for awhile. And if you’re interested, I’d be happy to share the story of how you went vegan and started Vegan Hills on my blog. If you’re interested, email me at Have a great weekend! Celeste 🙂

  19. Pingback: The Lamb That Changed My Life! | Honk If You're Vegan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s