Sinergia Animal Interview

In Brazil, 14% of the population has declared themselves as vegetarian.

Another 30-60% has expressed their willingness to make the same transition, in a culture that is highly meat-oriented. 

In a recent conversation with Carolina Galvani, co-founder and CEO of Sinergia Animal, we developed a better understanding of the inhumane conditions that many animals farmed for consumption endure in Latin America and South East Asia.

 

Listen here or find us on your favorite podcast app.

Compassionate Food Choices

In a recent conversation with Carolina Galvani, co-founder and CEO of Sinergia Animal, we developed a better understanding of the inhumane conditions that many animals farmed for consumption endure in Latin America and South East Asia.

Through education, public advocacy and corporate campaigns, Sinergia Animal directs our attention towards compassionate consumption and plant-based alternatives, while promoting systemic change to our treatment of animals. 

Founded in 2017, with the goal of working exclusively with developing and ‘neglected’ countries, Sinergia Animal works in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Thailand and Indonesia to reduce animal suffering and improve the quality of life for all farmed animals. Alongside these goals, the organization strives to reduce overall consumption of animal products and direct consumer habits towards plant-based alternatives. 

Holding discussions about farmed animals with large corporations can be complex in the countries where they work, because it can undermine profit. This has led to frustration towards the organization, which is responded to with peaceful dialogue and mature conversations – “We’ll never use .. verbal or peaceful aggression in these protests .. we are nice, we talk to people, we talk to consumers on the street, we talk to the representatives of the companies or the police .. and that’s always done in a very peaceful way” says Carolina, who is familiar with the difficulties of animal rights advocacy.

A Results Driven Approach

“We tend to adopt programs that are measurable because … if we don’t see results, it’s very hard to keep ourselves motivated.” 

In Brazil, 14% of the population has declared themselves as vegetarian and another 30-60% has expressed their willingness to make the same transition, in a culture that is highly meat-oriented. This momentum could be attributed to recognizing that 80% of Amazonian deforestation occurs for the enlargement of cattle production. 

Just this past year in Colombia, nine schools and universities have committed to reducing their animal consumption by 20%, which looks like one million vegan meals served per year in canteens and restaurants across the country. 

Similarly, Sinergia Animal’sVegan Challenge has empowered thousands of consumers across their five countries of involvement to reconsider how animal consumption affects their health and the environment. This year alone, more than 20,000 people have tried a vegan diet with retention rates of 70-80%. 

Want to learn more about Sinergia Animal? You can send them an inquiry via email, read more about their campaigns, checkout their blog and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Interview Transcript

[00:00:00]

Every day you and I get bombarded with negative news. And just like our bodies, become what we eat, our minds become the information that we consume. If you want to stay positive, it’s so important that you also listen to stories that inspire you and uplift you. In this podcast we interview leading experts dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing problems. And if you stick around, I promise you will not only be as informed as if you watched the news, you will be uplifted, inspired, and have more positive energy in your life. Welcome to Great.com Talks With.

[00:00:44] 

Hi and welcome. Today great.com talks with Carolina Galvani, who is the co-founder and CEO of Sinergia Animal. And if you haven’t pressed, like, unsubscribe on this video yet, please do so, because today we have a special guest Sinergia Animal made a standout charity in 2019 by animal charity evaluators that I have been following, which means that they are one of the most effective organizations out there when it comes to helping animals and improving the life quality of animals. And I really like what I just said on their website, that they are looking to build a world where nobody needs to be hurt in food production. And I think to me, that makes a lot of sense. So I am very excited to speak with Carolina today. Hi, how are you? 

[00:01:38] 

Hi, Emil. Very well. Thank you so much for the invitation. I’m very happy and excited to be here with you today as well. And thank you so much for the very kind words about your work. 

[00:01:49] 

And I’m excited as well. My heart is definitely in the animal welfare question out of all the shared areas out there. So how would you describe Sinergia to someone that is not familiar with your organization or maybe even the challenges facing working in the animal welfare field? 

[00:02:10] 

Sure. So we are a very young organization. We were founded in late 2017 in Brazil and we were founded with the mission to work only in the global south, which are basically developing countries and also to work in countries that are neglected. And by neglected, we mean that these are countries where no other major international animal protection organization is working with a similar approach. So currently we work in six different countries. We’re working in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Thailand and Indonesia. And we work to reduce animal suffering and to improve the lives of all farmed animals. 

[00:03:05] 

And we also work to reduce consumption of animal products and promote more compassionate food choices. And that’s our plant based right. 

[00:03:17] 

We would like to see a world where animals don’t need to be farmed for food production. 

[00:03:24] 

The challenges we face, I think we do face some very unique challenges because of the countries where we work. I think one of the things to keep in mind is that farmed animal issues are a very new topic in most countries. So the industry usually gets very upset with us when we launch campaigns asking them to phase out the worst forms of animal confinement. For example, one of the most yeah, one of the key parts of our work is to get major food companies to phase out the use of battery cages for laying hens, for example, which is a very cruel system. 

[00:04:10] 

And we also ask some companies to phase out the use of gestation crates for our breeding styles and some other very cruel forms of animal confinement, such as the use of fuel crates as well in the dairy industry.

[00:04:26] 

So as we are the kind of the first ones or the only ones doing this type of work in these countries, their actions are very strong. The companies are not used to facing public pressure campaigns and usually, yeah, they get very upset. 

[00:04:47] 

But having said that, we have been very successful when we have had many victories in this field. I think the other thing as well, that it is a challenge and it is unique. It’s because we are also one of the very first to be inviting people to have a plant based diet or at least to reduce the consumption of animal products. And again, we are dealing with societies in which this is a very new topic and we have to spend a lot of time breaking myths and and really raising awareness because it’s something you. 

[00:05:29] 

I would say these are the major challenges right now. 

[00:05:34] 

You mentioned breaking myths and building awareness. So we have had quite a few animal welfare organizations on this podcast, and they all have somewhat different approaches. Some have been working with anything from legislation to even start creating lab grown meat. So I read on your website that you are an activist organization. At least you’re doing activism. So what is your way of creating this change? 

[00:06:06] 

So we have different approaches we use. I think the part that is most related to activism are the corporate campaigns. So we believe that the fastest and the most and the most efficient way to to reduce animal suffering, to take animals out of the worst forms of animal confinement, is to work with major food companies and ask them to change their supply chains and to to stop allowing their suppliers to use these very cruel practices. Most of the time, it’s very hard to get companies to commit to these changes without using public awareness campaigns because it does cost more. And as we know, companies are usually very focused on profits and they don’t want to do these changes because it will increase their costs. And then we start working with campaigns. We launch petitions to inform consumers and to gather thousands of signatures. We have communities of activists in all countries. So these activists, they help us in this campaign by doing protests on social media, writing to companies, calling companies. 

[00:07:35] 

And also we use a lot of peaceful actions on the streets to attract media attention or to really, for example, it’s very common for us to go to the company, to the company’s office and hold a peaceful protest in front of the office. And we ask them to come down and talk to us and we ask why they’re not responding to to our campaigns so far. I just do things like online protests and for the actions on the streets where communities are of activists are very engaged and they play a major role in these campaigns. 

[00:08:26] 

What is a peaceful protest in the world of animal welfare activists? I imagine, would a violent one be throwing blood at people, but the peaceful ones, you hold signs with blood on them? 

[00:08:44] 

Yeah, I think there is some element when we say peaceful, there are different elements that mean there are peaceful. So, for example, the way we talk to people when we hold this protest is peaceful. 

[00:08:58] 

We don’t go there and we are not aggressive when we talk to people. We always hold very mature conversations. We don’t use any violence in the sense that, like. We are not violent. We don’t like physically speaking, we don’t, we don’t use any forms of violence and if people are violent towards us, we won’t respond in the same way. We’ll never use, like verbal or peaceful aggression in these protests. Yeah, so we are nice, we talk to people, we talk to consumers on the street, we talk to the representatives of the companies or the police, sometimes the police come to see what’s happening. And that’s always done in a very peaceful way. And our action coordinators and our activists are trained to always behave and respond in a peaceful way. 

[00:10:04] 

Right. And you said you want to build awareness and change mindsets, I’m from Sweden and my girlfriend is from Brazil and she tells me about the food culture. It seems like it’s very ingrained in the culture that there is a lot of meat, probably with every meal. So do you see a change in the culture? Like how is the culture developing in the countries directed in? 

[00:10:31] 

Yes, in some countries, we see more progress than in others, so, for example, in Brazil, we see a much bigger movement that has been raising awareness about the benefits of eliminating the consumption of animal products. And we are seeing a lot of progress currently in Brazil, 14 percent of the population has already declared themselves as being vegetarians. And that’s a very high percentage, actually. And we also have there are different

surveys, but we have something between 30 to 60 percent of Brazilians saying they are willing to reduce their meat consumption. I think we still have a long way to get this 30 to 60 percent of people to actually reduce their consumption. But the willingness is there, and I think it’s pretty much related to the work of animal protection and environmental organizations. We have a major problem in Brazil. Cattle production is responsible for 80 percent of deforestation in the Amazon. And I think more and more people are becoming aware of the environmental impacts and of the animal suffering as well. That happens in meat production. And we are seeing change in the consumer market, I would say. 

[00:12:02] 

Significant change in other countries, the progress is smaller and slower. I think we need some years, yeah. 

[00:12:13] 

To reach more people and see similar results, a significant change to change the trend to such big problems at the same time with animal suffering, which might be the most suffering, but it’s caused on the planet and then the climate change problem as well. And it’s all in one place. So moving forward, what would be like a victory for you as an organization? What would be a really good thing that could realistically happen in the upcoming years? 

[00:12:48] 

Yeah. So with these corporate campaigns, we usually have a lot of victories. So we have many examples in all of the countries where we work of companies of major food companies committing to eliminating the worst forms of animal confinement. 

[00:13:05] 

But that’s a very effective way of and to manage to measure our impact. And we have some very good outcomes in this area. We also have another program we started last year in Colombia. 

[00:13:24] 

We work mostly with public institutions such as schools and universities, and we ask them to reduce their consumption of animal products by 20 percent. So that basically means that one day per week, their canteens or their restaurants will be 100 percent vegan. And the results are very easy to measure and see as well. So with just one year of work in Colombia, we got nine institutions to commit to implementing this program. And on a yearly basis, that will be serving over one million vegan meals. So there will be removing animal products from over one million meals. Another campaign that we have, which we tend to adopt programs that are measurable because otherwise, you know, we have a very big fight. And if we don’t see results, it’s very hard to keep ourselves motivated. So the third program that we have that has some very measurable outcomes are our vegan challenges. So we have vegan challenges in all the Latin American countries where we work and also in Indonesia and Thailand. And usually we get two to three thousand people, new people to sign up every month and try a vegan diet for 21 days. 

[00:15:04] 

So by the end of the year, we have over twenty thousand consumers per country trying a plant based diet, most of them for the first time. 

[00:15:16] 

And we also asked them at the end of the challenge if they plan to remain vegan, if they plan to keep eating plant based and on average, we have 70 to 80 percent of people saying, yes, they plan to continue the same diet. 

[00:15:36] 

Wow. Those are real high numbers. I think what’s cool with activism is it seems like both individuals and companies are willing to make a change. Individuals want to have a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle. The companies want to do good stuff, but there just needs to be a push to get them to get them to start. So, yeah, I think the activism you do is really important. And imagine someone listening to this, they feel, OK, I understand the impact you can have by doing this kind of work and activism. I somehow want to help out. What should I do? Should I go out and protest on the streets? Should I start eating again? Should I donate? What is the best way someone can help out? 

[00:16:24] 

I think there are many different ways to help out. So, for example, you could create your own organization. You can choose to volunteer for one organization. You can choose to get a job. There are many I think most professional organizations have to talk nowadays or you could choose to donate. For example, being a monthly donor is crucial for all organizations to have monthly donors. Having said that, I think one of the most important things is that. You should choose either to create or to help an organization that has a very clear vision on how to create change. We have a very big problem, livestock. The livestock industry is very powerful and it’s very big. And I think for most people, it’s just too normal to consume animal products without questioning a lot where they come from and how they are produced. So we have a very big problem. We need to create a lot of change. So it is important to choose a charity that has a clear mission and measurable outcomes. I don’t think we have a lot of time and we should not be spending a lot of resources on things that don’t have a clear strategy or that use strategies that are not achievable in the short and medium term, so I think a clear vision and strategy are two very good things to

choose. Even if you want to create a charity, if you want to support one in any way you should look for. You should consider and understand well the strategy that is being used and go for one that has an effective one, I would say. 

[00:18:35] 

I agree. Doing the research beforehand is so important. If someone wants to stay updated to Sinergia Animal, what can they do? 

[00:18:47] 

Yes, on our international website, which is to sinergiaanimalinternational.org, we have a page where you can sign up to be an activist. We also have an international community of activists who do online protests, for example, or you can and if you sign up, you will receive our newsletters as well about our progress, the things that we are being able to achieve. And another way to keep in touch is to follow us on social media. So, again, if you go to Instagram, our account Animal International and the same on Facebook, Sinergia Animal International, beautiful Carolina. 

[00:19:38] 

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with great.com today. 

[00:19:43] 

Thank you so much. It was a pleasure to be here and thank you for giving us the opportunity to talk about our work. 

[00:19:50] 

It is our pleasure. And for you listening. If you enjoyed this conversation and you would like for more people to hear about important issues like animal welfare. Please consider subscribing to this podcast and press like if you’re on YouTube, because that will help us in the algorithms to get out there and reach more people. So thank you very much. And we’ll see you in the next episode. 

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