Mercy For Animals India: 2020 Year in Review

We can all agree that 2020 wasn’t exactly what we’d expected. From the pandemic to global social justice action, we experienced many world-changing events. Yet amid all the uncertainty, Mercy For Animals restarted operations in India in full swing. Here are just a few major highlights:
  • Along with People for Animals and Humane Society International/India, Mercy For Animals submitted recommendations to the central standing committee on science and technology for the committee’s report on environment, climate change, and public health, highlighting the role of animal agriculture in emerging infectious diseases.
  • We began working on innovative reforms with the plant-based task force of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
  • In partnership with People for Animals and Ahimsa Trust, we submitted a representation to the FSSAI to promote plant-based foods as part of their Eat Right India campaign. Our combined efforts led the FSSAI to release a host of advisories and posters promoting plant-based eating on their website and social media channels. We will continue to urge promotion of plant-based diets by the prime minister of India and FSSAI.
  • We opposed an amendment to the Food Safety and Standards Regulations that prohibits plant-based dairy products from being labelled ‘milk’ or other dairy terms. We continue to work closely with the Good Food Institute, Humane Society International, and People for Animals to reverse this amendment. We have submitted joint comments and advised plant-based dairy companies on submitting their own comments. We will also continue to oppose an FSSAI draft notification that aims to restrict use of the term ‘milk’ by vegan milk companies.
  • We submitted a representation to the FSSAI advocating that ‘vegan foods’ be defined and vegan products be distinguished from vegetarian products with a separate mark or label. These efforts came to some fruition in September when the FSSAI set up a task force to establish guidelines for vegan foods.
  • Mercy For Animals released the ‘new normal’ campaign, which emphasises building a new normal for animals, too, by making more compassionate food choices. Created by an award-winning Brazilian agency, the campaign video was selected twice by the Swiss NGO Act Responsible for a virtual exhibition in Cannes as one of 2020’s world’s best social campaigns. Ads of the World and many other online publications also featured the campaign, and 1,61,451 people worldwide joined the movement.
  • Mercy For Animals India is collaborating with the George Institute of Global Health, a leading public health research institute in India, to set up a first-of-its-kind research centre titled Centre for One Health Research. The centre will mark the first time that an animal welfare group and a public health organisation come together to strengthen evidence to help both humans and animals in India.
In 2021, we will restart food policy work in India to persuade major hotels, restaurants, cafes, and food-delivery services to increase vegan options and decrease the use of animal products. Even though the events of this year have defied prediction, we are hopeful that 2021 will bring better days for both animals and humans.