SIR – As Christmas approaches, promotional campaigns urging people to donate to charities that provide live animals to impoverished communities in the poorest parts of the world are becoming ever more prevalent.

While these schemes may seem like a great idea, the reality is that such ‘gifts’ can actually increase poverty and cause environmental destruction. All farmed animals require proper nourishment, large quantities of water, veterinary care and shelter from extremes of weather – all of which are in critically short supply in much of Africa. Without them, animals suffer and die.

There are many projects you can support which do not involve live animals. And if you really want to help people in poorer countries, one of the easiest steps you can take is to stop eating meat.

The greenhouse gases produced by animal farming directly contribute to climate change, which exacerbates the environmental problems in these hard-pressed regions.

A recent study by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research found that growing food for animals takes up more land and emits more greenhouse gases than producing crops for human consumption.

So this Christmas, help people, animals and the environment by choosing meat-free.

Andrew Tyler, Animal Aid, The Old Chapel, Bradford Street, Tonbridge