ACE Movement Grants: November 2019 Grantee Updates

by Animal Charity Evaluators13 min read21st Oct 2020No comments

13

Org UpdateDonation WriteupFarmed Animal WelfareWild Animal Welfare
Frontpage

We are delighted to share with you some updates [1] from our second round of ACE Movement Grants (formerly “Effective Animal Advocacy Fund”) recipients. All grantees are required to report their progress via a questionnaire [2], but to preserve confidentiality and uphold transparency between Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) and the grantees, it is optional for grantees to allow ACE to publish their progress.

We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges to many animal advocacy groups, including Movement Grant recipients. We deeply care about the safety and well-being of those working in the animal advocacy movement, and we support changes grantees had to make to their programs in order to prioritize their safety. As a precaution, we sent out an email in March to all recent grantees, urging them to postpone or cancel any in-person events related to their grant.

Below, we summarize their activities and accomplishments since receiving the grants.

[1] In total, ACE distributed 18 grants in the second round of funding. This post includes only updates from the 15 grantees who agreed to make their updates public.

[2] A full version of the questionnaire can be found here.

 

Assiettes Végétales ($17,000)

Assiettes Végétales campaigning for plant-based options at a university cafeteria

Our grant to Assiettes Végétales allowed them to hire a full-time campaign coordinator in December. The doubling of their staff count from one to two meant additional capacity for their work to increase plant-based options in university cafeterias in France. Assiettes Végétales will soon launch Semaine Verte dans les Assiettes (Green Week). During this weeklong event, Assiettes Végétales’ restaurant partners add a daily plant-based meal option to their menus, and the organization provides them a recipe guide, access to nutritionists and culinary trainers specializing in plant-based cuisine, marketing materials, and promotion of their offerings. Semaine Verte dans les Assiettes aims to show the restaurants that there is demand for plant-based options and that the change toward a more plant-based menu can be implemented long term.

With Assiettes Végétales’ institutional outreach slowed by COVID-19, they explored new opportunities for impact and expanded into political outreach with the goal of adding plant-based options to every university restaurant menu in France. To this end, Assiettes Végétales reached out to parliamentary members. Subsequently, ten deputies and senators submitted requests to the national Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation for this goal to be implemented.

BioFutura A.C ($25,000)

BioFutura’s Vice President Angel Daen Morales Garcia speaking about animal issues

BioFutura A.C works to strengthen legal protections for animals in Mexico. This year, with the support of their Movement Grant, they formed an alliance with the Legal Culture House of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN, the highest court in Mexico). Through this alliance, BioFutura has implemented a national animal rights program, including (now virtual) free-to-attend workshops and lectures on environmental law, biodiversity conservation, and animal rights. BioFutura teaches these sessions and writes articles in both Mexican and international law magazines.

BioFutura defends nonhuman animals before the courts and government environmental authorities, mainly in matters of administrative law, criminal law, and constitutional law. In addition, they analyze Mexico’s current obstacles toward gaining legal protections for animals. BioFutura also founded the first animal law observatory in Mexico, an initiative with formal strategic alliances with different NGOs in the Mexican region called “Ecological Corridor of the Sierra Madre Oriental.” Their focus is on wildlife, with the goal of defending animals in judicial, legislative, and executive branches of government.

The Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School ($30,000)

Professor Delci Winders and Animal Law Litigation Clinic students from academic year 2019–2020

Our grant to The Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School supported the first year of operations for the Animal Law Litigation Clinic (ALLC), which they tell us is the world’s only legal clinic devoted to protecting farmed animals. The ALLC trains new generations of lawyers through hands-on experience and aims to raise public awareness about the limited legal protections for farmed animals. The ALLC’s first two lawsuits received extensive media coverage, helping to educate the public about the cruelties of pig slaughter:

  • Farm Sanctuary v. USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture): This lawsuit “challenges pig slaughter deregulation. The removal of line speed limits and reduction of inspector oversight at slaughterhouses exponentially increases animal suffering. Previously, slaughterhouses could kill up to 1,106 pigs per hour. Now there is no limit whatsoever, resulting in increased humane handling [violations] and food safety violations. The removal of inspectors from the front lines compounds the problem, as they are replaced by untrained slaughterhouse staff, thereby reducing the likelihood that cruelty will be detected. In addition, the USDA estimates that about 11.5 million more pigs per year will be slaughtered under its deregulation.”
  • Farm Sanctuary v. Perdue: This lawsuit “challenges the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s failure to properly protect downed pigs—pigs who are too injured or sick to stand or walk. According to industry estimates, more than 500,000 downed pigs arrive at U.S. slaughterhouses annually. Allowing downed animals to be slaughtered for human consumption incentivizes subjecting sick and injured animals to inhumane transport and handling, including shocking, prodding, kicking, and dragging. The USDA’s failure to regulate downed pigs is long-standing and defiant.”

In their first year, the ALLC also donated 1,106 hours of pro bono animal-related legal services on behalf of over a dozen clients.

Colorado Voters for Animals ($5,000)

Colorado Voters for Animals works to achieve animal-friendly public policy in Colorado, and this grant is supporting their Getting Political for Animals campaign. The campaign includes a training program for advocates that covers tips for (i) passing animal-friendly laws at local and state levels, (ii) educating lawmakers, and (iii) writing letters to editors, opinion editorials, and more. Because of COVID-19, they switched their in-person events to virtual presentations, resulting in fewer attendees (in-person events typically had 15–20 attendees; virtual ones had an average of eight). Thus far, they have held nine presentations reaching a total of 130 attendees. They plan to reserve the majority of their funding to be used for travel expenses, facilities rentals, and handout materials once in-person events resume.

Česká veganská společnost ($10,000)

Česká veganská společnost’s newly published Future Foods manual for start-ups and entrepreneurs

Česká veganská společnost (translation: Czech Vegan Society) works to increase the consumption of plant-based foods in the Czech Republic in two primary ways: They increase plant-based options in restaurants and school canteens, and they bring plant-based education to a wide audience, in part by maintaining strong relationships with the media. Česká veganská společnost observes the majority opinion in the Czech Republic to be that veganism is extreme, time- and money-consuming, and unsatisfactory in terms of taste and nutrition. Česká veganská společnost’s activities aim to improve this image of veganism.

Outreach to restaurants and school cafeterias: Česká veganská společnost works with decision-makers and trains chefs to include more plant-based options in school cafeterias and restaurants. Since receiving our grant, they held two school chef workshops, but because of COVID-19, that program was put on hold in March. They expect to resume school workshops in the fall.

Media outreach promoting plant-based foods: About 65% of the grant is going toward the salary of a Media Specialist, who has expanded Česká veganská společnost’s partnerships with media outlets. Notable achievements include articles in two gastronomy-focused industry magazines—informing chefs and restaurant managers about the benefits of including vegan foods on their menus and how to do so—and a long-term partnership with a lifestyle magazine that will deliver articles normalizing veganism, recipes, and tips for plant-based eating.

Most recently, Česká veganská společnost published their Future Foods manual for start-ups and entrepreneurs. They estimate that approximately 60% of the digital text was translated from The Good Food Institute’s startup manual, and 40% was original work adapted for local entrepreneurs.

Additionally, this past spring Česká veganská společnost was selected for an accelerator program, which provided them with mentors and experts, and over the course of the four-month, intensive program, they developed a long-term strategy for heightened impact.

Equalia ($20,000)

A graphic asking retailer E.Leclerc to abandon battery cages

Equalia, an organization which incorporates the principles of effective altruism in their work, used their grant to advance various programs, including their European Chicken Commitment initiative, their communications program (they hired a Head of Press Outreach for one year), and their program that aims to achieve mandatory video surveillance in all Spanish slaughterhouses. In light of the current pandemic, Equalia leveraged the connection between intensive farming and zoonoses to gain media coverage for their programs.

Video surveillance on farms: Equalia influenced major meat producers and retail chains to follow their protocol of mandatory video surveillance. According to their estimate, those commitments combined provide video coverage of 637 million animals per year, which is 70% of all animals slaughtered annually in Spain. Additionally, non-legislative motions for video surveillance were approved in a handful of cities and communities, affecting 32 slaughterhouses (where a total of 78 million animals per year are killed for food), according to Equalia. The Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition is currently working on a royal decree to express-modify the current national law pertaining to slaughterhouse operations, without the need for National Congress approval; this new law would mandate video surveillance across the whole country and would affect 910 million animals per year. Equalia’s efforts received a great amount of attention: According to Equalia, 107 media outlets covered their work, potentially reaching 68.5 million viewers.

European Chicken Commitment (ECC): Since launching this project in March with an investigative report, Equalia reports that 27 media outlets covered the topic, with a potential reach of 14 million viewers. Equalia collaborates with Compassion in World Farming and has invited other organizations to work on a labeling scheme necessary for companies to commit to the higher welfare standards demanded by the ECC. Equalia has needed to depriotize the ECC because the strict COVID-19 lockdown in Spain and the subsequent economic crisis have made it more difficult to influence producers to commit to higher welfare standards for chickens raised for meat.

Cage-free campaign for egg-laying hens: Additionally, with funding from Open Philanthropy and the Centre for Effective Altruism’s Animal Welfare Fund, Equalia launched a cage-free campaign in July, first targeting international retailer E.Leclerc. Along with journalists from the leading Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Equalia investigated the conditions on one of E.Leclerc’s supplier’s farms. Their report was featured in both digital and paper versions of El Mundo as well as 19 other media outlets, with a total potential reach of 11 million viewers. After less than three weeks, E.Leclerc committed to sell only cage-free eggs.

Humánny pokrok ($10,000)

The text reads “over 60% of Slovaks are in favor of banning caged chicken farming” and refers to a survey Humánny pokrok conducted together with research company Focus Research.

Fur farming ban: Humánny pokrok (translation: Humane Progress), one of the largest Slovakian farmed animal advocacy organizations, successfully campaigned for Slovakia to ban fur farming this past February. Humánny pokrok reports that the ban was supported by 77,000 petition signatures (1.4% of the country’s population)—making it the second biggest petition in the history of Slovakia. Existing fur farms will be phased out over the next five years.

Fundraising for financial stability: The seven-month fur farming ban campaign ended sooner than expected, which—along with only having one part-time development staff member—unfortunately meant a shorter window of opportunity to leverage that campaign for fundraising purposes. However, their grant was used to hire a Junior Fundraiser, who increased the organization’s donor base and number of monthly donors, effectively supporting the long-term sustainability of the organization.

Humánny pokrok is now switching gears to a cage-free campaign for egg-laying hens.

The Kaplan Lab at Tufts University ($50,000)

The Cellular Agriculture Team of the Kaplan Lab at Tufts University researches ways to optimize scaffolding systems for cell-cultured meat. Scaffolding contributes to the structure, texture, and response-to-cooking of cell-cultured meat and is one of the key areas in need of further research and development. They have used about one-third of the grant thus far, primarily for materials and equipment.

The Cellular Agriculture Team made breakthroughs in the development of cell-cultured meat products that closely mimic key features of their conventional counterparts. The specific results will be published as an open-access paper. We appreciate this significant accomplishment as it means the entire cell-cultured meat field can benefit from their findings.

The Kaplan Lab was shut down in March due to COVID-19 but is now open again for continued research and development.

Liberum ($10,000)

Liberum’s Executive Director Blanka Alfaro (middle and facing the camera) speaking with volunteers before a press conference at the Mexican Senate about a reform that would make stunned slaughter mandatory


Liberum (translation: Freedom) is a Mexican organization working to influence industry, policy, and public opinion. Their recent work focused on encouraging plant-based eating and raising public awareness about the treatment of farmed animals:

¿LECHE? ¡NO GRACIAS! (Milk? No thanks!) campaign: Liberum published “Todas las madres importan” (“All mothers are important”), a video featuring the actress Aislinn Derbez which received 1.7 million views and counting. This video gave Liberum a big start on Tiktok, a short-form video app that has become one of the most popular social platforms among Generation Z (under 25 years old). Liberum also invited seven renowned Mexican illustrators to make adaptations of world-famous paintings and hosted their first virtual art exhibit, which received 13,300 views. During the exhibit, they educated attendees about the impacts that the dairy industry has on the planet, human health, and animals. These illustrations, which received over 70,000 impressions, will be part of an itinerant exhibit across Mexico, in order to reach even more people.

Todos Somos Bestias (We Are All Beasts) podcast: Adapting to the restrictions of the current pandemic, Liberum looked for new ways to encourage the public to care about animals and produced 11 episodes of their new podcast Todos Somos Bestias, which is available on Anchor, YT, IGTV, and Spotify.

The Movement Grant has allowed them to speed up post-production content editing (e.g., of videos and podcasts), resolving their previous bottleneck and allowing them to release their content more quickly.

Rostlinně ($10,000)

Filming for a Rostlinně video in cooperation with Prague Film School

Rostlinně (translation: In a Plant-Based Way) promotes the consumption and availability of plant-based foods in the Czech Republic. They are a part of OBRAZ – Obránci zvířat (translation: Animal Defenders), a Czech organization that works on corporate and legislative campaigns to eliminate the caging of egg-laying hens.

Social media and blog: A portion of the grant was used to hire a half-time Social Media Manager to oversee the Rostlinně social media volunteer team. Rostlinně is now able to devote more efforts to announcing new products, sharing recipes, and encouraging plant-based eating via their social media platforms; their number of followers has since doubled. Rostlinně’s volunteers also launched a blog where they share informative articles, product reviews, interviews, and more.

Restaurant outreach: With the Movement Grant, Rostlinně was able to hire a Restaurant Outreach Manager who coordinates the volunteer team tasked to help restaurants include more plant-based options. The Restaurant Outreach Manager also runs workshops with food companies to get their plant-based products placed on restaurant menus.

Retail and product rankings: Rostlinně created retail rankings of supermarkets and coffee chains, indicating the extent of vegan offerings. They ensure media coverage of the rankings which contributes to the public’s awareness of plant-based product availability. They have also gotten the attention of the ranked companies, some of which then come to Rostlinně for assistance with expanding and marketing their plant-based offering. Rostlinně also conducted their second annual Plant-Based Product of the Year Award, which gained attention from the media, companies with vegan products, and over 6,000 participant voters.

Paris Animaux Zoopolis ($40,000)

Demonstration organized by PAZ regarding their animal welfare-related proposals made to Paris mayoral candidates

Paris Animaux Zoopolis (PAZ) works in Paris, France on a variety of campaigns focused on highly neglected groups of animals such as fishes and liminal animals (animals who are wild but who live among human populations, such as rats and pigeons). They also advocate for animal welfare more generally, e.g., to ban animals in circuses in France.

With our grant, PAZ is working to ban recreational fishing in Paris by placing an ad in Le Parisien, ads in the subway, and posters in the streets. PAZ also advocates for interventions that aim to improve the welfare of liminal animals, such as changes to garbage collection to decrease the rat population and avoid population management by poisoning. PAZ commissioned an official poll to gauge Parisians’ opinions about fishing and other animal welfare issues; they found that more than 60% of participants agreed with their initiatives.

PAZ educated Paris mayoral candidates about animal issues and encouraged them to decrease the free-roaming cat population in the city and protect rats, pigeons, fishes, and rabbits. To further these initiatives, they hosted a special event, which the main mayoral candidates attended. All but one candidate committed to take animal welfare into consideration (each candidate made different commitments). For the first time, the mayor nominated an “Animal Condition” deputy. PAZ met with the newly-appointed deputy just one week after his nomination to share their proposals.

Pour l’Égalité Animale ($15,000)

World Day Against Speciesism action in front of the Swiss parliament in Bern

Pour l’Égalité Animale (translation: For Animal Equality; PEA) is a Swiss organization that has published undercover investigations, hosted vegan challenges, organized public demonstrations, and has worked to put animal welfare on the Swiss political agenda. COVID-19 has presented significant challenges for PEA, such as decreased availability of volunteers. However, with the Movement Grant, they hired two staff members and made progress on the projects below. They also organized trainings for 50 volunteers and further automated the volunteer onboarding process, freeing up staff time.

Online conference: PEA organized a series of 19 lectures about activism and the anti-speciesist movement, which were attended by advocates from many different French-speaking countries. Each lecture had about 100 attendees, and many more watched the recordings afterward.

Public outreach: PEA coordinated the 6th annual World Day for the End of Speciesism, during which 40 actions took place across the globe, and along with other organizations, PEA started a campaign to prohibit the milk lobby from advertising in Swiss schools.

Swiss popular initiative against factory farming: In mid-2018, Sentience Politics, Greenpeace, the Franz Weber Foundation, and other organizations launched an initiative to ban factory farming in Switzerland. If successful, the government would need to set welfare and barn density standards and create further regulations for importing animal food products. This initiative will be put to public vote in the next three years. Although the pandemic presented difficulties this year, PEA collaborated with other organizations to map out the different communities that would be affected by this upcoming referendum and made plans to encourage their support of the ban.

Sneha’s Care ($43,000)

Founder Sneha Shrestha speaking at the event “Animal Welfare in Nepal: Trends, Issues and Challenges,” which Sneha’s Care organized in 2019

Sneha’s Care works to strengthen Nepalese animal protection laws for farmed animals by developing relationships with and educating politicians, members of the media, and religious leaders. The COVID-19 lockdown has halted many of their program activities, but they have drafted animal welfare standards which are currently pending approval by the Ministry of Livestock after the lockdown is over. If approved, these welfare improvements would mark a major milestone in animal welfare history in Nepal.

Vegan Outreach ($17,000)

Green Tuesday Initiative pledge signing ceremony at Vardhaman College of Engineering in Hyderabad, India; Vegan Outreach representative Bhavya Vatrapu (right) is pictured with the college Principal Dr. Reddy (centre) and his Administrative Director (left)

Vegan Outreach, which is active in various countries, is using this grant to expand their work in India.

Institutional meat reduction: Through their Green Tuesday Initiative campaign, Vegan Outreach helps institutions in India—such as universities, schools, and hostels—reduce the amount of animal products included in their menus. They got commitments from several institutions to reduce their purchases of animal products, primarily motivated by the reduction in their environmental footprint:

Due to COVID-19-related closures, several other institutions are interested in the initiative but are waiting to implement the program until they resume work at their facilities. Vegan Outreach is working to overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic by shifting their focus toward essential service companies where offices, factories, and cafeterias are fully functional.

Individual outreach: Vegan Outreach reports that, in the first half of 2020, they signed up 17,725 college students in India for their 10 Weeks to Vegan guided challenge through in-person and online outreach.

Supporting plant-based products: Vegan Outreach worked with Ahimsa Food, one of India’s leading plant-based meat manufacturers, to remove the milk solids from their brand VeggieChamp. Inspired by their partnership, Ahimsa Food is also launching new vegan mock meats and seafood products.

Wild Animal Initiative ($60,000)

Wild Animal Initiative (WAI) works to improve the welfare of wild animals by fostering academic research into the safest and most effective interventions. ACE’s Movement Grant was for general support of the organization. Since receiving the grant, WAI has made progress on several fronts:

Grant assistance program: WAI successfully launched a grant assistance program, which helps researchers apply for grants in wild animal welfare research. They collaborated with Dr. Davide Dominoni to develop a grant proposal that applies his area of expertise (birds’ behavioral adaptations to urban environments) to one of their core research questions: How can we measure welfare objectively? If funded, this project will study how the diet and daily behavioral rhythms of great tit birds relate to different measures of welfare, specifically body conditions, immunity, and telomere length. Among many other insights potentially gained, this will help researchers validate the efficacy of telomere length as an objective measure of lifetime welfare, which could be applied to a wide variety of species. The grant proposal is in the final stage of review by a promising funder.

Welfare intervention for urban pigeons: WAI made substantial progress toward launching fieldwork on an intervention that could reliably improve wild animal welfare in the near term and thereby demonstrate the tractability of wild animal welfare research. They identified the humane management of urban pigeon populations through a commercially available contraceptive as an intervention that has the potential to be safe, cost-effective, and scalable with current technology. Because the efficacy of the contraceptive has only been established in laboratory settings, WAI is preparing an experiment to determine an effective dosage for field use and to monitor its impact on pigeon welfare.

Research on wild animal deaths: WAI drafted the majority of a report on the causes of animal deaths in the wild. Efficiently minimizing wild animal suffering requires an understanding of how and why wild animals die, paying particular attention to the most numerous experiences, such as the deaths of juveniles of species with high reproductive rates. The report will review methods for studying causes of death empirically, summarize what is known about the relative frequency of different causes of death, and demonstrate how demographic models can be improved to distinguish between causes of death. WAI and their collaborators plan to present their demographic models in a peer-reviewed paper.

Literature review: WAI researchers continued reviewing the literature on biologgers, a broad class of rapidly improving technologies that collect detailed data on individual animals’ movements, behaviors, and physiological states. Based on this review, they will publish a paper illustrating how biologger data can be used to study the welfare of animals in the wild.

Strategies for long-term change: WAI published a blog post explaining how we can use signposts—“indicators […] of near-term developments which look like they will lead to positive long-term outcomes”—to measure progress toward long-term goals, even if we are unsure what success will ultimately look like.

13