Note: This digest will be once per month now, as EA Forum animal content isn’t as frequent as we expected!
Welcome to this edition of the Animal Advocacy Digest, where we aim to help people in the animal welfare community quickly keep up with the most important information in the space. As a reminder, you can get this digest as an email by signing up here. =
I’m summarising the following posts:
- Video: A Few Exciting Giving Opportunities for Animal Welfare in Asia - Jack Stennett, Jah Ying Chung (Good Growth)
- Why Anima International suspended the campaign to end live fish sales in Poland - Jakub Stencel, Weronika Zurek (Anima International)
- Don’t Balk at Animal-friendly Results - Bob Fischer (Rethink Priorities)
- Longtermism and Animal Farming Trajectories - Michael Dello (Sentience Institute)
- Abolitionist in the Streets, Pragmatist in the Sheets: New Ideas for Effective Animal Advocacy - Dhruv Makwana
- Linkpost: Big Wins for Farm Animals This Decade (Lewis Bollard)
Video: A Few Exciting Giving Opportunities for Animal Welfare in Asia - Jack Stennett, Jah Ying Chung (Good Growth)
Good Growth is an Effective Altruist-aligned organisation focusing on animal welfare and food systems in Asia. They focus on growing the animal advocacy ecosystem in Asia, by conducting research prioritisation on key topics within Asian animal advocacy, developing accessible databases on the alternative protein market in Asian countries, as well as building the research capacity of Asian animal advocacy organisations.
In this video, Good Growth highlights five organisations (including themselves) who might be exciting donation opportunities for those interested in supporting Asian animal advocacy. They are:
- Green Camel Bell, who are working to end the farming of wild animals, such as Giant Salamanders, in China
- Sinergia Animals, who are currently working on cage-free eggs advocacy, institutional outreach for plant-based meals, and investigations in Thailand
- Animal Alliance Asia, who are working on a regranting programme for international funders to reach local advocates in Asia
- Animal Empathy Philippines who are working on capacity-building initiatives to grow the farm animal welfare movement in the Philippines.
Why might you donate to Asian animal advocacy opportunities? Good Growth has made this handy graphic below which might provide some insight!
Why Anima International suspended the campaign to end live fish sales in Poland - Jakub Stencel, Weronika Zurek (Anima International)
Anima International recently took the (brave!) decision recently to suspend their campaign which focuses on ending the live sale of carp in Poland. This campaign was specifically against the purchasing of live carp around Christmas time, a tradition in some post-communist countries in East Europe. Animal advocacy groups had achieved significant wins with this campaign, leading to major retailers withdrawing from the sale of live fish.
However, Anima International became worried about the consumer trend to replace carp with other fish, such as salmon. As salmon is a carnivorous fish (and carp mostly isn’t), Anima International was increasingly concerned this campaign could actually be leading to more animal deaths, as salmon farming often requires fish feed. Anima calculates that buying one Atlantic Salmon requires around 11 times more fish deaths than buying the same weight in common carp, due to considerations around weight, mortality rates and number of feed fish required to bring these animals to sale weight. As a result, Anima International took the difficult decision to suspend this long standing campaign, in light of potential negative impacts on fish.
Longtermism and Animal Farming Trajectories - Michael Dello (Sentience Institute)
Michael Dello explores three questions in this piece, namely:
- What trajectory towards the end of animal farming are we currently on? (i.e. is it technological or social change as the prime mechanism)
- Could we change the trajectory of how animal farming ends?
- How would different trajectories of ending animal farming affect animal issues in the long-term? (i.e. if we have technological progress ending animal farming, this might mean we have less moral circle expansion to care about wild animals)
After a broad exploration of the various impacts of different trajectories, Michael takes the position that social change, rather than technological change through alternative proteins, might produce better outcomes in the long-term. Specifically, he highlights that social change, potentially achieved through moral circle expansion and advocacy, will likely lead to reduced risk of recidivism (animal farming returning), better attitudes towards wild animals, as well as increased moral consideration of artificial sentience.
Don’t Balk at Animal-friendly Results - Bob Fischer (Rethink Priorities)
The sixth post in the Moral Weights Project by Rethink Priorities. This project makes two assumptions:
- Hedonism, the position that well-being consists only of positive and negative conscious experiences, is true.
- The best way to assess the different capacities of animals to have these positive and negative experiences is to look at other capacities which might serve as an analogue for hedonic potential (simply, how intensely one can experience things).
This post considers whether the Equality Result - the conclusion that chickens and humans might have similar abilities to experience positive and negative states - might be surprising enough to think one of two assumptions above might be mistaken.
The author argues no - that the Equality Result shouldn’t be particularly surprising if we assume hedonism as our theory of well-being. Specifically, reasons to be sceptical of the Equality Result (with brief counter-arguments) include:
- The implications might be extremely counterintuitive e.g. we allocate significant ‘neartermist’ funding towards animal welfare, away from other issues. However, this is not a problem of the Equality Result - it’s simply a result of using utilitarian logic to determine outcomes.
- Theories of welfare besides hedonism might not imply the Equality Result, and people may have good reasons to believe these theories of welfare. However, a previous post has argued that even choosing a different theory of welfare will not change results considerably.
- This result is just extremely counterintuitive, even if we believe our assumptions of hedonism and using hedonic proxies are true. Sadly, human’s intuitions have often been biased against moral circle expansion, so we should be very cognisant that there are other biases against considering animals morally.
This post doesn’t present the case that chickens and humans actually do have similar hedonic potentials, rather, that we shouldn’t dismiss this finding lightly.
Abolitionist in the Streets, Pragmatist in the Sheets: New Ideas for Effective Animal Advocacy - Dhruv Makwana
An impressive four-part dive into a case for abolitionist approaches to animal advocacy within Effective Altruism, the current limitations of EA Animal Advocacy, scrutinising objects to abolitionist approaches, as well as some proposed approaches for the Effective Animal Advocacy community. The proposed limitations include:
- Corporate welfare campaigns have several potential drawbacks, such as: pledges being used by agribusiness to launder their image, success being defined as numbers of birds moved from cages to aviaries rather than animal suffering directly, watering down of the Better Chicken Commitment, and the difficulty of ensuring compliance in low-and-middle-income countries.
- Challenges in cultivated meat that might mean it might not ever reach price parity with the cheapest animal products. Even if it did, it’s still not clear that consumers would flock to these products as has been touted previously.
- Relative neglect of low-and-middle-income countries, particularly in Africa, despite the importance they might play in future animal suffering.
Dhruv provides some recommendation of ideas that may not be guaranteed to work, but also might have been dismissed prematurely without adequate attention:
- Scaling Animal Agriculture Transitions (through supporting farmers to transition, and challenging the stereotype that animal advocates are anti-farmer).
- Documents (and other media)
- Rights-based legal actions
- Street Outreach
- Increasing plant-based food and education