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This crucial study not only uncovers what people in specific countries believe about chickens and fishes, but it also identifies which beliefs are associated with specific “animal-positive behaviors” — for example, willingness to reduce one’s chicken and fish consumption or sign a petition for welfare reform.

Read the full study here: www.faunalytics.org/chicken-and-fish-2 


According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, nearly 69 billion chickens were slaughtered in 2018 alone. That same year, fishes slaughtered worldwide weighed nearly 100 million tons. Many of the countries we have surveyed in this line of research—which were Brazil, Canada, China, India, and the United States—contribute in huge quantities to the enormous suffering of chickens and fishes. For example, China, the United States, and Brazil slaughtered more chickens than any other countries in 2018, with India not far behind. In terms of tons of fishes slaughtered, China ranked first in the world, while India was fourth and the U.S. was sixth. In total, the five countries considered in this research account for over 40% of the global chicken slaughter and more than a quarter of global fish slaughter. 

Across the world, advocates are working to improve the welfare of animals and to reduce the consumption of animal products. Because of cultural differences across different regions, it is important that advocates understand the context in which they are working rather than assuming that lessons from one part of the world can be applied to audiences in another. Despite the massive quantities of chicken and fish slaughter committed by each of these countries, it is not necessarily the case that their residents share similar beliefs about these animals. By comparing the country-level findings described in other sections of this report, we can observe similarities and differences in beliefs across countries. This information ishelpful for animal advocates working in an international context. 


Research Team

This project is a collaboration between researchers at Faunalytics and Mercy For Animals (MFA): namely, Zach Wulderk, Jo Anderson, and Tom Beggs of Faunalytics and Courtney Dillard, Walter Sanchez-Suarez, and Sebastian Quaade of MFA. We are indebted to Meredith Hui, Rashmit Arora, Diogo Fernandes, and Vitor Clemente for their assistance with linguistic and cultural translation, and to Cristina Mendonça, Meredith Hui, and Nikunj Sharma for their invaluable feedback.

We'd like to thank the Centre for Effective Altruism Animal Welfare Fund and an anonymous donor for funding this work.


Most people across countries believe that fish are beautiful, can communicate with each other, and feel pain. Chickens are also largely viewed as being capable of pain, communication, and negative emotions. 

There are also beliefs that differ widely across countries, such as the belief that fish need room to explore and exercise, which was less common in India than in most of the countries we surveyed. Considering which beliefs a particular population holds should be a key consideration for any animal advocate.

Beliefs also have different relationships with action across countries. Participants from Canada and the U.S. had the highest average correlations between beliefs and pro-animal behavior. In other words, people from these countries may be more likely to take animal-positive actions based on their beliefs. 

U.S.-Canada Comparison

Beliefs may not be a critical factor for advocates to focus on in the Indian context for the reasons described above. However, for participants from Canada and the U.S., rates of animal-positive behaviors were lower than the other countries we surveyed and their average correlations were often highest. While advocates from these countries may not get as many petition signatures or diet pledges as in Brazil, China, or India, they may be able to lessen the gap by using messaging that incorporates beliefs with the strongest correlations. 

Although the results from these two countries often resembled each other, advocates working on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border should take note of some key differences. For instance, beliefs about fish suffering were more strongly correlated with commitments to reduce fish consumption in the U.S. than they were in Canada, suggesting that advocates may see higher uptake in fish diet pledges in the U.S. than in Canada even when using the same messaging. (Additional information about the strengths of correlations can be found in Tables 12-15 in the Supplementary Materials or in the country-specific reports.) 

Overall, average correlations between beliefs and petition signatures were very similar among participants from the U.S. and Canada. However, Canadians’ average correlations for diet pledges are weaker than those of U.S. participants, and instead more closely resemble the correlations of Brazilian participants. This suggests that advocates may see similar uptake of petition signatures in these neighboring countries, but that the same may not be the case for diet pledges. In other words, advocates should be careful not to assume that the same strategies will always have the same results in both countries. 

What Weak Correlations Mean For Indian Advocacy

Participants from India consistently had weaker average correlations than residents of other countries. Because about three-quarters of Indian participants were willing to take a diet pledge or sign a welfare petition, advocates working in India could consider simply asking for a commitment or signature rather than investing large portions of their resources into messaging particular beliefs.

Welfare Petitions Versus Diet Pledges

In each country in which the petition question was asked, fish petition signatures were more common than fish diet pledges. The same was true for chicken petition signatures and pledges, with the exception of India, where the chicken pledge was slightly more common. This overall trend suggests that people are more willing to take a few seconds to sign a petition than they are to make a broader lifestyle change. In Brazil and the U.S., average correlations were slightly stronger between beliefs and diet pledges than petition signatures, which could mean that emphasizing beliefs would yield better results for advocates focusing on reducing chicken and fish consumption in these countries. 


Pro-Fish Actions Versus Pro-Chicken Actions

Although pro-chicken actions had very slightly stronger average correlations than pro-fish actions in each country, these differences are probably negligible. In other words, beliefs have similar associations with actions that benefit both fishes and chickens. One exception to this is diet pledges in China, where participants had stronger associations between beliefs for the fish diet pledge than for the chicken diet pledge.


Diet Pledge Differences

In Brazil, reduction of chicken consumption was the pro-animal action with the least uptake by far. In Canada and the U.S., similar proportions of participants committed to chicken and fish diet pledges. In China and India, slightly more participants were willing to take the chicken diet pledge than the fish diet pledge. These findings are just one example of why advocates working in an international context should consider cultural and dietary differences between countries when determining which campaigns they will run: openness to certain ideas may vary greatly from country to country. Differences in correlations between beliefs and pro-animal actions underscore this point by demonstrating how similar behaviors can be associated with very different beliefs.


Barriers to Animal-Positive Behaviors

Barriers to pro-animal actions also exist across countries and should be considered when designing advocacy campaigns. Though an imperfect measure, GDP per capita is one way of quantifying the average citizens’ wealth, and is considerably higher in countries like the U.S. and Canada than in countries such as Brazil, China, and India (CIA, 2020). Correlations between beliefs and actions may be higher in wealthier countries because their populations have access to resources that may not be as common in less wealthy countries. For example, a resident of the U.S. may be able to make dietary choices based largely on their beliefs about animals because alternative protein sources are widely available. This may not be the case in all countries. Similarly, backyard chicken farming may be more common in certain countries and residents may be wary about petitions that could result in changes to the regulations around this type of practice. In other words, advocates should not only consider which messages could generate more pro-animal action, but also what barriers may exist for certain populations.


Future Directions

There are several directions future research on this topic could take. Researchers could explore additional countries and identify additional trends across them. Investigations about different animals or different sets of beliefs could also be beneficial to advocates. Greater cultural context for these beliefs and how they can affect pro-animal behavior is also critical to ensure that advocates are able to be as effective as possible. On an even broader scale, the results of this research highlight the need for country-specific research in order to ensure that animal advocacy campaigns are as effective as possible. 

Read the full study here: www.faunalytics.org/chicken-and-fish-2





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