I am with this post requesting feedback from experienced EA:s engaged in research, funding, animal welfare and behaviouralism, Could this project be worth working on and if not - discuss alternative solutions. 

Story: On some Australian long distance highways there are “Drive-and-Revive“ stops, where you get coffee and a snack for free, with the intent of drivers taking a rest from their long drives. The idea is that the cost on society to provide snacks is lower than the potential cost on society of someone having an accident. 

Can it be so that the cost of supporting free plant based cooking education will be lower than the cost on society for healthcare on unhealthy eating, non human animals dying and the planet suffering etc? 

Goal: Spread the plant-based diet (PBD).

Why: For the sake of the planet and its inhabitants. 

Ethos: Be understanding and forgiving about how difficult the transition to a PBD is and use realistic incentives to encourage the change: peoples’ self interest. No shaming. Reward effort, not performance. 

Problem: Transitioning to a PBD is hard and requires substantial behaviour change, which is challenging already for someone with bandwidth to do it, but much harder for someone with lack of time and/or finances. We can not expect anyone to go through these changes without help or without correct incentive. Some, but not all, aspects that require change are:

-Motivation -Planning -Shopping  -Cooking -Flavours -Digestion -Storage

Project main activity: Use an existing or new movement to motivate and alleviate the transition to a PBD for consumer, group and societal levels. A backed-by-science curriculum gets developed with the help of psychologists, nutritionists, environmentalists, chefs, neuroscientists etc. It gets tested and reiterated. It contains actionable advice about how to go through the process of eating more plants, waste less, how to avoid future disease and the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle. 

- Teachers provide courses and coaching using the curriculum for consumers. 

-Advisors provide free coaching on how to provide a PBD for groups like restaurants, catering, organisations and other corporations. 

-Movement lobbyists and influencers meet with decision makers on societal level.

Price: There can be no cost for the participants - as that generally will be a friction point too large for them to want to learn. On the contrary - they should be rewarded financially or with food products to learn. Only when given a strong incentive can you motivate otherwise uninterested consumers to want to make an effort in PB living. Measures can be taken to avoid people taking advantage of the system.

Question: Could the project be cost effectively funded by donors, governments and potentially sponsors (like PB food companies etc), motivated by reducing suffering and cost on society?

In my opinion: I care deeply about animal welfare, but in my opinion it needs to be separated from the curriculum. Shaming people into stop changing behaviour is not effective. I can highly recommend listening to this podcast with psychologist and author Melanie Joy, in which she goes over how to communicate with non vegans, and how to contribute to the solution even though you are not able to become vegan.

Finally: I’m looking forward to tapping into the great accumulated knowledge of this forum’s participants. This is my first post, I’m an aspiring EA and not in academia, so I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from your feedback. Thank you.





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Intriguing idea, thanks for sharing. In general think it's worth at least doing some tentative exploration all ideas to increasing the popularity of plant-based diets.

There seems to be an implicit assumption in your post that courses/coaching on plant-based eating will either increase the probability that somebody adopts a plant-based diet, or increases the probability that they stick with it. Has this assumption been tested, to your knowledge? It could also be that this intervention would mostly reach people who are keen on plant-based eating anyway, which is why I think it'd be good to test these assumptions in reality (pilot study or similar).

You might also get some useful feedback by sharing this idea with the RECAP group (https://www.recapresearch.org/join-recap) or Faunalytics, if you haven't already, as both of those groups have people thinking along these lines. I also mention this because - in my opinion - we should be focusing on whatever plant-based interventions appear to work the best. So, for this idea to be deserving of resources (in the long-term, after the idea is tested) it would also need to be shown that this idea works as well as, or better than, other plant-based interventions available to us. (Admittedly, I'm not sure what the best plant-based interventions are right now, but Faunalytics has loads of research on this.)

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. 

  1. It's true that it is an implicit assumption that courses will increase plant based eating. That must be tested yes.
  2. As I've held courses about subjects like security and nutrition, I keep noticing that the participants that freely join are not those that need it the most - but, as you say, those who already have an interest for the subject. I feel like you have to "pry" knowledge like this into people that are not genuinely interested in it - by incentivising them. So yes the target audience would not be those who already have a lean towards a PBD.
  3. I'll forward this post to both RECAP and Faunalytics and get their opinion. Indeed I'm now curious what the best proved plant based interventions are.

Thanks for sharing your piece and for citing our new study. There are many existing courses and programs to support people going veg*n so my feeling is that there isn't much additional mileage to be gained there by creating another one, but I don't know of any testing about paying people. It's a nice parallel to pay-per-view and pay-per-read advocacy. Worth testing, in my opinion, but I agree with the point about people who need it most not being the ones who would sign up. Another approach could be to focus specifically on the people who in our study had ability barriers (lack of access), where individual strategies weren't helpful. If you provided money for them to get veg food delivery, that would address some of those systemic barriers.

Thank you for joining the conversation Jo. Faunalytics is as far as I know one of the best sources of information regarding this subject.

I agree that the main point is to open the eyes of those that previously were interested in PB eating. Probably "Peter" and his family who are dead set meat eaters wouldn't be interested in free classes about plant based eating since they would see no benefits to it. Hence the idea for monetary rewards. 

I agree that there's probably no inherent value in creating another program for the sake of creating another program. What I'm hoping is to place efforts where they can make the most positive impact. I'd love to know from your perspective, using all your experience in the area- which program(s) do you think have the best effect of transitioning and retaining meat eaters to eat as much plants as possible instead?

Hey Johannes, thanks for this. I think that transitioning the world from consuming animal products is imperative, so I'm in favor of trying such a project. And I think it would be well-worth funding and setting up to collect useful data. 

Some other considerations:

  • How will people be enticed to such a program / courses? As the other comment says, most people who would join would already lean plant-based. But what about a cook together and eat together situation and make it like a social meetup?
  • For families, they might be helped by more meal plans and batch cooking. Vegan family kitchen provided this for example. On a similar note, if I'm cooking for just myself, I tend to value expediency, cost, and nutrition at the expense of taste. I suspect that many potential participants would be similar.
  • Ideally, the program would probe participants after a year or so and see how much of their diet/cooking is vegan. We'd want to understand when and why recidivism occurs. 
  • Feel free to reach out to Animal Charity Evaluators about funding. They know the animal charity space the best and can advise on who to ask. I'd be happy to introduce you, if helpful. 

Hey Karthik and thank you very much for your response. 

- The exact content of the curriculum should in my opinion be shaped by the most current and relevant information we have at hand about nutrition, behavioural science, psychologists, environmental science etc. I agree with you that facilitating the cooking process will have a relevant role, as the time consumption together with price point seems to act as the biggest friction points for people to eat more plants.

- It's a relevant point but I’m not specialised in how to make sure the education doesn’t end up with participants who are already interested in plant based eating, but I’m sure there are ways. 

- Absolutely, it’s important to keep up to date with how the participants apply the coaching.

- I contact you privately about Animal Charity Evaluators. It was already eye opening to read about some of their previous grantees.

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