Career Guide for Ending Factory Farming

by Jeffray_Behr29 min read26th May 20214 comments

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Public interest technologyFarmed animal welfareCareer choice
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POST CONTEXT:

This post is a condensed version of the Career Guide for Ending Factory Farming which some friends and I made as a part of the Student-led High-Impact Projects (SHIPs) program. The actual guide, which can be found here, includes job examples, additional resources for further career information and advice as well as notes from the interviews conducted for this project. Also, a website is being developed for this guide and can be found at this domain: altprotein.ca.

The guide is sorted by career area/ field of study so if you are interested in a particular area, I suggest you use the navigation panel on the left to jump to that section. If you would like to know more about any of these areas, I recommend you check out the complete version of that section in the guide.

I would like to thank the following people who helped contribute to this guide: Zehra Abbas, Caitlin Balagula, Alyssa Berris, Blake Byrne, Cash Callaghan, Carissa Cirelli, Neil Dullaghan, Dewi Erwan, Bo Gatarek, Kieran Greig, Friederike Grosse-Holz, Brooke Haggerty, Jamie Harris, Em Heppler, Amy Huang, Sorin Ionescu, Vikki Lenola, Stephen Rykwalder, Jason Schukraft, Jessica Scott-Reid, Kevin Shen, Lucas Solowey, and Daniel Wang.

Introduction

There are many reasons why ending factory farming and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) is an important cause area to dedicate your career towards. Some of the major reasons are its negative environmental impacts, threat to global health, perpetuation of animal suffering, and increased risk of pandemics.

Most people perceive ending factory farming as a career area that only animal-loving vegans who are willing to protest on the streets can do. However, this is far from the truth as there are so many opportunities to make an impact in this area. The purpose of this guide is to show that anyone interested in ending factory farming can use their time, money, and skills to help this cause. The primary focus of this guide is on careers as it provides a brief description of how various career paths/ areas of study can be directed towards ending factory farming. This guide is only meant to serve as a starting point for finding a career in this area since it consolidates some of the basic information for various career paths.

Since the movement to end factory farming is relatively new and fairly neglected, it is generally both funding and talent constrained. As such, it would greatly benefit from having more individuals pursuing careers in this space. However, there is a higher need for some jobs compared to others as indicated in Animal Advocacy Careers’ spot-check in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. In particular, there is a talent bottleneck for science and engineering roles.

This guide also includes non-career things anyone can do to help end factory farming.

This guide focuses on jobs in the alternative protein (plant-based meat, fermentation, and cultivated* meat) sector as well as jobs in animal welfare in so far as they aim to end or reduce reliance on factory farming and other unsustainable and unethical forms of animal agriculture (including aquaculture, insect farming, honey production, etc.).

*a.k.a cultured meat, clean meat, cell-based meat, lab-grown meat, in-vitro meat

Caveat: This project was written by people with minimal experience in this industry, but who consulted with others who are actively working in these career paths. As a result, the suggestions in this project are meant to act as a guideline and are by no means exhaustive and/or guaranteed to get one a job in this space.

General Career Advice

The following are some simple actions that you can take to better prepare yourself to work in a career which aims to end factory farming. These are generalized things which are beneficial for anyone (especially those with limited experience in this area) to help you to become more employable in this area, regardless what career path you pursue.

1. Learn (to obtain a general overview of the why this is such an important area to work in as well as some potential solutions to solve this problem)

2. Volunteer (to gain a better understanding of the physical, legal, and social challenges involved in tackling the complex issue of factory farming)

  • spend time working for non-profit organizations and/or charities dedicated towards ending factory farming

3. Network (to hear about the latest developments/breakthroughs as well as make more people aware of your interest in this area since when it comes to hiring, employers prefer to hire people that they already know)

Job boards

Here are some job boards with positions relevant to ending factory farming:

*not specific to just jobs for ending factory farming

Science

Biology

There are numerous aspects to the study of biology which are relevant to developing alternative proteins. Firstly, plant biologists can explore the vast amount of plants and evaluate them on their potential to be used in plant-based products in terms of providing protein, fat, structure, taste, colour, smell, and other attributes. So little research has been done on this meaning there is an untapped potential to create new and novel plant-based products which could be even better than animal products, but we just haven’t discovered them yet. Animal and marine biologists can study the behaviour of various land and aquatic life to better understand their nervous systems and brains (to determine how they think and feel which could be useful for moral weighting) as well as identify what conditions led to illness when they are factory farmed. Human and pathogen biologists can study the transmission and development of zoonotic diseases between animals and humans. Also, they could assess how the use of antibiotics in factory farms will lead to greater human deaths due to antibiotic resistance. Both of these would help to provide stronger justification to health organizations and governments to move towards a future without factory farming. Cell biologists can assist with the development of cellular agriculture into viable products, particularly looking at stem cells and growth media.

Chemistry

Chemistry is useful for understanding the behaviour of molecules on a micro level which can be especially beneficial for protein binding and denaturation, fermentation, and other chemical reactions involved in the process of creating alternative proteins.

Computer Science and Data Analytics

Many people assume that there is little relevance between computer science and factory farming. However, this is not the case as programmers and people with a strong mathematical background are needed to figure out the optimal way to design alternative proteins and the equipment used to make them. Data analysis is used to process the data required for operations, scientific research, or product/business purposes including equipment sensors, bioreactor monitoring, genetic sequencing, etc. Another aspect of this career path is computational modelling which is extremely beneficial for analyzing cell differentiation into tissues and scaffold design for cultivated meat. Even artificial intelligence is useful for assessing numerous combinations of proteins, optimizing ingredients for plant-based meats (i.e. Climax Foods), and other applications which we haven’t thought of yet. Furthermore, creating apps which promote and educate on plant-based eating is another avenue that someone in this field could pursue.

Food Science

Chefs may say that making food is an art, but actually there is an abundance of science involved. The study of food science consists of how ingredients behave with other ingredients under various conditions, how combinations of ingredients evoke different sensory experiences, and how they can be produced in a safe and quality controlled manner. One of the most important factors consumers consider when purchasing food is taste (which is closely followed by texture). Alternative protein products will only gain consumer acceptance if they can mimic (or even exceed) the animal products which they are aiming to replace in terms of taste and texture. Food scientists are critical to developing alternative proteins such that these products can achieve this goal.

Nutritional Science

Many medical professionals receive minimal education on nutrition and therefore lack a good understanding of the importance of diet on health. Some researchers have proven links between consuming animal products and numerous health issues including heart disease, colorectal cancer, and diabetes. In some instances, switching to a plant-based diet has been shown to reverse some of these conditions. Therefore, conducting more research on the health implications of eating animal products could better strengthen the argument of reducing meat, egg, and dairy consumption, thereby convincing more people to do so, especially those who are health conscious. Also, doctors and dieticians can encourage their patients to adopt a plant-based lifestyle by providing them with this empirical research.

Physics

Physics is useful for understanding the development of the structure of ingredients on a macro level for plant-based meat forming/texturizing and scaffolding for cultivated meat as well as the processes and equipment involved in forming these products (i.e. shear cell technology and 3-D printing).

Engineering

Bioengineering

Work on cultivated meat would greatly benefit from more bioengineers and others working on biotechnology as they could help design cell scaffolding and tissue structuring as well as cell growth factor optimization. In addition, they could help scale up the production of cultivated meats to a level in which they could be mass produced.

Chemical Engineering

In order to produce cultivated meat, particularly at scale, cultivated meat cells need to be grown in bioreactors, which are manufactured devices that support biologically active environments. Cell culture bioreactors are used extensively in the medical field to produce pharmaceuticals, vaccines, or antibodies and use cell lines that are specifically designed for medical applications. Chemical engineers can play a massive role in designing bioreactors for cultivated meat facilities, which will allow for these facilities to produce cells at large volumes with low complexity. Specifically, chemical engineers can help adapt bioreactors cultivated meat cells, as opposed to the cell lines used in the medical industry. They can also develop and improve methods for adapting meat cells to suspension culture, as opposed to adherent cell culture. Finally, chemical engineers can discover and develop methods to capture useful side stream products that are produced during animal cell metabolism within cultivators, which can serve as an additional source of revenue for cultivated meat companies.

Mechanical Engineering

Someone has to design the equipment used to make alternative proteins (i.e. extruders, shear cells, cultivated meat bioreactors, fermentors). This is where mechanical engineers could use their skills to help further develop the alternative protein space. One of the main reasons which prevents alternative proteins from gaining a greater portion of the global protein market is their currently higher cost compared to conventional protein sources (meat, eggs, and dairy). Creating better versions of the equipment used in producing alternative proteins could substantially help to bring down the cost of alternative proteins to become on par (or even cheaper) than conventional protein sources, leading to greater consumer sales to facilitate the transition to a food system with less animal products.

Other Engineering (Automation, Civil, Electrical, etc.)

As alternative proteins companies continue to scale up, they will move beyond pilot scale facilities and co-manufacturers to make their products. This means they will aim to build their own production plants, like Plant & Bean in the U.K., which will require numerous engineers. Automation engineers are needed to set up the controls for the equipment. Civil engineers can design the structure of these plants to handle the loads as well as HVAC and plumbing requirements. Electrical engineers would be responsible for installing the electrical systems within the plant thus allowing it to be fully functional (electrical engineers could also be useful for biosensor development for bioreactors).

Social Science

Anthropology

There is little understanding of why people kill animals, eat meat, and exploit some animals for food. Anthropologists can delve into how various civilizations developed cultures around the slaughtering and consumption of animals which may provide answers to some of these questions. This knowledge would be useful for formulating better arguments against the consumption of animal products and is beneficial to alternative protein and animal welfare marketers.

History

Historians can investigate how animal agriculture practices have evolved into the factory farms of today as well as researching how common myths about vegetarianism/veganism came to exist (i.e. insufficient protein, vegans are hippies). Learning from the experiences of the past could enable one to identify ways to transition to a more plant-based food system and improve vegetarianism/veganism messaging moving forward.

Law

As the alternative protein market continues to grow, the meat industry has tried to find various ways to oppose alternative proteins’ infringement on its industry. For example, some states tried to implement laws which prevented plant-based burgers from being labelled as “burgers”. Alternative protein companies need strong lawyers to defend against these sort of attacks. Also, once cultivated meat is approved, it is likely that some states may file a lawsuit against the labelling of these products (as done with plant-based meat products) so lawyers will be needed to protect the cultivated meat companies from these lawsuits. Furthermore, “ag-gag” laws which aim to punish whistleblowers and undercover activists for recording footage of what goes on in factory farms, have deterred many potential undercover investigators from entering factory farms. Lawyers could defend those prosecuted under “ag-gag” laws to claim that the law violates First Amendment rights.

Philosophy

There currently is a limited understanding of how and why animals behave. Having more research into this would enable humans to have a better sense of animals’ intelligence, sentience, capacity to suffer, and other attributes which are “human-like”. If there is greater confidence that pigs, for example, can have aspirations, then there would be a stronger moral argument against eating them. Philosophers could use these analyses to contemplate and propose moral weights for various types of animals (i.e. how much should the life of a cow be valued compared to a chicken, fish, or insect).

Political Science

Lobbying for improving animal welfare policies and developing regulations to reduce meat production has been very impactful in the past. People doing this policy work can help to establish laws to create better conditions for farmed animals and make meat production less profitable (i.e. reducing the line speed of meat processing facilities improves worker conditions, results in fewer processing errors such as boiling live chickens, and lowers the production of meat). One of the major reasons that conventional meat is so cheap is because of subsidies to animal agriculture. By lobbying for the elimination of these subsidies (or shift of these subsidies towards alternative proteins), one could greatly speed up the timeline for alternative proteins to reach price parity with conventional meat. In addition to lobbying, those working in the political environment can allocate more government spending towards research into developing better alternative protein products.

Another aspect of political science is policy and regulation development. When Singapore became the first country in the world to give regulatory approval for cultivated meat in 2020, it was likely the beginning of a transition to a food system with more alternative proteins as it signaled to other countries that there is a path forward for viable adoption of cultivated meat. However, no other country has done this as there are many regulatory issues regarding the legality of selling cultivated meat. Although the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they’d established a framework for regulating cell-based meat, it is still preliminary, and it leaves some important questions unanswered, including labelling. Doing policy work with the USDA and/or FDA to speed up the process allowing for the regulatory sale of cultivated meat and ensuring that it will have fair labelling would be very beneficial.

Psychology and Sociology

The alternative protein industry could be greatly improved by gaining more insights into human psychology and sociology. Specifically, answering questions such as: what are the main mental motivators and social determinants which lead people to either buy or not buy alternative proteins, how do people react to different alternative protein marketing approaches (i.e. what name for meat grown from cells are consumers most likely to accept/purchase), and what emotions are associated with various texture and taste profiles. This will help alternative proteins gain a greater share of the protein market through improved consumer acceptance, awareness, and accessibility.

Religion

Religious scholars can analyze how religious texts perceive the well-being of animals and acceptance of eating meat. Some cultures involve the sacrifice of an animal for certain traditions. By questioning the relevance of killing animals in the modern world and whether this is what “god” intended may help people to see that the relationship between their beliefs may not be aligned with their actions.

Business

Accounting

Accounting and animals may not seem to go together, however, accountants have an in-depth understanding of the financial picture of organizations thus allowing them to identify opportunities to reduce cost inefficiencies. Figuring out where to bring down the cost of alternative proteins is critical to alternative proteins capturing a greater share of the protein market. Also, accountants are able to calculate the metrics such as price-to-earning ratio, free cash flow, and return on equity, which are required to convince potential investors and donors to provide funding. Furthermore, accountants can help ensure that alternative protein companies and animal welfare NGOs are following the correct financial procedures and documentation so that they pass when audited as well as correctly file taxes. Failing an audit or being accused of tax fraud can have disastrous effects on an organization causing them to lose credibility and tarnish the public's perception of the movement to end factory farming as a whole.

Economics

In current societies based on capitalism, economics is an essential aspect to consider to ensure growth and longevity. Movements (such as ending factory farming) will only prevail if there is an economic incentive to do so. As such, economists can have a large impact on the future of our food systems. Some specific examples of analyses which can be conducted include:

  • assessing how shifting the subsidies currently provided to animal agriculture would impact the price of plant-based meat if it was put towards the crops used to make plant-based meat
  • determining the true cost of meat considering all of the externalized costs such as environmental pollution, water scarcity, land degradation, greenhouse gas emissions, factory farm worker exploitation, human healthcare, etc.
  • investigating the amount of spending put towards healthcare for treating diseases which have been linked to consumption of animal products such as cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, and diabetes as well as the impact of increased antibiotic resistance resulting from factory farming on future healthcare costs
  • predicting how the cost of cultivated meat will decrease and the associated impact on its share of the global protein market over time

The results of these analyses could be used to convince governments, corporations, investors, and the general public to realize the monetary benefit of transitioning to a food system without factory farming.

Entrepreneurship

If alternative proteins are to ever have a chance at replacing meat as the primary source of the world’s protein, then substantial effort must be made in the private sector to make them commercially viable. Entrepreneurship is critical to this as the more businesses that are involved in creating alternative proteins, the greater the likelihood that one or more of them will be successful. Although there are hundreds of alternative protein companies, it is believed that in this industry there are so many opportunities for new developments that the market is not yet oversaturated. Therefore, new companies can still come into existence without diminishing the chance of success of other companies. People who are innovative thinkers, have a lot of grit, and great people skills are best suited to pursue this path. However, it should be noted that there is a high risk of failure.

Human Resources

Human resource roles are an essential part of every organization (both for-profit and nonprofit) because they ensure that all employees are treated fairly (keeping them motivated to stay with the organization), help resolve conflicts that could undermine the success of the organization, and hire outstanding people to help grow the organization. Since many alternative protein companies and animal welfare NGOs are relatively small, they often lack strong HR departments due to their limited staffing and budget.

Investing

Investing may not seem to have any relevance to ending factory farming, but those working in the investment sector have the potential to greatly influence the transition to a more sustainable and ethical food system. This can be achieved by starting investment opportunities for alternative protein companies, promoting and convincing investment in these companies, and predicting the trends in the alternative protein industry as a way to determine which investments will be the most profitable for shareholders. Venture capitalists can personally invest in these companies. Through putting more capital into alternative protein companies (and away from animal agriculture companies), it will increase the likelihood of success of these companies as well as the speed at which they are able to grow, thereby helping them to gain a bigger portion of the protein market faster.

Management and Logistics

Every company and organization needs managers as they oversee strategic plans to ensure they are met as well as guide others to support them in achieving their goals. In order for alternative protein and animal welfare organizations to be successful, they require exceptional people in management positions to lead teams and direct them towards the organization’s mission. Effective managers are motivational, attentive listeners, and reflective. Although they don’t do the hands-on/frontline work, they are a vital part of any organization and since these organizations are relatively young, powerful managers could have a large influence and really make progress towards initiating change to a food system without factory farms. Another part of management is supply chain management and logistics. All organizations need to establish supply chains for their resources whether it is plant protein ingredients, growth media, packaging, or even money/donations.

Marketing

Marketers are critical to expanding the alternative protein industry and animal welfare movement. Skilled marketers bring forth messages in a way that resonates with the general public. This includes knowing things like how to appeal to the emotional part of the brain (not just the rational brain), storytelling, how to demonstrate the benefits of products in interesting ways (not just the features), understanding peoples’ biases, understanding the audience, summarizing complex information succinctly, and so much more. Most alternative protein companies are fairly new and small, and they have to compete with the animal agriculture corporations which have well established brands, a dedicated consumer following, and vast marketing budgets. In addition, they compete with other alternative protein companies for the few consumers who currently eat their products. As a result, strong advertising campaigns are essential for these companies to grow. Creative and out-of-the-box ideas have helped some alternative protein companies stand out and remain memorable such as the 2021 Oatly Super Bowl ad. The animal welfare movement has struggled to find the optimal messaging to convince people to empathize with animals and perhaps focusing more on the negative environmental impacts of factory farming or the health benefits of a plant-based diet may be a more appealing argument. Marketers could help develop this type of messaging.

Public Relations and Communication

Building a unique and respectable brand is critical to alternative protein companies as they aim to gain more consumers. Ensuring that the public trusts the brand is very important. Maintaining positive communications with celebrity spokespeople, the media, sponsors, and investors is another duty of someone in this role. As the alternative protein industry continues to gradually infringe on the meat industry’s portion of the protein market, the meat industry may start campaigns against alternative protein companies to taint their reputation. It is the responsibility of those working in public relations to defend against these attacks.

Arts and Entertainment

Actors, Athletes, Musicians, and Other Celebrities

Actors, athletes, musicians, and other celebrities can promote plant-based living. They can do this on their own by word of mouth and via social media. To have a greater impact they can team up with documentaries, dieticians, media, nonprofits, businesses and more. Their celebrity status can greatly influence others to change their diet as they often have a large following who are more likely to adopt something, if they do.

Journalism

Journalism is essential when it comes to helping animals. Journalists bring the stories to the public that they otherwise would not know about. This can be anything from the latest alternative protein products, including their benefits and availability, to animal abuse that is typically hidden from society. Exposing some of these issues will help to better inform people and may get them to rethink their pre-existing notions about factory farming. Different outlets for journalism exist, including (but not limited to) newspapers, magazines, blogs, and books.

Visual Design (Media Arts, Filmmaking, and Web Development)

An effective way to get people to care about animals, the environment, and/or their health, is to tell them a story. Great pictures/films elicit powerful sentiments and tell meaningful stories since “a picture says 1,000 words” (and a video says even more). This is the role that a visual artist can play in the fight to eliminate factory farming. There are many ways that visual designers can contribute. Firstly, designing media art such as campaign graphics for animal welfare NGOs and advertisements and packaging for alternative protein products, will help bring awareness of animal suffering and entice people to stand up against it. Secondly, making films which highlight the impacts of factory farming as well as editing footage from undercover investigations to strategically evoke strong emotional responses can be very beneficial to this cause. Some successful documentaries on this subject include The Game Changers, Cowspiracy, What The Health, and Forks Over Knives. Thirdly, developing websites for organizations that have the goal of ending factory farming can really help them to attract new users, retain existing users, and convey information effectively. Since many of these organizations are small, they often don’t prioritize web development so their user engagement suffers as a result.

Other - General

Advocacy

Advocating for animals is important as they do not have a voice in our society to speak for themselves so people must advocate on their behalf. Advocacy work can be highly impactful as it can influence others to change their diet (thus reducing the demand for meat) and more importantly, it can lead to industry changes (such as adding more plant-based options) and governments implementing policies (i.e. slower plant processing speeds to reduce meat production). In addition, it can help build the movement, raise awareness, and expand the community. Advocacy work is highly impactful, evidenced by the increase in the percentage of cage-free hens in the U.S. from 6% in 2015 to 29% in 2021 which is a direct result of animal activists campaigning to various food corporations.

Fundraising

All nonprofits need funding and since they don’t generate profit, they rely solely on donations to fund their programs, which makes fundraising very important. The greater the funds raised, the more work the nonprofit is able to achieve (ideally corresponding to a larger influence) and most nonprofits are generally underfunded/ have a lot more room for funding (meaning that they could easily use significantly more money before reaching a point where it would be used ineffectively or be wasted). The effectiveness of fundraising work can yield between 300% and 900% return on investment for organizations. There are numerous forms of fundraising including public campaigns, peer-to-peer, corporate, trusts, grants, etc. Fundraisers are not usually a highly desirable role within organizations, which makes their counterfactually impact high as well as ensures better job security.

Investigative Work

Many animal welfare NGOs recruit average people to work in factory farms and conduct undercover investigations (usually by wearing hidden cameras) to document poor practices within the factories. This footage is then used in court cases as well as in the media to illustrate the horrific treatment of animals in these factories, which can be quite impactful. This job is fairly easy to get since it requires no skills and is not highly sought after due to its difficult and grotesque working conditions, both physically and mentally. NGOs can only send people who have not publicly expressed views against factory farms since factory farming companies won’t hire them. There is becoming fewer and fewer of these people who are able (if you do it once, it can be tough or next to impossible to get hired by another company since they suspect you would do undercover work again) and willing (not many animal welfare advocates can stomach being the ones physically slaughtering animals) to do this job.

Work at Alternative Protein Companies and Animal Welfare NGOs

Work at alternative protein companies and animal welfare NGOs is useful in the alternative protein and animal welfare space because as alternative protein companies and animal welfare NGOs continue to grow, they will need more employees to increase their production and influence. There are many roles within these companies and NGOs which require minimal to no specific skills. These more generic roles are the ones which there will be the greatest demand for as these companies’ and NGOs’ capacity to do their work depends on their ability to create output. For example, an alternative protein company can only produce as much product that it’s production workers can create. Therefore, having more production workers means that it has a greater capacity to create more products. Examples of some of these roles are technician/factory worker, delivery person, custodian, and administrative worker.

Other - Specialized

Agriculture and Farming

Helping to grow more crops used in plant-based proteins such as soybeans, peas, mung beans, chickpeas, etc. would make them more available for plant-based meat companies to purchase. Further expanding the production of these crops would reduce their overall cost (since as production scales, overhead cost per unit decreases) thereby helping plant-based meat become more cost competitive compared to conventional meat.

Animal Farm Inspecting and Regulation

Inspecting factory farms and enforcing rules (and fines) to ensure that the animals are treated properly could improve the welfare of animals. However, raising awareness of poor animal treatment practices may help lead to factory shutdowns and possibly a reformation of the animal treatment laws. Also, there are a limited number of inspectors, and currently not enough of them to assess all the factory farms to ensure that these factories are adhering to the regulations. Therefore, there is a high need for people to take on this role.

Animal Medicine

Specifically focusing on treating animals in factory farms since there are so many farmed animals (orders of magnitude more than pets) can be a simple way to reduce a lot of animal suffering. Taking it one step further would be to propose methods to improve the welfare of animals on factory farms and informing others of how the unsanitary conditions of factory farms can negatively impact human health and loss of revenue (due to animal mortality rates). Other work could include helping rescued animals from factory farms and/or working on animal sanctuaries.

Culinary

Finding ways to make plant-based options taste great is an excellent way to show people that they don’t have to compromise on taste when eating meat alternatives, which is where culinary expertise plays a key role. Also, talented chefs can prepare plant-based meals to make them more visually appealing to consumers resulting in higher acceptance. Developing more plant-based dishes to be available on menus could lead to more people trying them and reducing meat consumption.

Meta Research

There are many aspects of alternative protein development and animal welfare that are unknown (i.e. what is the most cost-effective way to convince people to eat less meat). Therefore, more research into these areas could help enable a better understanding of how to best end factory farming (finding donation opportunities to maximize the number of animal lives saved). This can also include doing an analysis of academic journals and research papers to consolidate and compare results. This type of meta research helps to allocate funding to academic institutions to develop alternative proteins and animal welfare understanding. This research can impact funders, animal advocacy, policy makers, academics, and society as a whole. Demonstrating to philanthropists that their money is used as effectively as possible is another aspect of this career path.

Teaching/Education

Educating people on the importance of ending factory farming (ethics of animal welfare, impacts on the environment, risks of zoonotic diseases, health benefits of a plant-based diet, sustainability of a the food system with a growing population, working conditions of factory farm workers) could led to them pursuing it as a career or at least donate to effective charities working towards ending factory farming. Also, teaching social and emotional learning (SEL) to any students from young age to adulthood can help people develop empathy. Not only is this a win for the animals, but it can greatly help them in their personal lives.

Non-career things anyone can do to help end factory farming

Here is a list of simple actionable steps you can implement in your day-to-day life outside of your career to help end factory farming:

  • Adopt a flexitarian, reducetarian, pescatarian, vegetarian, or vegan diet
  • Purchase alternative protein products at grocery stores and restaurants
  • Vote for policies to improve the welfare of farmed animals and implement stricter guidelines about their processing practices
  • Sign petitions associated with ending factory farming
  • Write op-eds about the benefits of transitioning away from factory farming
  • Share articles about alternative proteins and animal welfare on social media
  • Talk about the benefits of alternative proteins with friends, family, and others
  • Email, call, or comment on social media asking companies producing and selling animal products to transition away from factory farming (the Humane League Fast Action Network has numerous specific ways for you to do this)
  • Protest and/or campaign against factory farming
  • Join an Alt Protein Project at a university or start a new one
  • Donate to Animal Charity Evaluator’s top recommended charities
  • Invest in alternative protein companies/vegan stocks
  • Volunteer for nonprofits that support animal advocacy (i.e. leafleting in public places)
  • Do a side project related to ending factory farming (i.e. research ways to improve plant-based diet adoption)
  • Apply to be a research study test subject for studies related to ending factory farming (i.e. plant-based meat consumer surveys)
  • Buy green bonds and/or climate bonds (as they can provide billions of dollars to farms to transition to animal-free farming)
  • Use the new tool Free Will to easily gift stocks to PETA (or similar NGOs)

If you found this post interesting, I encourage you to read the complete version of the guide and especially look into the "Further Resources" section.

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4 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 12:07 AM
New Comment

Wow, this is really comprehensive. Awesome job! It's amazing you have all this content. It's as if this is the type of content Animal Advocacy Careers could or should be creating. Maybe they can link to your guide in their website once your website is up. Or maybe you would consider just having your guide be on their website, although I don't know if they would agree with all of the advice you wrote here.

I also have a few suggestions:

  1. I think it's worth putting who your main target audience is for this guide, such as what age range, which countries they should be from, or where a majority of the jobs are located. I assume that this guide is mainly for people aged 18+ in Western countries, especially the U.S. If you want the guide to not just be for people in Western countries, you can include parts of or link to AAC's skills profile about growing the animal advocacy movement in neglected countries.
  2. Maybe a section on the salary ranges of jobs in animal advocacy would be good, i.e. which jobs are highest paying and which might be lower paying.
  3. Possibly a section on the diversity or lack of diversity in the animal advocacy movement would be good to include. Maybe you can write something about encouraging people of color to join the movement, since that's something people in the movement have highlighted as needed.
  4. I think you should mention somewhere in the guide, perhaps in the Entrepreneurship section, that people can apply to the EA Animal Welfare Fund if they want to start a non-profit or project in the animal welfare or plant-based space. You can then link to their Request for Proposals.

Let me know what you think of these comments!

In particular, there is a talent bottleneck for science and engineering roles.

As someone with experience hiring in the alternative protein sector, I have a few thoughts about this:

  • The current talent bottlenecks in the industry may not be a great guide for a young professional's career, at least in the alternative protein sector. Things in these industries change extremely quickly. Given that it could take 5+ years to get educated in one of these technical fields, the landscape by the time you finish your degree may look pretty different. Product improvement is a major focus now, but in the future I can see a major emphasis on policy (government funding for technical research can be a massive resource for public-good focused industries), management, operations, and marketing / PR (e.g. once the competition with conventional meat gets a bit dirtier).
  • In my experience, the talent bottleneck for food science is greater than for other technical fields. Plant-based, cultivated, and fermented alt-proteins all need food scientists, and the explosion in plant-based meat (which is 10x bigger than cultivated and fermented) has put a lot of strain on that labor market. I also think it may be somewhat faster to get trained in food science than in e.g. bioengineering.

Very thorough writeup :)

Thank you for writing this guide.

I made a career mistake which is relevant for others interested in helping animals. The takeaway from my mistake is that, depending on one's skills, one should not be too quick to dismiss earning to give as a career path, despite the indirect route to doing good. Some people have skills that can make them enough money to pay for more than one salary at an effective organization that benefits animals, so earning to give can in some cases be much more effective than direct work.

I once had a successful software business, but in the later years I didn't like the work much. When I discovered factory farming, veganism and EA, I decided that I wanted to help animals directly. It felt more meaningful than software: actively working to end factory farming, not just making money to donate. What I did not realize at the time was that this was just a temporary phase after discovering veganism, and the motivation to work directly in the field would not last forever (although it lasted a few years).
I eventually began doing volunteer animal activism, and I did an internship at an animal charity, because I wanted to start a new career as an EAA researcher, despite needing to learn a lot before I could hope to become a competent researcher. At the time, I was convinced I would enjoy the work and the learning much more than developing software. And I was dead wrong.

After the internship, a new business opportunity in software stared me in the face and I went for it. Not only am I now making many times a basic salary in an EAA charity, but I re-discovered my passion for coding. I've loved coding since I was in middle school. It was a passion and a hobby way before it became a job for me. It stopped being fun when I hired others in my prior business and went from coder to manager, and I made the mistake of confusing my lack of enthusiasm for managing people with lack of enthusiasm for software development. That, combined with my (temporary) passion for animal advocacy, led me to want to change careers.

It was a big mistake. It was a mistake because I had decades of experience and training in a field in which many people make very good money, and no training in anything where organizations in the animal space had any talent constraints. I had better chances of making a bigger impact by using the experience I already had to make money than to branch out into a new career in direct work. It was a mistake also because it turns out that I enjoy solitary work much more than working with others.

My current work is about half coding and half everything else involved in running the business, but no employees. It's just me, my software, and the odd call to the accountant, and I intend to keep it that way. And while the non-coding half is often stressful, overall I enjoy the work way more than I did my internship in the charity, even though I was privileged to meet and learn from awesome people in the internship.

I love writing code in part because I experience flow at it, and I look forward to donating what I don’t need. I don't need motivational tricks for productivity any more. I just want to work as much as I can. I've also stopped doing volunteer activism, and trying to influence friends and family. It wasn't a good use of my time, even though I continue to admire the people who give their time for the animals.

While my experience is unusual and many people have their greatest impact for animals doing direct work for profit or non-profit, I encourage you to think through your skills and experience and work out where you're likely to have the most impact, even if it's not direct work in anything related to animals. In economic terms, think of your competitive advantage. Try to test your assumptions with small-scale experiments if possible.

I didn't discover anything new, of course. This is standard 80k advice. I just had to learn it the hard way. (Also, to a large extent I was just lucky. It's usually not easy to find good business opportunities, and I could not have entered my current business if it hadn't been for the prior one, which was also mostly luck.)

Since this guide seems to be focused on direct work, I encourage the author to make a more prominent discussion of the importance of considering earning to give. 

This is great - thanks so much for putting it together!

Quick question:  Did this project inspire any ideas for software projects relating to AA? The career related ideas you suggest above are great, what I'm looking for is more similar to a SHIP project in scope.

Context: I'm participating in https://www.joinpatch.org/ this summer, and a few of us have an interest in animal advocacy.