Together with Jack Hancock from Humane Hancock we made a video on how to help farmed animals without going fully vegan.
We explore three main ways: Through your diet (cutting/reducing fish/chicken/eggs), your money (donating to effective animal organisation) and your career /free time (mentioning 80,000 Hours and Animal Advocacy Careers).
Feel free to give us any feedback in the comments here or on YouTube. I'm also curious to hear: did you learn any new things? Has it changed/updated your mind on anything?
If you liked the video, I would encourage you to share it with your friends (especially those who aren't in the effective altruist movement). You're also welcome to use it for any EA events you're hosting! In case you do, let us know how it went!
More on A Happier World in this earlier EA forum post.
For the average American, one year of veganism would spare about 105 animals. Nearly 12 of these are birds, mostly chickens, and a whopping 93 of them are fish. Only a bit of cow and sheep is consumed. This is because fish and chicken are small compared to other animals, you eat more of them in one sitting. So if you would just cut out fish, chicken and eggs from your diet you would already remove most animal suffering. If cutting them is too much, start by reducing these foods!
We’ve identified 3 very effective charities at helping farmed animals, each of them using a different strategy.
Faunalytics conducts important research to empower advocates to help animals effectively.
The Humane League works to end the abuse of animals raised for food, primarily by influencing the policies of the world’s biggest companies, working on legislation and encouraging folks to leave animals off their plates. Estimates vary and are very uncertain, but donating just one dollar to cage-free campaigns like those of The Humane League could help between 7 and 250 chickens go cage-free for a year.
The Good Food Institute works across the globe to increase the availability of cheaper and tastier alternatives to meat. This involves two main technologies: plant-based imitations like the Impossible Burger or Just Eggs, and cultivated meats, where animal cells grow in vitro to produce real meat without the live animal.
Donating money to these charities will go really far!
You have roughly around 80,000 hours in your career, so how you use that time matters if you want to have a big positive impact on the world. An organisation called 80,000 Hours gives advice on how you can use your career to help solve the world’s biggest problems, including but not limited to animal welfare. They also have a job board where you can find highly impactful jobs, many of which are at effective animal welfare organisations. And there’s the nonprofit called Animal Advocacy Careers, which is kind of similar to 80000 Hours but they focus just on animal welfare. They also have a page filled with volunteer actions you can take.
By using your diet, your money and your time you can achieve a lot to help farmed animals without going fully vegan.
Sources are marked with an asterisk. Text might differ slightly in wording from the final video.
Many of us have seen the horrible images of factory farms. We won’t show you the worst of them here, because they’re gruesome and can easily be found online.
But here’s a quick recap of the facts. It’s estimated that around 31 billion land animals are farmed at any given moment*, wallowing at the brink of death inside windowless, disease-ridden sheds. Female pigs are kept constantly pregnant in crates where they’re unable to turn around*. Calves are taken away from their mothers at birth.* Egg-laying hens cram five at a time into cages the size of an iPad*, while newborn male chicks are routinely dumped into shredders since they can’t lay eggs*. 1 in 3 chickens raised for meat can’t walk because genetic manipulation has made them too large to carry their own weight*. Over a hundred billion* farmed fish float in extremely crowded pools filled with diseases, where slaughter involves hours of suffocation.
If you want to learn about these practices in more detail, I would recommend the free YouTube documentary Dominion. In it you’ll see that these practices aren’t the exception but the rule.
If you care about these issues, you’re not alone. According to surveys, 50 percent of americans believe factory farming should end entirely*. Unfortunately, going vegan is difficult for most people, even if we’d all like to see a cruelty-free world. Luckily though, there is still a tremendous amount you can do to help farmed animals and the planet without going vegan. So today we’ll show you how you can help animals with your diet, donations, career and your free time.
As someone who’s vegan himself, I would absolutely recommend it! It’s the best way to cause the least amount of suffering through your diet. But only around one percent of the world is vegan****. The fact is, going vegan is difficult for most people*. The good news is, you can already save most animals by just cutting a few products.
For the average American, one year of veganism would spare about 105 animals**. Nearly 12 of these are birds, mostly chickens, and a whopping 93 of them are fish. Only a bit of cow and sheep is consumed.***.
Jo Anderson: The places to start are definitely with chickens, fishes and other quote on quote seafood. Because those animals have smaller bodies, they are consumed in the greatest numbers. Thinking of someone eating shrimps, they will have multiple shrimps in a sitting compared to having a product that comes from a cow where that product goes further.
Amanda Hungerford: If I were only going to cut one animal product out of my diet, I would, without question, cut out fish. That’s because 74 billion fish are farmed at any given moment in time. And that doesn’t count the trillions of fish that are wild caught. Fish have it particularly tough because they don’t have any welfare requirements whatsoever. Not for slaughter, not for their living conditions, not for anything.
Amanda Hungerford: The second one that I would cut out is broiler chicken.
Amanda Hungerford: There are nine billion broiler chickens alive being farmed at any given moment in time.
Amanda Hungerford: Perhaps the biggest welfare issue with broiler chickens is that they’re specifically genetically bred to be very, grotesquely fast growing.
The slaughtering process is awful too. They’re hung upside down and then they get stunned with electricity before slaughter. But often the stunning process is not effective and they might even regain consciousness before having their necks cut.
Amanda Hungerford: The third thing I would cut out is eggs. There are seven billion egg laying chickens alive at any given time. And their lives are also not so great.
It’s important to note that while cage-free eggs are definitely a lot better than those from caged hens, they still produce a lot of suffering. Their lives are reduced to an indoor, windowless barn where they remain grounded for their entire lives. Free-range eggs are better because the chickens get to go outside, but outdoor access is only given a short amount of time and they still get little space. Pasture-raised eggs are the most ethical, as the chickens get a lot more hours outside every day. They tend to live more natural lives, but conditions on these facilities can vary.* But here’s the thing: selective breeding has caused issues such as reproductive tract infections, stuck eggs, osteoporosis and other ailments, which is an issue regardless of how humane the farm environment is, and newborn male chicks are still culled under all these labels.
But what if someone just really loves one of these foods a lot and the meat alternatives don’t satisfy them?
Jo Anderson: If shrimp is their absolute favourite thing, it can be the most impactful for animals. But if they won’t give it up, then it’s not going to make any impact at all. So start with something that they are willing to try and then stick with it over time and try and go further.
Morality doesn’t have to be black and white. You can just try to do your best. Whether that means going fully vegan, cutting out a certain food or just reducing your consumption of animal products.
Jo Anderson: A lot of people already have an idea that animal welfare is important and that they would like to do something. But trying to go vegan or vegetarian is just too big a step for the first step. So it’s OK to take it a step at a time and reduce.
It’s estimated that the average american can eliminate over 90 percent of the suffering caused by their diet by cutting just these three foods*.
Thankfully, modern food technology means eating plant-based is easier and tastier than ever. Many people find it hard to distinguish between meat burgers and Beyond or Impossible burgers*****. You can also find plant-based versions of plenty of other animal products in your local stores, like “Just Egg”: plant-based eggs that look, cook and taste very similar to the real thing. Other great meat alternatives and great vegan recipe sources will be mentioned in the comments, feel free to add some ideas yourself too! I’m British, so I’m usually happy with beans on toast.
Despite the immense suffering, farmed animals receive little charitable support compared to other causes. For every 1000 dollars donated to charity in the US, only four dollars help animals, and only five cents of that goes towards helping farmed animals*. The vast majority of money that’s given to animal causes is going to pet shelters, even though for every one pet euthanized in a shelter, thirty-four hundred farmed animals are slaughtered each year*.
Okay, let’s say you’re convinced and you want to donate money to help animals. How can you tell which charities are the most effective? Well, Animal Charity Evaluators, or ACE, has been trying to answer this question since 2012*. They conduct in-depth research and publish a list of the ones that they think help animals the most per dollar.
Two of their three top charities focus on farmed animals: Faunalytics and The Humane League. Faunalytics conducts incredible research to empower advocates to help animals effectively.
The Humane League works to end the abuse of animals raised for food.
Alexandria Beck: We do that primarily by influencing the policies of the world’s biggest companies, working on legislation and encouraging folks to leave animals off their plates.
Alexandria Beck: So The Humane League and our partner organisations succeeded in getting essentially every major company in the US to go cage free. In 2016 we formed the Open Wing Alliance to support organisations around the world in securing corporate cage free pledges. And today we have 78 member organisations in sixty three countries.
Both Faunalytics and The Humane League are really great places to donate to if you want to help farmed animals. And your money will go really far! Estimates vary and are very uncertain, but donating just one dollar to cage-free campaigns like those of The Humane League could help between 7 and 250 chickens go cage-free for a year.*
Improving welfare conditions is an important step, but it will never completely end animal farming. The Good Food Institute takes a different approach. They were an Animal Charity Evaluators top charity from 2016 up until 2020, and we would still recommend them. The Good Food Institute works across the globe to increase the availability of cheaper and tastier alternatives to meat.
This involves two main technologies: plant-based imitations like the Impossible Burger or Just Eggs, and cultivated meats, where animal cells grow in vitro to produce real meat without the live animal. Over the past few years, we have seen massive growth around these technologies*.
But there are still a lot of gaps that markets aren’t filling fast enough, gaps that the Good Food Institute is working to close. They are trying to get public funding into alternative protein research – so that the markets as a whole can use this research rather than any one company using it for its own benefit. They help entrepreneurs with setting up alternative protein businesses.
Amanda Hungerford: Some meat companies are trying to put their thumb on the scale of animal products by doing things like outlawing the use of terms like milk for anything but cows milk or burger for anything but a beef burger.
The Good Food Institute has successfully lobbied governments to stop censorship of words like these.*
Both improving welfare conditions of animals today through charities like The Humane League and helping to develop alternative proteins through The Good Food institute are important strategies. The first improves lives today, the latter helps us get to a world where no farmed animal has to live in misery because we’ll have developed alternatives that are as tasty and cheap as present animal products. Donations to these charities can achieve a lot.
But if you don’t have the money to donate or if you want to know what else you can do, keep watching!
You have roughly around 80 000 hours in your career, so how you use that time matters if you want to have a big positive impact on the world. An organisation called 80,000 Hours gives advice on how you can use your career to help solve the world’s biggest problems, including but not limited to animal welfare. They also have a job board where you can find highly impactful jobs, many of which are at effective animal welfare organisations. And there’s the nonprofit called Animal Advocacy Careers, which is kind of similar to 80000 Hours but they focus just on animal welfare. They also have a page filled with volunteer actions you can take.*
Alexandria Beck: We really need a combination of both well-rounded generalists and specialists throughout the movement. I’d recommend getting involved with as many different groups as you can, figuring out what type of organisation it is you want to work for, and then trying to balance the current needs of the movement with your interests and your skills.
Amanda Hungerford: If you thought that you might want to spend your career in farmed animal advocacy, and I should say I definitely think you should, the things that I would think about are what your relative skills are and where you’re located, because the most tractable interventions of today are kind of different based on what geographic region you’re based in.
Amanda Hungerford: So if you’re based in Asia, godspeed, go do anything. There are so many farmed animals in Asia and relatively so few advocates working on it that pretty much anything that you would want to do would be helpful. I would join up with an existing farmed animal organisation in the region and you could work on policy, you could work on corporate campaigns, you could work on meat reduction,… There is just so many wonderful things that you could do.
The advice for volunteering is actually very similar. Many organisations could use volunteers in a variety of roles, whether it be advocacy, communications or research. So often any help is welcome.
Alexandria Beck: I recommend that everyone gets more involved in online activism. Many animal groups have online volunteer networks with quick daily actions you can take to support their campaigns. If you were to do all of the actions on all three of these sites, it would probably take you less than ten minutes. So it’s extremely fast and it really does go a long way in helping us win these impactful campaigns.
Contemplating animal cruelty can make some people feel depressed, apathetic, or even enraged. But we hope this video has inspired some optimism! Cutting animal products from your diet can help dozens of animals every year. Even small donations, if given to effective charities, can help hundreds of animals and contribute to developing a cruelty-free food system. And you can use your career and your time to help animals too.
But maybe you think that other problems are more pressing. This YouTube channel covers a range of issues, so subscribe to learn about more ways we can move towards a happier world!
Hi! Jeroen here. If you liked the video you’re watching now and you think it’s important, share it with your friends! A big thank you to Jack Hancock for hosting this video, check out his YouTube channel, Humane Hancock, too! I especially liked his video on the suffering of wild animals.* We’ve tried our best to explain this topic as accurately as possible. But since we’re human, there’s a good chance we’ve made mistakes. If you noticed a mistake or disagree with something, let us know in the comments! Thanks for watching!