Cornelis Dirk Haupt

458 karmaJoined Oct 2021Working (0-5 years)


The guy in the panda hat at EAG

How others can help me

I am look for employment at a full stack developer with 3-4 years of experience with React + Django


If you're an animal welfare EA I'd highly recommend joining the wholesome refuge that is the newly minted Impactful Animal Advocacy (IAA).

Website and details here. I volunteered for them at the AVA Summit which I strongly recommend as the premier conference and community-builder for animal welfare-focused EAs. The AVA Summit has some features I have long thought missing from EAGs - namely people arguing in good faith about deep deep disagreements (e.g. why don't we ever see a panel with prominent longtermist and shorttermist EAs arguing for over an hour straight at EAGs?). There was an entire panel addressing quantification bias which turned into talking about some believing how EA has done more harm than good for the animal advocacy movement... but that people are afraid to speak out against EA given it is a movement that has brought in over 100 million dollars to animal advocacy. Personally I loved there being a space for these kind of discussions.

Also, one of my favourite things about the IAA community is they don't ignore AI, they take it seriously and try to think about how to get ahead of AI developments to help animals. It is a community where you'll bump into people who can talk about x-risk and take it seriously, but for whatever reason are prioritizing animals.

Meta-note as a casual lurker in this thread: This comment being down-voted to oblivion while Jason's comment is not, is pretty bizarre to me. The only explanation I can think of is that people who have provided criticism think Michael is saying they shouldn't criticise? It is blatantly obvious to me that this is not what he is saying and is simply agreeing with Jason that specific actionable-criticism is better.

Fun meta-meta note I just realized after writing the above: This does mean I am potentially criticising some critics who are critical of how Micheal is criticising their criticism.

Okkkk, that's enough internet for me. Peace and love, y'all.


I think another useful question to ask could be something like, “what is your fantasy partner/complement organization?”

This part here is where my eyes widened. Adding this as standard question on EA grants is, in hindsight, so obviously a good idea to me that I am kinda in shock we don't do so already.

Creating a group of EA free agents that can be allocated/rented to EA-aligned non-profits?

Actually, this already exists I believe! I know there is a website called "EA Services" that allows you to sign up to basically be allocated around EA/EA-aligned orgs. Can anyone link the website? I've lost the URL.

I'd like to note that it is totally possible for someone to sincerely be talking about "cause-first EA" and simultaneously believe longtermism and AI safety should be the cause EA should prioritize.

As a community organizer I've lost track of how many times people I've introduced to EA initially get excited, but then disappointed that all we seem to talk about are effective charities and animals instead of... mental health or political action or climate change or world war 3 or <insert favourite cause here>.

And when this happens I try to take a member-first approach and ensure they understand what led to these priorities so that the new member can be armed to either change their own mind or argue with us or apply EA principles in their own work regardless of where it makes sense to do so.

A member-first approach wouldn't ensure we have diversity of causes. We could in theory have a very members-first movement that only prioritizes AI Alignment. This is totally possible. The difference is that a members-first AI alignment focused movement would focus on ensuring its members properly understand cause agnostic EA principles - something they can derive value from regardless of their ability to contribute to AI Alignment - and based on that understand why AI Alignment just happens to be the thing the community mostly talks about at this point in time.

Our current cause-first approach is less concerned with teaching EA principles that are cause agnostic and more concerned with just getting skilled people of any kind, whether they care about EA principles or not, to work on AI Alignment or other important things. Teaching EA principles being mostly instrumental to said end goal.

I believe this is more the cause of the tension you describe in the "cause-first" model. It has less to do with only one cause being focused on. It has more to do with the fact that humans are tribalistic.

If you're not going to put effort into making sure someone new is part of the tribe (in this case giving them the cause-agnostic EA principle groundwork they can take home and feel good about) then they're not going to feel like they're part of your cause-first movement if they don't feel like they can contribute to said cause.

I think if we were more members-first we would see far more people who have nothing to offer to AI Safety research still nonetheless feel like "EA is my tribe." Ergo, less tension.

A "cause first" movement has similar risks in vesting too much authority into a small elite, not much unlike a cult that comes together and supports each other and believes in some common goal and makes major strides to get closer to said goal, but ultimately burns out as cults often do due to treating their members too instrumentally as objects for the good of the cause. Fast and furious without the staying power of a religion.

That said, I'm also partial to the cause first approach, but man, stuff we have learnt like Oli Habryka's podcast here made me strongly update more towards a member-first mindset which I think would have more firmly pushed against such revelations as being antithetical to caring for one's members. Less deference and more thinking for yourself like Oli did seems like a better long-term strategy for any community's long-term flourishing. EA's recent wins don't seem to counteract this intuition of mine strongly enough when you think decades or even generations into the future.

That said, if AI timelines really are really short, maybe we just need a fast and furious approach for now.

But we have the same uncertainty with retail meat-based cat food, which I've highlighted is quite distinct from what cats evolved on.

Actually, I think we don't have the same uncertainty. Those products have been iterated on for a far longer time than vegan cat food - including multiple FDA recalls as you pointed out. We've had much more of a "trial-by-fire" of retail meat-based cat food over a longer period of time.

Though in the other comment you pointed out Ami, which given it has existed for 20 years, I imagine has gone through the same trial-by-fire. A new post that does nothing but focus on the evidence that Ami is fine for your cat would probably convince a ton more people. As I mentioned in my other comment I'm very confused why Ami wasn't used in the Domínguez-Oliva et al. Study instead.

I don't understand the obeisance to molecularly-exact meat.

I'm not interested in molecularly-exact meat. I'm interested in what - via strong empirical evidence - we know wont harm my cat. 

Our goals with domestic cats are different than what evolution optimized for.

Couldn't agree more, which is why, if we get enough empirical evidence that some particular vegan meal will be ay-ok for cats I'm all aboard.

It is worth adding that I do think we have enough empirical evidence to place dogs on a vegan diet without issue. But my read of the study is we're not there with cats yet. I really don't understand why the study authors make the same conclusion for both cats and dogs. The evidence appears to clearly be vastly stronger for dogs than it is for cats.

We should not put meat on a pedestal and beeline for that.

We should put empirical evidence on a pedestal and while truth-seeking be neutral about whether that includes or excludes meat.

Based on what? I don't intuit this at all.


For me: I agreed with you and felt like my mind was being changed to being pro-vegan-cat - until I read Elizabeth's comment pointed out the issues in the study. So for me it is mostly because you haven't engaged with that specific comment and pointed out why the concerns that are highlighted in her screenshots (from the actual study!) are not something that I need to worry about.

Convince Elizabeth and you, by proxy, convince me I'm pretty sure.

The most parsimonious explanation is that the lack of supplements was the problem, not the "vegan"-ness.

Sounds reasonable to me. I didn't say that a lack of supplementation wouldn't solve it. I argued that meat would. Arguing for X doesn't mean I argued for ~Y. 

The study came out January of this year. That's pretty recent.

Does a nutritionally complete vegan cat food exist yet that takes everything learnt from this study and all the studies it references into account without need for additional supplementation? If yes, I'd want to see a study where cats are fed it first before I place my own cats exclusively on it. Till then I'd probably be too paranoid to feed them a fully vegan diet.

Why is that diet representative of for example nutritionally complete Ami, which has been around for years? Isn't it much better to just defer to AAFCO's and FDA's standards, which Ami meets?

I'm confused. By "that diet" you mean to say the diet that was tested in the actual study you use as support for your claims should not be taken as an example of something nutritionally complete?

Ok, after trying to figure out what "Ami" was I see in your post you refer to it as vegan cat food that exists on the market.

Apparently it has also been around for 20 years after a quick Google search. Now I'm just hyper-confused why Ami wasn't used in the Domínguez-Oliva et al. Study instead.

I think when she said "natural diet" she didn't mean to invoke the naturalistic fallacy.

She meant the diet that we have the most empirical evidence doesn't harm/kill them. We have some empirical evidence that vegan diets appear to quckly give cats major bad health outcomes without supplementation? The first comment in this thread by Elizabeth pointed this out.

We don't have empirical evidence of the same happening with meat-based diets. So modern nutritionally complete meat-based diets presently have a 100%-wont-cause-major-adverse-health-outcomes rate. Is this not what the studies seem to show?

What's "natural" isn't more equivalent to what's healthy.  Is a diseased bird corpse more "natural" than nutritionally-complete vegan cat food? Probably. Healthier? Hmmmm.

No, but consider statistical averages rather than semantic absolutes. If you were to consider all possible meals a cat could reaonably be fed today. On average, it seems reasonable to suspect that they would be healthier if more of those meals were meat-based than plant-based. This is an empirical question, not a semantic one. The nutritionally-complete vegan cat food might be better than the diseased corpose (one single comparison). But having nothing but the nutritionally-complete vegan cat food might be far worse than nothing but meat (statistical average across many samples).

Given how nascent the field is and how we're only just finding out what supplementation we might have to give cats, it seems like if we were to tell everyone to feed their cat vegan food that we'd probably get a lot of cats with bad health outcomes.

And this would be pretty bad optics-wise for the vegan movement.

(A) There would have to be essential molecules--nutrients--that cannot be sourced anywhere else OR (B) the meat would have to be digestible in a way that's not possible with plant matter. 


Nutrition is hella complicated. As someone who drinks a ton of Soylent, I am often surprised by how my own view of "it shouldn't matter as long as the molecules - when you break it down - are the same" is overly simplistic. If you have food substance A and food substance B and their molecules are organized differently, then even if you were to break them down and get the same base nutrients, this does not mean they are equally healthy for you. This is because their different initial arrangement can lead to different biochemical cascades. I recently learnt that antimicrobial mouthwash might influence your mouth bacteria to such a degree that is leads to a decrease in NO production to the point that your blood veins don't dilate as much = causally linked to increased arteriosclerosis. There is an entire scientific journal just dedicated to this pathway. See here.

I would never have intuitively thought this could happen. I can increase my risk of heart disease by nuking the bacteria in my mouth? Lol... wat?

It really is not a stretch to imagine that even if meat and vegan food appears to be nutritionally complete and - if broken down -they yield similar macronutrients - that still because the vegan food has a different composition before being broken down that different biochemical pathways are kicked off leading to harm that the meat-based one does not lead to. Something weird and unexpected like the NO pathway could explain why cats on vegan diets still get health issues as the pro-vegan study Elizabeth linked to shows.

An escape hatch from this would of course be lab grown meat that is to the molecule identical to meat. In that case it wouldn't make sense for one to be any different from the other because they are not only to the molecule identical, but also to the molecules are arranged the same way before being broken down.

So my read is you haven't considered option C: There could be an essential arrangement of molecules in meat before they are broken down, that currently cannot be sourced elsewhere (not until we get lab grown meat anyway).

I'm confused why the study both says this as you've highlighted, but then in the discussion and conclusion it says:


The finding of this study suggests, on the face of it, that there is very little evidence of major adverse effects resulting from the feeding of vegan diets in dogs or cats. The majority of the animal-based parameters were within normal reference ranges and when there were deviations from normal reference ranges, there were rarely clinical signs reported alongside the finding. In addition, whilst the broad literature in this area commonly makes reference to concerns around nutrient deficiencies, such as that of taurine, folate, and cobalamin, there were a limited number of studies that measured these outcomes (generally, only two studies for key outcomes), with limited evidence of these deficiencies arising (with some of the alterations likely being attributable to confounding; for example, as a result of secondary disease, e.g., giardiasis in a dog). These conclusions should, however, be interpreted cautiously, given the breadth and quality of the evidence presented as described below


This review has found that there is no convincing evidence of major impacts of vegan diets on dog or cat health. There is, however, a limited number of studies investigating this question and those studies available often use small sample sizes or short feeding durations. There was also evidence of benefits for animals arising as a result of feeding them vegan diets. Much of these data were acquired from guardians via survey-type studies, but these can be subject to selection biases, as well as subjectivity around the outcomes.

Except, as you pointed out, convincing evidence of major adverse effects resulting from feeding cats vegan diets appear to have actually been observed as stated by the same authors saying it has not been observed. I notice I am confused given I do not think the paper is authored by bad actors.

Part I want to highlight in image below: Cats were supplemented. So the adverse affects you highlighted it sounds like you could prevent with supplements. Is this the only reason the authors conclude cats can be fed a vegan diet? But then it sounds like a better and more responsible conclusion by the authors would have been: it seems theoretically possible that a vegan cat food could exist with correct supplementation, but no healthy vegan diet for cats exists yet (all studies show specific supplementation thus far is neccesarry for existing vegan foods otherwise your cats might very quickly develop major adverse health outcomes - am I wrong?).

They also highlight they didn't review the suitability of the supplements? What does this mean - "suitability"? Cant find an answer for that.


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