I think we should try lots of approaches to diet change, since I don't think we've yet found approaches that we have a lot of evidence that they robustly work. I'm not sure if we evidence that the species that suffer the most are the ones people are most resistant to stopping eating. E.g. there's some evidence people are most resistant to giving up dairy, but less resistant to dropping fish. I agree chicken welfare is a major movement focus, but I'm also very excited about any intervention with demonstrated potential to affect the largest numbers of animals.
This is a good idea for a future newsletter. In the meantime, I recommend ACE's standout charity list and our grants database.
This is beyond my expertise, but I'd be interested to read a post on the topic :)
Yeah I find that even equally aligned and informed EAs have a very wide range of priors on how to compare acute vs. chronic suffering in animals. I agree that slowly dying probably almost always causes a lot of suffering, and dying of something like cannibalism seems particularly horrific. That's the main reason why I don't want advocates to ban debeaking, at least until producers have worked out how to achieve much lower mortality rates. And I totally agree on the need for continued work to ensure producers install the highest welfare cage-free systems.
Yeah we've been commissioning a bunch of research from outside experts. In general we do prefer value-aligned researchers, though the expertise is typically more important. I'm most excited when the two align, as I think it has for instance on Cynthia Schuck and Wladimir Alonso, who are producing a series of welfare assessments for us.
In general I think our greatest needs are for expertise in welfare science / biology, economics / stats, and animal cognition / philosophy of mind. But I think the field as a whole has greater needs for alt protein specific scientific fields.
A few ideas:
I think the EA Animal Welfare Fund is a good default option, but here are a few reasons people might prefer to give elsewhere:
Cool that you're designing a MSc dissertation on this! Please share it with me when you're done :)
I'm pretty skeptical of efforts to remove agricultural subsidies from factory farming, both because I think it's really hard and because I'm skeptical that subsidies have a large price effect on meat. (I think people sometimes confuse the fact that farmers really like subsidies with an assumption they must be lowering prices a lot -- I think they're often structured instead to prop up prices.) I'm more optimistic about seeking subsidies for plant-based meat research, and potentially for plant-based agriculture (though I'd note this is a huge field and many protein crops are already heavily subsidized).
I'm unsure how many resources organizations should devote to social media. We generally don't fund much of this kind of work, so haven't looked deeply into it. I'm not too worried re fatigue, given my sense is our total penetration is still pretty low, but I think it's an open question of how much impact existing social media content has or whether it's mostly just preaching to the converted.
Potential other leverage points: (1) go to work at an existing animal group and help it better focus on high impact approaches, (2) start a new group focused on a high impact approach and encourage imitators, (3) write pieces about higher impact approaches that could be taken, e.g. on the EA Forum.
A few places I think charities / advocates can play a major role: (a) lobbying for govt funding for alt protein R&D, (b) lobbying for a clear regulatory pathway for cultivated meat and novel plant-based meat ingredients (e.g. Impossible's heme), (c) educating investors and food companies on the business opportunity, especially around higher impact opportunities (e.g. plant-based fish) and unusual investment setups (e.g. long-term patient funding for deeper R&D).
I'm not sure how much labeling laws matter, and think it probably depends on the specific (e.g. laws merely requiring the product note it is plant-based are less insidious than ones requiring a big "imitation" label). On the pro labeling matters side I'd point to the history of margarine. On the con side I'd point to plant-based milks, which mostly don't use "milk" on their labels.