This ask report considers multiple interventions designed to reduce the consumption of meat.
Reducing the amount of meat that is consumed per person, even by small margins, can result in far fewer animals being born into factory farming. It makes sense, then, that multiple organisations focus on encouraging meat reduction. Broadly, these interventions fall under three categories: those aimed at consumers directly (such as Meatless Mondays), those aimed at institutions and companies (such as the Friendly Food Alliance), and those aimed at governmental change (such as altering national food recommendations). These kinds of interventions have the potential to have very big positive effects. One person partaking in Meatless Mondays for a year positively alters 43 welfare points, assuming all else is equal. Potentially, there are also other good external effects, including a better public perception of the animal ethics movement.
However, there are reasons to be skeptical about this area being of the highest impact for starting a charity. For example, organisations aimed at changing the practices of institutions often focus on requesting meat-free options on menus, which likely has a very low positive impact overall. There is also lack of good data on how many institutions keep their pledges. And while more research has been done on consumer outreach, it does not look promising. Given recidivism rates and possible replacement effects, consumer outreach seems to have relatively small levels of benefit compared to more cost-effective interventions. This is the case in addition to other reasons, such as the relatively high number of people already working in the area.
Overall then, our preliminary research suggests that meat reduction is middlingly promising. This is true specifically regarding the interventions aimed at institutions and companies. However, there is currently lack of good data in the field, and therefore further research is needed.
This report considers consumer and institution-focused interventions more deeply and assesses other potential issues.
Our priority ask reports are focused on what are the particular improvements or changes that can be “asked” for from corporations, governments, or individuals. Going cage free, making dietary changes, regulating slaughter practices, and many other asks all serve as examples here. They are compared based on the strength of the idea (including the evidence base and estimated cost-effectiveness), limiting factors, execution difficulty, and externalities. All of these factors together could begin to suggest which asks might be the most effective when combined with a priority animal, country, and approach. However, these ask reports are short summaries of longer unpublished reports and, therefore, even if an ask looks promising this does not necessarily suggest that it will end up being a promising charity once paired with other elements and cross-compared to the other strongest possible charities. It just suggests that it is worth further and deeper investigation from our team. You can see our full planned research process here.
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