Authors of the research: Joey Savoie, Karolina Sarek, David Moss
When recommending different charities to found in the field of animal advocacy, a unique question to consider is what animals should be prioritized.
From humans in Canada to battery caged chickens in the United States, which animals have the hardest lives: results
Authors of the research: Karolina Sarek, Joey Savoie, David Moss
After spending considerable time on creating the best system we could for evaluating animal welfare, we applied this system to 15 different animals/breeds. This included 6 types of wild animal and 7 types of farm animal environments, as well as 2 human conditions for baseline comparisons. This was far from a complete list, but it gave us enough information to get a sense of the different conditions. Each report was limited to 2-5 hours with pre-set evaluation criteria (as seen in this post), a 1-page summary, and a section of rough notes (generally in the 5-10 page range). Each summary report was read by 8 raters (3 from the internal CE research team, 5 external to the CE team). The average weightings and ranges in the spreadsheet below are generated by averaging the assessments of these raters.
High welfare meat
This ask report is focused on meat certified in programs that can make meaningful differences in animals’ lives. Having meat consumption switch to higher welfare meat could be more tractable than having people switch directly to veganism and, depending on your ethics, more important. This intervention can make animals go from net negative lives to lives worth living but it also brings a large number of crucial ethical and logistical considerations. We cover some of them in this summary report.
This ask report is focused on the food fortification of factory farmed animals’ feed. Micronutrient fortification is one of the most well established and cost effective interventions in global health, and all beings, including both humans and factory farmed animals, can benefit greatly from the right levels of micronutrients. Food fortification is an unusually direct and cost-effective way of addressing major sources of suffering (e.g. bone breaks in egg laying hens) and, overall, looks moderately promising. This report considers multiple micronutrients and supplements that could be added to an animal’s feed to increase its welfare.
Animal advocacy is a huge area and there are thousands of possible ideas to investigate, which could all be the basis for forming charities. Our research process goes through multiple steps to compare and consider areas and ideas to help found the most effective charities.
The research process involves multiple steps of differing breadth and depth. It would be impossible to go in depth with thousands of ideas; and while it would be possible to cover a huge number of ideas very shallowly, this would most likely not provide enough detailed information on whether a new charity in the area would be effective. Many research processes, including ours, thus involve varying levels of depth.
The small animal replacement problem is the concern that certain diet changes aimed at causing less harm to the world might, in fact, cause more harm - specifically, changes that result from eating smaller animals instead of larger ones. For example, when many people see the problems with factory farming, the first meat to go is often red meat, specifically cows. Sadly, if this person increases their chicken or fish consumption even moderately, this might be a bad move ethically. There are two main factors that drive this: welfare condition and meat generated per animal.
Is it better to be a wild rat or a factory farmed cow? A systematic method for comparing animal welfare.
TLDR: We looked at a lot of different systems to compare welfare and ended up combining a few common ones into a weighted animal welfare index (or welfare points for short). We think this system captures a broad range of ethical considerations and should be applicable across a wide range of both farm and wild animals in a way that allows us to compare interventions.
Some of the books I read to get a sense of animals' lives from different perspectives.
I have been a vegan for 8 years and have been semi-actively involved in animal rights for the past 5 years. Despite this, I have realized that my understanding of many aspects of the lives of animals is surprisingly narrow, and I think this is fairly common for activists in animal advocacy (or any movement, really). As the project I am now working on is recommending charities that should be founded in the animal advocacy movement and providing an incubation camp for them, I feel the need to broaden my understanding of these issues.
In the past, Charity Entrepreneurship (CE) has been focused on poverty charities, founding one ourselves and supporting the creation of another, both of which were GiveWell incubated. So why the shift in our research focus? Ultimately, it comes down to what we think is the highest impact area to focus on. Some of the factors that most influenced us were:
Currently there is almost no research in the area, so you would have to narrow it down using heuristics.
The Old Way
Last year, I somewhat informally narrowed down the options until I chose to run a study on handing out educational leaflets. The rough steps I followed were to: