This ask report considers switching people’s consumption of chicken to beef.
Although there are many initiatives attempting to create dietary changes, encouraging specifically the change from chicken to beef is a highly neglected area. This is despite beef cows having much better lives than broiler chickens, and it taking many more chickens to create equivalent amounts of meat. This gives weight to the belief that encouraging the switching of consumption from chicken to beef could have impressive positive effects on the welfare points within farmed animal agriculture. Less intuitive, but just as important is this initiatives’ potential positive effects on wild animal suffering. Creating more cow pastures would decrease wild animal habitats, and thus reduce the amount of net-negative lives produced.
However, there are reasons to believe that such an intervention wouldn’t be able to achieve this potential. There is little evidence that interventions aimed at mass dietary change are successful, and externalities such as higher carbon emissions from cattle farming puts even more strain on the intervention. This combines with the fact that most of the difference in welfare points stem from the wild animals affected, and the increase of their welfare is dependent on a long and sensitive causal chain (which we explain further in the report). It could be that this is overall positive, but we remain uncertain, thus adding more scepticism to the intervention’s potential for positive change.
Our preliminary research would suggest that this is not a very promising intervention, having high levels of uncertainty. We expect this to fall into the bottom 5 of our ask reports.
This report considers more deeply the positives and negatives of this intervention, as well as what effects it may have on wild animal suffering.
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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