The EA organization formulated a framework for evaluating the overall impact of social causes; scale, neglectedness and solvability.
Given this framework, animal agriculture is clearly high-impact
- Habitat destruction
https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Featu ... date3.php
- Climate change
A fourth of these emissions is a direct result of animal belching and methane flatulence
GHG’s trap infrared radiation and heat the atmosphere
Methane is 34 times more potent than C02
https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global ... sions-data
- Animal suffering
Animals are often holed up in confinement and slaughtered inhumanely (electric baths, poorly operated machinery)
Animals are sentient and capable of conscious experience
http://fcmconference.org/img/CambridgeD ... usness.pdf
- Antibiotic resistance
Overuse/overexposure of antibiotics helps to develop resistant strains of bacteria in animals’ that contaminate their meat and infect humans who ingest it.
Makes antibiotics less efficient
- Food waste/Ineficciency
55% of the world’s crop calories are consumed by humans, and 36% is used for animal feed. In the US, more than 67% of crops (soy, corn, wheat etc) is fed to animals, and only 27% is fed to humans.
https://www.vox.com/2014/8/21/6053187/c ... imal-feed
Eating animals is a net loss of calories and energy (thanks to thermodynamics). In meat, caloric efficiencies range from 7%–8% (beef is by far the least efficient resting at 3% conversion efficiency).
https://globalchange.umich.edu/globalch ... hic2.html
A mere 3% of philanthropic funding in the US is split between the environment and animals, and 97% goes toward helping humans.
1% of funding spent on animal welfare goes towards farmed animals
https://www.charitynavigator.org/index. ... ew/cpid/42
I’d like to discuss solvability. Singer’s ideas seem to be in line with preference utilitarianism (the good consists in the satisfaction of an individual’s preferences), and hence supports solutions that are effective in satisfying said preferences. It isn’t surprising that Singer is in such favor of charitable giving. However, there’s an amalgam of different tactics that can be utilized to improve the state of animal agriculture, and some tactics are more effective than others.
I wanted to focus mainly on social advocacy and food. While most vegans would like to think that raucous animal rights protests, boycotts, and demands that people “stop-and-go-vegan” are the most productive forms of activism, some evidence shows that people respond well to a reducitarian message as well.
Some studies find that people who respond to small changes are more likely to adopt larger changes in the future.To address this problem, we conducted a three-
wave survey experiment examining the effects of
two diet change appeals on self-reported meat consumption and attitudes: a reduce appeal that encourages individuals to reduce their meat consumption but not necessarily eliminate it entirely, and an eliminate appeal that encourages individuals to completely give up eating meat. *We find that both the reduce and eliminate appeals led to significant reductions in self-reported meat consumption five weeks after treatment exposure, on the order of 7.1% and 5.8%, respectively. In addition, both appeals led to shifts in attitudes towards factory farming and perceptions of social norms about meat-eating in the US.*
This large-scale study found that directly compared the impact of different language in a vegan advocacy brochure found that encouraging people to “cut out or cut back on meat” or “eat less meat” created more dietary change and spared more animals than encouraging people to “eat vegan.”
http://www.humaneleaguelabs.org/blog/20 ... et-change/
This small study found that people who were encouraged to “cut out or cut back on meat” and “eat vegetarian” were more likely to want to remove animal products from their diets and to take steps toward doing so than people who were encouraged to “go vegan.”
http://www.humaneleaguelabs.org/blog/20 ... effective/
In addition, reducitarianism accounts for all outcomes of even the smallest increments in change. Cutting back meat consumption by 10% or on Mondays has a large impact on animals.
Information on human psychology seems to play a role as well. Particularly the public perception of vegans as judgmental and dogmatic, and the perception of a strict vegan diet as unhealthy. People may have a better perception of a vegetarian or reducitarian diet than a vegan one, and thus may respond better to the latter. https://www.publicpolicypolling.com/wp- ... 022613.pdfMercy for Animals wrote:We need to realize that when we’re encouraging dietary change, we’re interacting with human beings. And that means we have to account for human psychology. We need to craft our messaging in a way that accepts how people’s brains actually work, not how we think they should work.
As @JacyReese explained in his TedTalk, history shows us that working from an institutional framing (promoting changes in government/industry practices) rather than an individualist framing brings about the most effective results. It’s also the least alienating. Given the evidence on humans psychology and the response to reducitarian/reductionist messaging, it may be more effective to rethink how we (vegans) are conducting our advocacy, and to move beyond promoting veganism as the sole heuristic toward ending animal agriculture, especially when the evidence does not support this.