photo_camera Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
Rescued laying hens
Summary of Evidence for Foundational Questions in Effective Animal Advocacy
Last Major Update December 24, 2019; Last Minor Update August 13, 2020
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Table of Contents

Introduction

Clarifying notes

Debates

Animal protection vs. environmental vs. human health focus

Broad vs. animal focus

Confrontation vs. nonconfrontation

Consistent vs. varying messaging

Controversial publicity stunts vs. other tactics

Individual vs. institutional interventions and messaging

Influencer vs. mass outreach

Left-wing vs. nonpartisan focus

Momentum vs. complacency from welfare reforms

Reducetarianism vs. veganism

Social change vs. food technology

[meta] Farmed animal vs. wild animals vs. general antispeciesism focus

[meta] Long-term vs. short-term focus

[meta] Social movements vs. EAA randomized controlled trials (RCTs) vs. intuition/speculation/anecdotes vs. external findings

Less explored questions

Introduction

In discussions of effective animal advocacy (EAA) — the field of study for how we can most effectively help animals, also known as effective altruism for animals — there are several important, challenging, and sometimes controversial foundational[1] questions that come up over and over. This post attempts to summarize and catalog the key evidence[2] cited by EAA supporters on each side of these debates for easy reference. For example, in the “Effective Animal Advocacy - Discussion” Facebook group, there have been dozens of threads discussing confrontational strategies like protesting inside a restaurant or grocery store. Repeated arguments include:

Clarifying notes

This post is intended for advocates and researchers wanting to make the most accurate assessments of what strategies have the highest expected impact, even in the face of limited knowledge. The evidence herein will not satisfy any desire for scientific proof. (We discuss this in more detail in this blog post.)

This post includes evidence that EAA researchers think is strongest: anecdotes and intuition, speculation, social movement trends, psychology findings, marketing findings, animal advocacy experiments, and any other information that makes one hypothesis more likely to be true than another.

We attempt to categorize each piece of evidence into the side of the debate that we expect a significant majority of EAA researchers agree it supports.[4] Where there is less agreement, or when the evidence’s direction depends largely on other questions in this document, it will be noted as pointing in an “unclear direction.” We also note when there seems to be significant majority agreement among EAA researchers on which side of the overall debate is most likely correct. Note that this does not mean it’s highly likely to be correct, just that it seems most compelling given the current evidence. The three questions with that level of agreement are:

Advocates can, of course, take a moderate position between the sides of the debates addressed in this document, and the composition of the animal advocacy movement might need some advocates taking different approaches. This document discusses what approach seems most promising on the margin, e.g. with a new $1,000 donation to the movement.

It’s useful to evaluate movement-wide strategy on the margin, but individual advocates should keep in mind that contexts (e.g. country, time period, resources) vary significantly and are often a crucial factor in individual situations. For example, if you are an established climate activist who now wants to focus on helping animals, you might want to focus more on environmental arguments than the average advocate does because that is where your expertise is and you might have disproportionate influence on environmentalist audiences.

This document is intended as a living reference, where ideas for further research are logged, new evidence can be added, and additional important questions can be discussed. We will try to update it as frequently as possible. Eventually, researchers in the field could add their own quantitative weights to different arguments so we can have more precise debates and updates of our individual views based on peer opinion.

The primary purpose of this document is as a secondary EAA resource, meaning we will cite existing EAA research when possible instead of outside sources. Because many EAA discussions happen via in-person conferences and meetings, social media, and email and other private communication, we will inevitably use some sources from outside EAA. When a theoretical argument is uncited in the text, you can assume that it is from unpublished discussions within the EAA community.

Before publishing this page in June 2017, we asked for feedback from 15 individuals who we selected based on (i) the amount of time we estimate they have spent thinking critically about these questions and (ii) our estimate of how independently they came to their views, e.g. we avoided asking too many people who work at the same organizations. Of course, despite our efforts, this post is likely still missing some evidence and misrepresenting some evidence. One way to help us improve this resource is through community feedback, so please feel free to contact us at info@sentienceinstitute.org.

Debates

Animal protection vs. environmental vs. human health focus

Explanation: Should we focus on animal protection, environmental, or human health arguments when promoting animal-free foods? Advocates cite many benefits of eating animal-free foods, but often we have limited space for our messages. For example, if we can only put one statistic on a billboard, should it be about water usage or factory farm cruelty?

For debates like this with more than two sides, we will discuss the arguments in turn and rank each side according to how much that argument favors it. Here is a table of rankings elaborated on below:

Animal Protection

Environment

Human Health

Value Alignment

1

3

2

Leadership Appeal

1

2

3

Moral Outrage

1

1

2

Less Trendy

1

1

2

Consensus on Harm

1

2

2

EAA Consensus

1

3

2

Selfish Appeal

3

2

1

Mainstream Appeal

3

2

1

Historical Correlations

1

2

2

1 = most promising in terms of this criterion

Value alignment

  1. Animal protection
  2. Human health
  3. Environmental

Explanation: Values vary, but it’s common in the EAA community to care most about the wellbeing of sentient individuals, so that’s the perspective we’ll take. Animal protection and human health are both mostly focused on individual wellbeing. Human health, however, is a more established value in society, so the emphasis of animal protection on individuals who are more neglected does more to align society with our values. Environmentalism could be motivated by a concern for the wellbeing of sentient individuals, but often the motivation is instead for the preservation of nonsentient entities such as ecosystems and landscapes.[6] Preserving these entities might matter as a proxy for improving sentient wellbeing, but the connection is tenuous and indirect.[7][8]

Value alignment matters for several reasons, including that it could affect partial measures people take towards an animal-free food system, e.g. whether they found a company creating fish meat substitutes to most reduce the number of animals being farmed, or beef substitutes to most improve human health; it could affect whether people continue to eat and promote animal-free foods if circumstances change, e.g. whether they continue to be vegan if evidence comes out that vegan diets are unhealthy;[9] it could affect what people do in other areas, such as whether they will take steps in the future to help wild animals.[10][11]

Degree to which they inspire current animal-free food movement leaders, e.g. nonprofit executives, public figures, entrepreneurs.

  1. Animal protection
  2. Environmental
  3. Human health

Explanation: This is anecdotal evidence and might be affected by the historical prevalence of the different arguments, biases in self report, and other issues.[12]

Promotion of moral outrage

  1. Animal protection, environmental
  2. Human health

Explanation: Animal protection arguments most clearly involve harm to outside entities, which can inspire people to get angry and view animal farming as a social priority over a personal choice. The environmentalist movement can also successfully inspire moral outrage when emphasizing the victims of environmental harms, such as wild animals and low-income or future humans. Health arguments could be framed as the animal farming industry harming or infringing upon the rights of consumers, such as through deceptive marketing, but the connection is weaker.[13]

Avoiding being seen as a passing trend or fad

  1. Animal protection, environmental
  2. Human health

Explanation: Similar to moral outrage, fads tend to involve personal choices that mostly only affect the decision-maker’s wellbeing, so health is more susceptible to this perception.

Expert consensus on the relevant harm

  1. Animal protection
  2. Environmental, human health

Explanation: Many people agree that there are serious animal protection issues with eating animals.[14] While the majority opinion is that the animal agriculture industry is very harmful to the environment and human health — especially the environment — there is less agreement, especially when it comes to non-industrial animal agriculture.[15]

EAA researcher agreement[16]

  1. Animal protection
  2. Human health
  3. Environmental

Explanation: There seems to be significant majority agreement in the EAA researcher community that we should focus on animal arguments. The difference between human health and environmental arguments is lower, but EAA researchers tend to favor human health due to concern about the long-term attitudinal effects of promoting environmentalism (e.g. it could make people care less about wild animals’ wellbeing because it emphasizes moral concerns for ecosystems, biodiversity, and other nonsentient entities, which can come at the expense of sentient wellbeing).

Selfish appeal

  1. Human health
  2. Environmental
  3. Animal protection

Explanation: Human health directly affects consumers. Environmental harm could plausibly affect a consumer later in life, or affect the welfare of those they know personally, e.g. their children.

Mainstream acceptance and popularity

  1. Human health
  2. Environmentalism
  3. Animal protection

Explanation: While each of these areas receives significant mainstream attention, human health seems most compelling and environmentalism second most compelling to the general public by metrics such as how many laws have been passed to improve it, or how often it’s used to market new products and technologies. This is important because it both indicates how motivating people find these areas and how comfortable companies, policy-makers, and other decision-makers would be citing these areas as reasons for adopting more animal-free foods. Note that within the specific context of intellectual left-wingers, environmentalism might actually be a more popular motivation than human health.[17]

Historical correlations

  1. Animal protection
  2. Environmental, human health

Explanation: The British antislavery movement focused on the treatment of the slaves in its effort to end the industry, occasionally using other arguments and only as support for the movement’s primary moral motivation. Insofar as our goal is animal protection, this suggests we should focus our messaging on animal protection.[18] (We hope to update this section with the correlational evidence from other social movements over time.)

Broad vs. animal focus

Explanation: Should animal advocates actively promote other causes or focus exclusively on animal protection? For example, how much non-animal advocacy content should an animal organization or individual animal advocate share on their social media page? They could share none and consistently stick to an animal message; share only very relevant or only very significant news in other areas of social change where there’s widespread agreement, e.g. on combating racism; or share a large amount of non-animal content, even where there’s controversy.

To clarify, we are discussing active engagement in other issues, with resources that could otherwise be spent on animal advocacy (e.g. creating and sharing content about sexism in the corporate world, attending pro-immigration rallies), not just passive support (e.g. stating one’s political positions on matters outside of animal advocacy when asked about them as an individual, or supporting inclusion of diverse backgrounds in animal advocacy).

Arguments for a broad focus

  1. It can have spillover benefits for those other movements, e.g. sharing lessons of what works and what doesn’t, lending human capital.[19]
  2. It can have spillover benefits from other movements into animal advocacy, e.g. credibility (given animal advocacy is often treated as a less serious, less mainstream social movement), resources, or increased numbers of advocates in high-profile campaigns. The anti-abortion movement was supported by religious groups that had broader socially conservative agendas and greater political acceptance.[20]
  1. This can include people involved with or benefiting from those movements being more interested in and comfortable with being animal advocates.
  1. Some broad societal issues targeted by other movements seem likely to indirectly increase the chances of success for the farmed animal movement.[21]

Arguments for an animal focus

  1. Insofar as we think animal advocacy is the most important way to spend our time,[22] we miss out on impact when we are spending time advocating in other areas.
  2. In the British antislavery movement, advocates focused narrowly on their shared goals, ignoring major differences in their views on other issues.[23]
  3. A broad approach can have spillover harms into those other movements, e.g. reducing their credibility if one thinks animal advocates are less respected by the mainstream.[24]
  4. A broad approach can have spillover harms from those other movements, e.g. associating with violent movements might make the public less sympathetic to animal advocacy. The anti-abortion movement’s association with conservative religious groups may have reduced the credibility and durability of the movement.[25]
  1. This can include people opposed to those movements being less interested in and comfortable with being animal advocates. Too broad a focus could discourage people who like the animal advocacy from working on it if they disagree with animal advocates on their other positions.
  1. If animal advocates give more of their time to human issues, that could reinforce the notion that advocates should prioritize human issues over animal issues.

Unclear direction

  1. If movements animal advocates associate with are partisan, it could make animal protection more of a partisan issue.
  2. Close proximity to other movements might make criticism more likely, e.g. anti-racist activists could attack animal advocacy for having too high a proportion of white advocates. This could have benefits such as helping animal advocacy improve, but also harms such as making the public who hears those criticisms think less of animal advocacy.
  3. Advocates of other social causes might be more or less receptive to animal protection messages. They might be more receptive because they are used to and have shown interest in social causes generally; there is evidence of correlations between recognition of human rights and animal rights.[26] They might be less receptive because they identify their cause of choice as most important and think any focus on other causes detracts from it.

Confrontation vs. nonconfrontation

Explanation: How confrontational should we be in our activism? Most EAAs have little trouble consistently categorizing activism as confrontational or nonconfrontational, though it’s hard to come up with a precise, comprehensive definition. Informative questions for assessing confrontation include: How much does a specific tactic make its audience uncomfortable? How much does it disrupt people from their normal routine? How much does it evoke anger or other forms of emotional arousal?

Arguments for confrontation

  1. Some well-studied social movements, such as US anti-slavery, women’s suffrage, and the 1960s civil rights movement, seemed to greatly benefit from confrontational tactics.[27][28][29][30][31]
  1. Critics note — and proponents agree — that animal advocacy is different in many important ways from these movements, such as this movement being led by allies instead of the oppressed themselves and the degree of popular support at the time of confrontational action, though the implication of these on the direction of the evidence is unclear.[32][33]
  2. Nonviolent confrontation likely differs substantially in its effect from violent confrontation, and what qualifies as the latter is unclear.[34][35][36]
  1. Disruption, discomfort, and anger all tend to make people take notice and speak out, whether for or against the activists. This can lead to more media attention and a larger number of people reached by a pro-animal message.[37][38][39]
  1. Moral outrage is important in overcoming the tendency to justify the status quo, an important step in accepting pro-animal messages.[40]
  1. Confrontation implies that the issue is important enough for people to protest about, even as important as historical social movements that used confrontation.
  2. Some tactics that effectively extract concessions from targeted companies are at least partly confrontational.[41][42]
  3. Confrontational tactics and their accompanying rhetoric may be attractive to some advocates and may have movement-building benefits, bringing in new activists and other resources, at least temporarily.[43]

Arguments for nonconfrontation

  1. Confrontation probably has something of a “backfire effect” where the pro-animal message actually moves some of the audience away from a pro-animal position.[44][45][46][47]
  2. Confrontation might harm the reputation of animal advocates.[48][49][50]
  3. British antislavery advocates did not conduct public demonstrations before there was broad public support of their specific goal.[51]
  4. Instead of seeming like respected historical social movements such as the 1960s civil rights movements, pro-animal confrontation might instead be categorized with less-respected protest movements like anti-abortion activism. It also might associate impact-focused animal advocates with less reputable segments of the animal advocacy community who use gimmicky or violent tactics. Similarly, there are arguably several examples of unsuccessful confrontational social movements such as the Occupy Movement and anti-gay marriage movement.[52]
  5. By being perceived as aggressive and acting in a way most people don’t, confrontational activists risk being less persuasive because they are less likeable, authoritative, and similar to their audience. This might be mitigated by, for example, dressing professionally at a protest.[53]
  6. Moral outrage can come from less risky sources than confrontational tactics, such as simply showing people the cruelty exposed through undercover investigations.[54]
  7. Rational people might be particularly less likely to associate themselves with a confrontational animal movement because of greater concern for their intellectual reputation or general aversion to argumentative tactics that don’t center on rational arguments.[55]
  1. The importance of this argument is affected by how much influence you think such people have. For example, if one thinks advanced technology such as general artificial intelligence is likely to be developed quickly and have a large impact on society, then people involved with those technologies might have extremely disproportionate influence, and they may be less receptive to confrontational tactics.
  1. Confrontational tactics may be more likely to alienate institutional decision-makers and encourage legal restrictions.[56] Verein Gegen Tierfabriken, an animal advocacy group in Austria that uses confrontational tactics, has faced state repression, though legal restrictions have also been imposed on undercover investigations of factory farms (a seemingly less confrontational tactic) in the US through ag-gag laws.
  2. The use of confrontational tactics may accelerate activist burnout.[57]

Unclear direction

  1. Confrontation has more of a polarizing effect, varying greatly in whether it leads to more or less acceptance in each audience member. Some think polarization leads to more discourse and social change,[58] while others think it leads to a stalling movement due to a lack of unilateral support.[59]
  2. Animal advocacy seems to currently have limited public support (e.g. most people still consume factory farmed animal products). Some think this makes confrontation more effective as social movements might need attention to begin snowballing,[60] while others think this makes confrontation less effective as it makes advocates seem fringe and unpopular.[61]

Consistent vs. varying messaging

Explanation: Should we use consistent slogans, images, etc. or should we vary them with each campaign, each organization, etc.? Consider the rainbow flag that’s used across the gay rights movement or the golden arches McDonald’s consistently uses to identify themselves. How much should animal advocates try to use consistent messaging features like these, as opposed to varying their slogans, images, etc.? Here we can also come to moderate conclusions, such as using a consistent slogan but varying the associated image, e.g. the words “Help animals” but with different photographs of animals each time those words are displayed.

Arguments for consistent messaging

  1. There are many apparently successful examples of these in historical social movements.[62] British antislavery advocates used extremely consistent messaging.[63]
  2. Marketers see the development and maintenance of “memory structures” (e.g. association of golden arches with McDonald’s) as one of the most important functions in advertising.[64]
  3. Consistent structures build familiarity, which leads to more liking and success in interpersonal persuasion.[65]

Arguments for varying messaging

  1. The elements of a given billboard, leaflet, etc. can be better optimized for a specific situation if they are not required to be consistent.[66][67][68]
  1. However, there is a lack of evidence that efforts to vary health behavior interventions by making them more “culturally competent” improves their effectiveness.[69] The evidence on the effects of tailoring interventions to the recipient’s individual characteristics or needs is mixed.[70]
  1. When a new element is included in a campaign, such as a provocative slogan relating to a current event, that can increase discussion and media attention because it is more fresh and interesting.
  2. Some message framings may be effective for recruiting activists but alienating to a wider public.[71]

Unclear direction

  1. Public discussion, particularly on controversial policy questions, often focuses on one aspect of an issue while excluding all others, frequently swinging from one extreme view to another.[72] Consistent messaging could take advantage of this dynamic by having higher average message quality because the consistently used message can be the most promising one. It could run afoul of it because trying a variety of messaging strategies to see which “takes off” in the public eye is the superior approach. Which of these possibilities ends up happening depends on, among other factors, how much feedback advocates get when trying out different messages for various lengths of time.

Controversial publicity stunts vs. other tactics

Explanation: How much should we utilize publicity stunts or other gimmicks that generate substantial attention but are strongly disliked by some of the audience and appear as trivializing animal issues or antagonistic towards other social movements, such as sexualized images of women, offensive statements, and silly costumes?

Arguments for controversial publicity stunts

  1. These often generate large amounts of attention relative to the effort put in. For example, a single press release or billboard often leads to numerous news stories and thousands of social media interactions.[73]
  2. Some publicity stunts are particularly thought-provoking, especially given their ability to point out the moral inconsistencies and other issues in people’s behaviors and beliefs. This can lead to people being shocked out of their current views in a way that wouldn’t happen without the publicity stunt.
  3. Controversial publicity stunts could support activist recruitment by being particularly compelling to would-be activists, even if they are off-putting to the average audience member.[74]

Arguments against controversial publicity stunts

  1. Farmed animal advocates frequently struggle to create change because the audience sees farmed animal advocacy as a lesser social justice movement, as silly or fringe, or as a movement that conflicts with other important goals like feminism and anti-racism. This perception seems caused or exacerbated by publicity stunts used by animal advocates over the past few decades.[75]
  2. Frequent use of publicity-focused tactics may lead to media disinterest[76] and a numbing of the audience. This may require varying tactics or increasing the offensiveness or absurdity of the tactics in order to maintain similar amounts of attention, which may exacerbate the downsides.
  3. A small amount of experimental research suggests no improvement or even a negative effect from sexualization, including two randomized trials of PETA advertisements that used either sexualized or non-sexualized images of women. Those two trials showed less intention to support PETA after viewing sexualized images, and found a mediating factor of the dehumanization of women.

Unclear direction

  1. Similar to confrontation, publicity stunts have more of a polarizing effect, varying greatly in whether it leads to more or less acceptance in each audience member. Some think polarization leads to more discourse and social change,[77] while others think it leads to a stalling movement due to a lack of unilateral support.[78]
  2. Animal advocacy seems to currently have limited public support (e.g. most people still consume factory farmed animal products). Similar to confrontation, some think this makes publicity stunts more effective as social movements might need attention to begin snowballing,[79] while others think this makes publicity stunts less effective as they make advocates seem fringe and unpopular.[80]

Individual vs. institutional interventions and messaging

Explanation: Should we focus, in our messages and interventions, on changing individuals or changing institutions and social norms? Generally, changing individuals means changing consumer diets — though it could arguably also include creating activists — and changing institutions means changing companies, governments, or other groups of individuals. Specific decisions affected by this consideration include whether to say “go vegan” or “end animal farming” (messages) and whether to donate to veg leafleting or corporate campaigning (interventions).

Arguments for individual focus

  1. Usually the ask of the message is clearer when it’s individual-focused, e.g. “go vegan” means you should go vegan.[81]
  1. An increased rate of short-term behavior change can lead to more long-term behavior and attitude change as it shifts the person’s identity.[82]
  2. The focus on short-term behavior change, which is relatively easy to measure and monitor, also means activists can iterate with shorter feedback loops.[83][84]
  1. There is evidence that a wide range of health behavior interventions focused on individuals, including leafleting, brief face-to-face conversations, and motivational interviewing can have significant effects on behavior. However, the effect sizes seem small and the evidence in favor of some of these interventions is weak or ambiguous, despite decades of research.[85]
  2. Institutional interventions might be less tractable due to the current number of individuals advocating for animals, or due to the current Overton Window that arguably excludes common animal-friendly positions, such as veganism and ending animal farming.[86]
  3. Institutional messaging could lead to a loss of motivation as the scale of the issue might seem large and overwhelming.
  4. Institutional changes such as taxes and price interventions may face resistance due to a perceived harm to individuals of low socioeconomic status.[87]
  5. There have been difficulties in enforcement of Supreme Court decisions for a range of issues,[88] as well as difficulties in enforcing farmed animal institutional changes in recent years.[89][90]
  6. Some people, especially many effective altruists[91] and others who are particularly ambitious, might be biased towards institutional change because it seems to be weighted more towards lower likelihoods of larger impacts instead of higher likelihoods of smaller impacts.[92]

Arguments for institutional focus

  1. It seems that few if any social movements have succeeded with a heavy focus on individual change. Environmentalism seems like the best candidate, and environmentalists seem to think “green consumerism” has been fairly ineffective.[93] The American antislavery movement’s “free produce movement” had limited success and was abandoned in favor of political approaches.[94] Targeted campaigns against fur retailers also seems to have been more effective than consumer-focused advocacy.[95]
  2. Successful examples of consumer boycotts in other social movements (anti-abortion, antislavery, and anti-GMO) had a clear institutional focus.[96][97][98]
  3. In surveys and voting behavior, people seem much more supportive of institutional change than they are willing to implement individual change. For example, there have been consistent majorities voting in favor of farmed animal welfare reforms,[99] and a 2017 poll suggested 49%, 47%, and 33% of US adults say they support a ban on factory farming, slaughterhouses, and animal farming respectively.[100]
  4. The anti-GMO movement in Europe achieved its most concrete victories in institutional contexts, often with small, focused campaigns rather than attempts to shift individual consumers away from GM food.[101]
  5. Anti-abortion advocacy seems to have failed to substantially change public opinion, though education and persuasion tactics may still have been effective at generating temporary support for specific policy initiatives.[102]
  6. Research on health behavior suggests that incentives, price changes, bans on undesired behavior, and other forms of legislation seem to have larger effect sizes than most individual or small group interventions.[103] Some of these interventions may also reduce behavioral inequalities, which may affect the long-term success of the farmed animal movement.[104]
  7. Institutional messaging could reduce defensiveness by shifting blame away from the recipient and onto relevant institution(s), facilitating moral outrage in the audience.[105] Blaming the audience can induce more of a “backfire effect.”[106][107]
  8. Institutional messaging makes it harder for people to become demotivated by the lack of a clear large-scale solution to the relevant issue. It helps prevent the recipient from feeling like they can only make a drop in the bucket, especially given the highly communal nature of animal product consumption.[108]
  9. Institutional messaging has more inherent emphasis on social pressure, i.e. that other people are making changes, and social factors seem very powerful in individual decision-making across different contexts.[109]
  10. Institutional changes in society create talking points, rhetorical ammunition, and common knowledge that can spark further discussions and change minds.
  11. Individual focus can exacerbate the “It’s my personal choice” counterargument to farmed animal advocacy. An institutional focus might do more to emphasize the victims of animal farming, leading to more motivation for advocates and consumers, as well as doing more to promote the interests of animals, especially relative to trivial human interests like gustatory satisfaction.
  1. The importance of this argument is affected by how you weigh long-term versus short-term impacts. If you care more about short-term impact, then the direction of future progress matters less.
  1. Some people might be biased towards individual focus because of its association with direct, short-term impact, i.e. instant gratification.[110]
  2. There seems to be significant majority agreement among EAA researchers that an institutional focus is more effective.[111]

Influencer vs. mass outreach

Explanation: Should we target our advocacy efforts towards influencers or the general population? Concrete examples of targeting influencers include writing more sophisticated, intellectual content instead of more accessible content; giving a talk at a small academic conference vs. giving a talk to the public; engaging in substantial one-on-one outreach with celebrities vs. handing out literature to as many people as possible.

Arguments for targeting influencers

  1. For each influencer you affect, you tend to have a bigger impact because, by definition, they have more social, financial, political, etc. resources.
  1. The importance of this argument is affected by how disproportionately you think resources are divided between some groups and others. For example, if one thinks advanced technology such as general artificial intelligence is likely to be developed quickly and have a large impact on society, then people involved with those technologies might have extremely disproportionate influence.
  1. For securing some legislative outcomes in the anti-abortion movement, influencer support seems to have been more important than majority public support.[112]
  2. Decision-making in the Supreme Court of the United States can probably be influenced by interest groups and by elite culture, suggesting that institutional change can be secured without first securing support from the general public.[113][114]
  3. In the 1960s-80s, the leadership of the Republican Party,[115] the Catholic Church,[116] and the Evangelical protestant community[117] all had substantially more strongly anti-abortion stances than their community members and supporters, and the actions of the communities more closely aligned with the leadership than with the community members and supporters.
  4. Influencers are arguably more amenable to rational messaging (especially intellectuals such as researchers and academics), which probably makes them more receptive to our reason-based arguments and allows us to get our message across in the most honest and straightforward way.
  5. Influencers are arguably less fickle, meaning changes we make in their attitudes and behavior are more likely to persist.
  6. In the 1970s and 1980s, positive media coverage in the most prestigious German newspapers was a leading indicator of favorable German public opinion towards nuclear energy.[118]
  7. The framing of debate in the media, by legislators, and by relevant influential social movement actors seem likely to modify the effects of a Supreme Court decision on public opinion.[119]
  8. There is weak evidence from the anti-abortion movement that social change may be more likely to occur if credible professional groups advocate for change for technical reasons before broader participation and pressure is encouraged.[120]
  1. Whether this is evidence in favor of influencer outreach depends on what stage of social change the farmed animal movement is currently in.

Arguments for targeting the general population

  1. Whether directly or through influencers, the public needs to be moved to support the changes advocates call for (though this may not be the case for some changes and in some circumstances).
  2. One study found that the proportion of a population that is involved in a nonviolent resistance campaign is positively correlated with a successful outcome[121] and that no campaigns had failed after maintaining the active participation of 3.5% of the population.[122]
  3. In one recent analysis, focus on grassroots organizing seems to be a common feature of several successful modern US social movements and comparably absent from several less successful movements.[123]
  4. Social movement scholars have found that public opinion is often an important determinant of legislative outcomes.[124] Some animal advocates likewise believe that successful lobbying is dependent on supportive public opinion,[125] perhaps even dependent on attitude polarization.[126]
  5. Public opinion could play an important role in affecting whether legislation is preserved or subsequently overturned.[127] The public can influence legislation directly through ballot initiatives and referendums and indirectly by voting for politicians that espouse views that match their preferences.
  6. The decision-making of the Supreme Court of the United States seems to be substantially influenced by public opinion.[128] When pre-decision public opinion is more closely aligned with a Supreme Court decision, the risk of legislative backlash is lower and the effects of the ruling on public opinion seem likely to be more positive.[129]
  1. A review of 121 research items suggests that when the Supreme Court of the United States makes a decision, this causes public opinion to move towards the opinion implied by that decision, though the evidence is slightly weaker than that for the influence of public opinion on Supreme Court decisions.[130]
  1. In the anti-abortion, civil rights, and gay rights movements, judicial rulings that lacked majority public support seem to have provoked substantial public backlash.[131][132]
  2. Corporate welfare campaigns have been partly dependent upon mobilizing the public to express dissatisfaction with a particular practice in animal farming, such as the caging of layer hens. It may be crucial that the public is already opposed to a practice for such campaigns to be successful.
  3. Influencers are often more difficult to reach and have more competition for their attention.
  4. Influencers are often more publicly committed to certain positions, which likely makes it harder to change their minds.
  5. Because many influencers have their success determined by public opinion (e.g. authors getting book sales, politicians getting votes), influencer attitudes and behavior might be mostly determined by the general population’s attitudes and behavior.
  6. Animal advocates may have more flexibility to utilize controversial tactics if there is public support for their demands.[133]

Unclear direction

  1. In the British antislavery movement, elite Anglican politicians and intellectuals were recruited as leadership, but their grassroots petition campaigns which mobilized the masses also seem to have been critical.[134]
  2. Several successful modern US social movements seem to have put substantial resources into tactics focused on changing public opinion.[135] The same is true for some less successful US movements, like the anti-abortion movement,[136] but others, like the gun control movement, have put little emphasis on public opinion campaigns.[137]

Left-wing vs. nonpartisan focus

Explanation: Should we prioritize appealing to the mainstream left or a nonpartisan audience? There are other options, such as appealing to the radical left or exclusively to right-wingers, but people suggest these two approaches most often.

Arguments for left-wing focus

  1. The most-discussed and well-researched social movements in the past 100 years, such as gay rights and anti-racism, seem to have succeeded with this method.
  1. This evidence is mitigated by potential selection effects that make left-wing-focused movements more likely to be discussed and researched, such as the general left-wing leaning of academia.[138]
  1. Left-wingers might be easier to persuade than right-wingers because left-wingers are more likely to be vegetarian,[139] indicate willingness to buy animal-free food technology,[140] and have wider moral circles,[141] which may be key factors in the farmed animal movement’s success.
  1. There is also more precedent for moral circle expansion movements with left-wing alignment than right-wing alignment.
  2. Empirically, we see that most of the current animal movement is left-leaning, including leadership, e.g. nonprofit executives, public figures, entrepreneurs. Of course, this is anecdotal evidence and might be affected by the historical prevalence of the different arguments, biases in self report, and other issues. Also, right-wingers, especially politicians, often have ties to animal industries.
  1. Speciesism is correlated with other prejudicial attitudes and, relatedly, with the conservative ideological constructs of social dominance orientation and right-wing authoritarianism.[142][143][144]
  2. Stronger alignment with a major political party might speed up progress, at least temporarily, by increasing the rate at which legislation is proposed.[145]

Arguments for nonpartisan focus

  1. Arguably, there is historical precedent for movements stalling and failing to make significant progress with a strong partisan focus, such as environmentalism, the anti-abortion movement,[146] or even the animal rights movement to date.
  2. Strong opposition from the right could be detrimental, especially if one thinks that sympathetic right-wingers can mitigate the opposition from animal industries.
  3. In the British antislavery movement, advocates focused narrowly on their shared goals, ignoring major differences in their views on other issues.[147] The movement’s parliamentary leader, Wilberforce, was a Tory, and while it seems more liberal politicians were more supportive of abolition and emancipation, the movement was not taken up as part of the Whig identity nor did campaigns try to tie it to one or the other party.[148]

Unclear direction

  1. Left-wing focus lends itself to a broad (i.e. cross-movement) approach. This was especially apparent in anti-GMO activism in the United States and Europe, where skepticism of GM food arose as part of a broad package of left-wing concerns.[149]
  2. Partisanism probably leads to more polarization.
  3. Focusing on the mainstream left means it’s likely harder to implement policy change when a right-wing government is in power. On the flip side, it’s easier when the administration is left-wing.[150]

Momentum vs. complacency from welfare reforms

Explanation: Do welfare reforms lead to momentum or complacency for future progress? When companies and governments commit to higher welfare standards, does this make further progress, such as increased vegetarianism rates, corporate adoption of plant-based foods, and public opposition to animal farming more or less likely?

Arguments for momentum

  1. When a welfare reform happens, people see that their culture includes some concern for farmed animals, which could help people develop stronger cultural identification with that concern, enabling them to feel more outrage when they learn that the animals are still suffering tremendously even in improved or purportedly “humane” farms and slaughterhouses.
  2. Animal advocates establish connections with companies, media, etc. that can be utilized to make further changes easier.
  3. In 2015 and 2016, welfare reforms quickly followed each other, including the transition from cage-free policies to commitments to ending chick culling and policies for chickens raised for meat.[151]
  4. Increased rates of vegetarian diets are associated with higher farmed animal welfare across countries in the EU.[152] Note that this is only weak evidence because the correlation is likely influenced by additional variables that increase concern for animals. Similar correlations have been found within the US and within the Netherlands.[153]
  5. Anecdotally, it seems that media coverage of welfare reforms tends to focus much more on what issues still exist and what progress is coming next than on how things are better now and meat-eating is less ethically concerning.[154]
  6. A small-scale empirical study by Mercy For Animals on Mechanical Turk found that respondents who read about welfare reforms were more likely to say they would reduce their consumption of animal products than a control group who read about unrelated policy changes. This difference held for both corporate and legal reforms, tested separately.[155] Two smaller studies on Mechanical Turk observed similar effects.[156]
  7. An analysis of social media responses to corporate welfare announcements found that only 3 of 1,617 comments explicitly suggested that the welfare reforms were sufficient and that no more action would be needed.[157]
  8. An observational analysis of the US from 1982 to 2008 showed a negative association between media coverage of farmed animal welfare and meat consumption. There are numerous qualifications for assessing this result that make it less useful evidence. See the Qualifications section in the cited report for more detail.[158]
  9. Empirical evidence suggests welfare reforms increase the costs of animal farming, which likely weakens the industry and decreases consumption of animal products, which is progress and likely makes the public more receptive to future reform.[159] The cost increase makes sense theoretically as well because if reform increased profits, then the industry would likely do it without advocacy pressure. There is disagreement about the extent of this price increase.[160]
  10. In the British antislavery movement, advocates first ran a major legislative reform campaign — abolishing the transatlantic slave trade — that they believed would be more agreeable to the public than eliminating the whole industry, but which they also believed would significantly curtail it. When that was successful, they shifted their sights to the elimination of West Indian slavery. Their success suggests that a major reform favorably affects momentum, but does not provide as much evidence for smaller reforms.[161]
  1. There were also some smaller reforms to the industry, such as a restriction on the slave workday to 11 hours, which appear to have caused more momentum than complacency, but it may be crucial that (1) advocates framed them as a step towards an end goal of eliminating the industry, rather than end goals in themselves, (2) advocates did not present them as more directly impactful for the victims than they were, and (3) the industry failed to fully implement them (see the following bullet point).[162]
  1. If companies that use animal products eventually become unwilling to further increase farmed animal welfare on their own, this could increase public frustration with the industry and possibly build momentum for legal regulation, especially if the reforms they have pursued have built momentum against farmed animal cruelty in the public.
  1. Beyond that, if the public momentum has built up sufficiently and the industry resists legal regulation, the public may come to agree that the cruelty they oppose cannot be sufficiently removed from the industry through regulation and concede that as such, the industry needs to be abolished. There is some evidence that this is what happened in the British antislavery movement.[163][164]
  1. In the US anti-abortion movement, increasingly radical legislation has been passed since the 1990s.[165]
  2. Anti-GMO campaigns in Europe won a series of concessions from food retailers and regulators throughout the 1990s. These concessions did not appear to soften opposition to GMOs (indeed, negative sentiment toward GMOs as reflected in polling data continued to increase in Europe) and the EU eventually put in place a moratorium on GM crops. In the United States, which saw fewer meaningful concessions to anti-GMO activism, opposition to GM food remained lower than in Europe and the US did not enact a moratorium on GM crops.[166]
  3. Some advocates might be biased towards complacency because of frustration with the current rate of progress of incremental change for farmed animals and their desire to believe that the movement will quickly reach its goals.
  4. There seems to be significant majority agreement among EAA researchers that momentum probably outweighs complacency.[167]

Arguments for complacency

  1. The arguments above apply more strongly to momentum for further welfare reforms than to momentum for reducing the number of animals used for food.
  2. Because of both reforms and the “humanewashing”[168] that those reforms might support, some people might think animal farming has become humane and the cruelty no longer exists, making them more likely to eat more animal products and support the continuation of the institution. Similarly, some people who know that much of animal farming is bad but buy products newly marketed as humane because of reforms might experience a moral licensing effect that makes them feel more comfortable consuming other products they know are less humane.[169][170] 
  1. A 2017 poll suggested that 75% of US adults say the animal products they purchase “usually come from animals that are treated humanely,” despite less than 1% of US farmed animals actually being raised on non-factory farms.[171]
  2. Anecdotally, many meat-eaters justify their behavior with the existence of humane animal farming. There aren’t many anecdotes, however, of this justification increasing in prevalence with welfare reform information, and since few people will attribute a behavior they feel guilty about to the usual factors such as social pressure or a lack of motivation, such justifications should be taken with skepticism.[172]
  1. Companies could become more resistant to further reform after they have implemented some changes, particularly those that boost their image significantly while costing them little.
  2. Pushing for reforms instead of replacement of the industry could suggest that animal farming is a more permanent institution, or reinforce the notion that animals will always be mere property for us to use.
  3. Animal industry companies might be able to influence and defuse animal advocacy organizations using the connections advocates build with them, especially if there is financial investment, donations, or other payments.
  4. EAA researchers, especially those who have been heavily involved with welfare reforms, may be biased towards momentum because of optimism, status quo bias, or bias towards more immediate and tangible impact.

Unclear direction

  1. An observational analysis of egg consumption during the lead-up to California’s Prop 2 vote found that there was no decrease in egg consumption associated with increased media coverage, though demand for cage-free eggs tended to increase and demand for cage eggs tended to decrease. There are numerous qualifications for assessing this result that make it less useful evidence. See the Qualifications section in the cited report for more detail.[173]

Further questions

  1. In our public communications, should we frame reforms as gradual progress away from factory farming (or perhaps all animal farming) or as end goals in themselves for their improvements to farmed animals’ lives? Relatedly, should we frame successes in reform efforts more as “victories” or “progress”?

Reducetarianism vs. veganism

Explanation: When we advocate for individual diet change, should we emphasize reducetarianism or veganism? This is assuming we’re focusing on individual diet change. For a discussion of whether to focus on that at all, see the Individual vs. institutional section. This question particularly lends itself to answers that lie between the two extremes, such as suggesting a vegetarian diet or to “cut back on or cut out animal products entirely.” If you find yourself near the middle of the debate, consider these moderate options.

Arguments for a vegan ask

  1. Asking people to go vegan more strongly communicates the importance of the issue because it requires a more drastic action.
  2. Each individual who complies with the ask directly causes more of a reduction in the scale of animal farming.
  3. Some research suggests that larger goals for personal behavioral change produce larger changes than moderate goals, on average,[174][175] though what constitutes a sufficiently large goal in this context (e.g. reducetarian, vegetarian, vegan) is unclear.
  4. Popularizing a vegan ask among professional, friendly advocates could reduce the stigma around veganism,[176] which is especially important if we want to advocate veganism more down the road.
  5. The audience might think less of reducetarian or vegetarian asks because they seem less internally consistent than veganism. This is even more true if the audience knows that eating eggs causes a relatively large amount of suffering compared to eating cow and pig meat. Vegans might seem more dedicated and committed than reducetarians and/or vegetarians. Similarly, a vegan or vegetarian diet is simpler to follow due to the hard-and-fast rules.
  6. Persuading people to adopt a vegan diet avoids the risk that reducetarian diets have of actually increasing animal consumption, such as if one cuts out red meat but even slightly increases the consumption of chicken or fish meat.[177] However, the strong focus on veganism in the UK in the 2010s does not seem to have successfully prevented a rise in egg consumption.[178]
  7. A smaller number of vegans might be more useful than a larger number of reducetarians if adopting veganism encourages stronger identification with the farmed animal movement and thereby encourages individuals to take disproportionately more other steps to help animals.

Arguments for a reducetarian ask

  1. Arguably, a greater percentage of outreach recipients will change based on a reducetarian ask, even if they make smaller changes. This is usually justified just based on reducetarianism being a smaller lifestyle change,[179] and there is some empirical evidence,[180] though the difference could be reduced or reversed by effects like (4) in the above list.
  1. If one believes the success of the animal-free food movement depends on reaching a critical mass of people making any change in their diets, then this argument carries more weight.
  2. Because reducetarianism is a smaller behavior change, we should arguably expect it to have a higher rate of recidivism, since small behavior changes are more common than large behavior changes.
  1. If more people are amenable to a reducetarian ask, it could do more to broaden our support base, which is important insofar as one thinks that many somewhat-committed members are important for social movement success.[181]
  2. Arguably, reducetarianism is a more novel idea than veganism, so it could be more interesting and thought-provoking. This is probably more applicable in Europe, where there seems to have been a heavier focus on veganism than in other regions.
  3. Advocating reducetarianism or, to a lesser extent, vegetarianism can avoid the negative stigma around veganism.[182]
  4. Advocating selective reducetarian diets better allows advocates to explain the reasoning behind the choices, e.g. advocates can emphasize that avoiding chicken, fish, and eggs reduces the most direct suffering. There are significant differences in the impact of various reducetarian diets, but vegan diets all have the same impact.

Arguments for a midpoint (vegetarianism)

  1. In the British antislavery movement, while a few people made an effort to abstain from purchasing any Slave-made goods, the consumer movement supporting abolition focused specifically on West Indian sugar. This avoidance of one major symbol of the institution gained substantially more traction than the avoidance of all the institution’s products, and it served as a useful symbol of support of the political movement.[183]
  2. A vegetarian diet avoids some of the animal products that cause the most suffering, such as chicken and fish; milk production causes comparably little suffering, though egg production causes more suffering than many meat products.[184]

Unclear direction

  1. One might have more of an individual, “personal choice” focus, which could be bad.
  1. There seems to be significant majority agreement among EAA researchers that institutional focus is more effective.[185]
  1. Veganism is more strongly associated with a focus on animals than with environmental/health aspects.
  1. There seems to be significant majority agreement among EAA researchers that animal focus is more effective.[186]
  1. If one wants to make a reducetarian ask, making a vegan ask right beforehand might be an effective way to increase the likelihood of agreement with a “door-in-the-face” strategy.[187] Similarly, if one wants to make a vegan ask, making a reducetarian ask right beforehand might be an effective way to increase the likelihood of agreement with a “foot-in-the-door” strategy.[188] It’s not clear which of these strategies is more impactful.

Social change vs. food technology

Explanation: Should we focus on social change, such as activism and marketing of a new technology, or on developing better animal-free food technology, such as through mechanical and tissue engineering? Many resources of the animal advocacy movement, such as a dedicated college graduate with a degree in tissue engineering, are clearly better suited for one strategy or the other, but we face a dilemma with less-specialized resources, such as money.

Arguments for social change

  1. Food technology seems to mostly go through monotonic progress, i.e. we mostly have better — or at least not worse — technology as we used to except in extreme cases like societal collapse or government-mandated destruction of research findings. In contrast, social change can move backwards, i.e. attitudes and human behavior could become worse than they used to be. This suggests that work on social change is more likely to affect the direction of the future, e.g. whether animal farming ever ends, than work on improving food technology.[189]
  1. The importance of this argument is affected by how you weigh long-term versus short-term impacts. If you care more about short-term impact, then the direction of future progress matters less.
  1. There is more private interest in technology because it’s more strongly associated with short-term corporate profits, suggesting it’s more likely to happen without animal advocates.
  2. Current animal-free foods are — surprisingly to some — still not very popular despite their arguably high quality. This suggests that quality matters less. There is evidence from one experiment that even if new, highly meat-like animal-free foods become as cheap or cheaper than comparable animal products, they may still be unpopular,[190] though reported preferences before a product is on market may not reflect actual consumption decisions.
  3. Some researchers, such as those at the Open Philanthropy Project and Animal Charity Evaluators, are skeptical about cellular agriculture products getting to market in the near future.[191][192] This suggests that we might need to depend on social change to help farmed animals, at least in the near future.
  4. Reviews of historical social movements suggest that social change has followed the efforts of many social movement organizations.[193]
  5. There is some historical evidence for activism as an important driver of technology adoption. Positive news coverage seemed to encourage positive public opinion of nuclear power in Germany.[194] The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in the 2010s, which “campaigned for new federal rules on coal plants and subsidies for renewables, and organized communities to oppose new coal plants and shutter old ones,” seems to have been successful in reducing US coal production and encouraging the adoption of other technologies.[195]
  6. There is some historical evidence that social, regulatory, and economic factors can delay or reverse the adoption of a profitable new technology. GMO researchers, for example, felt confident that GMOs would spread rapidly once developed, improving the sustainability and quality of the global food system. However, GM foods were rejected or blocked in major world markets like Europe and Africa, and today GMOs have failed to spread widely or to dramatically improve the global agricultural system.[196]

Arguments for food technology

  1. In the same vein as the first argument above, there are some ways for technology to affect the direction of the far future even if there is monotonically increasing technological progress.[197]
  1. The importance of this argument is affected by how you weigh long-term versus short-term impacts. If you care more about short-term impact, then the direction of future progress matters less.
  2. One example is that if we think highly-advanced artificial intelligence or other advanced technology will arrive soon and take control of the universe, the values of society at the time of arrival might be very important, such that we just want to improve values as much as possible as quickly as possible because advocates’ ability to effect change would stop when the artificial intelligence arrives. And some technology might offer a quicker improvement to society’s values than social change, even if in the long run the social change might result in more significant or more robust value improvements.
  3. Another example is that speeding up animal-free food technology could result in social change, e.g. once people stop eating animals they might subsequently care more about them, and achieving this quickly frees up modern animal advocacy efforts to do more to change attitudes in further ways, e.g. by helping people care about non-anthropogenic suffering.
  1. The importance of this argument is affected by how much you think we’re in a “golden age” of animal advocacy. If you think there will be much less animal advocacy, say, 100 years from now, then hastening technological progress in order to take advantage of this opportunity to multiply our impact (e.g. there’s a friendlier political climate, more advocates eager to help with projects), which we won’t have after the golden age, could matter much more.
  2. Animal-free products may need to be the same as or extremely similar to their animal-based counterparts before society is at a comparable point to other social movements where we’re ready to successfully push for changes to production.
  1. Technological work could leverage private interest from corporations, investors, and entrepreneurs (resources that are otherwise unavailable to the movement), e.g. if you did the early-stage research, you could count on others to finish it and commercialize the product if you showed them it was a promising opportunity.[198]
  2. Social change might be less tractable, partly because it’s harder to measure one’s progress. It might be prohibitively challenging to convince others to make a significant change like switching many of the foods they eat[199][200] or adjusting their identities to become antispeciesist, so what’s most needed could be to make going vegan or opposing harm to animals require less of a transition cost for people (e.g. with better plant-based meats).
  3. Arguably technology has been more neglected,[201] perhaps due in part to some animal advocates thinking that if they just show the public how animals are treated and offer solid ethical arguments, people will change.
  4. Moral circles may trend towards a setpoint, and if so it seems like that’s most likely a point that includes the most powerful beings and excludes those whose inclusion would not increase the society’s power, or in other words excludes those who are more of a burden and cost more resources to care for than they contribute to the selfish interests of the powerful. At present that most powerful group is humans, or at least many humans, and though we’ve historically expanded the circle to include more humans, further expansion to beings like chickens, fish, and grasshoppers doesn’t reap the same benefits to powerful humans like the economic progress seen with women’s empowerment and the decreased violent conflict seen with increased cooperation between ethnic groups. Therefore, expanding humanity’s moral circle beyond humanity may be very challenging and as such technological solutions to nonhuman suffering may be more tractable.
  5. Seeking to spread one’s own values may increase the likelihood of others’ spreading different or opposite values.[202][203]
  6. Businesses and academic environments (which are usually where technology development occurs) seem to be more efficient than activist environments, especially grassroots, because activists spend so much overhead on community maintenance. For example, because activists often have more overlap between their social circles and professional circles, so those professional circles tend to be more casual, activists end up dealing with more interpersonal issues with time that could be otherwise spent on direct work.
  1. Activist environments might be beneficial in some ways, such as more camaraderie and dedication that allows them to better endure setbacks like a failed policy campaign or slow adoption of animal-free foods.

[meta] Farmed animal vs. wild animals vs. general antispeciesism focus

Explanation: Should we focus on farmed animals, wild animals, or general antispeciesism in our messaging? General antispeciesism could mean anything from a message of, “Animals have feelings like us. Don’t be cruel to them,” to “Discriminating against certain species is just as bad as discriminating against certain races or genders.” The stronger versions of antispeciesism are favored more in the EAA community as the message we should emphasize in our advocacy, so this post will focus on them.

Farmed animal focus

General antispeciesism

Wild animal focus

Scale

3

1

2

Neglectedness

2

2

1

Clear call to action

1

2

3

Avoids preservationism

2

1

1

1 = most promising in terms of this criterion[204]

Scale of the issue

  1. General antispeciesism
  2. Wild animal focus
  3. Farmed animal focus

Explanation: General antispeciesism arguably includes all animals,[205][206] not just farmed or wild, even though discussing the plight of wild or farmed animals could raise concern for other populations. There are approximately 2*10^11 farmed animals alive at any time and 10^13 to 10^15 wild birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish, plus many more bugs and other potentially sentient creatures.[207][208]

Neglectedness of the idea

  1. Wild animal focus
  2. General antispeciesism, farmed animal focus

Explanation: Wild animals currently have very little advocacy on their behalf, at least for large-scale intervention to benefit individual animals.[209] There are people advocating for the preservation of certain species, such as pandas and elephants, and people helping individuals at a small-scale, such as wildlife rehabilitation programs. Some large animal rights organizations, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) use general antispeciesist messaging, though it is still neglected under a sufficiently strict definition.[210] Some large organizations, including PETA, Compassion in World Farming, Animals Australia, and Humane Society of the United States advocate for farmed animals. These mainstream organizations achieve substantial media attention.

Similarly, there are reasons to expect cruelty to farmed and other domestic animals to decline without our intervention — at least, this seems more inevitable than proper assistance being provided to wild animals.[211][212]

Clear call to action

  1. Farmed animal focus
  2. General antispeciesism
  3. Wild animal focus

Explanation: People affect farmed animals every day with their food choices, so changing those behaviors is a relatively clear call to action. Also, farmed animal advocates are already engaged in a variety of ongoing institutional tactics which people can be asked to support. General antispeciesism could include these calls to action, but given its broadness, its calls to action are less closely tied to the message. A wild animal focus has less clear calls to action, but still some, such as donating to organizations working on the issue, conducting further research, and helping individual wild animals, e.g. at rehabilitation centers.

Divergence from preservation arguments and association with preservationist ideas

  1. Wild animal focus, general antispeciesism
  2. Farmed animal focus

Explanation: EAAs tend to care more about the wellbeing of sentient individuals than the preservation of nonsentient entities such as landscapes and ecosystems. Environmental arguments against animal agriculture are common, and modern environmentalism is often grounded more in preservation than wellbeing, so a farmed animal focus runs a risk of furthering that preservationist ideology relative to a wellbeing-focused perspective.[213]

Unclear direction: Tractability of spreading the idea

Explanation: Helping farmed animals is probably a more established cause in mainstream discourse as measured by, say, number of articles on the topic in major news outlets.[214] Similarly, there seems to have been more rapid growth in farmed animal concern and discussion of the problem than explicit mentions of antispeciesm or reducing wild animal suffering. Antispeciesism is limited somewhat in tractability by its abstract nature. For people to accept that we should help wild animals, they need some concern for those animals as well as a willingness to take action against harms that happen in nature, which is difficult for many people to accept.[215][216] One counter-consideration is that people regularly participate in farmed animal cruelty by eating animal products, while they don’t participate in wild animal suffering, at least in a similarly direct way. If farmed animal advocacy is closely related to the promotion of animal-free food technology, then preferences for naturalness may be a substantial barrier here too.[217] There is some anecdotal evidence that attendees of antispeciesist lectures accept the arguments for antispeciesism, indicating tractability.[218] Lecturers on farmed and wild animal advocacy also report attendees saying they are convinced by the arguments, though Oscar Horta notes that in his presentations, the discussion of veganism (which is not necessarily synonymous with discussion of farmed animals — see the individual vs. institutional change section) is the most contentious.[219]

Unclear direction: Relatively strong appeal to intellectuals

Explanation: Because antispeciesism is a more abstract, sophisticated idea it could have greater appeal to intellectuals relative to its appeal to the general population.

Unclear direction: Alignment with utilitarianism

Explanation: When people hear about or discuss farmed animal welfare, they usually focus on the wellbeing of individuals, either in terms of their suffering or the dissatisfaction of their preferences. Wild animal advocacy is usually individual-centric, but people often assume helping wild animals involves pursuing goals other than directly utilitarian ones, such as the preservation of a species. General antispeciesism is sometimes advocated for in utilitarian terms, but the concept of not discriminating across species doesn’t come loaded with a specific vision of how other individuals should be treated other than just that it shouldn’t depend on species identity.

Unclear direction: Association of antispeciesism with social justice and left-wing politics

Explanation: Antispeciesism in particular comes across as a very left-wing idea given its association with anti-racism, anti-sexism, etc. This could be a good or bad thing depending on how much you think animal advocates should focus on appealing to the mainstream left relative to a bipartisan audience. A possible counterargument here is that left-wingers might be particularly defensive about the inclusion of animals in their discussions because they want to avoid diluting their focus on oppressed humans or because they have developed their identities more around human rights than around general nondiscrimination.[220] Some EAA researchers think that counterargument is quite compelling.

[meta] Long-term vs. short-term focus

Explanation: Should we give more weight to long-term outcomes or short-term outcomes? A useful place to draw the line between the short- and long-term is at the end of animal farming, e.g. when humanity has such advanced technology that we no longer eat animals simply because they are inefficient ways to get meat, milk, and eggs. Of course, it’s really more of a spectrum than a line, so you should consider these arguments as they apply to more concrete decisions.

Arguments for long-term focus

  1. The scale is astronomically larger. For instance, some suggest we​ could ​fill​ ​the​ ​universe​ ​with​ at least 10^38 human minds per second, a number of sentient beings that vastly outweighs the approximately 7.5 billion humans alive today.[221] Even the number of bugs alive today is likely not more than 10^20, and they live much shorter lives than humans.[222]
  1. These estimates based on potential size of long-term civilization are optimistic in the sense that humanity might not continue that long.
  1. Fewer resources (labor, money, etc.) are being used to help animals, or other nonhuman sentient beings, who might exist in the far future.
  2. Short-term good might backfire in the long-run, e.g. promoting vegetarianism — especially for environmental reasons — could lead society to care more about preserving species and ecosystems at the cost of the interests of individual animals,[223][224] but long-run strategies seem not to have comparable risks of short-term harm.
  3. It seems likely that thoughtful actors could have encouraged, discouraged, or otherwise influenced some of the important trajectory changes in human history.[225]

Arguments for short-term focus

  1. Short-term outcomes tend to be more tractable,[226] or at least more measurably so.
  2. Achieving multiple short-term outcomes involves shorter feedback loops that activists can use to optimize their strategies.
  3. There is more uncertainty about the ability to help animals in the long-term, especially in that there are more crucial considerations about the long-term that could not only affect the magnitude of impact but also its sign.
  4. Important trajectory changes in human history seem partly caused by long-term and indirect factors that are hard for thoughtful actors to influence.[227]

Unclear direction

  1. The tractability of moral circle expansion (a long-term outcome of interest to EAA) compared to other forms of social change is unclear.[228]
  2. In some cases, strategies that are among the most cost-effective in the short run may also be some of the most impactful in the long run. For example, corporate welfare campaigns have frequently been found to be cost-effective on short timeframes;[229] if one also believes that such reforms generate substantial momentum for further moral circle expansion, then they could also be highly cost-effective on long timeframes. This is evidence in favor of strategies with both short- and long-term effects.
  3. Two analyses of the deaths and retirements of national leaders and outcomes such as economic growth and political system tentatively suggest a relationship, but the evidence is unclear. This could be taken as evidence that long-term change is tractable, since thoughtful actors can aim to become leaders themselves or focus their advocacy efforts on those leaders. However, if the leaders are hard to influence, then this may instead reduce tractability.[230]

[meta] Social movements vs. EAA randomized controlled trials (RCTs) vs. intuition/speculation/anecdotes vs. external findings

Explanation: Which type of evidence has been most useful for answering questions like those in this document?

Social movement evidence comes from examining the strategies employed by movements along with the potential[231] outcomes of those movements, such as the US environmental policy changes in the decade following the publication of Silent Spring in 1962.

EAA RCTs are done specifically in the field of EAA, such as the Mercy For Animals online ads study.

Intuition is hard to define, but means a judgment made by an individual that doesn’t rely on evidence they can cite directly. For example, a graphic designer might think one company logo idea looks better than another, but not be able to describe exactly why. If this designer has decades of experience seeing logos succeed and fail, we should probably take their intuition seriously. Speculation is similarly challenging, but I’m using it to refer more to logical reasoning than a single, untraceable judgment. For example, we can speculate that we should focus on animal wellbeing over consumer health when promoting animal-free foods because having a wider moral circle seems beneficial for the long-term wellbeing of sentient beings. There’s a chain of reasoning here, but it’s not really based on specific, empirical evidence. Anecdotes, while distinct from intuition and speculation, have many similarities as evidence so these are all considered together.

External findings are often from RCTs, but also general findings in psychology, sociology, or other relevant fields field, such as the identifiable victim effect.

# of outcomes

Context focus

Variable isolation

Sample size

EAA RCTs

3

1

1

2

External findings

2

3

2

1

Intuition/speculation/anecdotes

1

2

3

3

Social Movements

1

3

3

4

1 = most desirable

Accounting for the most outcomes, e.g. short-term and long-term effects, direct and indirect effects

  1. Social movements, intuition/speculation/anecdotes
  2. External findings
  3. EAA RCTs

Explanation: If we look back on a social movement, such as the children’s rights movement of the 1800s, we can take a broad, comprehensive look at outcomes that the movement might have affected, such as the laws governing children’s working conditions in the 1900s. Since most EAAs care about sentient beings that exist a long time from now, and those that are less directly related to our advocacy, accounting for these outcomes is useful.

One’s intuition can be built up from looking at history, having long experiences in one’s own life, or listening to other advocates with their own experiences. In the latter two cases, you probably get a sense of long-term outcomes, but not as many indirect outcomes. Speculation can also account for a variety of outcomes, but it tends to be quite challenging to speculate about long-term and indirect ones. Admittedly, the ranking of speculation is unclear and “Accounting for the most outcomes” might not be a very useful metric for evaluating it.

External findings are often from psychology, such as the identifiable victim effect and the backfire effect, where they have undergone substantial testing in a variety of contexts — though keep in mind that many psychological findings do not replicate, so it’s best to rely on findings with a large number of varied studies weighing in their favor. Even well-studied findings, however, are often only about a small number of short-term, direct outcomes,[232] and it requires speculation to use these findings to estimate other outcomes.

EAA RCTs usually measure a limited number of direct, short-term outcomes, such as self-reported diet change a few weeks after seeing an online veg ad. It is possible to expand this scope somewhat with strategies like tracking subjects for years or measuring outcomes at a macro-level such as a college cafeteria, but given the limited budget and number of researchers in EAA, it’s unlikely the scope will be as wide as external findings, intuition/speculation, or social movements.[233]

Focusing on the context where we’ll use the results

  1. EAA RCTs
  2. Intuition/speculation/anecdotes
  3. Social movements, external findings

Explanation: EAA RCTs are done in the specific context we want to understand better: animal advocacy. The context of intuition/speculation varies, but it’s often based in EAA itself. Social movement evidence and external findings are necessarily from different contexts, though they can be more applicable if the conclusions persist across a range of contexts.

Isolating the variable of interest

  1. EAA RCTs
  2. External findings
  3. Social movements, intuition/speculation/anecdotes

Explanation: EAA RCTs and external findings based in RCTs are able to experimentally control for the variable of interest. Some external findings are at least partially based in non-RCT results,[234] and social movements[235] and intuition/speculation/anecdotes often can isolate the variable of interest by controlling for other variables. However, as with any observational evidence, it’s quite challenging to avoid risks of lurking variables.

Sample size

  1. External findings
  2. EAA RCTs
  3. Intuition/speculation/anecdotes
  4. Social movements

Explanation: External findings are often based on a number of experiments or other studies across a variety of experiments. However, one should be cautious about the presentation of “established” effects that actually lack reproducibility, especially in recently criticized fields like psychology. Still, EAA RCTs will probably have even lower total sample sizes due to a lack of financial resources and researcher interest, at least in their current state and the near future.

Intuition/speculation/anecdotes vary tremendously in sample size based on how much experience we have in the area of interest, from hundreds of data points when it comes to one-on-one communication to likely very little when it comes to how societies behave.

Social movements are pretty clearly the lowest on this metric due to the small number of data points available, which are even fewer when we consider the limited research done in this area so far. Reviews of historical social movements have, so far, tended to focus on movements with in different categories than the farmed animal movement.[236]

Less explored questions

There are many debates we hope to discuss in the future and add to this post. These include:


[1] Another potentially confusing term. We just mean it as questions whose answers indirectly inform decisions of which interventions to undertake to help animals (e.g. handing out veg leaflets, giving lectures in schools on caring for animals). The reasons we’re focusing on foundational questions are (i) limited research staff time, meaning we have to restrict our scope, (ii) it’s probably better to start at the more foundational level; if we started with discussions of intervention tactics, we’d be referring to foundational questions without having associated write-ups.

[2] The Oxford English Dictionary’s first definition of evidence is “the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.” We use this definition, which does not require the evidence to be particularly strong, as opposed to a definition like “something that furnishes proof.” In other words, we consider any information that makes one empirical hypothesis more likely than the alternative; we are not restricting ourselves to evidence that leads to high confidence in a certain hypothesis.

[3] Note that for the topic of confrontation, as of October 2016, there are now a few blog posts by advocates debating confrontation that can be used as references. However, it seems useful to aggregate the arguments therein. One advocate wrote a summary blog post along those lines for that debate, but a more general reference is probably still useful.

[4] We very approximately define “significant majority agreement among EAA researchers” as 80% agreement among the 20 people who we believe have most thoroughly considered these issues. In June 2017, we conducted a survey to gauge opinions on the top-level questions in this survey, but we did not ask about each piece of evidence on this webpage. See this blog post for more information.

[5] We very approximately define “significant majority agreement among EAA researchers” as 80% agreement among the 20 people who we believe have most thoroughly considered these issues. Our claims were originally based on best guesses, but in June 2017, we surveyed the 21 such people and this was true among the 15 respondents to our full survey. See this blog post for more information.

[6] We don’t know of any survey or experimental data directly on this question, but there is some related survey evidence. “Here are a couple of results from within surveys (not focused on wild animal issues) that suggest that people assign more moral value to non-sentient environmental systems and biodiversity than they do sentient individuals… 1) A paper on “Moral Expansiveness: Examining Variability in the Extension of the Moral World” asked participants to rate 30 different entities by the “moral standing” that they deserved. “Low-sentience animals” (chickens, fish, and bees) were deemed by participants to deserve lower moral standing than non-sentient “environmental targets.” These groups had mean scores of 2.64 and 3.53 respectively on a scale from 0 to 9. By comparison, plants had a mean score of 2.52, stigmatised groups of humans (homosexuals, mentally challenged individuals, and refugees) had 5.35 and family/friends had 8.90. 2) A talk by Stefan Schubert on the psychology of existential risk and long-termism refers to a survey which found that a clear majority of respondents were more concerned about the loss of individual human lives than the difference between most dying and all dying (i.e., they weren’t too worried about extinction). But this was reversed when the same question was asked about zebras.” - Jamie Harris, “Survey data on the moral value of sentient individuals compared to non-sentient environmental systems

[7] “Yes, the integrity of local ecosystems could benefit sentient beings, but we should discuss environmental issues in terms of the impact on sentient beings, not simply on the preservation of nonsentient entities like ecosystems or biodiversity, and we should ensure the social change we create is promoting our own values as much as possible, rather than related values that overlap in some, but not all, contexts.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Focus Primarily on Animal Protection Arguments

[8] “Some animal supporters are environmentalists because they think ecological preservation best advances animal welfare, while others hold an additional moral view that nature is intrinsically valuable. It's troubling that spreading the animal movement risks creating more defenders of wildlife who may cause more animal suffering than they prevent. Plausibly the animal movement is still net positive, especially if future wisdom helps to correct its present oversights, but I think it's safest if we push explicitly on the cause of reducing wild-animal suffering -- both among animal activists and others who are open-minded.” - Brian Tomasik, Does the Animal-Rights Movement Encourage Wilderness Preservation?

[9] “Additionally, new studies or changing features of human health (e.g. a rise in diseases that are more prevalent in plant-based eaters) could change the evidence base and make our favored arguments for an animal-free food system less compelling.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Focus Primarily on Animal Protection Arguments

[10] “While veg advocacy is intended to change people’s diets and reduce the suffering of farmed animals, it could have important effects on whether people would take steps to reduce the suffering of wild animals.” - Luke Hecht, Wild Animal Suffering Survey Report

[11] “An environmental focus could cause people to harm wild animals, such as by painfully killing members of invasive species in order to preserve the integrity of local ecosystems.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Focus Primarily on Animal Protection Arguments

[12] “It also seems to be the case that animal arguments have been most compelling in creating highly impactful animal-free food leaders, and creating more of these leaders could be very important for pushing our movement forward.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Focus Primarily on Animal Protection Arguments

[13] “Environmental and animal protection argument can better inspire moral outrage than human health, because they involve harm to outside entities rather than just harm to the consumer making the decision. The health argument could be framed as the animal farming industry harming or infringing upon the rights of consumers, such as through deceptive marketing, but the environmental and animal protection arguments still seem more clearly associated with this sort of external harm in the eyes of the public.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Focus Primarily on Animal Protection Arguments

[14] In one US survey, 65% of respondents agreed with the statement: “I have some discomfort with the way animals are used in the food industry.” Another survey found that 51% or fewer in each of the 5 surveyed countries agreed that, “Eating meat directly contributes to the suffering of animals.” The framing of these questions may heavily influence the results, particularly whether responsibility is placed on the survey respondents.

[15] “There is very little disagreement outside the industry itself about the intense animal suffering involved in modern animal farming. However, there is substantial disagreement about whether a vegan, or even a vegetarian diet, is better for human health. … Similarly, while there is much agreement that many modern factory farms are very environmentally damaging, some environmentalists think that farming some animals, such as grass-fed cows, waste-fed pigs, or insects, is actually more environmentally friendly than eating plants.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Focus Primarily on Animal Protection Arguments

[16] We very approximately define “significant majority agreement” as 80% agreement among the 20 people who we believe have most thoroughly considered these issues. Our claims were originally based on best guesses, but in June 2017, we surveyed the 21 such people and this was true among the 15 respondents to our full survey.

[17] “Some might disagree with me because environmental, human health, or other topics have more public interest right now than animal protection, so they think emphasizing these benefits of animal-free foods could lead to more public enthusiasm and quicker public adoption. For example, one might be more likely to get news stories of a new animal-free food company if the press release is written with an environmental focus. People might also self-report health and the environment as more important factors in their consumption.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Focus Primarily on Animal Protection Arguments

[18] “Economic arguments may have made sympathetic politicians more able to support abolition and emancipation, particularly as the primary arguments in favor of the Slave trade and Slavery were economic. The failure of Slavery to Christianize Slaves was also a criticism of it… Note though that moral arguments heavily and consistently dominated both petitions and antislavery advocates’ speeches in Parliament. Even when using economic arguments, advocates were explicit that if Britain did stand to lose something by giving up Slavery, it bore the responsibility for the debt, not slaves… Secondary motivations do not seem to have made much of an appearance in parliamentary debates, however, so a more detailed review of parliamentary records is required to determine how important they were as motivations and/or as arguments.” - Kelly Witwicki, Social Movement Lessons From the British Antislavery Movement

[19] In this context, we’re considering “benefits” to include outcomes beyond the animal advocacy movement, such as reducing sexism. Note that this could be a harm if one disagrees with the goals of the movement one is working with.

[20] “The evangelical community has been heavily involved with the anti-abortion movement… the early anti-abortion movement was heavily dominated by Catholics and the Catholic Church provided organizational stability even when the support of other groups fluctuated… Although not synonymous with the anti-abortion movement, some organizations and individuals associated with the Christian Right have been welcomed by the Republican Party.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[21] “[W]e estimate an ordered logistic regression model to explain policy variations between 48 countries. As dependent variable we use the Animal Protection Index, a country ranking based on policy strictness. As independent variables we use GDP per capita, Polity Score, Civic Activism Index, and number of animal protection organizations. Results suggest that countries with stronger democratic institutions and more civil society groups focused on animal protection are likely to have stricter animal protection policies. For economic development and broad civil society strength we do not find significant effects.” - Alexander Holst and Pim Martens, Determinants of Animal Protection Policy: A Cross-Country Empirical Study

[22] See, for example, Jacy Reese Anthis, Why I prioritize moral circle expansion over artificial intelligence alignment and Jess Whittlestone, Animal Welfare.

[23] “Wilberforce was highly conservative in most issues, while Clarkson supported French Jacobins — an affinity he downplayed — and believed women should be able to take a role in public affairs; Quakers and Anglicans were strongly socially divided, and Sharp was hostile towards his Quaker and Catholic allies’ faiths, but the coalition of Quaker and Anglican antislavery advocates on the issue of slavery was important; and antislavery leaders’ views even on the role of race in social order varied substantially. These critical players would have been lost to the movement if they insisted on only working towards their shared goal with people who shared their other priorities and views.” - Kelly Witwicki, Social Movement Lessons From the British Antislavery Movement

[24] In this context, we’re considering “harms” to include outcomes beyond the animal advocacy movement, such as effects on sexism. Note that harming another movement could be a benefit if one disagrees with the goals of the movement one is working with.

[25] “Association with Catholicism may have damaged the anti-abortion movement’s credibility among some non-Catholics. In 1988-9, the Christian Right suffered several setbacks, seemingly due, at least in part, to its failure to build a wide base of support. The influence of evangelicals may have led to the use of more polarizing messaging. The coexistence of separate (otherwise sometimes politically divided) Christian groups within the anti-abortion movement may have encouraged disagreements on tactics, which may have contributed to the failure of legislative efforts on one or more occasions.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[26] “In this article, we empirically test explanations for variation in support for animal rights at the individual level and across the United States. We draw on a combination of national public opinion surveys and cross-sectional data on animal rights laws from the fifty US states. We find a strong connection between recognition of human rights and animal rights both at the individual attitude level and at the US state policy level. Our results demonstrate that support for animal rights strongly links to support for disadvantaged or marginalized human populations, including LGBT groups, racial minorities, undocumented immigrants, and the poor.” - Yon Soo Park and Benjamin Valentino, Animals Are People Too: Explaining Variation in Respect for Animal Rights

[27] “The action taken by these activists was radical and dangerous: William Lloyd Garrison’s public burning of the US constitution, which he called a “covenant with death”, almost left him dead after a lynch mob attempted to murder him (ironically he was saved by the police, who seized him and threw him in jail for his protest). Goodman writes that “Abolitionism grew, by contrast [to the ACS], in the teeth of elite hostility, intense popular prejudice, and physical violence, and it required an exceptional organizational and ideological commitment.”

Despite these obstacles, however, the radical abolitionist movement was extremely successful, growing from four to 1348 independent chapters in just six years - a 34,000% increase in activism (Goodman, 124). This exceptional growth coupled with a strong message and provocative activism had extreme influence on public dialogue and political action on slavery, pushing public tension to ultimately to the brink of the Civil War.” - Brian Burns,
An Opiate to the Conscience: Welfarism as a Step to Animal Liberation

[28] “The willingness of [National Womans Party] pickets to be arrested, their campaign for recognition as political prisoners rather than as criminals, and their acts of civil disobedience in jail shocked the nation and brought attention and support to their cause. Through constant agitation, the NWP effectively compelled President Wilson to support a federal woman suffrage amendment. Similar pressure on national and state legislators led to the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.” - Library of Congress, Tactics and Techniques of the National Womans Party Suffrage Campaign

[29] “The story of the Greensboro Four spread far and wide, far beyond the city of Greensboro. And then suddenly, almost inexplicably, the wave became a cascade - a cascade so wide and powerful that it would sweep over the country in a tide of direct action.

By the end of the campaign, over 100,000 people all across America would participate in sit-ins, despite the risk of arrest, beatings, or even assassination.” - Direct Action Everywhere,
Why Direct Action

[30] “This stagnation was in stark opposition to the great success of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS), which grew to 250,000 members in just five years from 1833 to 1838. The AASS openly and aggressively opposed slavery, provoking violent responses from its opposition. Encyclopædia Britannica describes, "The society’s antislavery activities frequently met with violent public opposition, with mobs invading meetings, attacking speakers, and burning presses." - Jacy Reese Anthis, Confrontation, Consumer Action, and Triggering Events

[31] “The 1960s Civil Rights Movement is one of the most recent and largest social movements in US history. It consisted largely of confrontational tactics such as protests, sit-ins, and marches. These actions ostensibly led to several major legislative achievements like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that banned employer discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In the later 1960s and early 1970s, the movement grew more violent with urban riots and the Black Power movement.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, Confrontation, Consumer Action, and Triggering Events

[32] “Here, Alex discusses that we lack credibility as we do not come from the oppressed class and that disruptions erode our credibility, so we should avoid them. There are other ways that our movement differs from other movements, though, that suggest we might want more disruption … I do not mean this to say that Alex is flat out wrong that our movement is different from other movements. All movements are different, and all comparisons are imprecise. My point, instead, is that it’s at least unclear whether we should be less confrontational than other movements.” - Zach Groff, A (Potential) Summary of Disagreements and Agreements on Direct Action

[33] “The basic assumptions underlying these conclusions are (i) if a historical social movement found success using a particular tactic, then existing social movements should favor that tactic, and (ii) the evidential weight of the lessons from a historical social movement should be proportional to the similarity between the two movements being compared.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, Confrontation, Consumer Action, and Triggering Events

[34] “In presidential elections, proximity to black-led nonviolent protests increased white Democratic vote- share whereas proximity to black-led violent protests caused substantively important declines and likely tipped the 1968 election from Hubert Humphrey to Richard Nixon. This research has important implications for existing theories of political communication, social movements and voting behavior.” - Omar Wasow, Do Protests Matter? Evidence from the 1960s Black Insurgency

[35] “Disruptive tactics, even if not inherently violent, may be linked together with violent tactics in terms of public perception and issue framing when movements endorse both simultaneously… A similar point is made by Alesha E. Doan… ‘Devoid of context, protesting at clinics is not inherently threatening; however, anti-abortion activity exists within a backdrop of inflammatory rhetoric, physical threats, and executed threats in the form of chemical attacks, arson, and murder, which have been carried out in the name of saving babies. Contextualizing anti-abortion protest and coupling it with its intended targets (clinic employees, women seeking abortion services, and potential women in need of abortion services) changes the scope and meaning of the protest altogether. Rather than benign political protest, much of the activity outside of clinics takes on a threatening element that transcends political protest and becomes harassment’... Carol J. C. Maxwell… similarly argues that ‘[v]iolent and extremely aggressive acts appear to have discredited direct action, alienated the majority of potential recruits, and exacerbated divisions within the pro-life movement.’” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[36] “I find a significant and negative relationship between property destruction associated with protests and the chance of near term success in changing policy.” - Emiliano Huet-Vaughn, (PDF Download) Quiet Riot: Estimating a Causal Effect of Protest Violence

[37] “One of the key components of confrontational activism is the effect of emotional arousal and moral outrage. If you have ever experienced a protest or even watched a video of one online, you probably experienced some sort of heightened emotion, much more so than occurs when you hand out or receive a leaflet.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, Confrontation, Consumer Action, and Triggering Events

[38] “While polarization turned passive supporters into increasingly active ones, the [Civil Rights] movement’s [confrontational] campaigns also affected people in the middle of the political spectrum who had not previously taken a stand. Historian Michale Kazin’s contention that Bull Connor’s attacks on protesters ‘convinced a plurality of whites, for the first time, to support the cause of black freedom’ is supported by visible movement in the polls. Starting in the wake of the Birmingham campaign in 1963, the percentage of the public that identified civil rights as ‘the most urgent issue facing the nation’ sharply increased.” - Mark Engler and Paul Engler, This Is An Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-first Century

[39] “[I]n the most recent poll 27% of [UK] voters cited the environment as one of three top issues [after a sudden spike from around 17%] - behind Brexit and health. That puts it on par with crime and the economy… The YouGov polling points very clearly to the protests by Extinction Rebellion [a confrontational, direct-action, climate change protest group] last April as being one key factor. Resented by some, inspiring to many, the movement has at the very least got people talking. Around the same time, the school strikes led by the Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg were catching the imagination of thousands of British children - and maybe some of their parents too.” - David Shukman, General election 2019: How big an issue is climate change for voters?

[40] “Our intuition would suggest that moral outrage is an effective way to defeat system justification, and a study by business professor Cheryl Wakslak confirmed this. She drew from previous research that showed moral outrage, e.g. ‘I feel really angry when I learn about people who are suffering from injustice,’ is an important motivation for people driven to help those suffering from social and economic inequality.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, Confrontation, Consumer Action, and Triggering Events

[41] “According to [Taylor Ford, Director of Campaigns at THL] THL’s protests work by… [i]ntimidating corporations… Ford noted some signs that THL’s protests do have a causal impact on corporate activity. For instance, he notes a campaign that did not succeed for months, and finally succeeded two days after THL organized their first protest against the corporation.” - Animal Charity Evaluators, Protest Intervention Report

[42] “[In a] multivariate regression analysis… on five different ‘harassment activities’... picketing with contact, vandalism, and stalking (but not bomb threats or picketing without contact) were found to be marginally significantly correlated (each p < 0.10) with a ‘reduction in the supply of abortion services by 0.62, 0.72, and 0.26%, respectively,’ per 1% increase in the use of the tactic.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[43] “The Siege of Atlanta garnered much media attention leading to a substantial influx of resources into Operation Rescue [a confrontational, direct action, anti-abortion group]... Carol J. C. Maxwell… describes the activists who were inspired to join direct action protests in St. Louis, which were described to Maxwell by later activists. For example, Maxwell writes on page 32 that ‘representatives remained hours after official exhibits [at anti-abortion conventions] closed explaining their philosophy and tactics to keenly interested individuals.’ Maxwell describes the activists as mostly Catholic, including students, those frustrated by the slow progress of the ‘mainstream’ anti-abortion movement, and those feeling betrayed by Democrat politicians or Catholic bishops.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[44] There is some psychological evidence of a “backfire effect” in laboratory conditions, but these experiments have failed to replicate so should be taken with a substantial grain of salt. Also, this backfire effect is in the context of correcting factual misconceptions, which may be quite different from animal messaging. “The backfire effect was not replicated in my experiment. The main replication result suggests the need for additional studies to verify the backfire effect and identify conditions under which it occurs.” - Kathryn Haglin, The limitations of the backfire effect

[45] “Four experiments supported this prediction and found that authentic vegetarians, vegetarians freely making the decision to abandon meat, consistent vegetarians, and anticipating moral reproach from vegetarians produced greater endorsement of dissonance-reducing strategies than their counterpart conditions.” - Hank Rothgerber, Efforts to overcome vegetarian-induced dissonance among meat eaters

[46] “However, we find across three experiments that extreme protest tactics decreased popular support for a given cause because they reduced feelings of identification with the movement.” - Matthew Feinberg et al, Extreme Protest Tactics Reduce Popular Support for Social Movements

[47] “[P]olitical scientist Alesha Doan includes two interviews where clients of clinics expressed anger at being confronted by sidewalk counseling…. In a study of one abortion clinic, coders outside the clinic noted that pro-life protesters confronted 96% of women seeking services… 66% of [survey] respondents indicated that they were upset by the interaction to some degree.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[48] “While both PETA and Direct Action Everywhere consider media coverage of any sort a victory in itself, research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology indicates that media coverage of activists who fit the stereotype for their cause is ineffective at gaining support.” - Alex Felsinger, Direct Action Leading Where?

[49] Faunalytics’ Animal Tracker has found notably higher levels of expressed “support” for seemingly non-confrontational tactics than for those that seem at least partly confrontational. In 2017, there was 75%, 63%, and 73% support for “anti-cruelty investigations,” “speaking in schools,” and “using media to reach the public” respectively, compared to 44% support for “demonstrating or protesting.” “Filing lawsuits to protect animals,” “calling for product boycotts,” “lobbying government officials,” and “state ballot initiatives” seem like more middle-ground examples in terms of both the level of confrontation required and the level of support that they received among the survey respondents, with 58%, 49%, 54%, and 58% support respectively.

[50] “The anti-abortion movement seems to have gained a worse (and arguably, more distorted) reputation than the abortion rights movement has, which may be partially due to its use of disruptive and violent tactics. Gallup polls show that there was an increase in the percentage of people identifying as pro-life from 33% in 1995 to 44% in 1997; anti-abortion violence was declining during this period, though it remained high for several years, and the relevant question in the Gallup polls was first asked in 1995, so it is hard to assess whether the change in identity is closely correlated with the decline in violence, which seems to have begun some time in 1992-4. Research for this case study did not reveal other relevant factors that seem likely to have influenced this trend, but longer-term changes in amounts of violence don’t correlate very closely with Gallup poll results for public support or opposition to the legality of abortion. The steep rise in the use of hate mail, harassment, trespassing, and picketing conducted by anti-abortion activists in 2015-18 does not seem to have had any notable effect on public opinion, nor do the temporary rises in reports of anthrax and other bioterrorism threats in 2001 or of trespassing in 2005. In contrast, one paper found evidence that “each pro-life public activity” reported in the New York Times during the period 1985-9 “produces more than a one-percent backlash” against public support for anti-abortion goals, measured through support for maintaining abortion law as it was at the time.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[51] “Rare proto-movement Quaker efforts at dramatic demonstrations, like Benjamin Lay’s, appear to have failed and resulted in ostracization, suggesting that advocates should not use dramatization when there is only limited public support for the goal expressed by the dramatization. Abolition succeeded apparently without public demonstrations, and street theatre demonstrations only happened well after, at the height of support for emancipation, suggesting that advocates do not need or even should not use dramatic demonstrations before there is widespread public support and success appears to be imminent.” - Kelly Witwicki, Social Movement Lessons From the British Antislavery Movement

[52] We don’t know of a citation for this, but the claim was mentioned to us by a reviewer of this page.

[53] “Some non-profits that hold protests ask all protestors to dress in business casual clothing. While policies like this can draw the ire of some participants, they are usually a good idea and will make the public and the protests target consider the message more seriously.” - Nick Cooney, Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change

[54] “Overall, the evidence considered in this essay suggests confrontation has a useful ability to spark moral outrage, facilitate productive discourse, and raise awareness for a social issue. This ability, which seems crucial for effective social change, may extend quite well to some nonconfrontational approaches but not as well to others. This suggests the animal advocacy movement should consider reducing its focus on nonconfrontational tactics that seem to mostly lack this upside, like directly changing consumer behavior with the "Go Vegan!" approach, and increasing its focus on actions that are more likely to create nonlinear change through moral outrage and launching animal rights into public discourse.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, Confrontation, Consumer Action, and Triggering Events

[55] “Unfortunately, research indicates quite the opposite. People are actively dissuaded from participating in radical action due to their fears of social ostracism: ‘Participants’ accounts reflected that they contemplated whether their actions or their group affiliations would impact upon their agency and efficacy, explaining that they avoid certain actions in order to retain agency and voice, and/or to avoid negative social ramifications from relevant others.’ Others have reached similar conclusions in their research.” - Alex Felsinger, Direct Action Leading Where?

[56] “Alesha E. Doan... notes that ‘Various cities also began to tire of Operation Rescue’s [confrontational, direct action, anti-abortion tactics] because they were costing cities considerable amounts of money as well as redirecting law enforcement efforts away from their regular beats to monitor, control, and disperse blockades. One city paid around $10,000 in law enforcement and vehicle fees resulting from one day of protesting’... Both the Supreme Court and Congress clamped down on [disruptive, confrontational, anti-abortion protests] in 1994, which led to a decrease in the feasibility and regularity of the use of these tactics. Local courts also acted to restrict direct action protests.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[57] “[A]nthropologist Carol J. C. Maxwell notes that in the St. Louis direct action community, when four activists were arrested and sentenced to between 225 to 314 days in jail each, ‘[t]hese long sentences were the first issued for anti-abortion sit-ins in St. Louis, and they shocked the activists. Almost two years passed before another group coalesced’... Alesha E. Doan... notes that ‘Many rank-and-file members [of Operation Rescue, a confrontational, direct action, anti-abortion group] could not keep up with the hectic pace of blockades, arrests, and imprisonment, especially as jail sentences were stiffened. By 1990, Operation Rescue was down to a core of ‘professional rescuers’ who traveled from city to city living off free food and lodging provided by pro-life sympathizers.’ On page 86, Doan notes that, ‘[b]y 1990, Operation Rescue’s activities had significantly diminished—a paltry 34 blockades were held that year, and only 1,363 protesters were arrested [compared to 201 and 12,358 respectively in the previous year].’” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[58] “The moral of the story? Don’t be afraid of personal attacks. Don’t be afraid of triggering a defensive reaction. Don't be afraid of debate and polarization. Because the lessons of history and psychology teach us that the path to liberation is a path built on the bricks of controversy.” - Direct Action Everywhere, On Controversy and Campaigns

[59] “However, there is evidence that after the parties became polarized on abortion issues, the successful passage of legislation became partially tied to the outcome of elections when this had not previously been the case. Although the counterfactual cannot easily be assessed, it seems plausible that without strong party alignment, the anti-abortion cause would have been less likely to reach the political deadlock and stagnation that it seems to face currently.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[60] “Another (by Winnifred Louis, one of the experts on the psychology of collective action) discusses different aspects of planning collective action. It states that movements should avoid negative labels and that all else equal, actions more palatable to the public are better. However, it also states that ‘if the issue is marginal to public debate, then nondisruptive conventional tactics may not attract the kind of attention that the cause needs to build a basic awareness from which other actions and methods can snowball.’” - Zach Groff, A (Potential) Summary of Disagreements and Agreements on Direct Action

[61] “Direct Action Everywhere’s strategy is akin to mobilizing today, seeing that their numbers aren’t enough to succeed, and then mobilizing again the next day. Direct action is a powerful tool that should be used at the appropriate time. The less public support an issue has, the less powerful a mobilization to direct action will be, especially if it plays into activist stereotypes and ostracizes the public.” - Alex Felsinger, Direct Action Leading Where?

[62] Consider “Am I not a man and a brother?” in the anti-slavery movement, “Make Love Not War” in the 1960s US anti-war movement, and polar bear photos and the color green in the environmental movement.

[63] “Antislavery advocates discussed the whole of the transatlantic Slave trade, and then Slavery, as evil, not just particular practices used in either… The emblem of the kneeling Slave with the words “Am I Not a Man and a Brother?” — also adapted to the image of a Slave woman with the words “Am I Not a Woman and a Sister?” — was not associated with any one organization and was used widely to signal one’s support for abolition. Similarly, posters of the Brookes were reproduced for anyone to hang in their homes or establishments. These images were simple but had clear meaning and were widely reproduced… Antislavery advocates in Parliament consistently expressed that the British government or society was to blame, not planters or consumers… moral arguments heavily and consistently dominated both petitions and antislavery advocates’ speeches in Parliament. Even when using economic arguments, advocates were explicit that if Britain did stand to lose something by giving up Slavery, it bore the responsibility for the debt, not slaves.” - Kelly Witwicki, Social Movement Lessons From the British Antislavery Movement

[64] “Since colours are important for brand identification on-shelf, we recommend colours should be used prominently in advertising campaigns to reinforce the link to the brand in memory.” - Romaniuk et al., Developing Memory Structures for Brand Identity Elements in Packaged Goods Markets

[65] “In the mere-repeated-exposure paradigm, an individual is repeatedly exposed to a particular stimulus object, and the researcher records the individual’s emerging preference for that object. Vast literature on the mere-repeated-exposure effect shows it to be a robust phenomenon that cannot be explained by an appeal to recognition memory or perceptual fluency. The effect has been demonstrated across cultures, species, and diverse stimulus domains. It has been obtained even when the stimuli exposed are not accessible to the participants’ awareness, and even prenatally.” - Robert Zajonc, Mere Exposure: A Gateway to the Subliminal

[66] “In the health behavior literature, almost all types of individual and small group educational and supportive behavioral interventions seem likely to have effect sizes conventionally interpreted as ‘small’ or ‘very small.’ Since the overall differences between intervention types seem quite minor, despite substantial variance between individual studies or meta-analyses, animal advocates engaged in individual outreach to encourage individuals to reduce their animal product consumption should remain open to experimenting with a wide variety of methods.” - Jamie Harris, Lessons for Consumer Behavior Interventions from the Health Behavior Interventions Literature (Forthcoming)

[67] “To this end, many social marketing researchers have found that customizing messages to a particular audience maximizes their strength and influence.” - Schmid et al, Targeting or Tailoring? Maximizing Resources to Create Effective Health Communications

[68] “What’s more, in recent years US activists have been travelling to Mexico to promote vegan mock-meats and mayonnaise, without considering how promoting these alternatives as integral to veganism not only presents veganism as elitist but also as contradictory with traditional cuisines of Mexico. This is making FaunAcción’s [“an anti-speciesist organisation working to empower people in Mexico] work harder: it’s making Mexican people think that veganism is not for them. Wotko [the founder of FaunAcción] said: ‘the AR movement is moving more and more towards consumerism, and we need to tackle that now.’ ‘In the Molcajete (a food van project ran by FaunAcción) we travel around, especially in poor neighbourhoods, to share and talk about food. Our materials don’t say ‘Go Vegan’ – they are about the defence of the corn, against Monsanto, and telling people we love their food: old, indigenous recipes. We want people to get over the shame of their traditional food.’” - Jasmine Owens, Don’t say GO VEGAN. Respond to the local context and challenges of your people

[69] “Cultural competency is a broad concept used to describe a variety of interventions that aim to improve the accessibility and effectiveness of health care services for people from racial/ethnic minorities… However, I place very low weight on the evidence from the included reviews and studies suggesting that culturally competent interventions are not likely to be more effective at changing behavior in the farmed animal movement than generic interventions. The only included meta-analysis with behavioral outcomes found statistically insignificant very small differences in favor of interventions that were not culturally competent from two studies with “bona fide comparison groups that received the same type of treatment and dosage” but that lacked “additional content that was culturally sensitive” (g = −0.08, 95% CI −0.51 to 0.35). Additionally, a Cochrane review noted some seemingly quite high costs for culturally competent interventions compared to the conventional diabetes education. Given that culturally competent intervention design or delivery will increase the costs of an intervention, these modifications may not be cost-effective in the short term in the farmed animal movement. However, there may be indirect benefits; an overview and a Cochrane review focused on diabetes noted positive effects on other measures such as knowledge and attitudes.” - Jamie Harris, Lessons for Consumer Behavior Interventions from the Health Behavior Interventions Literature (Forthcoming)

[70] “I place only very low weight on this evidence suggesting that tailored interventions in the farmed animal movement are likely to be more effective than non-tailored equivalents. One outlier review found a very high coefficient in meta-regression, but the other meta-analyses suggest that tailoring most likely has a very small or small positive moderating effect on behavioral outcomes. CIs ranged from moderate differences in favor of non-tailored interventions to very large differences in favor of tailored interventions. Indirect comparisons in meta-analyses suggest that moderate or large differences in favor of tailored interventions are possible. Additionally, many of the interventions evaluated—and found to be effective—elsewhere in this report involve some form of screening or tailoring. It is possible that tailoring helps to explain why such interventions are effective.” - Jamie Harris, Lessons for Consumer Behavior Interventions from the Health Behavior Interventions Literature (Forthcoming)

[71] “A book by Carol Mason provides evidence of the importance of violent messaging in the anti-abortion movement, arguing that ‘The apocalyptic narrative of pro-life politics is what, in effect, creates new abortion warriors, producing soldiers in the Army of God’... Intuitively, such language seems divisive and likely to reduce the mainstream credibility of the movement.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[72] “Public discourse when traced over long periods of time tends to show a fascination with one aspect of the issue to the exclusion of the other, at any given time. While individuals might be able to recognize that the same issue has both good and bad sides, public attention as it is reflected in media coverage tends to focus on one or the other. Over time, attention may shift from virtual euphoria to an equally one-sided preoccupation with negative aspects of the same policy or industry..... [P]ublic attention tends to focus strongly on one set of facts at a time, and exhibits a remarkable ability to dwell on the positives while ignoring the negatives during one period; only a small change in environment can later cause the attention of nonspecialists to swing to the opposite extreme.” - Frank Baumgartner and Bryan Jones, Agenda Dynamics and Policy Subsystems

[73] See, for example, the press releases of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and their frequent media coverage, often with several outlets covering individual protests or statements made by the organization.

[74] “The many pranks that activists [of Otpor, a Serbian group resisting the policies of the Serbian government] pulled in the early days did not merely entertain observers and supply the press with ready photo ops. They also provided opportunities to recruit. At each of them, Otpor members would engage passers-by interested in the action and invite them to trainings.” - Mark Engler and Paul Engler, This Is An Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-first Century, 76

[75] See, for example:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/07/breasts-peta-women-strawberries-and-cream-wimbledon-animals

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/oct/28/peta-women-meat

https://jezebel.com/peta-assholes-to-detroit-well-pay-your-water-bills-if-1610490630

https://www.salon.com/2011/02/03/peta_vegetable_sex_ad/

http://metro.co.uk/2016/04/01/is-peta-penis-shaming-with-their-latest-tweet-5788848/

[76] “A study (conducted by a conservative news group) found that ‘the three broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) covered the [2017, one-off] women’s march 129 times more than they did the 2016 March for Life [which occurs annually].’ This suggests that regular marches do not gather much publicity, and that, if media attention is an important goal, marches may be more effective if organized in response to national developments.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[77] “The moral of the story? Don’t be afraid of personal attacks. Don't be afraid of triggering a defensive reaction. Don’t be afraid of debate and polarization.

Because the lessons of history and psychology teach us that the path to liberation is a path built on the bricks of controversy.” - Direct Action Everywhere,
On Controversy and Campaigns

[78] “However, there is evidence that after the parties became polarized on abortion issues, the successful passage of legislation became partially tied to the outcome of elections when this had not previously been the case. Although the counterfactual cannot easily be assessed, it seems plausible that without strong party alignment, the anti-abortion cause would have been less likely to reach the political deadlock and stagnation that it seems to face currently.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[79] “Another (by Winnifred Louis, one of the experts on the psychology of collective action) discusses different aspects of planning collective action. It states that movements should avoid negative labels and that all else equal, actions more palatable to the public are better. However, it also states that ‘if the issue is marginal to public debate, then nondisruptive conventional tactics may not attract the kind of attention that the cause needs to build a basic awareness from which other actions and methods can snowball.’” - Zach Groff, A (Potential) Summary of Disagreements and Agreements on Direct Action

[80] “Direct Action Everywhere’s strategy is akin to mobilizing today, seeing that their numbers aren’t enough to succeed, and then mobilizing again the next day. Direct action is a powerful tool that should be used at the appropriate time. The less public support an issue has, the less powerful a mobilization to direct action will be, especially if it plays into activist stereotypes and ostracizes the public.” - Alex Felsinger, Direct Action Leading Where?

[81] “Individual change is something you can do immediately in an obvious way, while institutional change is more vague and long-term. The clarity of the individual focus could make the outreach recipient more likely to act on that call to action, perhaps because people who hear an institutional message might agree with the message but not fully realize they can help by changing their diet.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Move Towards An Institutional Message

[82] “Having more people make the initial step of diet change could lead to substantial spillover benefits. For example, there is some empirical evidence that eating animal products leads people to think animals have less sophisticated mental capacities, likely due to the cognitive dissonance of thinking that animals have rich mental lives but also eating them. The attitude shift from reducing that dissonance could lead to more activist involvement and long-term diet change.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Move Towards An Institutional Message

[83] “Another spillover benefit is that short-term change, or at least chains of impact that involve measurable short-term outcomes (e.g. caring more about animals this month, if that predictably leads to increased activism a year later), has short feedback loops.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Move Towards An Institutional Message

[84] One reviewer of this document suggested that this is part of the reason individual messaging remains a dominant approach in most health promotion research.

[85] Jamie Harris, Lessons for Consumer Behavior Interventions from the Health Behavior Interventions Literature (Forthcoming)

[86] “Finally, given how small the animal-free food movement currently is, institutional change might be so intractable that perhaps the best thing we can do right now is to promote individual change, increasing the number of vegans and vegetarians so that we can create institutional change later when we have more public support.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Move Towards An Institutional Message

[87] “[T]there was fairly consistent evidence that taxes, subsidies, interventions affecting price, and interventions providing free resources had greater effects on those of low SES. This finding suggests that the farmed animal movement should prioritize more highly interventions that reduce the price of animal free foods and increase the price of animal products. However, it seems plausible that some of these interventions would be perceived negatively. In some cases, taxes and price interventions may be more effective among those of low SES because they render undesirable products less affordable for those with lower amounts disposable income. In this sense, even though they reduce inequalities, they may be perceived as being harmful to disadvantaged individuals, by curtailing their freedom to choose more than is the case for wealthier individuals.” - Jamie Harris, Lessons for Consumer Behavior Interventions from the Health Behavior Interventions Literature (Forthcoming)

[88] “Cummings notes that Rosenberg (1991) is not alone in arguing that [US Supreme Court] decisions have not translated into change in practice; political scientists have noted this effect for desegregation, mandatory religious instruction, and criminal procedure. However, comparable research has found evidence that legislation enacted by Congress is similarly difficult to enforce.” - Jamie Harris, Is the US Supreme Court a Driver of Social Change or Driven by it? A Literature Review

[89] “Some industry sources doubt whether U.S. cage-free commitments will be fully met. Insufficient consumer demand and lack of funds led to producers slowing down or even shutting down their cage-free conversion plans. What is more, only 27% of U.S. companies included in CIWF’s EggTrack report disclosed their progress towards cage-free commitments. So far, most animal welfare commitments were met. However: Sainsbury’s broke their broiler commitment. Marriott, Burger King, Smithfield Foods and Woolworths pushed back the date of their commitments. Bennet, Dussman, Au Bon Pain, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, and The Walt Disney Company did not report progress to CIWF for cage-free commitments that have already passed their due date. In the past, some companies gave themselves some wiggle room in the phrasing of their commitments, which they could later use to get out of their commitments with less damage to their reputation.” - Saulius Simcikas, Will companies meet their animal welfare commitments?

[90] “While India does have strong laws protecting animals, there is still a wide gap between those laws and the actual treatment of animals. For example, according to Indian law, animals cannot be legally slaughtered outside of licensed slaughterhouses, but this law is not enforced or regulated for the slaughter of chickens or goats. Animals are regularly slaughtered in live markets, and most of the slaughterhouses that do exist are not legally registered.” - Melissa Guzikowski, Animal Advocacy in India

[91] One reviewer of this document suggested that the average bias of proponents of effective altruism might be in the other direction.

[92] “However, there’s also a potential bias in favor of institutional change, where ambitious people like me might be too excited by the exciting prospect of very large-scale impact.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Move Towards An Institutional Message

[93] “One obvious conclusion is that the animal-free food movement has a virtually unprecedented focus on individual and consumer change … Some activists in the environmental movement feel similarly about ‘green consumerism,’ the environmental movement’s take on a consumer-focused strategy.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Move Towards An Institutional Message

[94] “A better comparison for anti-animal-farming advocates’ approach to consumer action is the American “free produce” movement and the abstinence from Slave-made goods among some Quakers and a rare few other individuals. Though the failure of Quaker abstinence may have had more to do with their limited influence in society than with the strategy itself, American advocates’ efforts to convince consumers to abstain from purchasing the products of the target industry were considered relatively ineffective by the advocates themselves after two decades of limited success.” - Kelly Witwicki, Social Movement Lessons From the British Antislavery Movement

[95] “Three decades of anti-fur activism have barely budged US public opinion, which still mostly views fur as morally acceptable. But a decade of more targeted campaigns, coordinated by the Fur-Free Alliance, has secured pledges from 1,017 retailers and designers to go fur-free. As with caged eggs, advocates do best when they focus on the few hundred retailers that sell most animal products, not the few billion consumers who buy them.” - Lewis Bollard and Persis Eskander, What Can We Learn From the Fur-Free Fight?

[96] “The cessation of research into abortifacient drugs by the Upjohn Company was presumably partly due to the boycott led by the NRLC… The anti-abortion movement has also used boycott tactics in other contexts. The NRLC threatened a similar boycott on other companies around the proposed sale of the RU-486 abortifacient drug (also called Mifepristone)... These boycotts seem somewhat different to boycotts of animal products in the farmed animal movement in that they targeted entire companies in order to pressure them not to research and sell new products of especial concern to the anti-abortion movement. By comparison, vegetarianism is a boycott of an entire product category (animal products) across all companies, but where those involved do not usually boycott other products by those companies.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[97] “The sugar boycott didn’t displace much if any political activism; it was brief; it was specific to the top West Indian export, sugar, rather than to all Slave-made goods; it was seen as a tool in advocates’ diverse toolbelt, not as the central goal of the movement; and it was able to do significant economic damage to the target industry, cutting off up to ½ of sugar sales at one point because it was a luxury good with concentrated consumption among the wealthy.” - Kelly Witwicki, Social Movement Lessons From the British Antislavery Movement

[98] “Activist pressure on food retailers led to a somewhat abrupt victory [in 1998] when Iceland Foods, a supermarket chain based in the UK, announced it would stop using GM ingredients in its own-brand goods. Iceland’s announcement set off a cascade of similar announcements by other European retailers. The companies renouncing GMOs included ‘virtually every major supermarket chain and food manufacturer on the continent as well as the British Isles’... By 1999, public opinions on GMOs in both the Europe and the United States had soured. Nearly every EU country saw GMO opposition rise from 1996 to 1999, most by double digits. France went from 46% opposed to 65%, Greece from 51% to 81%, Britain from 33% to 51%. For context, this is comparable to the rate at which support for same-sex marriage increased in US General Social Survey data from 2010 to 2014.” - J. Mohorčich, What can the adoption of GM foods teach us about the adoption of other food technologies?, in part quoting Rachel Schurman and William Munro, Fighting for the Future of Food: Activists versus Agribusiness in the Struggle over Biotechnology.

[99] The Humane Society of the United States, Initiative and Referendum History - Animal Protection Issues, accessed November 12, 2017.

[100] “49% of US adults support a ban on factory farming, 47% support a ban on slaughterhouses, and 33% support a ban on animal farming.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, Survey of US Attitudes Towards Animal Farming and Animal-Free Food October 2017

[101] “Much of the successful activist action against GM food came in the form of relatively small campaigns focused directly on companies (especially those occupying vulnerable positions in a supply chain). Comparatively less direct change came about via changing public opinion first then using that broad base of support to effect change. Focused campaigns, even if relatively small, were more influential than broad changes in public opinion.” - J. Mohorčich, What can the adoption of GM foods teach us about the adoption of other food technologies?

[102] “The counterfactual impact of anti-abortion advocacy cannot be clearly measured in national surveys, since a large number of other factors affect these results, including competing messages by abortion rights advocates. Despite very limited change to attitudes on abortion in aggregate national data, there is some reason to consider this as a modest success for the anti-abortion movement. Nevertheless, given the heavy focus of some anti-abortion advocates on education and the large amounts of resources that have presumably been spent on such interventions, any such success seems limited… However, education and persuasion tactics may still be effective at generating temporary support for specific policy initiatives. For example, public speeches and distribution of leaflets may have contributed to Michigan and North Dakota’s rejection of liberalizing abortion law reform in 1972.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[103] Jamie Harris, Lessons for Consumer Behavior Interventions from the Health Behavior Interventions Literature (Forthcoming)

[104] “There was fairly consistent evidence that taxes, subsidies, interventions affecting price, and interventions providing free resources had greater effects on people with low socioeconomic status (SES). This finding suggests that the farmed animal movement should prioritize more highly interventions that reduce the price of animal free foods and increase the price of animal products in order to avoid widening inequality in levels of animal product consumption between those of lower and higher SES. In contrast, there was evidence that education or information only interventions are less effective amongst people with low SES.” - Jamie Harris, Lessons for Consumer Behavior Interventions from the Health Behavior Interventions Literature (Forthcoming)

[105] “Moral outrage is also described as ‘a response to the behavior of others, never one’s own.’ It seems natural that institutional messaging would be more likely to spark the emotion because it puts the blame for the issue on an outside institution or one that the audience member is only a small part of, usually the animal agriculture industry or society as a whole. Because of this, institutional messaging could reduce the defensiveness we frequently encounter when talking about veganism and animal-free food.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Move Towards An Institutional Message

[106] There is some psychological evidence of a “backfire effect” in laboratory conditions, but these experiments have failed to replicate so should be taken with a substantial grain of salt. Also, this backfire effect is in the context of correcting factual misconceptions, which may be quite different from animal messaging. “The backfire effect was not replicated in my experiment. The main replication result suggests the need for additional studies to verify the backfire effect and identify conditions under which it occurs.” - Kathryn Haglin, The limitations of the backfire effect

[107] “Four experiments supported this prediction and found that authentic vegetarians, vegetarians freely making the decision to abandon meat, consistent vegetarians, and anticipating moral reproach from vegetarians produced greater endorsement of dissonance-reducing strategies than their counterpart conditions.” - Rothgerber, Efforts to overcome vegetarian-induced dissonance among meat eaters

[108] “Institutional messaging helps avoid the “collapse of compassion” by suggesting that we can make headway on the issue beyond what we achieve with our own diet. Changing only our own diet can be demotivating and seen as a mere drop in the bucket, while taking collective action feels more tractable and impactful. If many people are eating animal-free food, then the marginal consumer faces a much lower cost to jumping on the bandwagon.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Move Towards An Institutional Message

[109] “There is abundant psychological evidence for the power of peer pressure, also known as social messaging, which is often used to persuade someone to take a certain action or have a certain belief by showing them that many of their peers, or authority figures, also take that action or have that belief. While both individual and institutional messaging can incorporate peer pressure, I think institutional messaging has more of this built-in because it necessarily communicates that other people are making changes and that helping farmed animals is a group effort.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Move Towards An Institutional Message

[110] “I think there’s good reason to think we’re biased in favor of individual messaging because of the general psychological desire for instant gratification, and we should account for this bias by updating slightly in favor of institutional messaging. Additionally, most animal advocates are currently using individual messaging, so there could be more status quo bias.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Move Towards An Institutional Message

[111] We very approximately define “significant majority agreement” as 80% agreement among the 20 people who we believe have most thoroughly considered these issues. Our claims were originally based on best guesses, but in June 2017, we surveyed the 21 such people and this was true among the 15 respondents to our full survey. See this blog post for more information.

[112] “Political scientist Rosemary Nossiff compares the states of New York and Pennsylvania to better understand the causes of legislative change in the period 1965-72… Nossiff highlights several factors as of potential causal importance in securing legislative change in the desired direction, including successful political maneuvering and alignment with influential politicians (the Democratic party in both instances)... In support of this conclusion, a paper by economists Marshall Medoff and Christopher Dennis found that ‘Republican institutional control of a state’s legislative/executive branches is positively associated with a state enacting a TRAP [Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers] law, while Democratic institutional control is negatively associated with a state enacting a TRAP law.’ In contrast, ‘The percentage of a state’s population that is Catholic, public anti-abortion attitudes, state political ideology, and the abortion rate in a state’ are statistically insignificant predictors.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[113] “Research reviewed here suggests that direct involvement in Supreme Court cases, involvement and advocacy in the elite institutions and cultures that influence the justices, and advocacy focused on shifting public opinion can all affect the likelihood of favorable rulings.” - Jamie Harris, Is the US Supreme Court a Driver of Social Change or Driven by it? A Literature Review

[114] “Roe v. Wade shows that legal rulings can sometimes drive progress ahead of that seen as tractable through legislative change. Only a minority of people supported access to abortion without restrictions in the early 1970s, and in some parts of the country, there had been majority opposition to proposed measures to liberalize abortion law.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[115] “Survey data suggests that there was not a consistent, strong association between conservative political views and anti-abortion attitudes in the late 1980s and that Republican voters only became more anti-abortion than Democratic voters at some point between the 1984 (0% difference) and 1988 surveys (5% difference)... [Nevertheless,] Republican party presidential candidates and the centralized party election planks had become closely associated with the anti-abortion cause by 1980.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[116] “There is evidence that Catholics have more liberal views on abortion than the Catholic Church’s official teachings, and some Catholics have actively supported abortion rights… Despite these mixed findings, the early anti-abortion movement was heavily dominated by Catholics and the Catholic Church provided organizational stability even when the support of other groups fluctuated.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[117] “Though the anti-abortion movement has found useful allies in the evangelical Christian community, this was not necessarily either an intentional tactic of its advocates or an inevitable outcome of natural religious alliances. Religious historian Randall Balmer, an evangelical Christian, argues that the associations of evangelicals with the Republican party and with an anti-abortion stance were developed in the late 1970s for tactical and political reasons, rather than religious reasons, since ‘the Bible is rather silent on the matter of abortion… [However,] the growing audience and increasing politicization of evangelical religious broadcasts seems to have begun in the 1970s.’” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[118] “The time-lag correlations show that—taking the entire period from 1975 to 1986—the coverage by Stern (0.66), Der Spiegel (0.71) and Frankfurter Rundschau (0.47) anticipated the views of the population by three, two or one years respectively.” - Hans Mathias Kepplinger, Individual and institutional impacts upon press coverage of sciences: the case of nuclear power and genetic engineering in Germany

[119] “This literature review found evidence that ... the framing in the media, by legislators, and by relevant social movement actors is likely to modify the effects of a Supreme Court decision on public opinion.” - Jamie Harris, Is the US Supreme Court a Driver of Social Change or Driven by it? A Literature Review

[120] “The case for liberalization of abortion law seems to have been put forward in the 1950s and early 1960s primarily by medical, psychiatric, and legal professionals. In comparison, Catholic preaching and local organizing suggest that the early anti-abortion movement had more of a focus on mass influence, though many early advocates were also professionals. The extent to which this difference made abortion reform more likely or more successful is uncertain. Nevertheless, given that abortion was decriminalized up to the point of twelve weeks of pregnancy by Roe v. Wade and that this reform, as well as public opinion on the matter, have not substantially changed since then, this provides weak evidence that social change is more likely to be successful if it is advocated for by professionals first. Additionally, the campaign for abortion reform in Hawaii in 1967-70 culminated in victory for the abortion rights movement; the abortion rights advocates seem to have been more focused on elite influencers than on the public, in contrast to the anti-abortion movement there. These findings provide only very weak evidence for the claim that advocacy for specific issues, such as for particular changes to the manner in which food production is regulated in a country, will be more likely to succeed if professionals advocate for the change first. Farmed animal advocates should not place much weight on this strategic implication.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[121] “We find that nonviolent resistance and participation are always positively correlated with success, even when controlling for a variety of factors.”  - Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict

On pages 6 and 13, Chenoweth also notes that, “[i]n our Nonviolent Campaigns and Outcomes (NAVCO) data set, we analyze 323 violent and nonviolent resistance campaigns between 1900 and 2006… However, this project is concerned primarily with three specific, intense, and extreme forms of resistance: antiregime, antioccupation, and secession campaigns.” This suggests that the results are likely not directly transferable to the farmed animal movement.

[122] Erica Chenowth, My Talk at TEDxBoulder: Civil Resistance and the “3.5% Rule”, referring to the research of Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013). In conversation with Direct Action Everywhere, Chenoweth noted that “regime change is a dramatic objective” and suggested that “12 million people in sustained civil disobedience around pretty much any issue” would probably have “impacts” [DxE’s wording, not Chenoweth’s]. However, Chenoweth also suggested that “AR is arguably a more controversial objective” that “may be asking for policy and cultural changes that fewer people support.”

[123] “As we examined a range of social and environmental movements surging since the 1980s, it became irrefutably clear that those with strong and robust grassroots—measured by both size and intensity of the base—win. It is the single most important factor in the [National Rifle Association’s] success since the group first politicized in the mid-1970s and then intensified its grassroots organizing efforts starting in the 1990s. And in almost every other winning modern societal change we studied, grassroots activism played the key role. The war to secure marriage rights for same-sex couples was waged at local and state ballot boxes, coordinated in large part by Freedom to Marry campaign leaders who successfully galvanized memberships of major national LGBT groups like Lambda Legal, GLAD, and NCLR, and hundreds of state and local groups, forging coalitions to galvanize grassroots action. Likewise, the anti-drunk driving movement was almost entirely predicated on chapter-based strategies of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), RID, and others to mobilize survivors and victims’ families and friends. The modern tobacco control movement was sparked by grassroots activists who rallied in the 1970s to pass the first community bans in Arizona and Minnesota… Conversely, less successful movements… skip the step of creating deep, visceral connections among the individuals who make up their movements, or they don’t recognize the critical importance of building on momentum from the grassroots up. It’s a pattern we observed time and again as we looked at some of the struggling movements of modern times. These include gun control and other causes, such as climate action and public education reform.” - Leslie R. Crutchfield, How Change Happens: Why Some Social movements Succeed While Others Don’t, 23 and 46

[124] “Sarah A. Soule and Susan Olsak created six models to test the effect of several predictors on the rate of ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) by different US states, 1972-82. They found evidence of a substantial association with public opinion. Public support for equal rights for women had a positive and significant relationship with ERA ratification across all their models: ‘the coefficient of 7.69 indicates that as public opinion favoring the ERA rises by one standard deviation over its mean, ratification chances nearly triple’... Burstein and Linton’s meta-analysis found that public opinion was not well-considered in the articles they analyzed, but that ‘in those equations that include a measure of public opinion, it has a significant impact on policy in everyone.’ Unfortunately they did not create a quantitative estimate of the importance of this variable compared to other variables. Updating on this, Katrin Uba’s meta-analysis found evidence against her hypothesis that taking public opinion into account ‘washes out the direct impact of [SMOs] on policy.’ Nevertheless, public opinion can be either positive or negative, and so this variable may still be important in determining the success or failure of SMOs; when SMOs were analyzed in models or case studies which considered the role of public opinion, this variable was found to be significant by the authors in 48.2% of cases.” - Jamie Harris, How tractable is changing the course of history?

[125] “The formula” for passing vegan legislation includes having “grassroots support because without public opinion on your side, you’re not going to get it done… [if] they see this as they’re doing this for a handful of activists it’s not going to happen. If they see it as they’re doing it for constituents from all across the state… then they have cover… They’re always looking for cover because they have to run for office.” - Judy Mancuso, How to Pass Vegan Legislation

[126] “One way the DxE model could work is by sparking such an angry reaction that the rest of the country moves in the direction of supporting animal liberation. This could operate by changing each person’s opinion of animals, but it could also create pockets of sympathy with animal liberation that become useful in pushing policies.” - Zach Groff, DxE’s Theories of Change

[127] “When the Vermont Supreme Court ruled to allow civil unions in that state in 1999… The state’s voters quickly reversed the court’s decision… Today, these look like scenes from an alternate universe. On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that made same-sex marriage legal in all fifty states. Yet even before the decision, a dramatic reversal had already taken place. Some three dozen states allowed same-sex marriages by then, and many of them had enacted it through popular vote or laws passed by elected legislatures rather than through judicial decisions. An ever-growing majority of the public expressed its support for marriage equality in national polls.” - Mark Engler and Paul Engler, This Is An Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-first Century, 88-9

[128] “There seems to be strong evidence of a close connection between public opinion and Supreme Court decision-making. The former likely influences the latter, both directly and indirectly, though the size of each of these effects is unclear and could vary across social issues.” - Jamie Harris, Is the US Supreme Court a Driver of Social Change or Driven by it? A Literature Review

[129] “[H]igher pre-decision public opinion may increase the positive effects or decrease the negative effects of a Supreme Court decision on public opinion… The reviewed literature also provides evidence that unanimous Supreme Court rulings and higher pre-decision public opinion decrease the likelihood or size of backlash.” Jamie Harris, Is the US Supreme Court a Driver of Social Change or Driven by it? A Literature Review

[130] “The results of aggregating 121 research items based on the strength of evidence suggest that Supreme Court decision-making is influenced by public opinion and by the activities of interest groups. Supreme Court rulings that are favorable to social movements’ goals can encourage positive changes in public attitudes, behavior, and policy, though these effects are sometimes negligible and the evidence is slightly weaker than that for the influence of public opinion on Supreme Court decisions.” - Jamie Harris, Is the US Supreme Court a Driver of Social Change or Driven by it? A Literature Review

[131] “There is anecdotal evidence that these two legal rulings [the 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court rulings, which made abortion “on demand” legal throughout the US in the first trimester of pregnancy] catalyzed some activists’ deeper involvement in the anti-abortion movement. For example, sociologist Ziad Munson notes that a “handful” of his activist interviewees “became mobilized immediately after the Supreme Court rulings.” At least one right-to-life organization saw a surge in engagement and support; Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life’s membership rose by 50% in 4 months. Additionally, the June 1973 NRLC national convention had about 1,500 attendees from 46 states and Canada, a large increase from the previous conference in June 1972, which had had 280 to 380 attendees. Changes in organization at the NRLC may partially account for this difference, however.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[132] “Qualitative evidence of backlash against Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage and the Brown v. Board of Education ruling on racial desegregation in education is tempered slightly by criticisms that the backlash was created by circumstances rather than by litigation or Court rulings and by research which shows that legislative reversals of Supreme Court decisions are infrequent, occurring in perhaps fewer than 5% of cases... Taken together, this research suggests that though social movement or legislative backlash may sometimes occur and may be substantial, this only infrequently results in direct reversals of Supreme Court rulings. The reviewed literature also provides evidence that unanimous Supreme Court rulings and higher pre-decision public opinion decrease the likelihood or size of backlash, but that the number of amicus briefs submitted during a case and higher public awareness of the decision itself have the opposite effect. There is some historical evidence that just as a Supreme Court ruling that supports a social movement’s goals may encourage mobilization by the movement’s opponents, a Supreme Court ruling that challenges a movement’s goals may galvanize the movement into action. Similarly, one paper found evidence that interest groups affected by salient Supreme Court rulings increase their activity in response to them, whatever their position on the decision.” - Jamie Harris, Is the US Supreme Court a Driver of Social Change or Driven by it? A Literature Review

[133] “Characteristics of legitimate illegal direct action… [the public] will accept it if its a goal that the majority thinks should actually happen, like a ban of sow stalls.” - Martin Balluch, Save animals with civil disobedience, non-violent direct action and confrontational campaigns!

[134] “Ultimately the antislavery movement used a small handful of committed elites to lead and represent the movement while mobilizing public support to pressure the government. Both the abolition and emancipation campaigns involved significant grassroots organizing and the establishment of numerous local chapters around the nation. Both also succeeded after a round of elections for which they were a major issue for voters. This also seemed clear to people at the time — the Edinburgh Review commented that “the sense of the nation has pressed abolition upon our rulers.”” - Kelly Witwicki, Social Movement Lessons From the British Antislavery Movement

[135] “Whether the issue was tobacco use, drunk driving, same-sex marriage, gun rights, or others, the victors advanced their causes in state houses and court houses, nationwide, and they influenced the court of public opinion. We believe a key reason why they won is because they deliberately and persistently acted to change hearts and minds, not just policy. They made a goal of reframing the way people viewed their issue and found ways to connect with the public in profound ways that resonated emotionally.” - Leslie R. Crutchfield, How Change Happens: Why Some Social movements Succeed While Others Don’t (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2018), 80.

[136] “The counterfactual impact of anti-abortion advocacy cannot be clearly measured in national surveys, since a large number of other factors affect these results, including competing messages by abortion rights advocates. Despite very limited change to attitudes on abortion in aggregate national data, there is some reason to consider this as a modest success for the anti-abortion movement. Nevertheless, given the heavy focus of some anti-abortion advocates on education and the large amounts of resources that have presumably been spent on such interventions, any such success seems limited… However, education and persuasion tactics may still be effective at generating temporary support for specific policy initiatives. For example, public speeches and distribution of leaflets may have contributed to Michigan and North Dakota’s rejection of liberalizing abortion law reform in 1972.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[137] “Norm change was historically seen as largely a distraction by the prominent gun control players like the Brady Campaign and the NCSV. ‘From its start in the late 1960s, the gun control ‘movement’ was… not going to focus on non-legislative goals such as changing social norms, nor was it going to build policy from localities upward,’ writes Kristin Goss in Disarmed: The Missing Movement for Gun Control in America.” - Leslie R. Crutchfield, How Change Happens: Why Some Social movements Succeed While Others Don’t, 97.

[138] “Results indicate that professors are more liberal than other Americans because a higher proportion possess advanced educational credentials, exhibit a disparity between their levels of education and income, identify as Jewish, non-religious, or non-theologically conservative Protestant, and express greater tolerance for controversial ideas.” - Neil Gross and Ethan Fosse, Why Are Professors Liberal?

[139] “[E]xisting evidence reveals positive associations between right-wing ideologies such as [Right-Wing Authoritarianism] and [Social Dominance Orientation], on the one hand, and attitudes toward the exploitation of animals as objects for human benefit (e.g., animal testing, fur industry, rodeos), and direct behavioral expression of dominant belief systems regarding human-animal relations such as meat consumption, on the other. Indeed, those endorsing right-wing attitudes and values are more likely to support and engage in animal exploitation and to self-identify as meat-eaters (e.g., Allen, Wilson, Ng, & Dunne, 2000; Dietz, Frisch, Kalof, Stern, & Guagnano, 1995; Hyers, 2006). Likewise, right-wing adherents tend to consume more meat in daily life (e.g., Allen et al., 2000; Allen & Ng, 2003; Ruby, 2012).” - Kristof Dhont and Gordon Hodson, Why do right-wing adherents engage in more animal exploitation and meat consumption?

[140] “[S]everal studies have found that liberals are more likely to support cell-based meat than conservatives and males are generally found to have more positive views than women—but this pattern was reversed in one Chinese sample.” - Matti Wilks and Jacy Reese Anthis, “Consumer Acceptance,” in Cellular Agriculture: Developing Animal Products Without Animals (Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier, 2020) (Forthcoming)

[141] “In this article, we empirically test explanations for variation in support for animal rights at the individual level and across the United States. We draw on a combination of national public opinion surveys and cross-sectional data on animal rights laws from the fifty US states. We find a strong connection between recognition of human rights and animal rights both at the individual attitude level and at the US state policy level. Our results demonstrate that support for animal rights strongly links to support for disadvantaged or marginalized human populations, including LGBT groups, racial minorities, undocumented immigrants, and the poor.” - Yon Soo Park and Benjamin Valentino, Animals Are People Too: Explaining Variation in Respect for Animal Rights

[142] “In Study 3, we present positive correlations between speciesism and prejudicial attitudes such as racism, sexism, homophobia, along with ideological constructs associated with prejudice such as social dominance orientation, system justification, and right-wing authoritarianism. These results suggest that similar mechanisms might underlie both speciesism and other well-researched forms of prejudice.” Caviola et al., The Moral Standing of Animals: Towards a Psychology of Speciesism

[143] “As of 2012, this index stood at 27 percent for white Republicans and 19 percent for white Democrats. So there’s a partisan gap, although not as large of one as some political commentators might assert. There are white racists in both parties. By most questions, they represent a minority of white voters in both parties. They probably represent a slightly larger minority of white Republicans than white Democrats.” - Nate Silver and Allison McCann, Are White Republicans More Racist Than White Democrats?

[144] However, a study on moral expansiveness did not find a significant relationship with political conservatism, despite previous research finding a significant relationship for less moral regard towards out-group members. “Study 1 had three functions... [including] to explore how moral expansiveness varies as a function of demographic characteristics (age, political conservatism, religiosity, and gender)... because political conservatism is associated with less moral regard toward out-group members (Bassett, 2010; van Leeuwen & Park, 2009), and less engagement in environmentalism (Neumayer, 2004), we expected that there would be a negative association between moral expansiveness and political conservatism… There were no significant relationships between the [Moral Expansiveness Scale] and demographic variables: age, r .09, p .35; conservatism—economic, r .18, p .06; conservatism—social, r .04, p .29; or Religiosity, r .09, p .34.” - Daniel Crimston, Paul G. Bain, Matthew J. Hornsey, and Brock Bastian, Moral Expansiveness: Examining Variability in the Extension of the Moral World

[145] “It seems intuitively likely that the number of pieces of anti-abortion legislation that have been introduced is only as large as it is due to the strong Republican party political interest in achieving demonstrable anti-abortion victories.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[146] “[I]t seems plausible that without strong party alignment, the anti-abortion cause would have been less likely to reach the political deadlock and stagnation that it seems to face currently. Indeed, by the end of the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush, legislative and legal victories seemed fairly limited.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[147]“Wilberforce was highly conservative in most issues while Clarkson wholeheartedly supported French Jacobins and believed women should be able to take a role in public affairs; Quakers and Anglicans were strongly socially divided; Sharp was hostile towards his Quaker and Catholic allies’ faiths; and antislavery leaders’ views even on the role of race in social order varied substantially. These critical players would have been lost to the movement if they insisted on only working towards their shared goal with people who shared their other priorities and views.” - Kelly Witwicki, Social Movement Lessons From the British Antislavery Movement

[148] “Wilberforce was a Tory, and while it seems more liberal politicians were more supportive, the movement was not taken up as part of the Whig identity nor did campaigns try to tie it to one or the party.” - Kelly Witwicki, Social Movement Lessons From the British Antislavery Movement

[149] “[C]oncerns [about GMOs] were part of a broader political and cultural movement in the second half of the 20th century of increasing suspicion and resistance toward governments, corporations, processes of globalization, modernity, and scientism. Links between different activist causes play an important role in the history of anti-GMO activism. When ‘protestors shut down a meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle in December 1999, opponents of genetic engineering took their place beside marching steelworkers, religious activists demanding cancellation of poor countries’ debt, and defenders of tropical forests.’ Apparently unrelated causes can be found in close proximity to one another, mutually sharing resources, knowledge, and awareness.” - J. Mohorčich, What can the adoption of GM foods teach us about the adoption of other food technologies?, in part quoting Daniel Charles, Lords of the Harvest: Biotech, big money, and the future of food, 250.

[150] One reviewer noted that it might be harder to pass policies in general under a right-wing government.

[151] “Second, from the limited track record of welfare reforms for farmed animals, we see some evidence of momentum over complacency. A recent wave of cage-free commitments in the US was followed in short order by a commitment from United Egg Producers, a cooperative of egg producers in the US, to phase out the killing of male chicks, suggesting that reforms create momentum for further reforms.” - Sentience Politics, Our Support for the Massachusetts “Minimum Size Requirements for Farm Animal Containment” Initiative

[152] “Furthermore, in the European Union, the countries that have the most progressive corporate policies and governmental protections for farmed animal welfare (for example, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, and the UK) also tend to have higher rates of vegetarianism than comparable EU countries with less progressive policies (for example, France, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Finland, and Norway).” - Mercy For Animals, Why We Work For Policy Change

[153] Faunalytics (formerly known as Humane Research Council), Advocating Meat Reduction and Vegetarianism to Adults in the U.S. and Boer et al., Towards more sustainable food choices: Value priorities and motivational orientations

[154] “Third, we have informally observed that media coverage of these reforms often highlights the shortcomings of animal farming and focuses on what’s next, rather than suggesting that the reformed products offer a solution to the problems of animal farming.” - Sentience Politics, Our Support for the Massachusetts “Minimum Size Requirements for Farm Animal Containment” Initiative

[155] “The results of this study suggest that reading about a corporate policy change or legislative reform that improves conditions for farmed animals makes consumers more interested in reducing their consumption of the related animal products.” - Mercy For Animals, Welfare Reforms and Meat Consumption

[156] Brian Tomasik, A Small Mechanical Turk Survey on Ethics and Animal Welfare and Jacy Reese Anthis, Testing the Effectiveness of Animal Advocacy Messages with Amazon Mechanical Turk

[157] “Very few people (3 comments with 2 likes) explicitly said that the transition to cage-free eggs was enough and now the welfare fight is done. While this is good news, implied complacency may be a larger issue. Earlier in this text, we reported that 127 comments were enthusiastic about the welfare implications of the switch to cage-free eggs. Of those comments, only 15 (12%) also called for further action. These commenters appear to be satisfied with this level of welfare improvement and are not pushing for more. However, this sort of passive complacency does not suggest that these positive responders would resist further lobbying efforts. On the contrary, they might be equally enthusiastic about additional reforms.” - Jo Anderson, Impact Of Corporate Commitments On Public Attitudes

[158] “Tonsor and Olynk found a statistically significant negative relationship of demand with the pork media index in the short-run (i.e. demand changing in the same quarter as the publication of a newspaper article), and with the pork and poultry media indices in the long-run (i.e. demand changing in the quarter following the publication of a newspaper article).” - Animal Charity Evaluators, Models of Media Influence on Demand for Animal Products

[159] See, for example, Joshua Miller, Egg prices set to rise after EU battery cage hen ban, Jamie Doward, Price of bacon set to soar as producers are hit by new EU animal welfare laws, and Jayson L. Lusk, Nathanael M. Thompson, and Shawna L. Weimer, The Cost and Market Impacts of Slow-Growth Broilers

[160] See, for example, Mass. ballot question could raise the price of eggs and Conner Mullally and Jayson L. Lusk, The Impact Of Farm Animal Housing Restrictions on Egg Prices, Consumer Welfare, and Production in California

[161] “Antislavery advocates first focused on and achieved the abolition of the transatlantic Slave trade (1787-1807), then after a lull in activity briefly worked on several moderate welfare reforms in the explicit interest of gradual emancipation (1823-1824), then seeing those fail to help the Slaves quickly shifted focus to and achieved emancipation (women started driving immediate emancipationism in 1826, young advocates took it up in 1830, and emancipation with a four-year deadline was achieved in 1833).” - Kelly Witwicki, Social Movement Lessons From the British Antislavery Movement, section “Institutional Reform”

[162] “Antislavery advocates primarily pushed for one substantial change and then the elimination of the whole industry. Lesser reforms advocates had a hand in, which happened after abolition, were explicitly framed as “mitigation” in the interest of the “gradual abolition of slavery” and were not presented as advocates’ primary goals.” - Kelly Witwicki, Social Movement Lessons From the British Antislavery Movement

[163] “By 1830 [twenty-three years after the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in 1807 and three years before the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833] a consensus had emerged among government officials that in the colonies where reform should have been easiest, the amelioration agenda had nevertheless failed. The agenda had known at least as many frustrations as it had triumphs. Further progress would need orders in council. Not far behind, a similar conclusion was being reached respecting the old colonies.” - Caroline Quarrier Spence, Ameliorating Empire

[164] “The growing pressure for Reform reignited the antislavery movement. Many younger members of the London Society for Mitigating and Gradually Abolishing the State of Slavery Throughout the British Dominions had had enough of mitigation and gradualism. Hoping that Reform might yield a more responsive Parliament, they pushed for another great mobilization of public opinion against slavery. Although none of them would openly acknowledge a woman’s influence, Elizabeth Heyrick’s example had been powerful. Like her, they wanted slavery ended now.” - Adam Hochschild, Bury the Chains

[165] “The years 2018 and 2019 have seen the successful passage of heartbeat bills [legislation that makes abortion illegal once a heartbeat can be detected] in several states, despite the introduction of smaller legislative restrictions since the 1990s… Comparing Gallup polls in May 2018 to May 2019—that is, before and after the sharp increase in the number of states proposing heartbeat bills—public attitudes seem to have become slightly more opposed to abortion, though this change could be explained by other factors.” - Jamie Harris, Social Movement Lessons From the US Anti-Abortion Movement

[166] “Activist pressure on food retailers led to a somewhat abrupt victory [in 1998] when Iceland Foods, a supermarket chain based in the UK, announced it would stop using GM ingredients in its own-brand goods. Iceland’s announcement set off a cascade of similar announcements by other European retailers. The companies renouncing GMOs included ‘virtually every major supermarket chain and food manufacturer on the continent as well as the British Isles’... By 1999, public opinions on GMOs in both the Europe and the United States had soured. Nearly every EU country saw GMO opposition rise from 1996 to 1999, most by double digits. France went from 46% opposed to 65%, Greece from 51% to 81%, Britain from 33% to 51%. For context, this is comparable to the rate at which support for same-sex marriage increased in US General Social Survey data from 2010 to 2014.” - J. Mohorčich, What can the adoption of GM foods teach us about the adoption of other food technologies?, in part quoting Rachel Schurman and William Munro, Fighting for the Future of Food: Activists versus Agribusiness in the Struggle over Biotechnology

[167] We very approximately define “significant majority agreement” as 80% agreement among the 20 people who we believe have most thoroughly considered these issues. Our claims were originally based on best guesses, but in June 2017, we surveyed the 21 such people and this was true among the 15 respondents to our full survey. See this blog post for more information.

[168] To “humanewash” is defined in analogy to “greenwash,” which means “Disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.” - Oxford Dictionary

[169] “We share some advocates’ concerns that legal or corporate policy changes that lessen the suffering of farmed animals, but do not directly challenge their use as property or reduce their numbers, risk inducing some level of complacency in the public, potentially making society more comfortable with our still deplorable treatment of these animals and reducing our ability to effect positive change for animals in the long-term. Many advocates are particularly concerned by “humanewashing”, the labelling of products whose production involves severe animal suffering with terms and images that mislead consumers into believing that the animals led happy lives.” - Sentience Politics, Our Support for the Massachusetts “Minimum Size Requirements for Farm Animal Containment” Initiative

[170] “Some research has documented evidence for moral balancing (Nisan, 1991), or the observation that engaging in an ethical or unethical behavior at one point in time reduces the likelihood of engaging in that form of behavior again in a subsequent situation (Merritt, Effron, & Monin, 2010; Sachdeva, Iliev, & Medin, 2009). For example, Khan and Dhar (2006) showed that after committing to help a foreign student, participants were less willing to donate money to charity.” - Cornelissen et al, Rules or Consequences? The Role of Ethical Mind-Sets in Moral Dynamics.

Note that there is also some evidence for the opposite effect, moral consistency. The same article says, “In contrast to research investigating moral balancing, there is a long tradition of research on behavioral consistency (Cialdini, Trost, & Newsom, 1995; Festinger, 1957; Taylor, 1975), including research in the moral domain (Foss & Dempsey, 1979;Thomas & Batson, 1981). This work suggests that after engaging in an ethical or unethical act, individuals are likely to behave in the same fashion later on. For example, Gino, Norton, and Ariely (2010) demonstrated that participants who wore counterfeit sunglasses were more likely to cheat, compared with participants who wore branded sunglasses. Cornelissen, Pandelaere, Warlop, and Dewitte (2008) found that reminding individuals of their previous environmental conservation efforts provoked more subsequent proenvironmental behavior.”

[171] “75% of US adults say they usually buy animal products ‘from animals that are treated humanely,’ despite estimates suggesting fewer than 1% of US farmed animals live on non-factory farms. This suggests a psychological refuge effect where people justify their animal product consumption by incorrectly assuming they are eating ethically-produced food.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, Survey of US Attitudes Towards Animal Farming and Animal-Free Food October 2017

[172] The prevalence of this justification suggests that highlighting the issues of so-called humane animal farming could be an effective messaging strategy.

[173] “Thus we conclude that the media coverage surrounding Prop 2 did not cause a decrease in demand for eggs in general.” - Animal Charity Evaluators, Models of Media Influence on Demand for Animal Products

[174] “Kind of consistent with what I’ve been saying and honestly, consistent with what psychologists have been saying for millenia, is that, if you want folks to achieve a certain goal, you have to be really clear, really specific about that goal, and choose a big goal, rather than a small goal. There’s a whole field of research looking at goal setting and it’s very clear that the clearer the goal is, and the harder it is, then folks have something to mark their progress and something to work towards.” - Casey Taft, ARZone Vegfest UK Interview

[175] “Moreover, multiple studies have demonstrated that people perform better when goals are set higher and made more challenging. However, it is important to note that setting goals which are too complex can, in fact, impact self-efficacy negatively thus impairing subsequent task performance.” - Erin S. Pearson, Goal setting as a health behavior change strategy in overweight and obese adults: A systematic literature review examining intervention components

[176] One analysis of this stigma was done of UK newspaper articles in 2007, which found “Newspapers tend to discredit veganism through ridicule, or as being difficult or impossible to maintain in practice. Vegans are variously stereotyped as ascetics, faddists, sentimentalists, or in some cases, hostile extremists.” Many think that this stigma has significantly reduced since 2007, possibly due to a shift in the animal advocacy community towards more friendly, less confrontational tactics.

[177] There is evidence of substitution effects when individuals are incentivized to stop eating particular animal products. “Taxes on specific animal products may increase the consumption of other animal products, due to substitution effects. This could lead to an increase in animal suffering, if it led to increased consumption of chicken, fish, or eggs, since these products cause greater suffering per animal and per pound. One paper’s modelling of price elasticities found evidence that such effects would likely be small, but an older paper found that substitution effects would be large; in the latter, the suggested figures seem large enough that a substantial increase in animal suffering would occur, at least in the short-term.” - Jamie Harris, Lessons for Consumer Behavior Interventions from the Health Behavior Interventions Literature (Forthcoming)

[178] “Egg sales in the UK have skyrocketed, surpassing 13bn for the first time since the 1980s, according to new figures. The British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) has revealed that egg sales rose by four per cent in 2018 – equivalent to approximately 240m extra eggs. The organisation suggests the spike in sales could be correlated with a rise in the number of people adopting flexitarian diets – consuming more plant-based meals without completely eliminating meat – suggesting consumers are looking for more meat-free alternatives.” - Sarah Young, Egg sales in UK skyrocket due to increased number of flexitarians and vegetarians

[179] Brian Kateman is a frequent proponent of this view, e.g.“Brian Kateman and Tyler Alterman, co-founders of the reducetarian movement, argue that rather than a draconian attempt to cut out meat altogether, most people may find it easier and more congenial to simply eat a little less of it.” - Rebecca Rupp, To Really Reduce Meat in Your Diet, Don’t Go Cold Turkey

[180] Mercy For Animals lists some evidence in their article on The “V” Word. At face value, some of this evidence even suggests more diet change resulting from reducetarian asks, though these experimental results should be taken with caution due to low statistical power and other methodological limitations. “A large-scale study of 1,600 people that directly compared the impact of different language in a veg 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.’ (Full report here. Note that the control group outperformed each experimental group in the primary outcome measure, p 3.)


A separate study of 800 individuals who were shown photos and text online about factory farm cruelty 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 towards doing so than people who were encouraged to ‘go vegan.’ (Full report
here. Note that some EAAs have criticized this study because they thought its publisher, The Humane League, was biased against the “go vegan” message and did a poor job of presenting it to study participants in a way that actually mirrors real-world “go vegan” messaging.)

An internal MFA study across hundreds of thousands of visitors to our MeatVideo.com and CarneVideo.com websites found that visitors were much more likely to pledge to change their diets, to order a starter guide, and to sign up for a veg eating email series when we used “vegetarian” than when we used ‘vegan.’

Internal reviews by MFA have found that using ‘vegetarian’ instead of ‘vegan’ in advertisements drives more traffic to our vegan eating websites.”

A study of 2,237 individuals compared vegan and reducetarian asks. It found that, “[b]eing exposed to the reduce and eliminate appeals caused participants to reduce their meat consumption by about one serving per week… Both appeals had roughly similar effects.”

A study of several online diet change campaigns found at 1 month’s, 3 months’, and 6 months’ follow-up that participants aiming to stick to vegetarian and vegan diets were more likely to be meeting their goals than participants aiming to reduce their meat consumption or stick to pescetarian diets.

[181] Brian Kateman is a frequent proponent of this view, e.g. “When it comes to the success of a social movement, inclusiveness and likeability matter. In fact, they matter a lot. People don’t want to feel inferior. They don’t want to feel like a bad person for not living the way another person tells them they should live.” - Brain Kateman, We need more meat-eating animal-rights advocates

[182] One analysis of this stigma was done of UK newspaper articles in 2007, which found “Newspapers tend to discredit veganism through ridicule, or as being difficult or impossible to maintain in practice. Vegans are variously stereotyped as ascetics, faddists, sentimentalists, or in some cases, hostile extremists.” Many think that this stigma has significantly reduced since 2007, possibly due to a shift in the animal advocacy community towards more friendly, less confrontational tactics.

[183] “This suggests that in consumer advocacy used to support the political movement anti-animal-farming advocates should focus on convincing people to specifically stop eating animals, rather than to go vegan, which is a stronger ask, or to reduce their consumption of all animal products across the board, which does not offer as clear a symbol and meme.” - Kelly Witwicki, Social Movement Lessons From the British Antislavery Movement

[184] For example, Dominik Peters estimates that 468 “hours on factory farms are required to produce 2,000 calories” of chicken. This compares to 23 hours for beef, 4.5 hours for milk, and 767 hours for eggs. If weighted by brain size (with the brain size of chickens as the comparator), the estimates change to 468, 309, 62, and 767 “neuron-weighted hours” respectively. Brian Tomasik estimates that farmed salmon production caused 250 “Equivalent days of suffering caused per kg demanded.” This compared to 66 for chicken, 1.9 for beef, 0.12 for milk, and 110 for battery-cage eggs.

[185] We very approximately define “significant majority agreement” as 80% agreement among the 20 people who we believe have most thoroughly considered these issues. Our claims were originally based on best guesses, but in June 2017, we surveyed the 21 such people and this was true among the 15 respondents to our full survey. See this blog post for more information.

[186] We very approximately define “significant majority agreement” as 80% agreement among the 20 people who we believe have most thoroughly considered these issues. Our claims were originally based on best guesses, but in June 2017, we surveyed the 21 such people and this was true among the 15 respondents to our full survey. See this blog post for more information.

[187] “Three experiments were conducted to test the effectiveness of a rejection-then-moderation procedure for inducing compliance with a request for a favor. All three experiments included a condition in which a requester first asked for an extreme favor (which was refused to him) and then for a smaller favor. In each instance, this procedure produced more compliance with the smaller favor than a procedure in which the requester asked solely for the smaller favor. Additional control conditions in each experiment supported the hypothesis that the effect is mediated by a rule for reciprocation of concessions. Several advantages to the use of the rejection-then-moderation procedure for producing compliance are discussed.” - Cialdini et al, Reciprocal Concessions Procedure for Inducing Compliance: The Door-in-the-Face Technique

[188] “2 experiments were conducted to test the proposition that once someone has agreed to a small request he is more likely to comply with a larger request. The 1st study demonstrated this effect when the same person made both requests. The 2nd study extended this to the situation in which different people made the 2 requests. Several experimental groups were run in an effort to explain these results, and possible explanations are discussed.” - Freedman and Fraser, Compliance Without Pressure: The Foot-in-the-Door Technique

[189] “Most forms of animal advocacy involve social change, such as inspiring people to consume fewer animal products or helping companies adopt better animal welfare policies. It seems advocacy could make a crucial difference in whether they will occur, so a major portion of the expected impact of funding programs that achieve these outcomes comes from the possibility that the change would never happen otherwise. For example, it seems unclear whether society will replace animal agriculture with cultured meat, given the technology develops, and that additional funding could substantially increase the likelihood this replacement occurs. In this way, social change affects the direction of the future.

Technological change that is physically possible, on the other hand, seems likely to eventually occur even without our intervention. It seems that humans in modern society work towards technological progress for a variety of reasons like helping others, personal curiosity, and commercial profit. This, combined with the fact that backwards technological progress seems quite uncommon, unlike backwards social progress, suggests that when we fund technological progress, the primary mechanism of impact is speeding up new technologies rather than causing them to exist when they otherwise never would. In this way, technological change affects the speed of the future.” - Jacy Reese Anthis,
Foundational Questions in Animal Advocacy

[190] “This study reports the results of a nationwide survey of more than 1,800 U.S. consumers who completed a choice experiment in which they selected among conventional beef and three alternative meat products (lab-based, plant-based with pea protein, and plant-based with animal-like protein) at different prices. Respondents were randomly allocated to treatments that varied the presence/absence of brands and information about the competing alternatives. Results from mixed logit models indicate that, holding prices constant and conditional on choosing a food product, 72% chose farm raised beef, 16% plant-based (pea protein) meat alternative, 7% plant-based (animal-like protein) meat alternative, and 5% labgrown meat… Even if plant- and lab-based alternatives experienced significant (e.g., 50%) price reductions, farm raised beef maintains majority market share.” - Ellen J. Van Loo, Vincenzina Caputo, and Jayson L. Lusk, Consumer Preferences for Farm-Raised Meat, Lab-Grown Meat, and Plant-Based Meat Alternatives: Does Information or Brand Matter?

[191] “Judging on the basis of the above two examples, the challenges involved in dramatically reducing the cost of animal-free media, and our holistic assessment of the challenges involved in reducing the cost of cultured meat, discussion with scientists who have experience with cell cultures and tissue engineering, we currently see developing cost-competitive cultured meat products as extremely challenging, and we have been unable to find any concrete paths forward that seem likely to achieve that goal.” - Open Philanthropy Project, Animal Product Alternatives

[192] “Approximate estimate of the probability that there will be at least one cost-competitive cultured alternative for more than half of the main broad types of animal products within this animal product category in:

Animal product category (5 years time, 10 years time, 20 years time)

Acellular (15%, 40%, 75%)

Ground Meat (7.5%, 20%, 55%)
Whole Pieces of Muscle Tissue (1%, 5%, 30%)

- Animal Charity Evaluators, When Will There be Cost-Competitive Cultured Animal Products?

[193] “William Gamson’s Strategy of Social Protest studied a ‘representative collection of American voluntary groups that, between 1800 and 1945, have challenged some aspect of the status quo.’ In his methodology, Gamson defines success for such organizations in terms of either ‘acceptance’ by their antagonists or ‘new advantages’ accrued for their intended beneficiaries. By his own criteria, Gamson found that 20 challenging groups (CGs), 38% of those studied, resulted in a ‘full response’ of both new advantages and acceptance, 6 CGs (11%) resulted in ‘pre-emption’ (new advantages but no acceptance), 5 CGs (9%) resulted in ‘co-optation’ (acceptance but no new advantages) and 22 CGs (42%) suffered ‘collapse’ (neither new advantages, nor acceptance)... Katrin Uba, concluded that 51.6% of the 244 SMOs or political parties considered in the articles she examined achieved some sort of direct effect and a further 20.9% had a ‘joint effect’ where ‘the impact of SMOs or interest groups is dependent on the value of some other variable.’” - Jamie Harris, How tractable is changing the course of history?

[194] “The time-lag correlations show that—taking the entire period from 1975 to 1986—the coverage by Stern (0.66), Der Spiegel (0.71) and Frankfurter Rundschau (0.47) anticipated the views of the population by three, two or one years respectively.” - Hans Mathias Kepplinger, Individual and institutional impacts upon press coverage of sciences: the case of nuclear power and genetic engineering in Germany

[195] “In 2010, when the Sierra Club launched its Beyond Coal campaign, the US had 523 coal power plants. Today it has just 261. There are plenty of reasons why, not least the drop in the price of natural gas. But one reason is the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, backed by $100M from Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, and other philanthropists. Beyond Coal campaigned for new federal rules on coal plants and subsidies for renewables, and organized communities to oppose new coal plants and shutter old ones.” - Lewis Bollard, We’re Going Beyond Coal. Could We Go Beyond Factory Farming?

[196] “The furore over GM food in Europe began to negatively influence public perceptions in the rest of the world. Poor countries dependent on agricultural exports were especially sensitive to the idea that they might lose access to European markets if their crops were seen as ‘contaminated’ by genetic engineering. Other countries, poor and rich alike, took from European controversy nonspecific reasons to fear GM food: if genetic engineering was considered unsafe ‘by the Europeans, something must be the matter with it,’ and so ‘even though there was no incontrovertible proof of any negative health effects caused by the technology, the idea that the scientific jury was still out and that serious problems could present themselves in the future traveled rapidly around the world, riding on currents of press coverage and the Internet.’” - J. Mohorčich, What can the adoption of GM foods teach us about the adoption of other food technologies?, in part quoting Schurman and Munro, Fighting for the Future of Food, 116

[197] “Also, the rate of technological change could interact with the rate of social change in important ways. For example, if society is approaching a crucial social decision between continuing with animal agriculture or switching to a more ethical food system, one that will have its result embedded in society for a very long time, then making sure we are equipped at that time with the most appetizing and accessible vegan foods possible seems quite important.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, Foundational Questions in Animal Advocacy

[198] “[T]he prevailing interpretation seems to be that some open-access research from the 1990’s played an important role in significant advancements in plant-based meats (this open-access developed process then being used in the Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger) around two decades later. If that is true, I think that could be significant evidence in favor of a funding strategy that were to prioritize open-access research for plant-based alternatives… [F]or-profit companies are incentivized to keep a tight lid on their research and as such, their research is almost always siloed within a company. As a result of that, I think it is reasonable to say that open-access research, even if it risks duplicating existing research in large private companies, still has high expected value because others would be able to more quickly build upon it.” - Kieran Grieg, Farmed Animal Funders Custom Shallow Review: On Selecting Funding Strategies In General And On Focusing Funding On Open-Access Scientific Research For Plant-Based Alternatives

[199] “Our cost-effectiveness estimate for leafleting, which is highly uncertain and should be interpreted carefully, had 90% subjective confidence intervals of a decrease in supply of 3 to an increase in supply of 10 farmed animals and a corresponding change of -2 to 2 farmed animal years per dollar spent on leafleting.” - Animal Charity Evaluators, Leafleting Intervention Report

[200] “Animal Equality and Faunalytics put together a field study testing individual video outreach on belief and diet change. They found statistically significant results on both. Together with the Reducetarian study, we now think there is sufficient evidence to establish that individual outreach may work to produce positive change for nonhuman animals. However, evidence in this study points to an estimate of $310 per pig year saved (90% interval: $46 to $1100).” - Peter Hurford and Marcus A. Davis, Animal Equality showed that advocating for diet change works. But is it cost-effective?

[201] In Animal Charity Evaluators’ “Allocation of Movement Resources,” they concluded that 23% of US resources were spent on “Influencing Industry,” compared to 46% being spent on “Influencing Public Opinion.” For “Charities Comprehensively Reviewed by ACE,” the numbers were 33% and 41% respectively. The “Influencing Industry” category included “convincing corporations to implement humane reforms, supporting innovation in plant-based meat production.”

[202] “In many cases, spreading values is a zero-sum game played against other people spreading different values… As a general principle, we should be careful about playing zero-sum games rather than reaping gains from cooperation.” - Michael Dickens, On Values Spreading

[203] There is currently a much more active social movement in direct opposition to the anti-abortion movement than there is to the farmed animal movement. The farmed animal movement has arguably done less to threaten the institution of animal farming, and thus we may see a stronger pro-animal-farming movement emerge in the coming years.

[204] Some considerations are not listed in the table because their direction is unclear, i.e. a 1 could be most promising or a 3 could be.

[205] “Antispeciesism addresses all the ways in which we discriminate against nonhuman animals, not just select sites of that discrimination, like circuses or food farms. Unlike more common approaches to animal advocacy, it demands that we take all forms of suffering endured by nonhuman animals into consideration.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, Which Key Ideas Should We Be Spreading with Marginal Resources?

[206] Another interpretation of antispeciesism is that it excludes reducing the suffering of wild animals when it’s not caused by humans. This could depend on whether one thinks that humans would choose to help humans, such as remote tribes, isolated from the rest of civilization.

[207] See our Global Farmed & Factory Farmed Animals Estimates.

[208] Birds                ~1 * 10^11 to 4 * 10^11
Mammals        10^11 to 10^12
Reptiles        10^11 to 10^14
Amphibians        10^11 to 10^14
Fish                10^13 to 10^15 or more” - Brian Tomasik,
How Many Wild Animals Are There?

[209] “We think a relatively small number of people are aware that some individuals are researching and advocating for intervention in the wild to help reduce the natural suffering of animals, like that of illness and starvation.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, Which Key Ideas Should We Be Spreading with Marginal Resources?

[210] “While veganism likely has a promising future, the future of antispeciesism seems much less clear and less promising still, and has far fewer people working to promote it.” - Magnus Vinding, Animal advocates should focus on antispeciesism, not veganism

[211] “Veganism is rising, and there are considerable incentives entirely separate from concern for animals to move away from the production of animal “products”. In economic terms, it is inefficient to sustain an animal in order to use her flesh and skin rather than to grow meat and other animal-derived products directly, or replace them with plant-based alternatives. Similarly strong incentives exist in the realm of public health, which animal agriculture threatens by increasing the risks of zoonotic diseases, antibiotic resistant bacteria like MRSA, and cardiovascular disease. These incentives, none of which have anything to do with concern for nonhuman animals per se, could well be pushing humanity toward veganism more powerfully than anything else.” - Magnus Vinding, Animal advocates should focus on antispeciesism, not veganism

[212] “Moral circle expansion as a particular type of social change seems to be heavily influenced by indirect, long-term factors, including reason, education, wealth, and the level of value provided by exploitation of other sentient beings—I’d guess even more so than some other types of trajectory change, such as changed military trends, although further comparative research would be needed for me to be confident in a judgement on this. Although I still see a variety of indirect factors as encouraging MCE, I no longer see this as being so important in reducing tractability. I have not come across any good evidence that the trajectory towards moral circle expansion would be any more or less determined by contingency than other historical social trends, except for the possibility that the breadth of moral circles might end up being significantly determined by the values and decisions of a small number of individuals with influence over the nature of important technologies like superintelligence (such as AI researchers, policy makers, company executives, or thought leaders), which might actually increase tractability, since MCE within a smaller group of people could be less difficult to achieve than MCE in society as a whole.” - Jamie Harris, How tractable is changing the course of history?

[213] “Compared to veganism, antispeciesism is also much harder to confuse with environmentalism, supporters of which often recommend overtly speciesist interventions such as the mass killing of beings in the name of “healthy ecosystems” and biodiversity.” - Magnus Vinding, Animal advocates should focus on antispeciesism, not veganism

[214] “It seems that the cruelty of animal agriculture and associated dietary change are closer to the middle of the Overton Window — the range of ideas that are acceptable to discuss in mainstream public discourse — than wild animal suffering and antispeciesism.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, Which Key Ideas Should We Be Spreading with Marginal Resources?

[215] “Wild animal suffering seems like a particularly difficult idea to spread because it conflicts with the common intuition that we should leave nature alone and that natural things are inherently good, known as the ‘natural fallacy’ or ‘appeal to nature.’” - Jacy Reese Anthis, Which Key Ideas Should We Be Spreading with Marginal Resources?

[216] “Here are a couple of results from within surveys (not focused on wild animal issues) that suggest that people assign more moral value to non-sentient environmental systems and biodiversity than they do sentient individuals… 1) A paper on “Moral Expansiveness: Examining Variability in the Extension of the Moral World” asked participants to rate 30 different entities by the “moral standing” that they deserved. “Low-sentience animals” (chickens, fish, and bees) were deemed by participants to deserve lower moral standing than non-sentient “environmental targets.” These groups had mean scores of 2.64 and 3.53 respectively on a scale from 0 to 9. By comparison, plants had a mean score of 2.52, stigmatised groups of humans (homosexuals, mentally challenged individuals, and refugees) had 5.35 and family/friends had 8.90. 2) A talk by Stefan Schubert on the psychology of existential risk and long-termism refers to a survey which found that a clear majority of respondents were more concerned about the loss of individual human lives than the difference between most dying and all dying (i.e., they weren’t too worried about extinction). But this was reversed when the same question was asked about zebras.” - Jamie Harris, Survey data on the moral value of sentient individuals compared to non-sentient environmental systems

[217] “First, we found that while many people were very excited about clean meat, a large group was concerned that it wouldn’t taste good, that it would be too expensive, and that it was ‘unnatural’ and vaguely unsafe or unhealthy. In one of our papers, we tried to overcome the ‘naturalistic heuristic’ that people seemed to be using to judge clean meat to be unhealthy even in the absence of any evidence that this was the case… We also randomly primed half the sample with real negative statements about the ‘unnaturalness’ of the product made by participants in another study. The negative priming turned out to have stronger effects than any of the messages intended to help overcome the naturalistic heuristic.” - Eva Vivalt, Clean meat is not a panacea

[218] Translated: “Actually, contrary to what some people think, the majority of people who attend these talks accept the arguments for the rejection of speciesism.” - Oscar Horta, Charlas en centros de secundaria sobre el especismo, la ética y los animales

[219] Translated: “On the contrary, the most controversial point is (as might be expected) the discussion about whether we should stop eating animal products.” - Oscar Horta, Charlas en centros de secundaria sobre el especismo, la ética y los animales

[220] “In shorthand summaries of the preferred causes of the progressive Left in the past 40 years, one often finds a reference to animal rights, alongside gender equality, gay rights, the disability movement, and the rights of immigrants, racial minorities, and indigenous peoples. All are seen as paradigmatically progressive causes, fighting to emancipate historically subordinated and stigmatized groups,often subsumed under the label of ‘social justice struggles’ or ‘citizenship struggles.’ Yet the inclusion of animal rights in this list is misleading: the reality is that the animal question is virtually invisible within the Left. As Boggs notes,’Apart from its marginal leverage within the radical-ecology movement, animal rights discourse has scarcely entered into or altered the work of Left/progressive groups in the United States’ (Boggs 2011, 73). Animal advocates are ‘orphans of the Left,’ championing a progressive cause that is shunned by other progressive movements. Animal rights may receive a passing ritualized mention before being promptly ignored.” - Will Kymlicka and Sue Donaldson, Animal Rights, Multiculturalism, and the Left

[221] “Given these estimates, it follows that the potential for approximately 10^38 human lives is lost every century that colonization of our local supercluster is delayed..; or equivalently, about 10^29 potential human lives per second.” - Nick Bostrom, Astronomical Waste

[222] “‘Bugs’ (insects, spiders, etc.)        | 10^17 to 10^19” - Brian Tomasik, How Many Wild Animals Are There?

[223] “While veg advocacy is intended to change people’s diets and reduce the suffering of farmed animals, it could have important effects on whether people would take steps to reduce the suffering of wild animals.” - Luke Hecht, Wild Animal Suffering Survey Report

[224] “An environmental focus could cause people to harm wild animals, such as by painfully killing members of invasive species in order to preserve the integrity of local ecosystems.” - Jacy Reese Anthis, The Animal-Free Food Movement Should Focus Primarily on Animal Protection Arguments

[225] “Majority opinion among historians of World War I has oscillated between holding the actions of national leaders (especially in Germany) responsible for the outbreak of war, and emphasizing the importance of longer-term factors outside of their direct control. There is now an increased acceptance of the importance of various contingent factors such as the success or failure of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and the negotiations in July 1914. Although I have not read the primary evidence myself and so do not hold confident views, it seems plausible that changes in these contingent factors would have prevented war. Historians seem to accept the importance of a variety of causes of the French Revolution. From my understanding of the evidence, it seems that while the occurrence of some sort of radical social change in France in the 18th and 19th centuries wasn’t as dependent on contingency as the outbreak of World War I, the precise path and outcomes of the Revolution were. From an effective altruism perspective, the precise path might not be very important, but it is possible that this could have dramatically altered the outcomes of the Revolution. It seems unlikely that the development of the industrial revolution depended much on contingency given the long-term forces at play, although other forms of trajectory change may still have been tractable. In several of the included historical case studies, notably with the rise of US environmentalism in the 1960s, the apparent influence of certain intellectuals suggests that their ideas might be more important than luck or subsequent decision-making processes in shaping broad developments.” - Jamie Harris, How tractable is changing the course of history?

[226] “For all except one intervention type considered in this report, where evidence was available, meta-analyses suggest that effect sizes are smaller when measured at longer follow-up. In aggregate, indirect comparisons in 17 meta-analyses suggest that behavioral effects are slightly or moderately smaller when measured at follow-up points of a year or more post-intervention than when measured at shorter follow-up points.” - Jamie Harris, Lessons for Consumer Behavior Interventions from the Health Behavior Interventions Literature (Forthcoming)

[227] “These case studies [the industrial revolution, World War I, the French Revolution, and the development of American environmentalism] also provide evidence of the importance of long-term, indirect factors that might reduce tractability, though this is not so much the case with World War I (depending on how much confidence one places in recent arguments in favor of contingency). Empirical studies by social movement sociologists show that social movements and individual organizations have succeeded in having an impact but that this is difficult and usually only achieved with the support of public opinion and/or allies in the political system. Comparative historical sociologists note the importance of broad contextual factors in shaping historical outcomes, but accepting their arguments doesn’t limit tractability much… Through researching and writing this post, I have updated towards contingency playing a greater role in determining historical outcomes than I initially hypothesized, most notably as a result of the historical case studies considered here. Considering the broad implications of chaos theory also led me to update slightly towards the importance of contingency. Given that chaos theory has been used to improve prediction accuracy for issues such as weather systems, it seems that it has some real-world applicability, the implications of which contrast with my previous intuitions about causation. This importance of contingency limits historical tractability.” - Jamie Harris, How tractable is changing the course of history?

[228] “Moral circle expansion as a particular type of social change seems to be heavily influenced by indirect, long-term factors, including reason, education, wealth, and the level of value provided by exploitation of other sentient beings—I’d guess even more so than some other types of trajectory change, such as changed military trends, although further comparative research would be needed for me to be confident in a judgement on this. Although I still see a variety of indirect factors as encouraging MCE, I no longer see this as being so important in reducing tractability. I have not come across any good evidence that the trajectory towards moral circle expansion would be any more or less determined by contingency than other historical social trends, except for the possibility that the breadth of moral circles might end up being significantly determined by the values and decisions of a small number of individuals with influence over the nature of important technologies like superintelligence (such as AI researchers, policy makers, company executives, or thought leaders), which might actually increase tractability, since MCE within a smaller group of people could be less difficult to achieve than MCE in society as a whole.” - Jamie Harris, How tractable is changing the course of history?

[229] See the evaluations by Rethink Priorities, Founders Pledge, and Animal Charity Evaluators,

[230] “Benjamin F. Jones and Benjamina A. Olken found substantial effects on growth from the deaths of leaders, “the variance of the coefficients… is 31 percent higher around leader transitions than it would be normally.” However, they found that growth “does not appear to systematically increase or decrease; in fact, the average value of the coefficients… is -0.10 percentage points – i.e., almost exactly 0’... One paper finds very tentative evidence that “individual leaders can have an impact on institutional change” and the political direction of changes to constitutions.” - Jamie Harris, How tractable is changing the course of history?

[231] We say potential just because the causation isn’t certain. Various factors influence how well we can determine causation. For example, policy-makers saying that a policy change was caused by advocates is evidence of causation.

[232] “The evidence relating to the long-term effects of interventions is far weaker than I expected; I do not place much weight on the conclusions relating to the long-term effects (or lack thereof) of any particular intervention type.” - Jamie Harris, Lessons for Consumer Behavior Interventions from the Health Behavior Interventions Literature (Forthcoming)

[233] “The evidence relating to the long-term effects of interventions is far weaker than I expected; I do not place much weight on the conclusions relating to the long-term effects (or lack thereof) of any particular intervention type… This and other weaknesses of the health behavior literature, despite decades of research and huge amounts of funding, have reduced my optimism that direct measurement of behavioral outcomes (such as through randomized controlled trials or observational studies) in the farmed animal movement will ever be able to adequately capture some of the results that we might hope that they will, such as the long-term effects of particular interventions.” - Jamie Harris, Lessons for Consumer Behavior Interventions from the Health Behavior Interventions Literature (Forthcoming)

[234] “There were few questions where experimental research comprised a substantial proportion of included research (E1, E2, EM3, and EM6). Reviewed experimental research provided no evidence on the social influences on Supreme Court decision-making (I1, I2, and I3), the modifying effect of pre-decision issue salience on public opinion’s effects on the Supreme Court’s decisions (IM), or several of the modifiers of the effects of Supreme Court decisions (EM1, EM2, EM5, EM7, and EM8). This may partly reflect limitations of the search strategy used here.” - Jamie Harris, Is the US Supreme Court a Driver of Social Change or Driven by it? A Literature Review

[235] For discussion, see the section “How confident can we be in judgements about historical causation?” in Jamie Harris, What can the farmed animal movement learn from history?

[236] “We find that nonviolent resistance and participation are always positively correlated with success, even when controlling for a variety of factors.”  - Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict

On pages 6 and 13, Chenoweth also notes that, “[i]n our Nonviolent Campaigns and Outcomes (NAVCO) data set, we analyze 323 violent and nonviolent resistance campaigns between 1900 and 2006… However, this project is concerned primarily with three specific, intense, and extreme forms of resistance: antiregime, antioccupation, and secession campaigns.” This suggests that the results are likely not directly transferable to the farmed animal movement.

[237] We include this question here because it often comes up in discussion, but many animal advocates unilaterally oppose violent tactics for moral reasons, and our current impression is that most think it is ineffective as well.


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