There has been relatively little examination of historical social movements from an effectiveness-focused perspective, even though such study seems to be able to yield significant evidence for a relatively limited time investment and cost. Animal advocacy researchers see the movement to abolish the transatlantic slave trade as one of the most useful social movements to examine. This project examines the movement’s timeline and historical accounts to estimate what strategies and circumstances were most responsible for the movement’s successes.
This book, our Research Director Jacy Reese’s main project through November, will aggregate existing and original research to outline the most important strategic conclusions for reducing and ending animal farming. For example, it will look at business strategies currently being implemented to see which ones are generating the best results, discuss tentative conclusions for effective social change like this discussed in our Foundational Questions Summaries, and discuss how the animal-free food movement can broaden horizons across cultures and regions.
This poll will assess the current level of concern in the US for beings on the fringes of or outside our moral circle, such as looking at how many people support a shift towards animal-free animal products and to what extent respondents believe insects, wild animals, and artificial sentient beings deserve moral consideration. While surveys are limited in their ability to establish causation, their results can inform our beliefs about effective strategies. By running the first iteration of this survey soon, we can have a longer timeframe to compare future results over. We hope to repeat this survey every 2-5 years.
There have been few if any formal literature reviews done in the effective animal advocacy community, which attempt to aggregate existing evidence in a different advocacy field and draw any conclusions possible for helping animals in particular. The literature on increasing voter turnout, such as through mail and door-to-door canvassing, is particularly robust, so we plan to work on this as an exploration of the value of literature reviews.
Animal Charity Evaluators conducted a partial case study of the environmentalist movement looking at Silent Spring, Earth Day, and some recycling campaigns. The results were useful, such as the potential impact of well-timed book launches and large public events. Given environmentalism’s significantly shared interests with farmed animal advocacy and the significant overlap between the two communities, we expect more research could be fruitful.
Some technologies might not have been developed or adopted to the full extent possible because of ethical controversy, such as GMOs and nuclear energy. Given that there could be very promising animal-free food technologies in the next few years, we will examine past examples of technologies that were not fully adopted to see how we can mitigate that risk in our situation.
There is a gap in the effective animal advocacy literature for a randomized controlled trial (RCT) measuring the very-short-term effects of different advocacy message. If another group doesn’t fill that gap in the near future, we will consider doing so. We usually prioritize research on longer-term effects, but short-term effects can still provide useful indications of those long-term effects. This RCT would vary messages in different ways (e.g. reducetarian/vegan/activism ask, environmental/health/animal harm) and measure the short-term outcomes that seem most useful to farmed animal advocates (e.g. acceptance of animal farming, perception of vegans, assignment of sentience to farmed animals).
The existing evidence on most of these topics is summarized in our Summary of Evidence for Foundational Questions for Effective Animal Advocacy.
Confrontation vs. nonconfrontation
Consistent vs. varying messaging
Individual vs. institutional interventions and messaging
Influencer vs. mass outreach
Multi-issue vs. animal focus
Left-wing vs. nonpartisan focus
Momentum vs. complacency from welfare reforms
Reducetarianism vs. veganism
Social change vs. food technology
Animal protection vs. environmental vs. human health messaging
Farmed animal vs. wild animals vs. general antispeciesism focus
Long-term vs. short-term focus
Social movements vs. randomized controlled trials vs. intuition/speculation/anecdotes vs. external findings evidence
Corporate vs. government policy change
Rights/autonomy vs. welfare/suffering messaging
Moral licensing vs. moral consistency
Few large vs. many small advocacy events
Early British (in progress)
Rights of the mentally disabled
Anti-prison and prison reform
US welfare reforms
EU welfare reforms
History of vegetarianism
Test short-term effects of different advocacy messages (e.g. vegan/reducetarian/petition, justice/environmental/welfare reforms) with an animal attitudes questionnaire.
Does discussing future animal-free food technology lead to complacency, e.g. “I don’t need to make changes now because it’ll be easier later,” or momentum, e.g. “I want to be on the right side of history”?
How does discussing the concept of a moral circle affect someone’s moral circle?
How does compassion for other humans correlate with and relate to compassion for nonhumans?
Moral circle survey
Do people have a coherent, consistent moral circle?
Views of animal sentience, moral worth of insects, wild animals, digital sentience, etc.
Support for transition towards animal-free foods
Do people think they purchase factory farmed or “humane” animal products?
Artificial intelligence values survey
What values would people load into an artificial intelligence?
What moral circle would people load into an artificial intelligence?
Happiness vs. suffering (moderate vs. extreme, emotional vs. physical)
Net happiness vs. other outcomes (e.g. autonomy, beauty)
Philosophers/neuroscientists who focus on sentience
Farmed animal treatment specialists
Psychologists studying relevant topics (e.g. moral licensing, collapse of compassion)
Advocates with expertise on specific topics (e.g. corporate outreach, online ads)
Cost analysis of lives-worth-living animal farming
Summary of health arguments for/against animal farming
Summary of environmental arguments for/against animal farming
How to utilize grazable non-arable land and how much it matters to our food system
Technologies that have expanded the moral circle
What led to the tech developing more quickly
What led to the tech developing at all
Welfare of various animal farm populations and practices
Welfare of various wild animal populations
Cultural and social features that correlate with or cause wider moral circles
Demographics that lead moral circle expansion
Third-party evaluation of legal personhood arguments used in court