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Animal suffering may be one of the greatest problems in the world today. From the meat and dairy industry to human causes of wild animal suffering, this problem seems to be incredibly neglected. Many experts now believe that non-human animals have conscious experiences and the capacity for pain. Therefore, a significant number of effective altrusits believe that we should give equal moral weight and value to all animal species, whether human or not. Animal advocacy can be divided into varying levels and types of intervention, including efforts to persuade people to convert to plant-based diets, lobby for better welfare standards, and develop alternatives to animal products. Animal welfare is a large-scale issue which a number of groups and organisations are working the solutions to overcome this problem become increasingly tractable and the philosophical underpinnings more accepted in society.


In 2020, an estimated 9.7 million land animals were slaughtered in the United States alone.

(Humane Society of the United States, 2020)


The work of The Humane League and other animal welfare activists led 161 new organisations to commit to using cage-free products, helping free millions of chickens from cruel battery cages. 

(Chicken Watch, 2022)


One economics study suggests that a single consumer's choice to decline buying an animal product can have an impact on total production: egg production falls by 0.91 eggs for every 1 egg you give up; 0.56 gallons for every 1 gallon of milk; 0.68lb for every pound of beef; 0.74lb for every pound of pork; and 0.76lb for every of chicken.

F. Bailey Norwood and Jayson L. Lusk, Compassion, by the Pound: The Economics of Farm Animal Welfare (2011).


In 2017, only 0.03% of total US philanthropic funding went towards farm animal causes; of this amount, just 0.8% of donations go specifically to farmed animal organizations.

(Founders Pledge, 2020)


Wild animal suffering is even more neglected, with very few organisations specifically focusing on improving the welfare of wild animals and probably less than $10 million USD per year being spent on addressing this problem.

(Giving What We Can, 2021)

Below are links to a number of resources to help you explore the issue of animal advocacy and learn about how we can contribute to understanding and managing it as a cause area for concern.

Introduction to Animal Advocacy

Here are some popular introductions to animal advocacy which discuss the philosophical and moral arguments for improving the wellbeing of non-human animals.

Philosophy & Theory

To understand animal welfare as a cause area for concern, it's important to understand the moral arguments and theoretical underpinnings which oblige us to take actions and make decisions affecting non-human animals.

  • '“Can They Suffer?”: Bentham on our Obligations to Animals' — 1000-word essay summary of Jeremy Bentham's philosophical argument which underpins animal advocacy: there is no justification for treating non-human animals any worse than we treat humans, so any attempts to ignore or rationalise away the moral significance of animals’ pain and suffering are to be rejected.

  • 'Expanding the moral circle' — a video tracing the expansion of humanity's moral circle, or the entities which humans perceive as having moral standing; this expansion has led to prohibiton and abolition of gender- and race-based discrimination but there is a case to be made for seeing non-human animals as being equally worthy of moral concern as other humans.

  • 'All Animals Are Equal' — excerpt from Peter Singer's Animal Liberation (1975) which argues that the ethical principle on which human equality rests requires us to extend consideration to animals, with our readiness to consider animal interests not being based on speciesism (a prejudice or attitude of bias in favour of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species).

  • 'Wild Animal Welfare Literature Library: Introductory Materials, Philosophical & Empirical Foundations' — collection of articles and essays to get a more in-depth understanding of wild animal welfare, and how it's often overshadowed by farmed animal suffering.

Rethink Priorities: In 2022, as part of the Moral Weight Project Sequence, a report was published to estimate the welfare ranges of 11 farmed species based on the scientific evidence currently available. The literature review  covers over 90 empirical traits, each assessed for the likelihood of each species having the capacity for the various behavioural, physiological, cognitive and affective traits.

Click here for the spreadsheet with the relevant scholarly literature used to make these assessments. 

Click on a chart to open up the enlarged image.


Approaches & Perspectives

One of the major questions in animal advocacy is about the way in which we can tackle the challenges of reducing animal suffering. While some people believe in abolitionism (ending animal agriculture), others aim towards welfarism (improving living conditions and treatment) for farmed animals. Meanwhile, should interventions and campaigns focus on a top-down approach starting with institutional and corporate change or a bottom-up approach that targets individuals and consumers? These issues are explored here.

Farmed animal welfare

  • 'Factory farming' — 80,000 Hours' problem profile explaining why animal advocacy is important, and what promising paths to improving welfare and reducing animal suffering are out there.

  • 'Key Lessons From Social Movement History' — research from Sentience Institute which uses case studies of social movements to argue that the farmed animal movement should take steps to avoid unintended consequences from incremental tactics; use a more diverse range of institutional tactics; and use fewer individual diet change tactics.

  • 'Want to help animals? Focus on corporate decisions, not people’s plates.' — 2019 article argues that the most cost-effective way to help animals on factory farms seems to be campaigns targeting suppliers, not targeting consumers.


Alternative proteins

Wild animal welfare

Humanity now poses a threat to the stability of the planet...[This requires] nothing less than a new global agricultural revolution.


Prof Johan Rockström, Stockholm Resilience Centre

Scepticism & Uncertainty

There is a degree of uncertainty when it comes to animal wellbeing. With many unknowns left to be resolved, some people have expressed specticisms over if, and to what extent, we need to focus on animal welfare.

Charities & Organisations

There are a number of organisations and groups which research and advocate for improved animal welfare.

  • Animal Ethics — a non-profit which aims to promote respect for nonhuman animals through outreach, research, and education by supporting and researching interventions to improve the lives of animals in the wild, such as vaccinations and helping animals in natural disasters.

  • Animal Charity Evaluators — an organisation dedicated to finding and promoting the most effective ways to help animals by identifying the most effective charities, awarding grants to support its mission and enhancing fundraising efforts.

  • Good Food Institute — a non-profit think tank and international network of organisations aiming to increase the amount of animal-free products by supporting R&D and marketing of alternative proteins.

  • The Human League — an organisation which focuses on ending the abuse of factory farmed animals (mainly chickens and fish); through institutional and individual change; its activities includes corporate campaigning, online advertising, government lobbying and research to evaluate advocacy presentation and methods.

  • Wild Animal Initiative — as the only ACE-recommended charity with a specific focus on wild animals, thjs organisation helps scientists, grantors, and decision-makers investigate important and understudied questions about wild animal welfare.

  • Sentience Institute — a think tank which publishes freely and publicly available findings on long-term social and technological change, particularly moral circle expansion.

  • Faunanalytics — an organisation whose mission is to empower animal advocates with access to research, analysis, strategies, and messages that maximise their effectiveness to reduce animal suffering.

Careers & Opportunities

Think that animal advocacy is important and something you would be interested in working on? Here you can find out more about how you can pursue a career in the field, or test your potential to have an impact in it.

Philosophy & Theory
Approaches & Perspectives
Scepticism & Uncertainty
Charities & Organisations

General Reading:

  • 'What is Animal Welfare and Why Is It Important?' — brief introduction to animal welfare, the distinction with animal rights, and an outlook on current animal welfare issues.

  • Peter Singer, Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals (1975)

Lifestyle Change

Once you've decided that you want to more to reduce animal suffering, it can seem like a daunting challenge to make major changes to the way to your live your life. Some of these resources will (hopefully) show that it's much easier than you may think!

  • 'Accidentally Vegan Foods' — list of just some of the food products and popular brands which are vegan-friendly.

  • '35 Foods that Are Surprisingly Not Vegan' — equally, there are some foods that you might want to be careful with, especially if they contain traces of animal-derived products as preservatives or colouring.

  • 'Vegan student recipes' — BBC Good Food's list of 71 vegan recipes, whether you're look for a quick meal or batch-cooking ideas.

  • Food Impacts tool — visualisation of the impact on welfare and climate caused by the consumption of different meat and animal products

  • 'Pescetarians are responsible for many more animal deaths than regular meat eaters'Vox article explains why excluding all meats except for fish from your diet has a worse impact on animal suffering; the author discusses the size and feeding and farming methods of fish compared to land animals, and the shifting consensus on fish sentience and their capacity for suffering.

Lifestyle Change
Careers & Opportunities
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