If you care about animals and want to reduce their suffering, but aren’t sure exactly how, Animal Charity Evaluators is here for you.
Californian nonprofit has published its list of the best recommended charities.
Most of these charities focus on strategies that aim to improve conditions on factory farms – or bypass factory farming altogether by promoting the transition to a plant-based diet.
Focusing on factory farms makes sense, as they are sites of large-scale suffering. It’s not just death that happens there – in the United States alone, factory farming kills an estimated 9 billion land animals every year – but the suffering that animals are forced to endure in their lifetime. Chickens, calves and pigs are often confined in such small spaces they can barely move, and the conditions are so infuriating that “ag-gag” laws exist to hide the cruelty from the public.
When we hear about some of these conditions – like the fact that chickens are forced to produce eggs at such a rapid rate that their sometimes the intestines partially fall out under pressure – we may want to end it. But it can be difficult to know which charities will actually use our dollars.
Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) researches and promotes the most effective and efficient ways to help animals. The group uses three main criteria when deciding whether or not to recommend an organization, as my colleague Kelsey Piper explained previously:
- Charities must be “likely to produce the greatest gains for animals– that is, they are doing high impact work and have the evidence to back it up.
- Charities must “actively evaluate and improve their programs– they are constantly trying to find the most effective way to defend animals (which can change over time) and adjust their programming accordingly.
- Charities must “have a clear need for more funding” – they actually need more money to reach everyone they know how to reach (which is not the case for all charities. ).
With this in mind, ACE has selected its top four charities for 2020:
1) The Albert Schweitzer Foundation: This group is reaching out to companies to demand that they use products raised cruelty-free. He also does legal work; for example, he defended undercover investigators in a case in Germany. It is also one of the first animal charities to begin prioritizing business outreach on behalf of farmed fish. “We believe that advocacy for farmed fish may have a particular impact,” writes ACE, “because of the large scale and neglect of the suffering of farmed fish.” There is good reason to think that fish experience pain and that fish are more emotionally complex than you might think.
2) The Good Food Institute: This organization promotes the development of delicious plant-based alternatives to meat, dairy products and eggs. (Think impossible burgers and beyond meat.) He offers business, legal, scientific, and policy advice to plant companies and advocates for regulations that won’t penalize their products in the consumer market. In the long run, the development of plant-based foods could prove to be very effective in weakening the animal agriculture industry – perhaps more effective than the moral arguments against factory farming. “There are few charities working in this area, and GFI has shown strong leadership and effectiveness,” writes ACE.
3) The Humanitarian League: This organization runs successful campaigns urging companies to adopt higher animal welfare standards. He also conducts grassroots legislative advocacy. Above all, he has a factual view, collecting and using data to guide his approach, and testing new ways to improve his programs.
4) Wildlife Initiative: New entry this year (the other three were also on last year’s roster), this group is doing something unique: researching and advocating for ways to help wild animals. Instead of focusing on animal welfare on factory farms, it focuses on the welfare of roaming animals, from birds to raccoons to insects. he studies questions like: Which animals are capable of subjective experiences? What is the quality of their life in nature? How can we help them in a safe and sustainable way?
ACE has also named notable charities – organizations that it says do a good job despite not being in the top four – such as Anima International, which leads corporate campaigns, publishes secret investigations, hosts animal rights protests and conferences, and pushes restaurants and food service companies to come up with plant-based options.
If you donate to any of the above charities, you can be reasonably sure that your money will be used effectively to minimize animal suffering. And if you don’t know who you’d like to donate to, you can donate to Recommended charity fund and leave it to ACE to distribute the money based on what their research suggests was most effective at the time.
Is it wrong to worry about animals when so many humans are suffering?
Americans are increasingly concerned about animal welfare. The incredibly rapid adoption of plant-based meat products like Impossible Burgers and Beyond Meat is, in part, due to the growing sense that we can and should inflict much less suffering on animals.
A 2015 Gallup poll found that 62% of Americans said animals deserved some legal protections. Another 32 percent – nearly a third – expressed an even stronger stance in favor of animals, saying they believe animals should have the same rights as humans. In 2008, only 25 percent expressed this point of view.
It seems that more and more Americans are coming to see animals as part of our moral circle, the imaginary boundary we draw around those we deem worthy of ethical consideration.
Some people, however, react to this with a bout of “whataboutism”: what about pressing human issues like the pandemic and poverty? Behind this objection is usually the feeling that we cannot afford to “waste” compassion on animal suffering, because every part of care we devote to this cause means that we have less to devote to human suffering.
But as Vox’s Ezra Klein wrote, research by Yon Soo Park of Harvard and Benjamin Valentino of Dartmouth have shown that concern for human suffering and concern for animal suffering are not zero-sum – in fact, where you find one, you tend to find l ‘other:
In half of the study, they used data from the General Social Survey to see if people who supported animal rights were more likely to support a variety of human rights, a test to find out whether the abstract compassion is zero-sum. Then, they compared the strength of animal treatment laws in individual states to the strength of laws protecting humans, a test of whether political activism is zero-sum.
The answer, in both cases, is that compassion seems to breed compassion. People who were strongly in favor of government aid for the sick “were over 80% more likely to support animal rights than those who strongly opposed it,” the authors to write. The conclusion held even after controlling for factors like political ideology. Support for animal rights was also correlated – although the effect was smaller – with support for LGBT people, racial and ethnic minorities, unauthorized immigrants, and people with low incomes.
Likewise, states that have done the most to protect animal rights have also done the most to protect and expand human rights. States with strong laws protecting LGBT residents, strong protections against hate crime, and inclusive policies for undocumented immigrants were much more likely to have strong protections for animals.
The question of why these correlations exist is up for debate, but the bottom line is that we had better hope that our society acts against animal suffering: if so, we are more likely to to see it also act against human suffering. .
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