10 Things We Learned From Research This Year (So Far)
As an organization, Faunalytics is dedicated to bringing you research and data that can help you be the most effective animal advocate you can be. Each week, we add articles to our research library with information to help farmed animals, companion animals, wild animals, and more. The articles selected below are not necessarily our most popular, but they represent a round-up of some of the most cutting-edge and groundbreaking data that could help animal advocates achieve their goals. Click on the links below to explore the full summaries of each study in our library.
Computer-Assisted Animal Enrichment
Computers have permeated nearly every corner of western culture, and new research shows that computer monitoring systems may do wonders for providing automated and custom enrichment for animals, on demand. Although this study was done with companion animals, the technology has implications for animals in laboratories and zoos, as well as other captive animals.
Bringing Ethics Into Wildlife Control
Wildlife control is a controversial topic, as it often involves “exclusion, trapping, hunting, poisoning, or otherwise destroying animals.” Fortunately, experts are taking note that the general public disapproves of of lethal or otherwise harmful measures, and there is progress toward a new animal control ethic. Among the various management principles outlined in a recent publication are alternatives like modifying human practices, considering community values and scientific information, and considering long-term systematic management.
The Power Of Beans
Eating meat is one of the worst things you can do for the environment, and eating cow meat is especially devastating. One study compared eating “beef” versus eating beans, and found that replacing beef with beans in the United States could accomplish up to 75% of the total greenhouse gas reduction needed to meet 2020 goals, in addition to reducing up to 42% of U.S. cropland required for food production. Advocates will no doubt find these numbers powerful to use in their advocacy.
The Danger Of Dogs?
We humans love our companion dogs, but with that love also comes a degree of responsibility. It is generally understood that some free-roaming cats can pose a danger (often overstated) to some species of wildlife, but what about dogs? A recent study finds that there are about 188 species of wildlife worldwide for whom dogs could be considered a “major threat.” Keeping our companion dogs in harmony with wildlife is something we likely don’t think about too much, but is clearly worth considering.
Veg Stereotypes Still Persist
Veganism and vegetarianism appear to be trending, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean the PR battle is over. Two recent studies delved into people’s perceptions of veg*n diets, as well as veg*ns themselves, and found that many people still think veg*n diets are nutritionally inadequate or hard to achieve, and vegans are viewed pretty negatively in the media.
How We Consider Wild Animal Suffering
It is still a burgeoning field of study, but an increasing number of scholars and ethicists are interested in how we think about wild animal suffering (WAS). A study looking at attitudes towards farmed animals, the environment, and wild animals found somewhat contradictory and counterintuitive results related to wild animal suffering, and specifically the unintentional “side effects” that could be generated through farmed animal advocacy. The growing scholarship surrounding WAS will no doubt deepen our knowledge on this topic, and advocates should pay attention.
“Clean” Makes A Difference
A study published by Animal Charity Evaluators recently found that calling cell-derived meat “clean” as opposed to “cultured” could increase purchasing choices by 11%. As cell-derived meat gets closer and closer to being a reality for consumers, studying these naming conventions becomes more important. Note: Faunalytics is currently studying the perceived “naturalness” of clean meat to increase knowledge of this important topic.
What’s In A Mouse?
A key component of animal research is the standardization of animals to eliminate genetic variation as a variable. One evaluation found that, by some measures, laboratory mice have been genetically isolated from their wild cousins for more than 80 years, which means they only have a fraction of the genetic variation of wild mice. What this implies is that research on mice helps us understand mice in labs, but doesn’t tell us much about mice in “the real world.” This has huge implications for how animal research is applied to people, who are likewise not genetically uniform.
Eating Insects May Never Take Hold In The West
Insects are eaten in many parts of the world. As food producers look to bridge the protein gap, they may turn to insects as a stop-gap measure. Fortunately – or unfortunately, depending on your advocacy perspective – the ‘ick factor’ is strong with insect-based products. For Western consumers, there are innumerable barriers to widespread adoption of insect-eating, which may make it very difficult for such products to gain market share.
Other Alternative Proteins Are Trending
Though eating insects may be a hard sell for Western consumers, other alternative proteins are becoming more popular. A 2017 report from Lux research suggests that alternative proteins could account for up to 33% of total protein consumption by the year 2054, and that insects, algae, and synthetic biology could make up half of that, though they don’t specify in what proportions.