Comparing Beliefs About Fishes And Chickens & Their Relation To Animal-Positive Behaviors Across Countries
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, nearly 69 billion chickens were slaughtered in 2018 alone. That same year, the fishes slaughtered worldwide weighed nearly 100 million tons. Many of the countries we have surveyed in this line of research—which includes Brazil, Canada, China, India, and the United States—contribute in huge quantities to the enormous suffering of chickens and fishes. For example, China, the United States, and Brazil slaughtered more chickens than any other countries in 2018, with India not far behind. In terms of tons of fishes slaughtered, China ranked first in the world, while India was fourth and the U.S. was sixth. In total, the five countries considered in this research account for over 40% of the global chicken slaughter and more than a quarter of global fish slaughter.
Across the world, advocates are working to improve the welfare of animals and to reduce the consumption of animal products. Because of cultural differences across different regions, it is important that advocates understand the context in which they are working rather than assuming that lessons from one part of the world can be applied to audiences in another. Despite the massive quantities of chicken and fish slaughter committed by each of these countries, it is not necessarily the case that their residents share similar beliefs about these animals. By comparing the country-level findings described in other sections of this report, we can observe similarities and differences in beliefs across countries. This information may be helpful for animal advocates working in an international context.
- Base rates of pro-animal behavior are higher in India, China, and Brazil than the U.S. and Canada. Participants from the U.S. and Canada took the diet pledge and signed the welfare petition at much lower rates than participants from other countries. In Brazil, China, and India, at least half of participants were willing to take pro-animal actions.
- Many beliefs are consistent across countries, but important differences remain, underscoring the need for careful consideration of local contexts in animal advocacy campaigns. Some beliefs, including “fish are beautiful,” “chickens can feel pain,” and others, were common in all countries. Other beliefs were only frequent in some countries, such as the belief that fish are loving in India and Brazil, or that many chicken farms have horrible living conditions in the U.S. and India.
- Even when beliefs are similar across countries, correlations between beliefs and pro-animal actions may not be. U.S. participants’ beliefs had the strongest average associations with pro-animal actions compared to participants from other countries, while Indian participants had the weakest associations. Brazilian, Chinese, and Canadian participants’ associations fell in between. The stronger the association between beliefs and actions, the more likely it is that advocates working to influence beliefs will have a positive effect on the behaviors we want to shift.
- Beliefs about fishes and about chickens were similarly associated with pro-animal actions. In other words, beliefs may be equally important in people’s minds when deciding whether or not to take pro-animal actions, regardless of whether they are considering chickens or fishes.
This project is a collaboration between researchers at Faunalytics and Mercy For Animals (MFA): namely, Zach Wulderk, Jo Anderson, and Tom Beggs of Faunalytics and Courtney Dillard, Walter Sanchez-Suarez, and Sebastian Quaade of MFA. We are indebted to Meredith Hui, Rashmit Arora, Diogo Fernandes, and Vitor Clemente for their assistance with linguistic and cultural translation, and to Cristina Mendonça, Meredith Hui, and Nikunj Sharma for their invaluable feedback.
We’d like to thank the CEA Animal Welfare Fund, the Culture and Animals Foundation, and an anonymous donor for funding this work, and the Tipping Point Private Foundation for funding the report translations.
Including the first report in this line of research, we surveyed over 1,000 adults each in Brazil, Canada, China, and the U.S., and nearly 900 in India. Within each country, these participants were split into two groups and asked to provide information on their beliefs about either fishes or chickens. Respondents were then asked if they would take a diet pledge to reduce their consumption of this animal, and if they would sign a petition calling for improved living and slaughter conditions. The sole exception to this approach was China, where instead of being offered a petition, participants were asked whether they support these welfare reforms.
In addition to determining the commonality of each belief at the country level, we also calculated correlations between each belief and the pro-animal actions participants were offered—that is, taking a diet pledge or signing a welfare petition.
More information on the results for participants from each country, as well as recommendations for animal advocates, can be found in the country-specific reports.