The high-impact studies described below are those we are currently seeking funding to support. If you are interested in funding one of the research projects described below, please go here to donate. We would also be happy to discuss our research plans with you or provide a full study proposal; please contact us if interested. If you have an idea for a research project you’d like us to consider, you can submit it through the form at the bottom of this page.
Examples of Successful Anti-Subsidy Lobbies
Government subsidies for animal agriculture pose a well-known and difficult barrier facing animal advocates around the globe. They are also, according to the UN FAO (2021), “price-distorting and largely harmful to the environment.” Our goal is to facilitate knowledge sharing among diverse advocacy groups around the world, providing animal advocates with recommendations and lessons emerging from interviews with global animal protection groups that have previously attempted anti-subsidy lobbying. These interviews will be designed in consultation with lobbyists who specialize in animal law to elicit information about tactics that were successful vs. unsuccessful in interviewees’ particular political and cultural contexts, as well as the cost in time and resources of these initiatives. We will provide recommendations about best practices and their cost-effectiveness, which should allow groups around the world to learn from each other and optimize their methods.
Reduction Targets by Demographic
When it comes to animal product consumption, there is no one-size-fits-all approach: a vegetarian pledge could be too much for one person while the person next to them might have gone vegan if that pledge was offered. This study aims to find the best balance of request size versus tractability (the number of people willing to reduce their consumption of animal products) across a wide range of demographic groups and countries. We will recruit participants from the U.S., Brazil, Canada, China, India, and Mexico, and ask participants about their willingness to take a range of pro-animal actions focused mostly on dietary reduction (e.g., vegan after 6pm, meatless Mondays) but also including actions to support welfare initiatives. With the results, we will create a web-based application that models the results in a way that easily enables advocates to compare segments of each country’s populations and identify the optimal ask for each one, minimizing the tradeoff between impact of the change and willingness to try it.
Does Humane Labeling Backfire?
With the increase in product labels like “cage-free” and “humanely raised,” animal advocacy groups are putting substantial resources toward label education and pursuing litigation against companies who misuse these terms. It is therefore important to know whether welfare labels have positive or negative effects on behavior. For example, do people choose higher-welfare products (similar to an effect observed for fair-trade coffee; Loureiro & Lotade, 2005) or purchase fewer animal products overall? Alternatively, does humane labeling provide people with “moral licensing” to continue a harmful behavior (an effect observed in energy conservation; Tiefenbeck et al., 2013)?
State-by-State Reactions to Potential Legislative Changes
One of the biggest hurdles to getting lawmakers to support or propose welfare legislation is their fear of negative public reaction and its impact on their own political careers. This study will use representative polls in key states and districts to gauge public support for a range of legislative policies dealing primarily with farmed and wild animal welfare. Identifying the regions and issues to target will be done in close collaboration with stakeholders who do this type of work.
Local Laws as a Strategic Stepping Stone for Legislative Efforts
Legislation is a key avenue animal advocates use to effect change at scale, but there is not much research about how to choose tractable issues and lobby for them successfully. As the strongest animal protections exist at the municipal level, the goal of this project is to look at whether local laws have ever led to the passage of similar laws at higher levels of government. In partnership with a law student or lawyer, we will review the legal literature relating to animal welfare in the U.S. to determine whether local laws have laid the groundwork for future laws at the state and federal levels of government. The scope of this review will include legislation related to any animal welfare topic, but with due consideration to its generalizability (e.g., companion animal legislation to farmed animal issues).
Estimating Social Spread of Advocacy
As animal advocacy efforts expand in developing countries without a strong grassroots history, it is crucial that we measure and attend to the impact of both top-down and bottom-up efforts. This study, in which we will conduct a review of the literature on social network analysis and social contagion theory (about how behavior spreads from person to person) will serve as a first step toward realistic impact measurement for grassroots campaigns. Based on this literature review on studies that parallel veg*n diets, we will produce a hypothesis about the amount of behavior spread (to friends and friends of friends) that veg*n advocates might reasonably expect.
Chicken and Fish Substitution Meta-Analysis
Substitution of one animal product for another is always an undesirable outcome for reduction campaigns, but poses a particular problem when a smaller-bodied animal is substituted for a larger one, because of the larger impact in animal lives. For this research, we will conduct a meta-analysis (an analysis of previously published data) to examine whether there is evidence of a substitution effect across many intervention studies. More specifically–although we will look for substitution across all products–we are most interested in whether the consumption of fish and chicken products increases when the consumption of cow and pig products decrease. If there is evidence of substitution effects, we will also use the available evidence to suggest characteristics of interventions that caused it, and suggest how advocates may be able to avoid them in their campaigns.