There are many ways to help reduce the suffering of animals which can broadly be separated into two categories: direct care and advocacy. Those working in animal advocacy act as a voice for animals, speaking up on behalf of their mistreatment or changing humans’ minds and behaviors to reduce their suffering. While they generally are not personally caring for individual animals, effective animal advocacy tactics can spare an even larger number of animals from suffering.
Tactics Used By Animal Advocates
ACE reviews evidence on the efficacy of tactics in animal advocacy in order to help determine which are likely to be most useful. Our research on tactics serves multiple purposes: not only do we use our tactics reviews to help shape our charity evaluations, but they inform animal advocates so they can plan their campaigns with evidence in mind.
Animal advocacy organizations use corporate outreach to influence companies’ policies with respect to animal welfare, particularly with regard to animals used in food production. Corporate outreach can involve generating public protest against a company’s policies, negotiations with corporate executives behind closed doors, or both of these. We find that corporate outreach has had significant short-term effects in reducing farm animal suffering and is highly efficient in achieving this goal. However, because it can act to reduce the perception that animals suffer in the production of certain products, we are not certain about its long-term effects.
Animal advocacy organizations use undercover investigations, sometimes just referred to as investigations, to document animal abuse and raise awareness of various forms of suffering and injustice against animals. This increased awareness is expected to result in various outcomes that benefit animals, including influencing company policies, laws, and consumption choices.
Protests occur when groups of activists join forces and confront an opponent in an attempt to spur change. Animal advocacy protests take many different forms, including but not limited to: rallies, demonstrations, picketing, sit-ins, marches, and vigils. We believe that the animal advocacy movement should allocate slightly greater resources to protests than it does currently.
Charities provide veg advocacy literature and/or send teams to distribute that literature on sidewalks and college campuses. Individuals can also easily obtain leaflets to distribute on their own and it takes only a small time commitment to do so, making leafleting alone or with a group a promising volunteering activity.
Charities show ads on Facebook or other websites that link to a webpage with pro-veg/anti-meat information, often a video or text page that emphasizes a Vegetarian Starter Guide, and encourage the users to pledge to go vegetarian or enter their email address for more information. Currently, ACE does not recommend that charities create new online ads programs or expand existing programs, at least when that funding could be used for more promising interventions such as corporate outreach and undercover investigations.
Humane education is a form of animal advocacy in which speakers visit high school and college classes and give presentations on the effects of factory farming on animals, the environment, health, and other areas of concern. One of our top charities, The Humane League, engages in this intervention. Currently, ACE does not have enough strong evidence to recommend humane education as an intervention.