About picture

This quote summarises one of the most important reasons for why we should consider animals’ interests. It was quoted in Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation (1975), which was the book which pushed the editor of this blog from being a vegetarian into being an animal advocate and activist.


(All logo designs by Ciarán Nolan https://ciarannolan.com/2017/03/30/95/ )

About the blog:

This blog serves as a hub for those engaging with the studies and research surrounding how to make animal advocacy as effective as it can be.

It principally tries to achieve three aims:

1) Reflections and recommendations for the Effective Animal Advocacy community:

This focuses on meta-level strategy and suggestions. Writers look for areas of uncertainty and gaps within the Effective Animal Advocacy movement, and suggest possible solutions to the problems.

2) Reviews and recommendations of resources:

This focuses on creating easy-to-access, freely available reviews, to help readers decide whether they would like to purchase or use the resources. Writers consider resources which are explicitly intended to advance the effectiveness of the animal advocacy movement, but also other resources which they feel that the EAA community could benefit from. These reviews are therefore intended to benefit people who are new to EAA but also experienced members of the community. For the latter, reviews of resources which were not explicitly intended for the EAA community’s use may be the most helpful.

Writers rate all resources out of 5 on each of the following metrics:

  1. Price
  2. Ease of use (incorporating layout, amount of unnecessary info etc)
  3. Value for EAA beginners (i.e. people who are keen to reduce animal suffering, but haven’t done a huge amount of reading or have a huge amount of involvement in the area so far)
  4. Value for EAA pros (i.e. people who are well read in EAA ideas or professionally involved in the community).

3) A repository of resources for Effective Animal Advocacy community building

There are some key differences between animal advocacy and other cause areas that many EAs focus on, such as differences in demographics, movement growth trends and in the principal motivations of advocates to do good. These mean that specialised advice would be useful for local EA groups focusing on the cause area either partially or exclusively.

Currently, there is a lack of resources which are tailored specifically towards community-building focused on reducing animal suffering.

Until such time as a more comprehensive and suitable resource bank and website is created, BCTS will also partially fill this gap, through the posting of original resources for EAA community building created by its writers, and through its reviews of other resources.

Terminology used:

The term “Effective Animal Advocacy” (sometimes abbreviated to EAA) is used to describe this intersection of the animal rights/welfare/advocacy movements and the Effective Altruism movement (sometimes abbreviated to EA). If Effective Altruism is about working out how we can use our resources to help others the most and do the most good that we can, Effective Animal Advocacy is about targeting these ideas towards helping animals the most. You can join in discussion about EAA here!

The term “animal advocate” is used to refer to anyone who takes action to reduce animal suffering, be it in a full-time, professional capacity, through volunteering and activism, or simply through speaking up for animals regularly.

BCTS is used as an abbreviation for this blog – But Can They Suffer.

Note on overlap with other sites and blogs:

The Effective Altruism forum: BCTS serves as a space for posts and ideas which are too in-depth for Facebook, but not necessarily thoroughly researched enough, or are too early-stage to justify a space on the Effective Altruism forum. BCTS provides an opportunity for editing and feedback before posting, whereas the EA Forum is more independent. Those newer to the field might therefore find BCTS to be a better starting point. Furthermore, the EA forum is targeted at the entire EA community, whereas BCTS is targeted more at the intersection of Effective Altruism and animal rights/welfare/advocacy, so they have slightly different audiences.

Faunalytics: Faunalytics summarises thorough research and academic papers relating to Effective Animal Advocacy. The aim is to summarise, rather than to review. Faunalytics’ criteria for the works considered to be mostly academic in style means that the material that Faunalytics considers is more selective in this sense. On the other hand, BCTS focuses on sub-cause areas more highly priositised within the Effective Animal Advocacy movement, whereas Faunalytics considers other areas, such as companion animals. For information on why this matters, see here and here. BTCS’ editor also writes for Faunalytics in a voluntary capacity.

The Vegan Strategist: This blog is mostly similar in focus. The target audience for its posts tends to focus slightly more on the animal advocacy community more widely, as a form of outreach of Effective Altruism ideas, rather than focusing mostly on providing useful information and reflections for those already beginning to engage with the ideas of the Effective Animal Advocacy. Additionally, the blog is run by one man, Tobias Leenaert, whereas BCTS has a variety of contributors.

Get involved:

There are a variety of ways that you could get involved with But Can They Suffer. Potential roles include:

  1. Volunteer writer
  2. Communications manager
  3. A role in charge of a specific area of content.

For more info, see this here.

The editor:

My name is Jamie Harris and I am based in London, UK. I work full-time for Sentience Institute, but the views expressed on this blog are entirely my own (except for where noted that the post was written by someone else), rather than those of my employer. Any work that I’ve put into a post on this blog has been done in my own time, rather than on SI’s time.

If you would like to look into my background and professional commitments, see my LinkedIn profile here, or read my EAA “origin story” here.


Email: james_a_harris@hotmail.co.uk