Research review: Kelly Witwicki (2017) “Social Movement Lessons From the British Antislavery Movement” on Sentienceinstitute.org

Price: *****
Ease of use: *****
Value for EAA beginners: ***
Value for EAA pros: *****

Disclaimer: I will be working full time for Sentience Institute from the 1st of August.

Sentience Institute’s research is available here, and the report is available here.

I had previously summarised Kelly Witwicki’s British Antislavery study for Faunalytics here, so I thought I would just add it to the blog to keep the reviews in one place.

As I note in the section “uses of this study” on my summary for Faunalytics, “this report, and its implications, can be useful for all animal advocates.” I think the report is most useful for thinking about the tractability and best strategies for multiple different intervention types. It has the effect of making legislative change seem more tractable, and individual outreach seem less so.

Although the report is long, it is very easy to access. The key findings are listed at the start, and so if you are happy to trust Witwicki’s analysis, then reading through this section will only take a few mintues.

Relatedly, I think social movement studies are undervalued for evidence and insight into EAA issues. For one explanation of why it can be useful, see this post by Jacy Reese of Sentience Institute. I am aiming to make a post soon reviewing the social movement studies for Animal Charity Evaluators.

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Book Review: Erik Marcus (2005) Meat Market: Animals, Ethics, & Money (Bio Press: Boston, MA)

Price: *****
Ease of use: *****
Value for EAA beginners: ***
Value for EAA pros: **

This book is divided up into several different “parts” or sections, each of which fulfils quite a different function and would appeal to different readers.

  • The first part, “Animal Agriculture”, pages 1-60, covers the state of animal agriculture as it was in 2005, with some statistics in chapter 1, some descriptions of the suffering of various types of animal in chapter 2 and some suggestions for possible reforms in chapter 3. This will likely be a useful resource for newer advocates.
  • The second part of the book , “Dismantlement”, pages 61-126, analyses “the three existing movements for animal protection” – “the vegetarian movement”, “the animal rights movement” and “the animal welfare movement” – and suggests the creation of a fourth movement, to unite these various parts – “the dismantlement movement”. This is primarily a call for a shared proactive approach to helping farmed animals, including both institutional and individual outreach. The idea was proposed a while ago, and does not seem to have been taken up (a Google search revealed nothing obviously relevant, except a single reference back to the book itself), even if some elements of Marcus’ ideas are now fairly commonly held views in the EAA community. Nevertheless, some more experienced EAAs might be interested in the term as a potential driver of progress and unity within the movement. For instance, if we think that more consistent messaging is a priority for animal advocates, might this be the sort of term that they could unify behind?
  • The “Activist Essays”, pp. 136-178, summarise various intervention types, but some are outdated from an effectiveness perspective. For instance, the EAA community has shifted away from a focus on leafleting. They may, however, be useful for those seeking motivation – reading about the actions of others may inspire you to act too.
  • The appendices, pp. 179-232, focus on discussion of some issues related to the animal advocacy movement. These may be useful starting points for advocates, although there are a variety of free websites which address these issues equally well. Many animal advocacy non-profits cover such information in their “why” or “about” sections online. Additionally, some of the data may be a little dated now, though I only skim read these sections.

The book is therefore partially intended as a “go-to” introductory resource. It could still serve this function, but some content is outdated now. It is also partially intended as an argument in favour of specific suggestions for reforms to animal advocacy. This is primarily through the idea of the “dismantlement movement”, but contains some other core ideas, such as the note that individual outreach hasn’t been very successful to date, an emphasis on increasing the use of institutional outreach, and support for measures which might decrease trust in the animal agriculture industry, to pave the road for more radical reform at a later date. Some of the ideas are quite well-supported among more experienced EAAs, while others may prompt a little reflection.

As with the recently reviewed book by Ball and Friedrich, the book is notable for sharing some ideas which later became associated with the EA and EAA movements, despite being written before these movements were established. For example pp. 93-4 attempts some rough and ready charity evaluation (although it misses the EA focus on cause prioritisation), with quotes reminiscent of the story of the foundation of GiveWell: “donating is, after all, simply a form of investing – with the payback being social progress rather than money”. Pages 112-119 give some career advice similar to that of 80,000 Hours, including a focus on “dabbling” and career exploration.

At many points, the book touches on some of the key questions that face the EAA movement today. For instance, chapter 9 on “the militancy question” is similar to the confrontation vs nonconfrontation debate (and reflects a common EAA perspective), though it is more about use of illegal tactics compared to outreach.

The book starts by providing some useful statistics about the animal agriculture industry in the USA, but as a whole is based mostly off personal experiences and intuition. References to external research are few and far between after first two chapters. There is some reference to evidence from historical social movements on pages 81-82, though this is neither thorough nor well-explained, and as such is potentially more misleading than helpful.

The book is very easy to navigate, with a clear contents page, and is available very cheaply on Amazon. I think the title is misleading, as only a relatively small portion of the book focuses on the “meat market” or on the role of “money”. Discussion of “ethics” is also quite limited.

Event review: 50by40 Corporate Outreach Summit

Price: *****
Ease of use: ****
Value for EAA beginners: **
Value for EAA pros: *****

The 50by40 Corporate Outreach Summit in Berlin was a conference for those focused on corporate or institutional outreach to encourage greater provision of vegan food. It was organised jointly by ProVeg International and the Humane Society of the United States. “50by40” refers to the aim to reduce animal product consumption by 50% by 2040.

This review is intended to help animal advocates decide whether they’d like to attend the next conference, and reflect on the usefulness of such conferences in general. If you’re hoping for a concise summary of what was shared in the talks at the conference, you may find this article by Tobias Leenaert more helpful.

As Sebastian Joy explained in his speech, the conference was intended to provide “loose collaboration”, focusing on “shared goals”, rather than on “shared values”. This is an area that he believes there has been a gap for.

The talks

The weekend consisted of several days’ worth of talks. In comparison to EA Global, there was a greater emphasis on all attendees listening to each talk. There was no overlap, so I attended every talk. You can see the agenda here.

The talks were all filmed and so I am hoping that they will be put online soon. You can access the slides here.

All of the talks were extremely interesting, and some of them were extremely personally useful. Many of the talks on the first day overlapped in their content, since they mostly focused on institutional outreach, encouraging university caterers to increase their provision of vegan offerings. To this end, I think that slightly more specific briefs for the talks would have helped to make the day more productive for all. Nevertheless, the overlap was helpful in that it showed some clear consensus on some issues. For example, many of the speakers emphasised the importance of not only initial networking, but really building strong relationships with the clients (i.e. their advocacy targets). Whilst HSUS started by cold calling, they later built up strong relations with their clients, and emphasised the helpful offerings that they had. This was then followed up by offering to help their clients’ own connections. Several of the speakers emphasised the importance of clear planning and tailoring your research and message to the individual company’s needs. They also seemed to emphasise the importance of introducing vegan meals of high quality, to ensure that the change is liked and is lasting, with HSUS hiring chefs to advise their clients.

The following days were more varied. Hearing May Mei of Goal Blue (a Chinese environment NGO) speak made me more optimistic about the opportunities for international non-profits’ efforts in China, as long as good local partners were found. The talks that I was most excited by in the conference were Mahi Klosterhalfen’s talk on the work that he is doing for the Albert Schweizer Foundation, which includes creating a ranking of supermarkets on their vegan offerings, as well as Melanie Jaecques of Ethical Vegetarian Alternative talking about the research into veganism and supermarkets in Belgium. It was interesting to hear that the work of Albert Schweizer Foundation, GFI and Compassion In World Farming all involves various forms of rankings of their partners. This was seen as a useful way to encourage competition among companies to improve their vegan offerings, as well as to lead to useful conversations between the advocacy groups and the companies. One interesting avenue that I had never considered before was that raised by Pablo Moleman of ProVeg Netherlands, of working with the food industry to replace animal ingredients such as eggs or gelatine from their production. His estimate, from data received from one company, was that leaving out chicken eggs from a large vegetarian meat alternative company would save 260,000 animal lives per year, for example.

An additional benefit of the talks was hearing about the work going on in various countries. This included the huge success of Meatless Mondays in Brazil, and the passing of a law making caterers obliged to provide vegan meals for people upon request in Portugal, as well as the work of various organisations in Asia. Similarly it helped attendees to stay up to date with the current campaigns of more familiar organisations (I learned lots about ProVeg and HSUS that I didn’t previously know, for example), which will facilitate coordination and mutual support, as well as preventing overlap and duplication.

It would be good for future conferences to have greater opportunities for more focused talks (given the experienced audience), as well as for workshops, idea-sharing and discussion. Additionally, an input from researchers into the effectiveness of different intervention types would have been helpful to give a sense of overall strategy. The conference felt inclined more towards applause of all organisations’ previous efforts than to asking tough questions about how to prioritise different actions and time inputs, for example.

Networking and useful conversations

Due to the small size of the conference, it was incredibly easy to meet people with shared or similar experiences and role focus. This meant that it was easy to share ideas, reflections and tips. With 3 full days of talks (and their subsequent evenings), there was time to meet lots of individuals. There was no sense of pressure to make the conversations especially useful, although attendees mostly seemed quite determined to do this anyway, so there was a nice balance of both focused discussion and more informal, friendly conversation.

There was relatively little experimentation with methods of facilitating networking, beyond a task early in the conference where attendees were divided into small groups and played a game where they had to explain their values to each other. Although the values exercise felt a little forced, it was useful as an opportunity to meet some new people. Despite the relatively small size of the conference, I still only managed to speak to between one-third and one-half of the attendees, at a guess (although I might have been able to speak to more, had I been more determined).

It would have been helpful to have a list of attendees and their roles in advance, so that attendees could structure and plan their conversations and networking. I realised from my experience at EA Global that planning for such conversations can be helpful.

Value for money?

The conference was free to attend. Even if the price of accommodation and travel pushed the price of the conference into the hundreds, I personally think that the conference was better value for money than EA Global was for me, and certainly worth the cost (see my review of EAG for a discussion of why the price of conferences matters).

Book review: Marta Zaraska (2016) Meathooked (Basic Books: New York)

Price: ***
Ease of use: ****
Value for EAA beginners: **
Value for EAA pros: ***

Review author: Andrew Leeke

Meathooked tells the 1.5 billion year old story of our increasingly troubling relationship with meat. This entertaining narrative begins with bacteria engulfing one another and ends with an unsustainable addiction that threatens human health, the environment, and the well-being of billions of sentient animals. Predictions and potential solutions to the current crisis are sketched out towards the end.

As she follows our ancestors’ history of eating meat and the advantages it may have conferred, Zaraska discusses a number of ‘hooks’ which have kept us attached to meat to the present day. These hooks include biochemistry, the potential health and fitness benefits of eating meat, and the power of habit and tradition. The hooks present a considerable obstacle to overcoming our addiction to meat despite the growing evidence that our levels of consumption are not sustainable, and will continue to threaten us and our environment in the coming decades.

Most of the chapters analyse a particular hook in detail; others provide context to the struggling vegetarianism movement or the geopolitical factors that have defined our diets and will continue to do so in the future. The chapters are as follows:

  1. Enter Meat Eaters (emergence of multicellular life and predation);
  2. Big Brains, Small Guts, and the Politics of Meat (politics and sex as drivers of meat consumption);
  3. The Good, the Bad, and the Heme Iron (nutritional analysis of meat);
  4. The Chemistry of Love: Umami, Aromas, and Fat (why does meat taste so good?);
  5. Why Would Abramovich Taste Good? (how quality of meat is affected by treatment of the animal–’Abramovich’ is a pampered ‘Kobe-style’ cow);
  6. Wagging the Dog of Demand (influence of the meat industry and marketing);
  7. Eating Symbols (importance of symbolism e.g. power over nature);
  8. The Half-Crazed, Sour-Visaged Infidels, or Why Vegetarianism Failed in the Past (vegetarianism’s association with radicalism);
  9. Why Giving up Meat May Be Harder for Some of Us (individual genetic differences in meat addiction);
  10. Dog Skewers, Beef Burgers, and Other Weird Meats (economic and religious reasons why different cultures have avoided certain meats);
  11. The Pink Revolution, or How Asia Is Getting Hooked on Meat, Fast (growing appetite for meat in developing nations); and
  12. The Future of Our Meat-Based Diets (clean meat, plant-based meat, and insects).

The chapters are written in an accessible style and combine present-day investigative journalism with socio-historical commentary. Relevant concepts, like checkoffs and lobbying, are explained clearly whenever introduced.

Zaraska wrote Meathooked because she was unsatisfied with the reasons people provide for eating meat in the face of huge health, environmental, and ethical costs. Her investigation into why humans love eating meat begins with two questions: a) is it an addiction?, and b) are we ever going to cut down meat consumption? While Zaraska provides explicit and thorough dissections of each so-called ‘hook’, the questions above remain only implicitly answered: a) maybe, and b) probably. However, we are only in a position to accelerate the ‘nutrition transition’ ahead by acknowledging the power of tradition, taste, and symbolism.

The book does not attempt to shock readers with the health effects of meat or the suffering of farm animals, but instead provides insights into what keeps us hooked on meat that can be appreciated by a number of audiences. Meat-eaters can acknowledge what drives their appetites and the influence of meat on their behaviour. Meat-reducers will realise why reducing meat is difficult and what they can do about it (it’s hard to quit something if you don’t know why you crave it). Vegans will understand why most people don’t follow their behaviours. I suspect that meat-reducers or aspiring vegans will get the most out of this book–but all audiences will be encouraged to make conscious decisions about their meat intake, rather than adhere to cultural or genetic scripts and government guidelines.

The hooks discussed in this book provide vital background material to the current debate surrounding meat alternatives: namely, how much should animal welfare advocates pursue investment in, and promotion of, clean meat as an effective strategy to reduce animal suffering? Meathooked demonstrates that there are a) many barriers to a vegetarian/vegan world, of which b) many are difficult to overcome, and c) may be impossible to overcome in a desirable time-frame. Unfortunately, Zaraska provides no high-level overview of which hooks are likely to be the hardest to overcome, or whether removing one hook may have a cascade effect on the others. Clean meat sidesteps the issue of ‘unhooking’ almost entirely–provided that we can still enjoy the taste and texture of meat without harming billions of farm animals, the most effective solution may simply be to remain hooked. The environmental and ethical objections to the meat industry will dissolve. However, in the interests of human health, there is still work to be done on reducing the amount of meat eaten, clean or otherwise.

The book therefore provides strong evidence that veganism and vegetarianism are not plausible solutions to the problem of factory farmed animals. The alternatives on offer are clean meat, plant-based meat, and insects. However, Zaraska fails to explicitly differentiate the potential of each, and the reader is encouraged to consider the most promising strategy on the basis of minimal comparative insight. Personally, given all of the information that Zaraska discusses in the preceding chapters, I believe that clean meat must be the solution to this crisis. I found this book particularly useful for understanding why vegetarian movements of the past have had such little success and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the future of the human diet.

At £18 from Amazon (in the UK), the book is quite expensive, though is cheaper in Kindle and 2nd hand formats.

 

Workshop: Introduction to Effective Animal Advocacy

I created these resources with the intention that other Effective Altruism / Effective Animal Advocacy local groups could use them to run their own workshops, as well as using them myself.

The “cause prioritisation cards”, combined with the powerpoint, are themselves useful for those new to Effective Animal Advocacy to read through and use.

Download the full set of resources here.

(Outdated post) Call to action: Make sure that the UK government protects animal sentience through the law!

NOTE: this post is now out of date (essentially, the government responded to pressure from individuals like you! Well done!) – see this newer post for the more recent developments.

If you are short of time (and UK-based), just complete this one action!

Tell your local MP to make sure that animal sentience is protected in a meaningful way after Brexit!

You can use the following tool and my suggested message template below to do so. Make sure that you select your MP, rather than local councillors.

I will start with the actions which can currently be taken, for the time-constrained, but detail my thoughts and reasons below, for those who are interested.

 

Useful actions which can currently be taken

At the moment, there are 4 different types of actions that can be undertaken by the public to make it more likely that animal sentience will be included in EU Withdrawal Bill. These are mostly limited to UK residents.

1. Lobbying MPs and the government to make sure that animal sentience is protected in a meaningful way after Brexit, however that might be.

 

First action:

Tell your local MP to make sure that animal sentience is protected in a meaningful way after Brexit! You can use the following tool to do so, but make sure that you select your MP, rather than local councillors.

I recommend that you base your communications on this suggested letter template, but that you take some time to personalise the message (this will make them read it more thoroughly):

Letter or email template:

Dear [YOUR MP’s NAME],

I am writing to you to ask that you speak up to ensure that animal sentience is protected in a meaningful way after Brexit.

Conservative and DUP MPs rejected Caroline Lucas’ amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill, which would have required that, “since animals are sentient beings” the UK would “pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals”.

I recognise that this forms part of a wider debate around Brexit, but the interests of animals must not be ignored.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 “makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animal”, but this does not apply to farmed animals in practice. Since these animals, as much as our beloved pets, are sentient beings, they also need to be protected from “unnecessary suffering”. Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty has done this to some extent so far.

Please speak to your colleagues about this issue, so that we can ensure that animal sentience is protected in a meaningful way after Brexit, however that might be. It is absolutely crucial – for the sake of millions of animals, who cannot speak for themselves – that the government makes a firm commitment on how it will address this issue.

Yours sincerely,

[YOUR NAME]

Second action: Tweet @michaelgove and/or @DavidDavisMP, asking them to make sure that animal sentience is protected in a meaningful way after Brexit!

Twitter template:

@MichaelGove Brexit is a complicated issue, but the interests of animals must not be ignored. The government needs to make a firm commitment on how it will ensure that animal sentience is protected in a meaningful way after Brexit!

2. Writing letters to the editors of newspapers or other news outlet, so that they are then published in debate or readers contributions sections.

In some sense, this may help to apply public pressure and make it more likely that politicians will feel that there is significant public demand for change (if they read the editorials, or if word indirectly reaches them).

More directly, however, this is just good opportunity to get people to discuss animal issues in a positive manner and make people think more about animals as sentient beings. The rejection of the amendments makes the issue topical. To make your letter even more up-to-date, and therefore more likely to be published, you could refer to recent developments, such as the creation of the demonstration scheduled for 5th December, or any minor updates that may occur as a result of further debate in the House of Commons.

There are many good places to get tips on how to write letters to editors effectively. One good source for this is written by Tobias Leenaert, here.

3. Tell people about the issues, and encourage them to take the actions above! This might be on social media, but person-to-person conversations are probably more likely to result in people taking action.

4. OPTIONAL: Although it is a complicated issue, some groups are advocating simply transferring Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty over to UK law, through the EU Withdrawal Bill. If you are interested in finding out where you stand on this issue, you may like to read some of the information below.

First action: Sign the two online petitions which have been created, encouraging Article 13 from the Lisbon Treaty to be carried over into UK law, as the upcoming parliamentary amendments suggest.

First petition second petition

 

Second action (open to international supporters): sign Compassion In World Farming’s petition to Michael Gove, here. 

Third action: email David Davis MP, Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU and Lesley Griffiths AM, Welsh Government to ensure animal welfare is not left behind. You can use the RSPCA’s email tool and template here.

 

Note that in the background, animal rights activists will also be working to create a clearer, unified set of demands to the government.

Some will also be working lobby the members of the House of Lords, to ensure their support when the EU Withdrawal Bill reaches them. In the near future, I will update this post with some further tips about how to contact peers (in the House of Lords) to build support there, if needs be. If you want to get proactive on this issue too, then you can use this list to contact them.

 

The details of what has happened

On the 15th November, MPs voted to reject the inclusion of a clause that would transfer the recognition of animal sentience into UK law after Brexit.

Animal Sentience was already set out in Article 13 of Title II of the Lisbon Treaty. It reads:

“In formulating and implementing the Union’s agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies, the Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals, while respecting the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of the Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage.”

An amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill was proposed by Caroline Lucas of the Green Party to include this.

“EU Protocol on animal sentience”, “obligations and rights contained within the EU Protocol on animal sentience set out in Article 13 of Title II of the Lisbon Treaty shall be recognised and available in domestic law on and after exit day, and shall be enforced and followed accordingly.”

The New Clause was rejected with an 18 majority for the Government. 313 against, 295 in favour.

The list of those voting for and against can be seen here.

 

Why the original amendment failed

It seems that government’s main argument is that this is already covered by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 “makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animal”, but this does not apply to farmed animals in practice. Since these animals, as much as our beloved pets, are sentient beings, they also need to be protected from “unnecessary suffering”. Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty has done this to some extent so far.

Oliver Letwin (a Conservative MP) noted that Michael Gove was planning to introduce new environmental legislation at some point, suggesting that this might be a better place for the suggestions of some of the amendments than the EU Withdrawal Bill. There are, however, no current guarantees that this would happen, or that it would include animal sentience.

All the Conservative and DUP MPs present voted against all the amendments proposed (while all opposition MPs present voted against), so I suspect it was just a whip issue to speed it up through parliament and avoid criticism of the withdrawal bill as a whole, which might have damaged Brexit negotiations.

 

There is still hope

There are three separate routes through which animal sentience might still be protected.

  1. Firstly, there are two other amendments to the bill which seek to protect animals’ sentience, and are yet to be voted on, so MPs can still have an impact:

Amendment 350, put forward by Labour: This is set to be voted on either December 12th or 19th, although this is not guaranteed and the date could change (I’m currently waiting to find out how to keep an eye on this).

New Clause 28, put forward by MP Kerry McCarthy (Labour): Overall, “this new clause ensures that public authorities carrying out their duties arising by virtue of this act, must have regard to environmental principles currently enshrined in EU law.” Importantly, however, the new clause reiterates the exact wording for Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty.

These two issues are set to be voted on either December 12th or 19th, although this is not guaranteed and the date could change.

MPs could therefore still be lobbied or persuaded to encourage support for these amendments.

 

  1. Alternatively there is still time for a government amendment to be introduced, and this would have more chance of gaining wider support, and passing through the House of Commons.

As a minister at DEFRA, Michael Gove also has the ability to table a government-backed amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. Previously, when asked, in the Commons in July, if Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty would be included, Mr Gove told MPs: “Absolutely.” He added: “It is an absolutely vital commitment that we have to ensure that all creation is maintained, enhanced and protected.” (This quote was reported in an article by the Independent here.)

Gove may therefore be susceptible to pressure to introduce an amendment.

David Davis MP, as the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, may also be susceptible to pressure.

MPs could also be lobbied or persuaded to encourage support for these amendments.

 

  1. When the EU Withdrawal Bill goes to the House of Lords, there is another opportunity to make sure animal sentience continues to be recognised in the UK.

The House of Lords will not have the same political split and enforcement of voting by the party whips which clearly led to the government rejecting the initial amendment. This seems likely to have been the case, since all Conservatives present (except Ken Clarke) voted against the amendment, and since all the amendments in the session were rejected by a similar margin.

Peers are not subject to public pressure like MPs, since they are not directly elected. This makes them harder to lobby. Lobbying peers will therefore likely need to be conducted sensitively by pressure groups with insider knowledge (such as the RSPCA, Compassion in World Farming) and through All Party Parliamentary Groups (there is a list here of all APPGs, including one on animal welfare)

 

  1. Rather than bring across Article 13 from the Lisbon Treaty, the Animal Welfare Act could be improved, so that animal sentience of all animals (farmed and wild, as well as domestic) could be protected.

This could actually be far more meaningful a protection for animals than Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty is. This would avoid the partisan issues of trying to sabotage the Brexit process.

The key message here is that even if Article 13 is not brought into UK law, the issue of animals’ sentience – and their protection – cannot be sidelined.

MPs could therefore still be lobbied or persuaded to encourage a firm commitment by the government to introduce meaningful legislation to protect animals.

As the relevant government ministers, Michael Gove and David Davis could be pressured to introduce meaningful legislation to protect animals.

 

  1. Entirely new legislation could be created, most likely through some sort of environment bill.

This would likely have the same effects as altering the Animal Welfare Act.

 

There is also some precedent to suggest that the government – or Parliament – may be susceptible to public pressure. One example is the change over National insurance. This was set to rise in the last Conservative budget. Concerns were raised that it would squeeze the self-employed and public pressure helped to encourage its abandonment.

There have also been other examples of government U-turns. For one list of examples, see this article.

Accordingly, please follow as many of the actions listed above as you have time to complete!

 

What will be best for animals going forward?

It is unclear whether Article 13 is in itself the best legislation for protecting animals.

Caroline Lucas says it has informed further EU law since it’s passing: “The resulting protocol, which came into force in 1999, changed how animals were regarded and ensured that future EU legislation was not implemented on the basis of the lowest standards of animal welfare, but that it took animal sentience into account. That understanding ​has since informed more than 20 pieces of EU law on animal welfare, including the ban on sealskin imports, the ban on conventional battery cages and the ban on cosmetics testing on animals.”

In contrast, Luke Steele, Campaign Strategist at PETA UK, writes: “Foie gras, fur farming, bull fighting and live exports are just some of the plainly obvious abuses of animals which the European Union allows to be exempt from the Lisbon Treaty, the international agreement which recognises animals as sentient. Not only does permitting the most indefensible cruelties to be inflicted on animals betray the very notion of sentience, but it also shows how downright ineffective the agreement is. Lip-service legislation does nothing in practical terms to enhance the lives of animals.” He suggests, therefore, that a complete change of legislation would be preferable.

Furthermore, the issue is hugely complicated by wider debate around Brexit. The fact that Lucas’ amendment was voted for by all opposition MPs present, and rejected by all government MPs present, reflects that the issue has been subsumed into a wider debate.

Many (probably most) MPs and members of the government do believe in animal sentience. Indeed, there are Conservatives on the All Party Parliamentary Groups for animal welfare and for vegetarianism/veganism. This further suggests that the disagreement is more about technicalities and wider political disagreement than it is about a conflict over animal sentience.

In support of this point, here is (an extract from) a reply that one Conservative MP wrote to one of their constituents: “There is no question that animals have feelings – the fact that they do is self-evident and undeniable. We voted against an unnecessary amendment that would do more harm than good in creating legal confusion around an already adequate piece of legislation.”

Nevertheless, the government must be persuaded to act; we cannot allow the animal sentience issue and the protection of animals to be side-lined by a wider political dispute.

The government is therefore probably more susceptible to general public pressure that the government must act in a meaningful way to protect animals after Brexit, than it is susceptible to public pressure to support specific amendments.

Meanwhile, animal advocacy organisations will be working towards creating a more unified set of asks to the government.