Dietary change is seen as a way to reduce animal suffering, especially in factory farms, by reducing one’s consumption of animal products (Hurford 2013).
Besides its direct impact on food production, going vegetarian or vegan can also encourage others to make similar choices, and ultimately help change social norms (Tomasik 2006). For this reason, many members of the effective altruism community advocate a vegan or vegetarian diet, while some focus on reducing consumption of specific foods associated with most animal deaths or suffering (Galef 2011; Tomasik 2007).
However, other members of the community have argued that reducing or eliminating animal products has monetary, attentional, and productivity costs, and that, after accounting for these costs, dietary change may not be a cost-effective intervention for those concerned about animal welfare (Lewis 2015).
Galef, Julia (2011) Want to kill fewer animals? Give up eggs, Scientific American Guest Blog, August 11.
Argues that people concerned about animals should eschew eggs rather than meat or other animal products.
Hurford, Peter (2013) Why eat less meat?, Everyday Utilitarian, June 6.
A clear articulation of the case for eating fewer animal products.
Lewis, Gregory (2015) Don’t sweat diet?, Effective Altruism Forum, October 22.
An argument that dietary change is not an efficient way to reduce suffering.
Tomasik, Brian (2006) Does vegetarianism make a difference?, Essays on Reducing Suffering.
A discussion of how vegetarianism can have an impact on suffering.
Tomasik, Brian (2007) How much direct suffering is caused by various animal foods?, Essays on Reducing Suffering.
An analysis of the impact of the production of different foods.