Meat-eater problem

TagLast edit: 19 May 2021 13:46 UTC by Pablo

The meat-eater problem (sometimes called the poor meat-eater problem) is the concern that some interventions aimed at helping humans might increase animal product consumption and as a result increase farmed animal suffering, e.g. by increasing real income or human population.

Further details

Saving human lives, and making humans more prosperous, seem to be obviously good in terms of direct effects. However, humans consume animal products, and these animal products may cause considerable animal suffering. Therefore, improving human lives may lead to negative effects that outweigh the direct positive effects. This “meat eater problem” suggests that working on global poverty may be less effective than is commonly assumed.

Although it is very difficult to quantify these effects, one estimate suggests that each additional $1,000 per year for a relatively poor individual may cause between 1 and 190 days of animal suffering, though the estimate should not be taken literally (Bogossian 2015). Some have argued that the problem is less significant by claiming that animals have net positive lives, or by arguing that the effect on consumption is relatively small (Weathers 2016).


Bogosian, Kyle (2015) Quantifying the impact of economic growth on meat consumption, Effective Altruism Forum, December 22.
Is an attempt to quantify the effects of increasing income on consumption of animal products.

Holness-Tofts, Alex (2020) Poor meat eater problem, Effective Altruism Forum, July 10.

Östman, Jesper (2009) The poor meat eater problem, Felicifia, October 26.

Shulman, Carl (2015) Comment on “What is the expected effect of poverty alleviation efforts on existential risk?”, Effective Altruism Forum, October 2.

Weathers, Scott (2016) The meat eater problem: developing an EA response, Effective Altruism Forum, February 29.
Argues that the meat eater problem may be less significant than it seems.

Related entries

cause prioritization | economic growth | farmed animal welfare

[Question] EA to­wards hu­mans = effec­tive vi­o­lence to­wards farm an­i­mals?

Nicolas_Feil3 Dec 2020 17:22 UTC
7 points
6 comments1 min readEA link

Hedg­ing against deep and moral uncertainty

MichaelStJules12 Sep 2020 23:44 UTC
43 points
10 comments9 min readEA link

Poor meat eater problem

Alex HT10 Jul 2020 8:13 UTC
23 points
1 comment1 min readEA link

Con­se­quences of an­i­mal product con­sump­tion (com­bined model)

kbog15 Jun 2019 14:46 UTC
17 points
10 comments2 min readEA link

Rea­sons to eat meat

kbog21 Apr 2019 20:37 UTC
34 points
42 comments3 min readEA link

kbog did an oop­sie! (new meat eater prob­lem num­bers)

kbog15 Feb 2019 15:17 UTC
26 points
8 comments2 min readEA link

Causal Net­work Model III: Findings

Alex_Barry22 Nov 2017 15:43 UTC
7 points
4 commentsEA link

The Poor Meat In­vestor Problem

zdgroff21 Apr 2016 21:17 UTC
11 points
14 commentsEA link

Quan­tify­ing the Im­pact of Eco­nomic Growth on Meat Consumption

kbog22 Dec 2015 11:30 UTC
23 points
38 comments4 min readEA link