Compassion, by the Pound: The Economics of Farm Animal Welfare

Category: Humanities
Author: F. Bailey Norwood, Jayson L. Lusk
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by ceras   2018-12-10
Before adopting this approach, please be aware that chicken has substantially higher animal welfare costs than beef -- likely by orders of magnitude. This makes the calculus more complex, such that if you're sympathetic to animal welfare you may very well reverse the recommendation[0]. The safest recommendations are plant-based alternatives (e.g. Beyond Burger) or fueling cell-based meat research.

A good book on how various animals are treated is Compassion by the Pound[1], authored by agricultural economists. The short of it is that chickens bred for meat are treated very poorly throughout their lives, whereas beef cows are treated reasonably well (with the possible exception of slaughter). Not only that, but you also have to raise far more chickens per pound of meat compared to cows as they're so much smaller, amplifying the effect. It's a far more extreme difference compared than the environmental impact differences.

[0] Some animal welfare activists do so explicitly, whereas others do so implicitly by strictly focusing on chickens. Latter examples are 88% Campaign ( and One Step for Animals ( [1]