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zdgroff comments on Why EA events should be (at least) vegetarian - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: zdgroff 13 November 2015 10:24:12PM 2 points [-]

1) I think freegan consumption actually would be very different. You're not paying for the torture and killing. Knowing that would make it far less salient I would think. Plus, the whole reason it harms camaraderie is that we don't believe it's Pareto-improving since the norm of offsetting seems less sticky.

2) I don't really think belief in animal consciousness shows that people are thinking rationally. It's a pretty low and trivial bar.

Regarding the offsetting norm, do you have evidence that offsets have traveled further than avoiding carbon-intensive technology? I know many people who bike, use public transit, live in an urban area, etc. much of which is to some degree driven by the carbon emissions of cars. I can't think of anyone off the top of my head who uses offsets.

It would be great - and far preferable in my view - for Whole Foods to do this offset system instead of 'humane' meat (someone should propose this to them actually), but I would definitely prefer that they stop selling meat entirely. I can't imagine the offsets option would have as strong a normative effect as that.

Comment author: Carl_Shulman 13 November 2015 10:35:44PM *  1 point [-]

I was thinking of 'green power' purchase programs and airline offsets as well as things like carbon-neutral data centers using credits. And contrasting that to boycotts rather than marginal reductions. [There's also a huge involuntary credit market, of course, which is more clearly larger than the voluntary responses but isn't directly comparable].

I can't imagine the offsets option would have as strong a normative effect as that.

There is a normative effect of doing offsets in getting others to do offsets. If each player doing offsets has more effect than each player changing its own production/consumption, then that can be a win. And the offset charities presumably have normative effects. Would Whole Foods going back to being vegetarian do more than $20MM or $100MM to the most effective animal charities?

Comment author: zdgroff 13 November 2015 10:49:29PM 2 points [-]

Yes, I can't imagine an effective animal charity doing as much good as Whole Foods going back to being vegetarian.

Regarding the normative effects of offsets charities, I think the cost effectiveness figures are far too optimistic here (the most reasonable ones apply to corporate outreach, which I think has the smallest spillovers). I don't see a case for the effectiveness of a donation outweighing the increased contagiousness of a dietary norm.

Comment author: Carl_Shulman 13 November 2015 11:00:09PM *  2 points [-]

I don't see a case for the effectiveness of a donation outweighing the increased contagiousness of a dietary norm.

How much do you think it costs to get 3 people to adopt the dietary norm (with associated follow-on effects)?

And what do you think of the prospects for things like meat substitute R&D, cultured meat/eggs or this chicken-sexing technology?