Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of agriculture do you support? How does industrial agriculture fit into the solutions you promote?
We support an agricultural system that protects and uplifts the wellbeing of animals, people and the environment. Modern industrial agriculture in the United States maximizes cost efficiency in supply chains and produces a disproportionate amount of profit for large, corporate interests at the expense of people, animals, and natural systems. Industrial agriculture has also created a strong linkage between animal feed grown in industrial monoculture and the exploitation of farmed animals in confinement. Addressing environmental concerns and increasing the wellbeing of animals in the food system will require reducing livestock populations and changing how we raise and care for animals. Replacing industrial agriculture with kinder and more sustainable methods of farming is an important way to move closer to the food future we hope to see.
Do you seek less animal agriculture, or better animal agriculture?
We consider both to be important. Less reliance on animal products and a shift toward higher-welfare animal agriculture are both effective ways to reduce animal suffering and contribute to a more sustainable food system. Reducing consumption of all animal products withdraws support for the exploitation of animals in our current industrial food system. Choosing plant-based alternatives and investing in the transition toward more compassionate and sustainable animal agriculture are equally important steps toward food systems change.
Is animal agriculture always damaging to natural environments?
The character of animal agriculture can vary enormously from one context to another. There are many details that shape what animals are raised where, in what conditions, and how they live their lives. Under the right circumstances, animals can be raised with high welfare standards, in small numbers, such that their activities do not cause significant environmental impacts. In some cases, the presence of animals may even help to improve the local agricultural environment, closing nutrient gaps in agricultural systems, and supporting the health of soil and grassland communities. Although some producers are making important contributions toward better practices, the vast majority—as many as 99%—of farmed animals in the US are raised in exploitative industrial conditions that fall far short of this ideal state.
Do you also focus on the welfare of aquatic farmed animals?
We recognize that animals confined for the production of food may be terrestrial or aquatic. We believe that important animal welfare and environmental sustainability concerns exist in both contexts. Our goal is to bring about a just and sustainable transition within the full food system, including increasing the welfare of aquatic animals used or impacted by food production.
What scale of impact do you hope to have through the programs you support?
Each funding decision is different. We focus primarily on the US food system, making our individual funding decisions based strategically on where we believe we can make the greatest difference for systemic change. It is our hope that the organizations and projects we support will ultimately create long-term change larger than the sum of their individual efforts, and beyond our borders, by enabling a broader food system transformation for the benefit of animals, environments, and farming communities.
Over what timescale do you seek to change the food system?
We cultivate a long view. The equitable, sustainable, and compassionate future that we seek requires many changes in how our food system engages with people, animals, and environments—changes that will not happen overnight. They will happen more quickly with effective strategic thinking, a movement that is both broad and deep, and strong alliances between committed collaborators.
Do our consumer choices make a difference for changing the food system?
Yes, they do! While it’s true that many of the most pressing problems in the US food system today are the result of structural problems much larger than one person or community, this does not mean that individual choice is unimportant. Many large-scale systemic changes actually depend on support from consumers. For example, shifting the US food system to be more sustainable and more equitable will require changing the underlying policies and business decisions that keep the old system in place. But for a new system to be viable, individual consumers will need to participate in the change by choosing products that contribute to sustainability and equity. Choosing plant-based and higher-welfare products whenever we can afford them—and whenever they are available—grows the market for alternatives and contributes to transforming the food system.
Do you promote veganism? What about vegetarianism, “reducetarian” lifestyles, or consuming animal products that are more humanely raised?
We believe that leading a vegan diet and lifestyle that completely removes animal products and animal suffering from all aspects of life is one way to make a significant positive impact for animals in the food system. However, it is also important that our food choices contribute to increasing equity, human wellbeing, and environmental sustainability. There are many ways to contribute to the food system transition we support. These include reducing—as much as possible—consumption of industrial animal products, increasing consumption of plant-based foods, supporting sustainable agriculture, and supporting food products and businesses that protect the rights and dignity of animals and people.
Do you advocate replacing the most harmful animal products in our diets with increased consumption of less harmful animal products?
There are important qualitative differences between industrial animal production and kinder, more sustainable alternatives, and consumer decisions can play a role in promoting improved practices. However, while the negative environmental impacts of certain animal products such as industrial beef and dairy are well-publicized, there are equally significant environmental and welfare concerns with “substitute” industries such as chicken and fish that are less widely discussed. These include serious greenhouse gas emissions, local pollution, animal cruelty, economic damage to farming communities, and injustice for workers. We seek to avoid replacing one form of injustice with another. For this reason, we put our support behind solutions that offer systemic benefits for food systems change, rather than promoting the substitution of certain animal products for others.
What do you mean by “healthy food”? Do the solutions you support consider human dietary health?
Food is highly individual and invested with deep cultural values. We define healthy food as food which provides sufficient and adequate nourishment for the body, as well as supporting a range of intangible values including community wellbeing, personal empowerment, and cultural expression.
Are you willing to fund or collaborate with other groups that see food system change differently?
Transforming the industrial food system is a large task. Taking on industrial animal agriculture means we will need as many allies, from as many perspectives, as we can find. We are willing to collaborate with organizations that share a vision of a just, compassionate, and sustainable food system, while respecting differences of approach.
Do the activities that you fund contribute to environmental protection and climate resilience?
Our vision for a just and sustainable food system includes clean land, water, and air. We seek to avoid solutions that improve the wellbeing of animals and people at the expense of natural ecosystems. Instead, we prioritize projects that bring transformative change for animals, environments, and communities, while positioning the food system to be a positive factor in addressing the risks posed by climate change. Current production and consumption of industrial meat and feed crops drives climate change and causes serious damage to local environments and communities. The best alternatives to industrial agriculture are those that avoid tradeoffs between animal welfare, community wellbeing, and environmental outcomes.
Do the solutions you promote confront the pressures of systemic injustice and inequality (class, race, ethnicity) within our food system and our society? Do you prioritize workers’ rights?
Our vision is for a food system rooted in dignity—including dignity for food producers and food chain workers of all backgrounds. We strive to replace today’s industrial food production with an equitable, anti-racist agricultural system that fights institutional bias and ensures the rights and wellbeing of farmers, farmworkers, and food processing employees. We prioritize funding food system interventions that dismantle race and class disparities and support dependable and dignified employment for food chain workers and farming communities.
You advocate for reduction of livestock numbers, and significant changes in how farm animals are raised. What about rural economies and farmers’ incomes? Do the solutions you promote provide economic opportunity in farming communities?
Reducing the number of animals raised in our food system and favoring environmentally sustainable high-welfare forms of animal husbandry are key parts of transitioning to a better food system. However, our vision of a dignified food system is integrally connected to the wellbeing of farming communities and food producers. We do not aim to remove livelihoods or dictate farming practices. Rather, we seek to replace the current industrial agricultural system and its reliance on animal confinement and exploitative production contracts with a food future in which farming communities are empowered to freely choose among kinder and more sustainable alternatives.