The thrust of my view is summarized in one of my replies on an earlier thread:
A number of people have suggested New Harvest, and I agree that it's a solid organization. My primary concern is that, as I suggested in the main post, I fear vegetarianism could -- depending on the balance of suffering in nature and the animal-population impacts of climate change -- cause more animal suffering than it averts. The main reason I favor Vegan Outreach and The Humane League is actually not the direct reductions in meat consumption that they effect (whose net animal-suffering impact is, I fear, ambiguous to me), but the long-term ideological concern for animal suffering in general that they help to build among the public. The latter might, I hope, eventually translate into concern for wild animals. In contrast, the technological fix that New Harvest would facilitate produces comparatively less ideological meme propagation. (An exception is if you think that a significant amount of the resistance to giving animals ethical consideration is the fact that people don't want to give up eating them. A technological fix might allow people to realize the barbarity of their previous attitudes toward factory-farmed livestock, similarly to the way in which the industrial revolution made it easier for people to see the barbarity of slavery.)
"Why I Donate to Vegan Outreach" elaborates on my support for, and reservations about, Vegan Outreach's work.
I think donations to an organization explicitly working to promote concern for wild-animal suffering for futuristic reasons would likely be better than Vegan Outreach, assuming that the organization was effectual. However, for company-matching purposes, I can only donate to a US 501(c)(3) organization, and I'm not confident that donations to another organization would be twice as cost-effective as giving to VO. I would love to see a US-based charity focusing entirely on suffering in nature. I may start one myself in 5-10 years if no one beats me to it.
I also like the idea of researching and promoting humane insecticides, both for its direct impact but also as a vehicle to cultivate sentiments toward insects. Preaching about the "mother nature's child abuse" (to paraphrase Nick Bostrom) may sometimes lead to apathy when people feel that they can't do anything about the situation in the near term. Humane insecticides can be worked on now and so could channel that discontentment. I think this is one reason vegetarianism is so effective: People can feel like they're doing something about the problem, not just learning about it. And often, our beliefs follow our actions, rather than preceding them, so acting to reduce animal suffering is a good way to shore up concern for animals.
What do others think? In particular, let's separate a few questions:
- Which of VO vs. NH is more cost-effective at reducing factory-farmed suffering?
- I'm not sure. NH may have higher expected value in the long term. However, one of the best ways to promote in-vitro meat is to create new vegetarians who can popularize it (as Vegan Outreach does). VO is one of NH's biggest supporters.
- Which of VO vs. NH is more effective at raising concern for wild animals?
- I think VO almost certainly wins here, but I'd be glad to hear arguments otherwise.
- What other relevant considerations should bear on the decision?