Lingxi is a joint J.D. student at Yale Law School and philosophy Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan. She is currently a student fellow in the Yale Law, Ethics, and Animals Program and has worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council and local and state governments in California on environmental litigation and climate policy. Lingxi graduated from Dartmouth College in 2014 with a B.A. in philosophy. Her work lies at the intersection of moral psychology, environmental and energy ethics, and climate change policy. Lingxi is currently researching how urban land use strategies can be used in rural areas to expand regenerative agriculture, and the relative normative value of human density versus species density and biodiversity. She thinks that philosophers can play a unique role in synthesizing theory and empirical findings from different disciplines to help adapt organisms to the changing climate.
"Is Meat the New Tobacco?"
Why should policymakers care about reducing meat consumption? Meat reduction has two key advantages compared with conventional demand-side energy policy, which has focused on getting consumers to buy more efficient machines and fuels. First, food consumption is physiologically constrained, thus eating more energy-efficient foods like plant-based proteins avoids unintended consequences of buying more efficient machines, like higher overall energy consumption. Second, social norms about food choice are malleable because eating, like smoking, is highly socially visible. Place-based bans and information regulation were essential in lowering the prevalence of smoking in the 1970s. The same strategies may be even more effective in reducing meat demand. Several policy reforms can be implemented at the federal level, from reform of food marketing schemes to publicly subsidized meal programs.
Sydney is a doctoral candidate in Clinical Psychology at the University at Albany, SUNY. Her research currently focuses on the motivations for meat consumption and restriction, as well as the interplay between vegetarianism and eating disorders. Her past work includes identifying childhood companion animals as a precursor to animal product restriction in adulthood, dispelling common assumptions regarding the relationship between veganism and eating disorders, and validating common eating-related scales for a vegan population. Sydney has a particular interest in continuing empirical research in interventions aimed at decreasing suffering of small-bodied animals and applying clinical behavior change models to encourage veganism. Prior to her graduate training, Sydney worked at a farmed animal sanctuary and cooked professionally at a variety of vegan eateries throughout the tri-state area. She now spends her free time reading science fiction comic books with her wonderful rescue dog, Rabaroo.
"The Moralization of Food Choice in Vegetarians"
Individuals are motivated to adhere to vegetarian diets by a host of reasons. Presently, little is known about the way in which adoption of these diets for motivations other than animal rights or welfare relates to attitudes towards animals. This paper aims to understand how primary motivations for dietary adherence change over time and to develop an understanding of how non-animal motives impact speciesist attitudes. We sought to answer these questions with a cross-sectional design and combined sample of vegetarians (n = 244) and omnivores (n = 116) by assessing retrospectively reported changes in motivation to adhere to vegetarianism, attitudes towards animals quantified using the Animal Rights Scale (ARS), and general and meat-specific disgust sensitivity. Regardless of initial or current motivation, vegetarians endorsed more positive attitudes towards animals and found eating meat, preparing meat, and farmed animal treatment significantly more disgusting than omnivores, with no between-group differences in general disgust. Vegetarians tended to adopt animal-related motivations over time and more frequently endorsed switching from non-animal to animal motivations, rather than the reverse (50% vs. 13%). Findings suggest that the adoption of meat restricting behavior positively impacts anti-speciesist attitudes. I should note— 1. Please feel free to change my bio/abstract should you prefer not to include certain pieces (e.g., that my dog is wonderful), and 2. Based on reviewer comments, the submitted paper has evolved a bit since I last sent it over; I’m not entirely sure if it’s too late to change but we have renamed it “Vegetarianism facilitates anti-speciesist attitudes regardless of motivation for diet”
Natalie Rubio and Kyle Fish
Natalie R. Rubio received her B.S. Chemical & Biological Engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2015 and is currently a PhD candidate and New Harvest Research Fellow at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. Natalie studies cellular agriculture; the production of animal products through biotechnology rather than animal husbandry. During her undergraduate career, Natalie worked with the non-profit New Harvest (an international organization founded in 2004 to accelerate developments in cellular agriculture) in Toronto, Canada and the start-up Perfect Day Foods (a food biotechnology company making animal-free dairy) in Cork, Ireland. After graduation, Natalie worked for the start-up Quartzy (a laboratory management software company) in Palo Alto, California before starting graduate school with a New Harvest Cultured Tissue Fellowship at Tufts University in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, co-advised by Dr. David Kaplan and Dr. Barry Trimmer. She is currently in the 4th year of her PhD program and her research interests are focused on invertebrate (i.e., insect) tissue engineering for cultured meat applications. Natalie is motivated by the urgency to alleviate animal welfare concerns, climate change and biodiversity loss.
Kyle is a PhD candidate at Tufts University, where he works on technology development for cellular agriculture in the lab of David Kaplan. His main focus is production of cell-cultured meats through bioengineering. Prior to working on food innovation, Kyle studied neurodevelopment at Azusa Pacific University and coordinated global health programs in Guatemala. More recently, he worked with the Good Food Institute to build an international network of scientists and engineers with expertise in animal- free food technology, and ran research and development projects at Mission Barns to produce cell- cultured bacon.
"Possibilities for Engineered Insect Tissue as a Food Source"
Due to significant environmental and animal welfare concerns associated with industrial livestock farming, it is vital to accelerate the development of sustainable food production methods. Cellular agriculture may offer a more efficient and ethical production paradigm by using cell culture, as opposed to whole animals, to generate foods like meats, eggs, and dairy products. However, the cost-effective scale-up of cellular agriculture systems requires addressing key constraints in core research areas: (1) cell sources, (2) growth media, (3) scaffolding biomaterials, and (4) bioreactor design. Here we summarize work in the area of insect cell cultures as a promising avenue to address some of these needs. Compared to mammalian or avian cultures, invertebrate cells require fewer resources to grow and are more resilient to changes in environmental conditions. Alterations necessary for large-scale production are relatively simple to achieve with insect cells, including immortalization, serum-free media adaptation and suspension culture. To advance insect-based tissue engineering for food purposes, it is necessary to develop methods to regulate the differentiation of insect cells into relevant cell types, characterize cell interactions with biomaterials with an eye toward 3D culture, design supportive bioreactor systems and quantify nutritional profiles of cultured biomass.
My research broadly focuses on moral cognition and socio-moral development. I have a range of interests including the moral circle, prosocial behavior, compassion and effective altruism. Currently I am interested in understanding why we moralize certain people and things, and the factors that underpin those intuitions. In one line of research I examine how children think about the moral status of a range of entities and explore factors that may contribute to these beliefs. In this work I also explore the emergence of extreme altruism in children. In another line of work, I explore attitudes to food technology, often utilizing cultured meat as a case study. Taking a lifespan perspective, I explore intuitions around naturalness, morality and the psychological mechanisms that shape these views.
"Testing Potential Psychological Predictors Of Attitudes Towards Cultured Meat"
Cultured meat is an emerging food technology that has the potential to resolve many of the social, environmental, and ethical issues surrounding factory farming practices. Recently, research has begun to explore consumer attitudes to the product, revealing several demographic predictors. However, this approach does not offer insight into the psychological traits relevant to attitudes, which I argue are critical in creating more nuanced approaches to addressing opposition to cultured meat. In this talk I will discuss a recent a large-scale online survey (N = 1193) where my colleagues and I explored the potential for psychological traits to predict attitudes to cultured meat. The most powerful predictors of negative attitudes to cultured meat were food neophobia and political conservatism, with distrust in food science also being somewhat predictive. When it comes to absolute opposition to cultured meat— defined by the unconditional belief that it should never be allowed under any circumstances—the strongest predictors were food and hygiene disgust sensitivity subscales, food neophobia, and conspiratorial ideation. A number of presumed mechanisms held no relationships to cultured meat attitudes, including social dominance orientation, speciesism, and naturalness bias. The null results on naturalness bias are of particular interest given recent research identifying concerns about naturalness as a key barrier to consumer acceptance. These results demonstrate the need for a more nuanced understanding of the psychological mechanisms that contribute to cultured meat attitudes and engagement.
Allen Zimmerman is a PhD student in the Department of Communication at Georgia State University. His work focuses on researching the optimal ways to communicate the negative impacts of factory farming on animals, people and the environment in order to inspire more informed consumer purchase behavior. Prior to joining Georgia State, he had a 15-year career in the advertising industry working with both consumer and healthcare clients, including CVS, GEICO, Pfizer and Merck. More recently, he spent 5 years teaching undergraduate courses in advertising, communication and applied ethics at the University of San Francisco, the University of Tampa, and the Honors Program at the University of South Florida. His teaching career progressed from adjunct work to holding a 2-year, full-time position as visiting assistant professor at the University of Tampa, where he served on the curriculum committee, mentored senior independent study projects, and taught the capstone advertising course. In the past, he has taught yoga in the San Francisco bay area and volunteered for both the Humane Society of Tampa Bay (walking dogs) and Florida Voices for Animals (distributing vegan literature at public events in St. Petersburg).
The art of public deception through the concealment of factory farming practices in modern corporate slaughterhouses. The paper will draw upon research that examines neoliberal organizational practices, necrocapitalism, and the factory farming methods used in modern corporate slaughterhouses, to demonstrate how the art of public deception has been taken to highly advanced levels by industries that have something to hide. Taking the lead from communication scholars in the domain of post-colonial studies, the paper will look at three elements that have contributed to the growth of organizational non-communication. First, the essay will review how neoliberalism and necrocapitalism - forms of organizational accumulation that involve dispossession and subjugation of life to the power of death - have set the stage for modern factory farming. Next, the paper will take a brief look at the rise of a new ‘episteme of compassion’ that emerged during the past 250 years along with the relatively recent phenomenon of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Third, based on the work of Timothy Pachirat, PhD, the essay will conclude with an examination of the non-communication strategies of distance and concealment used in a large Nebraska slaughterhouse."Organizational Non-Communication"
Timothy Pachirat is an Associate Professor of Political Science at U. Mass. Amherst. He is the author of “Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight” and “Among Wolves: Ethnography and the Immersive Study of Power”.
"Our Own Souls to Damn: Scapegoating and Complicity in Industrialized Animal Agriculture