Institutional Change

A guide to maximising farmed-animal welfare through effective institutional change.

January 2023

The methods of institutional change discussed in this report will include methods for corporate changemaking, community-based advocacy, and legislative changemaking. By surveying the benefits and drawbacks of these various approaches to institutional changemaking, this report intends to aid animal advocates in tailoring their target audiences and approaches specifically to their unique campaign goals. – Charlotte Flores & Chris Bryant


It is of crucial importance for animal advocates to employ effective and strategic methods of campaigning in order to achieve animal welfare goals. In an attempt to maximize the impact of animal advocacy and meat reduction campaigns, behavioral and systemic change must be encouraged in both the public and private sectors. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly clear that maximizing campaign effectiveness may require redirecting campaign efforts away from individuals and towards institutions.

Through examples and case studies, this report will provide an overview of the different techniques and approaches to farmed animal advocacy campaigns within institutions.

Impact & Recommendations of Community-Based Changemaking

  • Target populations that are open to change or provide educational opportunities to increase receptiveness.

  • Focus on populations that are more able to change or provide accessibility opportunities to increase their ability to do so.

  • Begin with small, inexpensive changes like nudges that don’t require a large campaign to maximize impact and minimize spending.

  • Consider how plant-based products and diets are already perceived within your target population and frame messages accordingly.

  • Promote the sustainability, nutritional, and financial benefits of public institutional dietary change to administrators.

  • Target institutions that have not yet been widely targeted for dietary change, such as hospitals and prisons.

  • Emphasize the environmental benefits of small institutional changes to institutions with existing carbon neutral goals.

Impact & Recommendations of Corporate Changemaking

  • Consider existing attitudes towards meat consumption and plant-based eating in the target population when implementing or requesting meat-reduction techniques. For example, in a meat-centric population, more subtle nudging such as repositioning plant-based options may be more effective than more direct nudging like dynamic norm labeling.

  • Identify who has the power to implement nudges and changes, as well as their motivations. For example, a prison or hospital may be more responsive to pitches related to the economic or health advantages of meat reduction, while an independent restaurant in a city may be more motivated by the opportunity to be seen as more sustainable or inclusive and to generate additional revenue through plant-based options.

  • Use data about consumers’ perceptions of various corporate and institutional change techniques to inform your campaigns and determine the most effective and accepted methods of meat reduction.

Impact & Recommendations of Market-Based Changemaking

  • Utilize shareholders and consumers in campaign design by combining consumer-facing campaigns with corporate commitment requests. Wherever possible, make sure your campaign is in the public eye.

  • Target high-profile, competitive corporations with the resources and means to change their welfare standards, or companies with pre-existing commitments to ethical practices, sustainability, compassion, etc.

  • Lobby for change in specific areas of public interest, such as gestation crates, broiler chickens, and culling, to ensure wider public participation and acceptance and increase the likelihood of corporations following through with commitments.

  • Keep pressure on companies to follow through with commitments after making them.

Impact & Recommendations of Government & Legislative Change

  • Pay close attention to political and legal opportunity structures and take into account barriers that may be caused by free trade laws.

  • Utilize public support for animal welfare improvements as fuel for legislative change.

  • Explore new avenues of changemaking that include acquiring knowledge and technology to aid in policy development.

  • Narrow the scope of campaigns to increase the chances of success. Multiple small changes are easier to implement than one big one, as there is less that can be done to undermine efforts when the scope is narrow.

  • Consider lobbying courts or politicians individually. Depending on the situation, legislative and policy changes are not always one and the same.

  • Tailor approaches to your audience and consider using existing welfare standards and databases to build cases and draft policy proposals. Remember that efficacy matters more than stated motivation, as long as the same goals are being met.