Animals Spared Methodology

Food Policy

Animals Spared Methodology

Food Policy

Overview

Mercy For Animals partners with major institutions, including school districts and government assistance agencies, to reduce the meat, dairy, and eggs served through these institutions by at least 20 percent.

We evaluate the impact of Mercy For Animals’ food policy program by estimating the number of animals potentially spared through policies the program secures.

Our estimates are based on the assumption that decreased consumer demand for a product through these policies leads to decreased supply of that product. 

We estimate how many fewer animals could be born into factory farming because of Mercy For Animals’ food policy program, which decreases demand for meat, dairy, and eggs at major institutions. 

Calculating Animals Spared

Estimating Animals Killed for Meals Eaten Per Capita

To begin, we estimate the number of animals eaten per meal in a given region to meet demand for meat. We also estimate the number of end-of-production hens and cows killed per meal eaten to meet demand for eggs and milk.

To find the first number, we use statistics on the annual per capita consumption in kilograms of the following: chicken, pork, beef, and fish. To find the second, we use the annual per capita consumption of eggs and liters of milk.

The meat consumption figures are converted to number of animals by dividing the annual per capita consumption in kilograms by the average weight of an animal after processing. 

For example, in Brazil, annual per capita consumption of chicken is 41.1 kilograms, according to Associação Brasileira de Proteína Animal. The average weight of one chicken after processing is 2.3 kilograms, as reported by Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. If we divide 41.1 by 2.3, the result—18.1—is our estimate for the number of chickens eaten per person each year in Brazil. 

Our calculation for end-of-production hens and cows killed for meals eaten per capita differs from our meat consumption calculation. 

One major difference is that life expectancy is a factor. A single hen produces eggs for about 1.4 years before production declines and she is sent to slaughter. A cow at a dairy farm produces milk for about five years before she is sent to slaughter. These figures vary slightly by region, and where regional averages are available, we use them. 

We start with the estimated annual per capita consumption of milk in liters and the estimated annual per capita consumption of eggs in units. We divide these numbers by the average number of liters produced by one cow in a year and the average number of eggs produced by one hen in a year, respectively. Finally, we divide the results by the life expectancy in years (at a factory farm) of one cow and one hen. 

For example, in Brazil, annual per capita egg consumption is 190. A hen at a factory farm produces about 220 eggs a year, according to the Associação Brasileira de Proteína Animal. We divide 190 by 220 to calculate the number of hens required to produce enough eggs for one person for one year in Brazil. In this case, the number is a decimal: 0.86. Because factory-farmed hens live for about 1.4 years, we divide this decimal by 1.4.

Model Equation:

KgsBeefPerCapita / AvgKgCattle = CattleEatenPerCapita

KgsPorkPerCapita / AvgKgPigs = PigsEatenPerCapita

KgsChickenPerCapita / AvgKgChickens = ChickensEatenPerCapita

KgsFishPerCapita / AvgKgFish = FishEatenPerCapita

(EggsPerCapita / EggsPerHen) / 1.4 = HensKilledForMealsEatenPerCapita

(MilkPerCapita / MilkPerCow) / 5 = CowsKilledForMealsEatenPerCapita

CattleEatenPerCapita + PigsEatenPerCapita + ChickensEatenPerCapita + FishEatenPerCapita + HensKilledForMealsEatenPerCapita + CowsKilledForMealsEatenPerCapita = AnimalsKilledForMealsEatenPerCapita

Definitions:

KgsBeefPerCapita: Kilograms of beef consumed per person per year in the region

KgsPorkPerCapita: Kilograms of pork consumed per person per year in the region

KgsChickenPerCapita: Kilograms of chicken consumed per person per year in the region

KgsFishPerCapita: Kilograms of fish consumed per person per year in the region

EggsPerCapita: Number of eggs consumed per person per year in the region

MilkPerCapita: Liters of milk consumed per person per year in the region

AvgKgCattle: Average weight of an individual animal after processing, expressed in kilograms

AvgKgPigs: Average weight of an individual pig after processing, expressed in kilograms

AvgKgChickens: Average weight of an individual chicken after processing, expressed in kilograms

AvgKgFish: Average weight of an individual fish after processing, expressed in kilograms

EggsPerHen: Average number of eggs a hen produces in one year

CattleEatenPerCapita: Number of cattle eaten per person per year in the region

PigsEatenPerCapita: Number of pigs eaten per person per year in the region

ChickensEatenPerCapita: Number of chickens raised for meat eaten per person per year in the region

FishEatenPerCapita: Number of fish eaten per person per year in the region

HensKilledForMealsEatenPerCapita: Number of end-of-production hens killed for meals eaten per person per year in the region

CowsKilledForMealsEatenPerCapita: Number of end-of-production cows killed for meals eaten per person per year in the region

 

Estimating Animals Spared per Year

First, the model multiplies the number of meals eaten per person per day in the region by the total population of the region. It multiplies the result by 365 days in a year to arrive at the total meals eaten per year. 

Second, it calculates the number of animals killed per year for meals eaten by multiplying the total population by the number of animals killed for meals eaten per capita. It divides the result by the number of meals eaten per year to arrive at the number of animals killed per meal eaten. 

Third, it determines the total number of meals served by the committed institution by multiplying the number of meals served per day by the number of people served. It multiplies the result by the days per year the institution serves meals—schools, for example, operate for only about 180 days per year—to arrive at the total number of meals served. The model multiplies the total number of meals served by the percentage of days the institution has committed to serving plant-based meals. The result is the total number of plant-based meals served.

Finally, to arrive at the number of animals spared per year by the institution’s policy once fully implemented, the method multiplies the number of animals killed for meat, dairy, and eggs per meal in the region by the number of plant-based meals served by the institution.

Model Equation:

MealsEatenPerDay x TotalPopulation x 365 = MealsEatenPerYear

AnimalsKilledForMealsEatenPerCapita x TotalPopulation = AnimalsKilledPerYearForMealsEaten

AnimalsKilledPerYearForMealsEaten / MealsEatenPerYear = AnimalsKilledPerMealEaten

MealsServedPerDay x PeopleServed x DaysOfYear = TotalMealsServed

TotalMealsServed x PercentageOfDaysCommitted = PlantBasedMealsServed

AnimalsKilledPerMealEaten x PlantBasedMealsServed = AnnualAnimalsSpared


Definitions:

MealsEatenPerDay: Estimated number of meals eaten per person per day in the region

Total Population: Number of people in the region

MealsEatenPerYear: Meals eaten per day by the region’s total population multiplied by 365 days in a year

AnimalsKilledForMealsEatenPerCapita: Number of animals killed to fulfill one person’s annual consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs in the region

AnimalsKilledPerYearForMealsEaten: AnimalsKilledForMealsEatenPerCapita multiplied by the region’s total population

AnimalsKilledPerMealEaten: AnimalsKilledPerYearForMealsEaten divided by MealsEatenPerYear

MealsServedPerDay: Number of meals served per day by committed institution

PeopleServed: Number of people served by committed institution

DaysOfYear: Number of days per year the committed institution serves meals

TotalMealsServed: MealsServedPerDay multiplied by PeopleServed multiplied by DaysOfYear 

PercentageOfDaysCommitted: Percentage of DaysOfYear that institution has committed to serving plant-based meals

PlantBasedMealsServed: TotalMealsServed multiplied by PercentageOfDaysCommitted

AnnualAnimalsSpared: AnimalsKilledPerMealEaten multiplied by PlantBasedMealsServed

Considerations

Animals Killed for Meals Eaten Per Capita

The metric AnimalsKilledForMealsEatenPerCapita used in the animals spared model factors in animals killed to provide meat, dairy, and eggs to both adults and children.

Because Mercy For Animals’ food policy program obtains commitments from schools, which primarily serve children, as well as public institutions that serve adults, the AnnualAnimalsSpared estimate may be smaller than reported for policies that impact children and larger than reported for policies that impact adults.

 

Animals Killed for Meals Eaten Per Capita vs Annual Regional Slaughter Rates

Our estimates factor in consumption rates rather than regional slaughter numbers. We believe consumption rates provide a closer estimate of animals affected by a policy, since slaughter rates may include animals killed for export. 

 

Invertebrate Animals

Our current estimates do not include invertebrate animals killed for meat or as byproducts of fishing. The lives of shrimp and other crustaceans are no less important but certainly more difficult to measure. We aim to estimate the invertebrate animals killed in future models. 

 

Animals Spared per Year

The animals spared model estimates animals spared per year once the policy is fully implemented. 

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