Pay other people to go vegetarian for you?

I no­tice that a large frac­tion of Effec­tive Altru­ism peo­ple are veg­e­tar­ian. This makes sense: in gen­eral Effec­tive Altru­ists take moral is­sues se­ri­ously, even when that means chang­ing your lifestyle. I’m not sure it’s a good bal­ance, though.

One way to think about this is to con­vert it into money. How much would I need to be paid to give up eat­ing meat? All an­i­mal prod­ucts? How much money would I need to spend on my­self to be about as happy as I would be with less money but con­tin­u­ing to eat an­i­mals? I’d prob­a­bly be will­ing to go veg­e­tar­ian for about $500/​year, ve­gan for maybe $2000/​year.

It turns out you can prob­a­bly pay to con­vince other peo­ple to be veg­e­tar­ian much more cheaply than that. I es­ti­mate the cost of a veg­e­tar­ian-year at $4.29 to $536 while Brian To­masik es­ti­mates $11 with bet­ter method­ol­ogy (which I looked at). This is by plac­ing ads on face­book for a site where peo­ple can watch an an­i­mial cru­elty video and ideally be­come veg­e­tar­ian or ve­gan.

If you would get more than $11/​year worth of en­joy­ment out of con­tin­u­ing to eat meat, why not give $11/​year to con­vince some­one else to not eat meat for you? Or give $50/​year and be on the safe side?

(While you’re giv­ing money, you should prob­a­bly give it to the or­ga­ni­za­tion that you think will do the most good with it, which I think is prob­a­bly one of GiveWell’s top char­i­ties. The nice thing about money as op­posed to ac­tions is that it’s easy to redi­rect.)

I also posted this on my blog.