Veganism and Acausal Trade
Note: Read the linked post for further description of acausal control. Much of this post is based on Shahar’s book Why It’s Ok to Eat Meat
As of 2023 there are 334 million Americans.
Each year, 124,061,094 pigs are killed, and 8,127,632,113 chickens are slaughtered.
If you do the math, 0.37 pigs and 24.3 chickens are killed per American per year. When you factor in the average time spent indoors in cages, 12 weeks (about 3 months) for broiler chickens and 4 months for pigs, you get 5.6 minutes of chickens suffering for each minute Americans live. Pigs suffer 7 seconds for each minute Americans live. 1,800 gallons of water are used to make 1 pound of beef. Cowspiracy by Nick Anderson says each burger takes 660 gallons of water to make. The statistics are also ugly for hen-laying chickens.
Animal lovers recoil at those statistics. A common response has been to go vegan or vegetarian. One protein combination with all essential amino acids is beans and rice. Broccoli has enough protein to be listed on the nutrition facts. Lentils are another cheap source of protein. You can get vitamin B12 from your gut bacteria or a multivitamin supplement. Spinach and soy have iron. Why It’s Ok to Eat Meat starts by refuting many arguments, including nutrition ones, for eating meat. Then it argues that meat, raised flawlessly and humanely, is morally okay to eat. That part convinced me. The book admits the repugnant nature of factory farming.
The second part of the book argues eating meat is okay regardless. The foundation of Shahar’s argument is the inefficacy principle. He says how supermarkets plan for volatility and that, if you buy meat, it will blend in with the expected uncertainty of supermarket sales. Most of the time, your purchases will be ineffectual. Sometimes, they influence purchases from meat producers or distributors. The numbers are rounded before being shown to business executives. Even if your meat purchase bumped up the rounding, there is no guarantee that it will increase factory farming in your observable universe. You should not expect your purchase to impact this observable universe. If by some ridiculous improbability it did, the impact would be devastating. At least on the surface, this becomes Paschal’s Mugging.
If you have significant credence in the Many Worlds Hypothesis*, you can acausally trade. The universe splits frantically, and there are uncountably many versions of you reading this article. Uncountably many of you will go to the store, have the same experiences as you, and have the same relevant neural circuitry. Neither you nor your clones know whether your world is on the edge of creating more factory farms. Regardless of what you do, you will make your clones do the same thing as you. Your clones’ actions in the worlds where buying meat would produce massive amounts of suffering mirror yours. The law of supply and demand works on average, so Shahar’s inefficacy principle is bypassed. Each time you buy meat or eggs, your decision causes factory farming in various universes. That outweighs any inconveniences your clones and you may experience.
Like I do, you can acausally trade to reduce animal cruelty by going vegan. You can cut back on meat and still make some difference. You can determine the terms at any time. You do not have to do any special cognitive rituals for this acausal trade to work. If you think you are typical of people reading this post and it is popular enough, that works too.
This acausal coordination may be used for other purposes. If you decide to vote, read up on all the candidates and watch out for the Dunning-Kruger effect. You don’t want to flip elections in the wrong direction.
* The argument also works if the universe is infinite.
Source: 2023 U.S. Animal Kill Clock (animalclock.org)
Not eating meat is not a Pascal’s mugging because there is a solid theoretical argument for why the expected value is positive even if the payoff distribution is somewhat unbalanced: if a large number of people decide not to eat meat, then this will necessarily have the effect of shifting production, for supply to meet demand. Since you have no way of knowing where you are in that large ensemble, the expected value of you not eating meat is equal to the size of the effect divided by the number of people in the ensemble, which is presumably what we would expect the value of not eating meat to be under a naive calculation. There’s really nothing mysterious about this, unlike the importance of the choice of a Solomonoff prior in a Pascal’s mugger argument.