In one sense, it's a typical column for this time of year: Ezra Klein of the New York Times is suggesting groups worthy of donations. In this case, he puts the focus on organizations that can help end or ease the suffering of factory-farmed animals. And in making his case, Klein presents quite an argument: "How we treat farm animals today will be seen, I believe, as a defining moral failing of our age." Yes, humans have always hunted, bred, and eaten animals, he notes. "What’s changed over the past century is that we’ve developed the technology to produce meat in industrialized conditions, and that has opened vast new vistas for both production and suffering." The stats are "mind-melting," he writes. The UN estimates that 80 billion land animals are killed for food annually.
"The overwhelming majority of these animals are raised and killed in conditions with no analogue in history, and they suffer terribly," he writes. One part of the column details the common practice of "live shackling" chickens, sometimes resulting in "panicked, spasming birds" whose "throats are cut while they are conscious and terrified." When people think about donating to animal causes, they frequently give their money to shelters. But Klein suggests some groups dedicated to improving current conditions (the Humane League and Mercy for Animals) or reducing the need for factory-farmed animals through the substitution of plant-based meat or meat grown from cells (the Good Food Institute, New Harvest, and the Material Innovation Initiative). Technology has brought us to "an age of animal cruelty," he writes, but it can also help us get out of it. (Read the full column.)