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Announcing the Bentham Prize winners

We've been very impressed by the amount of excellent contributions to forecasting of our animal welfare questions.

Here are our winners for the first round of the Bentham Prize!

First prize: AABoyles

AABoyles did outstanding work in the form of public predicting, modelling, compiling datasets, and the making of suggestions to improve questions. For example, here are some of the datasets he compiled:

Question: How many billions of poultry will be slaughtered worldwide, in the calendar year 2030, according to FAO estimates?

I figured out how to use FAOStat so you don't have to! Here's the correct data.


Question: How many commercial cattle, in millions, will be slaughtered in the U.S. in 2032 if the lowest retail price of clean meat in 2026 is greater than $20 per kg?

Dataset of US Cattle Slaughtered Annually I was going out of my mind trying to figure out how to pull the data from the USDA when I realized that I could pull it from FAOStat instead (inspired by this question). They have data from 1960 to 2013. I did manually record the USDA's 2013-2018 data as a spot check. The FAO count for 2013 was within 1.6% of the USDA number, leading me to suspect that they're close enough to correct. [Cross-post from here.]


Question: In second edition of the Animal Protection Index how many countries will be listed with B or A grades on the indicator for "Formal Recognition of Animal Sentience"?

Scraped the API (ahem) API. Here's a complete spreadsheet.

See also, his spreadsheets here, here and here.

AABoyles provided many public predictions, along with models and extrapolations:

Question: How many billions of poultry will be slaughtered worldwide, in the calendar year 2030, according to FAO estimates?

The quadratic fit to this growth is one of the tightest natural curves I've ever seen in social data.


Question: How many commercial cattle, in millions, will be slaughtered in the U.S. in 2032 if the lowest retail price of clean meat in 2026 is greater than $20 per kg?

A linear forecast of the number of cattle slaughtered in 2032 gives us an estimate of 29.1M. If clean meat remains a high-end luxury good in 2026, then it probably isn't cheap enough in 2032 to further drive down demand for animal beef.


Question: How many commercial cattle, in millions, will be slaughtered in the U.S. in 2032 if the lowest retail price of clean meat in 2026 is less than $8 per kg?

A linear forecast of the number of cattle slaughtered in 2032 gives us an estimate of 29.1M. However, if clean meat is cheap (e.g. only 2x the price of beef from cattle, by weight) in 2026, then it is probably cheap enough in 2032 to drive down demand for animal beef. Moreover, price reductions of that acceleration indicate to me that the additional 6 years should be more than enough time for cellular meat to begin significantly eating into the market share of cattle beef, so I set my bounds to cover the entire span between <10 and 29.1

See also some excellent public predictions made here, here, here, here, here and here.

Other useful comments include a few that helped clarify questions and contingencies:

Question: If DNA alterations continue to require FDA approval by default, how many intentionally genomic DNA altered animals will be determined as safe to eat, by the end of July 2025?

Does the AquaAdvantage Salmon count as one, or are we only counting approvals after the question is launched? If it counts, why is the lower bound zero instead of one?


Question: When will a supermarket sell a product made of ≥80% clean meat, for $3 per 100 grams or cheaper?

The title asks

When will a supermarket sell a product made of ≥80% clean meat, for $3 per 100 grams or cheaper?

but the text asks

When will a supermarket sell a product made of ≥20% clean meat, for less than $3 (in 2019 USD) per 100 grams?

(Emphasis added). The text later performs computations which imply the in-text version is the correct one. Is this the case?


Second prize: PeterHurford

PeterHurford produced a couple great models. Notably, he updated these various times using the feedback provided by others. For example:

Question: Will there be a vegetarian U.S. president by the end of 2036?

I made a model that puts the odds at 4.8%.

26 JAN UPDATE: 7.2%

27 JAN UPDATE: 6.3%

29 JAN UPDATE: 6.8%

PeterHurford also generated a very detailed spreadsheet and model for VRG surveys, which was useful for several questions:

Question: Will ≥8% of U.S. adults self-report to follow a vegetarian diet before 2036?

@(AABoyles) My slightly adjusted model of VRG surveys expects 50% odds of >=8% by 2046 and ~25% odds of >=8% by 2033.

I think that's four years with each year having a roughly independent 25% chance of a >= 8% outlier, for implied overall odds of 68%.

PeterHurford also produced a model for forecasting the number of vegetarians, according to polls, in 2028 and the number of vegans, according to polls, in 2028.

See also PeterHurford's model for forecasting the number of companies worldwide pledge to remove cages from their egg supply chains.

PeterHurford also linked to and distilling relevant sources, see for example:

Question: What percentage of U.S. adults will self-report to follow a vegetarian diet in 2028?

"Is the Number of Vegetarians Increasing?" is a helpful resource to get context on the VRG polls and veg polling in general.


Question: When will 5,000 companies worldwide pledge to remove cages from their egg supply chains?

Another good source of information on this question might be this Corporate campaigns breakdown.

Also noteworthy is his soliciting of expert insight on the number pledges to remove cages from egg supply chains, and his compiling of a dataset on existing pledges.


Third prize: haven

Haven for producing a synthesis of the PeterHurford's model with some inside-view considerations about cage-removal pledges:

Question: When will 5,000 companies worldwide pledge to remove cages from their egg supply chains?

Going with Peter H's model (props to him for doing an extrapolation!) as an outside view, with some slight updates for my inside view:

Reasons to think we'll reach 5K sooner:

  • Pro-animal attidues are growing throughout the world (and probably linked to increasing global affluence). This suggests that most companies will probably eventually go cage-free anyways, with pressure from advocacy groups only accelerating this trend.

  • Cheaper plant-based and clean meat will decrease the importance of cheap egg production

Reasons to think we'll reach 5K later:

  • How many companies could we potentially max out at? (I tried to get some data from this site but it seemed to massive underestimate the number of total companies). It seems like, at least in the US and Europe, we are running out of companies to target, although I'm not sure about this.

  • As Peter H mentioned, it's possible that for some reason (eg changing focus to broilers or fish, global conflict, increased doubt about long-term impact of cage-free) the campaigns could be abandoned completely.

  • Frankly, I'd be surprised if we can sustain the same rate of pledges.

I find the latter reasons (in favor of it happening later) more compelling (unfortunately).

So rough predictions:

Lower 25%: June 2025

Median: June 2029

Upper 75%: June 2033


Honourable mentions