Lots of people are looking for vegan jobs. Perhaps you worry that your current job doesn’t match up to your ethical views. Or perhaps you are looking to give your career deeper meaning and find a way that you can help animals.
So what are the options for vegan jobs? You might first think of working at a vegan company making and selling plant-based food, or working in direct care for animals at a shelter or sanctuary, perhaps as a veterinarian.
However, these more obviously vegan jobs aren’t the only options. There are plenty of ways that vegans can align their careers with their ethical views, which we’ll summarise in this article.
Work for Food Companies
Let’s start with an obvious option: working at vegan food companies.
A great way to contribute to the advancement of veganism — and therefore to help farmed animals — is by working to produce, improve, and sell new alternative foods to animal products. Many of the companies that you could work for are explicitly vegan or plant-based organisations.
According to a report by The Good Food Institute, in 2020, $3.1 billion was invested in alternatives to conventional animal-based foods. This includes investments in plant-based meat, egg, and dairy companies, cultivated meat companies, and fermentation companies devoted to alternative proteins. Alongside all this investment into animal product alternatives, the market has grown rapidly and the number of job roles has increased year on year. There are hundreds of companies producing and selling these products that you could potentially work for.
But, if you are motivated to help animals through your career, you don’t need to limit your options to explicitly vegan organisations; there are also promising opportunities within companies that are less aligned with the goals of the farmed animal movement where your advocacy within the company could have a big impact.
For example, imagine if someone really motivated to help animals worked in a high-ranking role at a major meat company, like Tyson Foods. What good could they do to help animals over their career? As it turns out, even Tyson, which is one of the largest U.S. producers of animal meat by sales, introduced its first plant-based products in 2019.
Large companies are often weighing up whether or not to improve the welfare standards affecting animals in their supply chain — they often do, and internal advocacy could swing the balance. Such roles could be highly impactful, but are not for the faint-hearted, since you’d have to work on the “inside” of organisations whose work is often negative for animals.
There are a number of different role types within food companies. For example, our research found which role types are most common at plant-based animal product alternatives companies:
Operations, administration, or HR (38% of staff)
Management and leadership (24% of staff)
Technical product-focused research (16% of staff)
Business development, corporate engagement, or sales (13% of staff)
Marketing, communications, customer services, or PR (13% of staff)
Product handling and manual tasks (10% of staff)
Web or software development and other similar technical skills (4% of staff)
Engineering and other roles affecting manufacturing and processing (3% of staff)
We’ve written a skills profile about technical research for animal product alternatives (including engineering-related roles), if you are interested in that specific sort of path.
Work for Nonprofits — Direct Care and Advocacy
Another job type that seems obviously vegan and helpful to animals is to work at an animal sanctuary or shelter, caring directly for the animals. As well as helping animals directly, these organisations can provide opportunities for humane education and to invite the public to meet animals they may have previously viewed as commodities.
As animal sanctuaries and shelters operate as nonprofit organisations, there are a number of traditional nonprofit roles available in this space. Animal sanctuaries and shelters also hire for direct animal care roles, such as a veterinarian or caregiver.
Direct animal care can be very expensive, and there are many different types of animal advocacy nonprofit work that probably help animals a lot more in the long term. For example, nonprofits can focus on diet change outreach, undercover investigations, support for the development of animal product alternatives, political campaigns, litigation, or welfare campaigns. To take one recent estimate, some of the most promising campaigns positively affect between 9 and 120 years of chicken lives per dollar spent on them. This means that you can have incredible impact potential by working at these organisations. Again, many of these organisations are explicitly vegan.
We researched roles at 27 nonprofits and found the following role types are most common:
Campaigns, corporate engagement, or volunteer management (31% of staff)
Management and leadership (24% of staff)
Operations, administration, or HR (18% of staff)
Marketing or communications (16% of staff)
Fundraising (10% of staff)
Research (7% of staff)
Other technical skills, e.g. web or software development (7% of staff)
Lobbying or legal (5% of staff)
Natural sciences (2% of staff)
Other (2% of staff)
We’ve written skills profiles about a few of these role types in animal advocacy nonprofits — fundraising, lobbying, and management and leadership. We also have a profile specifically about growing the movement in countries where it is small or new. If you’re interested in this type of roles, keep an eye on our job board.
Other types of animal advocacy
There are other jobs where you can advocate directly for animals. Some jobs will give you a public platform that you can leverage, e.g. a news site if you’re a journalist or books, conferences, and policy consultations if you are an academic. And of course, in many jobs you will be able to pursue independent advocacy (e.g. grassroots activism) or develop expertise that you can put to use in skilled volunteering at animal advocacy nonprofits.
Work in Government and Policy
Working to improve laws and regulations that affect animals or to encourage policy change is a valuable contribution that those of us striving to create a vegan world can make. Imagine an ideal, animal-friendly society of the future. What are some of the main differences? A key component is probably better laws and regulations to protect animals.
Individuals going into careers in government and policy won’t be able to change the world overnight. But they may play an important role in shifting laws, regulations, and social norms. As a politician you would be able to propose or vote on new laws. If you worked for a politician or in the government’s bureaucracy, you might be able to influence politicians to take animal interests seriously or directly affect the details of new policies.
There are three main categories of work in this area:
Political roles — politicians plus their advisors and assistants, e.g. Congressional staffers in the US.
Policy roles — people who implement the policies that politicians decide on, e.g. staff in the US Department of Agriculture or the UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
Lobbying roles — advocates outside government employment, e.g. lobbyists at animal advocacy nonprofits.
You can read more in our detailed skills profile about careers relating to politics, policy, and lobbying.
Work in Research
From technical research for the development of alternative foods to animal products through to strategic research for animal advocates, there is a variety of research that helps animals.
This research can be used to help nonprofits and advocates understand how to spend their time and resources and encourage donors and foundations to give financial support to different nonprofits or interventions. It can also draw media attention to an issue, provide credible information to the public, and influence governments and policy-makers.
Below are example of different types of research that can be done in academia or in relevant nonprofits and are relevant to the vegan movement:
Research on overarching strategy for social movements: Sociologists, political scientists, historians, and legal scholars can conduct this research. Sentience Institute is a nonprofit doing research relevant to this.
Research focused on outcomes: Nonprofits can look at questions specific to the farmed animal movement. For example, how many animals have been affected by corporate welfare campaigns? What are the causes of activists burning out and leaving the movement? Rethink Priorities and Faunalytics do research like this.
Technical research: Biologists, engineers, and other scientists can work directly on the development for alternative foods to animal products. Nonprofits don’t tend to do this research themselves, but The Good Food Institute and New Harvest provide funding for this research in academic settings. Most of this research actually happens in for-profit companies, at the moment.
Psychological research: This can be done in academia around foods that provide alternatives to animal products: What do consumers think of these products? How can we market these products successfully? What are the indirect effects of these products? Faunalytics, The Good Food Institute, Animal Charity Evaluators, and Sentience Institute have done research related to this.
Animal welfare research: Veterinarians and animal welfare scientists can do research that directly affects the treatment of farmed animals and wild animals.
Social research: Economists, geographers, and other academics can research and write about potential changes to the food system and how this could affect society more widely.
Environmental research: Scientists can evaluate the impact of animal-based foods on the environment.
Donate to Nonprofits
While not a job in and of itself, donating earnings can have a powerful impact. You can donate money to support the work of nonprofits doing work that effectively helps animals. Some individuals make this the main focus of their career, seeking to earn lots of money and donate a large proportion of their earnings. Remember the estimate above that some campaigns can positively affect between 9 and 120 years of chicken life per dollar spent? Imagine what you could achieve if you donated hundreds or thousands of dollars!
Which Option is Best for You?
And you might not want to focus on one of these options right away; it might make more sense to focus on developing “career capital” that you can later apply to one of these options, perhaps donating and doing skilled volunteering in the meantime.
Animal Advocacy Careers provides research tools to assist you in maximising your positive impact for animals through your career. Check out our careers advice to find helpful guidance and our job board to view open positions with high potential for helping animals.