Annual Report 2023

The landmark votes on the Primate Initiative and the Initiative to Abolish Factory Farming in 2022 sparked significant attention and much-needed discussions. Last year, we were able to build on this momentum and advance our vision with broad support.

During the campaign for the Initiative to Abolish Factory Farming, Sentience succeeded in building bridges between agricultural and animal rights organisations. The aim was to collectively promote humane farming practices as well as to establish a political lobby for farm animals. Last October, this alliance convened to develop solutions and leverage synergies. Over a million people voted «Yes», which demonstrated the widespread support of the Swiss population for our cause. Nevertheless, a survey revealed how strongly attitudes towards an initiative depend on political affiliation. This state of affairs underscores the need to advance animal welfare goals through alliances that go beyond the left-green spectrum.

In the same spirit of collaboration, in the autumn of 2023, Sentience initiated the Protein Lab. Together with collaboratio helvetica and the Bern University of Applied Sciences, we gathered around 20 experts from science, politics, business, agriculture, health, the food industry, and civil society. We discussed how to accelerate the protein transition in Switzerland. After all, the choice of proteins – whether plant-based or animal-based – not only affects our health but also has far-reaching implications for the environment and animal welfare.

Following the vote on the Initiative to Abolish Factory Farming, major retailers pledged to give higher priority to animal welfare concerns. Sentience therefore scrutinised Migros, Coop, Aldi, and Lidl to assess the extent to which they kept their promises. Given the potential for the further promotion of plant-based alternatives, our campaign, «Animal Welfare NOW!» called for measures to improve animal welfare. In keeping with the maxim  «More of the good and less of the bad», we held roundtable discussions with two major retailers.

Moreover, our efforts are aligned with the 3R principle «Refine, Reduce, Replace». This principle is well-established in research on animal testing. It should also be applied in agriculture to improve animal welfare conditions, reduce the consumption of animal products, as well as to expand plant-based alternatives. Despite having received support from 11,600 individuals, an allied parliamentarian revised their promise to table the demand to Parliament at the last moment due to reservations from other parliamentarians.

Today, we stand at the threshold of a promising new year. On April 20, we shall celebrate our tenth anniversary! This will coincide with the launch of our new campaign «Invisible Animals». This campaign aims to give sentient animals a voice.

We look forward to a year where we can join forces and achieve great things!

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