The Humane League
PurposeAnimal rights, animal welfare
HeadquartersRockville, Maryland
Region served
United States
Vicky Bond

The Humane League (THL) is an international nonprofit organization that works to end the abuse of animals raised for food through corporate, media and community outreach. It operates in the United States, Mexico, the UK and Japan. THL promotes plant-based diets, conducts research on the effectiveness of different interventions, and works to obtain animal welfare commitments from companies.[1] It was founded in 2005 in Philadelphia by Nick Cooney.[2]

THL was awarded more than $20 million in grants from the Open Philanthropy Project,[3][4][5] and has been one of the top recommendations of Animal Charity Evaluators since 2012.[1]


Corporate outreach

THL had been involved in over 100 campaigns to convince global companies to pledge using only non-battery cage eggs after a certain date,[6] including Sodexo,[7] Mariott International,[8] Costco, Grupo Bimbo, Starbucks, Compass Group, and Dunkin' Donuts. The Open Philanthropy Project wrote in 2015 that "Other leading organizations in corporate campaigns have consistently reported to us that THL plays a key role in these campaigns."[9]

Following negotiations with THL, United Egg Producers—which represents companies that produce 95% of all eggs produced in the United States—announced that it will eliminate the culling of male chicks by 2020. Chick culling refers to the routine killing of male chicks (which are useless for meat or egg-laying), usually by gassing or grinding them alive.[10] United Egg Producers continued chick culling despite this commitment, stating in 2021 that it was still searching for "an ethical, economically feasible alternative to the practice of male chick culling at hatcheries".[11][12]

THL also promotes the adoption by companies of the European Chicken Commitment, which seeks to improve the welfare of broiler chicken in intensive animal farms.[1]

In 2021, THL released a report which found that "99% of U.S. store-brand chickens" were afflicted by white striping,[13] a poultry disease that causes "elevated serum creatine kinase levels, increased fat content in pectoral muscle, gross white striations in the direction of muscle fiber, and hypertrophy of pectoral muscle which are similar to observations in hereditary muscular dystrophy".[14]

Movement building

THL seeks to strengthen the animal advocacy movement. It provides grants, increases collaboration between organizations, hosts online volunteer initiatives, organizes events, and helps with recruiting and training.[15]

THL created in 2016 the Open Wing Alliance, a global coalition of more than 100 animal welfare organizations aiming to end the use of cages in egg production.[16][17] In the following years, THL received millions of dollars of donation from the Open Philanthropy Project to continue to grow and sustain the Open Wing Alliance.[18]

Vegan advocacy

Since 2008, THL has been educating the public about intensive animal farming and advocating for a vegan lifestyle. THL uses social networks, online ads, media, leaflets, cookbooks and newsrack.[15]


THL founded in 2013 a research unit called "The Humane League Labs" that evaluates on the effectiveness of different animal advocacy tactics.[19] As of June 2016, The Humane League Labs is planning to conduct research on the degree to which farm animal advocacy motivates the purchase of vegan products[20] and on the effectiveness of online vegan outreach.[21] Vegan Publishers has criticized the methodology and reporting of previous Humane League Lab studies.[22]


THL's online vegan advocacy ads have been discussed and critiqued on LessWrong[23] and by negative utilitarian Brian Tomasik.[24]

Partly as a result of the Animal Charity Evaluators recommendation, THL has been viewed positively in the effective altruism movement. Raising for Effective Giving lists THL as a standout animal welfare charity.[25] The Chronicle of Philanthropy cited an example of an effective altruist who chose to pursue a career in finance so that he could pursue earning to give, donating large sums to The Humane League to help it spend more aggressively in pursuit of its goals.[26]

As of August 2023, THL has been listed as a top charity by Animal Charity Evaluators since August 2012, with the most updated review in 2021.[1]


Open Philanthropy Project

The Open Philanthropy Project made several grants for "general support": $1 million in 2016,[27] $10 million in 2018,[5] $7 million in 2021[4] and $8.3 million in 2022.[3] It also made grants for THL to support and expand the Open Wing Alliance.[28] It also made grants for specific projects such as cage-free campaigns[9] or for helping THL to support the Open Wing Alliance.[18]


  1. ^ a b c d "The Humane League Review". Animal Charity Evaluators. Archived from the original on 28 April 2023. Retrieved 28 April 2023.
  2. ^ "The Humane League - Our Story". The Humane League. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "The Humane League — General Support (2022)". Open Philanthropy. Retrieved 2023-08-11.
  4. ^ a b "The Humane League — General Support (2021)". Open Philanthropy. Retrieved 2023-08-11.
  5. ^ a b "The Humane League — General Support (2018)". Open Philanthropy. Retrieved 2023-08-11.
  6. ^ Fox, MeiMei. "The Humane League Works To Free Factory Farm Animals From Horrid Conditions". Forbes. Retrieved 2023-08-17.
  7. ^ Brulliard, Karin (July 25, 2016). "The movement to free hens from cages may be going global".
  8. ^ Piper, Kelsey (2018-12-07). "Marriott commits to cage-free eggs — and gives protesters vegan sandwiches to celebrate". Vox. Retrieved 2023-08-17.
  9. ^ a b "The Humane League — Corporate Cage-Free Campaigns". Open Philanthropy Project. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  10. ^ Dylan Matthews (June 9, 2016). "This is the best news for America's animals in decades. It's about baby chickens". Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  11. ^ Danovich, Tove K. (2021-04-12). "Why the US egg industry is still killing 300 million chicks a year". Vox. Retrieved 2023-08-07.
  12. ^ "United Egg Producers Updated Statement on Male Chicks". United Egg Producers. 2021-03-25. Retrieved 2023-08-07.
  13. ^ Pollard, Amelia (20 September 2021). "White Striping Disease Hits 99% of U.S. Supermarket Chicken, Study Finds". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 20 September 2021. Retrieved 28 April 2023.
  14. ^ Kuttappan, V.A.; Hargis, B.M.; Owens, C.M. (2016). "White Striping and Woody Breast Myopathies in the Modern Poultry Industry: A Review". Poultry Science. 95 (11): 2724–2733. doi:10.3382/ps/pew216.
  15. ^ a b "The Humane League Review". 2021. Archived from the original on April 28, 2023. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  16. ^ Alliance, The Open Wing. "The Open Wing Alliance Hosts Fifth Annual Global Summit to End Cages". Retrieved 2023-08-12.
  17. ^ Abby, Jade Sarfas (18 January 2023). "What is the Open Wing Alliance?". Retrieved 2023-08-12.
  18. ^ a b "The Humane League — Open Wing Alliance (2020)". Open Philanthropy. Retrieved 2023-08-17.
  19. ^ "Humane League Labs". Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  20. ^ Humane League Labs (June 2, 2016). "Project: Motivating vegan purchasing". Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  21. ^ "Project: Online engagement". June 1, 2016. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  22. ^ Casey Taft (October 18, 2015). "Pseudoscience in the Animal Rights Movement". Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  23. ^ Hurford, Peter (June 12, 2013). "Effective Altruism Through Advertising Vegetarianism?". LessWrong. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  24. ^ Tomasik, Brian (January 28, 2012). "Donating toward Efficient Online Veg Ads". Essays on Reducing Suffering. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  25. ^ "Animal Welfare". Raising for Effective Giving. Archived from the original on June 6, 2023. Retrieved August 17, 2023.
  26. ^ Gose, Ben (November 3, 2013). "A New Donor Movement Seeks to Put Data Ahead of Passion". Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  27. ^ "The Humane League — General Support (2016)". Open Philanthropy. Retrieved 2023-08-12.
  28. ^ "The Humane League — Open Wing Alliance". Open Philanthropy Project. September 22, 2017. Retrieved May 28, 2019.