A recent study using an Animal Rights Index has ranked 67 countries according to their performance in animal protection. Following very specific criteria for this research, Luxembourg ended up in the first place while China in the last.

The study — which has not been peer-reviewed — was conducted by Matthew H Nash, a 42-year-old American insurance researcher, who looked at the level of animal protection several countries grant to their animals. The index he created uses the following positive factors: recognition of animal sentience; recognition of animal suffering; laws against animal cruelty; national fur-farming ban; support for the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare; percentage of protected areas; and Environmental Performance Index Score. It also uses two negative factors: Meat consumption per capita and pesticide usage per hectare of cropland. 

The Yale University Environmental Performance Index (EPI) used as one of the criteria ranks countries on 40 different factors, including air quality, waste management, exposure to heavy metals, pollution, ecosystems loss, biodiversity, agriculture, and climate change.

According to the Animal Rights Index created in this study, Luxembourg has the highest score of 519.68, followed by the United Kingdom with 506.36, Austria with 501.73, Czechia with 498.66, and Belgium with 488.86. The countries with the worst scores were China (12.46), Vietnam (45.24), Iran (71.40), Azerbaijan, (73.07), and Belarus (105.65).

Russia ranks 59 in the list, Australia 42, USA  40, India 37, Canada 34, New Zealand 18, Germany 14, and Switzerland 10. India was the first with regards to less meat consumption averaging only 3.78 kgs per capita compared to the United States, which was the worst with an average of 124.1 kgs per capita.\

It is surprising this index is called “animal rights”, because it leans towards conservation, environmental, and animal welfare factors, rather than animal rights issues such as the abolition of animal exploitation activities (for some reason only fur bans are considered) and the number of animals suffering in agriculture and research. Also, it only covers 34% of the 195 recognized countries, and possibly some of the missing ones could have ended up in the top or bottom positions. 

Alternatively, quantification of the “Blood Footprint” of every nation, having into account any aspect that may cause physical and psychological suffering to both domestic and wild animals (in the wild and in captivity), would have produced are more useful ranking. But that would have been a herculean task to calculate. Nevertheless, any attempt to quantify, in a relative comparative way, the negative impact countries have on animals (or their efforts to mitigate it) is a positive step towards accepting responsibility for humanity’s behaviour and recognizing political failure to protect sentient beings — which would be necessary if we want to improve. Before we reach a vegan world many quantifications and rankings of this sort will likely be produced.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.