Blog post

Member Profile: Insa Maennel

3 min read
2 Oct 2019

This profile is part of the "People of Giving What We Can" series by Alexandra Heller.


What are you currently up to in life?

I am a research assistant and Ph.D. student in law at the University of Osnabrück in Germany. Currently, I am also pursuing a Master’s degree in European Law and Global Affairs in the Netherlands.

Why did you join Giving What We Can?

I learned about effective altruism and found out how much we can change by giving to the right organizations. The decision to specifically join Giving What We Can gradually materialized when I was around 23 and about to graduate. I wanted to commit to my ideals and get used to the idea of giving 10% before I started my first job and actually had more money to spend. Honestly, I also did it because I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t chicken out when my first paycheck came in. By now, it feels pretty normal to give 10%, but it really was a process for me. Of course, I could have donated by myself, but I liked the idea of genuinely committing to it and doing it together with others who share the same ideals.

What organizations do you give to?

Lately, exclusively animal welfare: The Good Food Institute, ProVeg, Animal Equality, and the Albert Schweitzer Foundation. Since I have had trouble with tax deductions for some organizations (like The Good Food Institute), I am going to switch to German organizations in the future so that I can include the tax deductions in my giving.

Do you ever find it difficult to give?

I find it very easy if it is automatically deducted from my bank account. I find it more difficult if I have to make the choice each time.

What are the issues in the world that you care most deeply about?

Animal issues are the ones closest to my heart, and I also care a lot about climate change. Since factory farming is not only gruesome in itself but also hugely contributes to climate change, it makes sense for me to support animal rights activism.

Do you try to effect change in any other ways?

I talk about EA in general to friends and acquaintances and try to educate people about plant-based diets in a positive way if they seem interested. I was part of a local group in the city where I studied. I also try to be positive and warm to others. So, the usual -- smile at strangers, be nice to everyone you meet, listen to people.

Have you found anything to be helpful in talking to people about veganism?

The problem I encounter is that even if you’re not judgmental, people will judge themselves and think you’re judging them even if you’re not. What I feel is the easiest way is if you actually know quite a few vegans and learn by observing them that it’s actually pretty simple to live as a vegan. This is how I became vegan. But “spend a lot of time with me and you’ll learn how easy it is” is a difficult strategy to implement on the street.

Have any books, documentaries, articles, or studies significantly changed the way you see giving?

I started learning about EA by reading Doing Good Better, and later I joined a local group and learned more about EA that way. I also read the 80,000 Hours guide and some articles by Peter Singer.

This interview is part of the “People of Giving What We Can" series which profiles a selection of the Giving What We Can community. The Giving What We Can is a community of people from all walks of life, with different perspectives and motivations for giving – all united by their desire to make a significant commitment to use their income to effectively helping others. Read more member stories.

For more information about Giving What We Can we recommend you check out our frequently asked questions, our effective giving recommendations, our giving pledges, and our homepage.