An overall goal of a lot of the activism we take part in is to reduce suffering in general. Mental health awareness and autonomy are two important things contributing to this that have their own pages among our values. There are some more direct views and organizations that one could look into when wanting to help make a difference for those who need it.
For those unaware of what antinatalism is, it is the philosophical view that giving birth is not ethical. A lot of people demonize those who hold this view, but in reality it is one that carries a lot of compassion. The reason that it is seen as unethical is the fact that bringing a life into existence is not only forcing life upon a being that could not consent, but also creating much more suffering. Each person that is created will undoubtedly contribute to suffering in the world, whether they are eating meat, abusive, or consuming resources; a single human does a lot of damage to the environment and the living things around them. This new individual will also endure suffering. The statistics of all the horrid things that could happen to one person are unsettling and it is argued that if a parent would truly do anything to ensure their children don’t suffer disease, rape or violence is to not have them at all. When you also consider how many children already exist that are in desperate need of a loving home, how can you argue creating one of your own?
An important thing to note about this philosophy is there is a difference between a life worth living and a life worth starting. Antinatalism, although supporting the extinction of humanity for the sake of eliminating suffering, is not suggesting people kill themselves. In fact, one of the reasons for arguing someone should not be born is that death is inevitable and the only escape for someone who does not want to exist would be to commit suicide and suffer through knowing what they lose out on. If someone never comes into existence they can neither suffer nor experience good, but not experiencing the good would not cause any suffering as there would be no one to exist to miss it.
To the left is an image of David Benatar’s Asymmetry from his book Better Never to Have Been. It shows that not coming into existence does not harm and coming I to existence does, despite being able to take part in pleasure.
There are a few things that you can do to help out. For example, there is a petition you can sign to have the word “Antinatalism” added to the dictionary.
Fair Trade Products
As strong supporters for autonomy we obviously also support fair trade products. We encourage everyone to try their best to purchase fair trade items to ensure everyone involved is paid and treated fairly. This suggestion for reducing suffering really speaks for itself; everyone should be paid fairly for the labour the contribute.
Vegan and Cruelty Free Choices
Some of us at ARTUS also support the efforts of those who choose to live vegan and cruelty free lifestyles or at least attempt to make informed choices with the ethical ramifications in mind (both of which we see as aspects of respecting autonomy). It is unsettling when you start to research what actually goes into the things you use everyday. For example, living as a vegan is more than just a diet. Vegans pay attention to their hygiene products, and even the ink used for their tattoos. And respecting the autonomy of others is more than just keeping to yourself; there are many products we purchase and consume everyday that exploit people and animals all over the world. The only way this exploitation can stop is with the efforts we put forward. Although at times it can be difficult to maintain especially since society today is geared towards depending on the exploitation of others, we encourage everyone to at least make conscious decisions in their everyday choices. Not only are you taking the more ethical route, but you are also treating your body to a much healthier lifestyle.
A lot of people argue that it is too expensive to switch to a vegan and cruelty free lifestyle, when in reality in most places it is actually cheaper. It appears as though it is harder and more expensive because of the unfamiliar ingredients and recipes. For example, to make vegan cheese at home is incredibly easy and only takes about 10 minutes and can cost a fraction of the amount of diary cheese. The easiest way is to make a change slowly; pick one thing and try to find your favourite alternative. For example, you could start with buying vegan margarine (which costs the same as regular margarine) and find your favourite brand, and then switch from milk to almond or soy milk. This way you are not left with a bunch of brands you don’t like and will help you slowly switch the staples of your kitchen to affordable, vegan alternatives that are just as delicious.
Some may say that they can not access vegan alternatives in their area, but a lot of the time they are just lacking the education and energy to pursue a cruelty free lifestyle. Some people associate the idea of choosing vegan options as having to pay for expensive alternatives when in general there are a lot of things available to them they are unaware of. Some areas it may be more difficult to find soaps, make up and clothing that are vegan, but vegetables are more accessible than meat most of the time, and more affordable. Before deciding their community does not support a vegan lifestyle they should reach out and try to connect with vegans that already manage to make it work. I believe a lot of people will be surprised just how accessible a vegan meal is. In addition, people assume that a vegan diet is only vegetables with nothing that has any taste. In reality there are a lot of incredible, delicious, affordable and easy recipes that people are completely overlooking. There are even lots of comfort food options and even substitutes for favourite meals that originally were meant to be made with meat, dairy or eggs.
The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows how the masses need to change to a vegan diet in order to battle climate change. With livestock consuming the majority of vegetation, it would be more efficient and cut back on harmful gases and destruction of land if everyone switched to a plant based diet. Our insistence on exploiting animals is taking up more space and resources than it can actually produce. Veganism is the smart choice for anyone who wants to reduce their impact on the environment.
Organizations and Charities that Prevent or Reduce Suffering
Crisis Rescue International
Their three fold mission is to Reach, Rescue, and Restore children at risk to slavery for sexual exploitation all around the world.
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
The only nonprofit charity in the United States that focuses exclusively on foster care adoption. The Foundation works closely with child welfare advocates and policymakers, provides free resources about foster care adoption and raises awareness through social media campaigns, public service announcements and events. They also have a Canadian organization.
International Planned Parenthood Federation
A globally connected civil society movement working to ensure people are free to make informed choices about their sexuality and well being without discrimination.
International Rescue Committee
They respond to humanitarian crisis around the world and help people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and regain control of their future. They assist families with seeking asylum in the US, provide schooling and education opportunities, raise awareness regarding individual rights, and many other things that are desperately needed.
Marie Stopes International
An international organization that provides contraception and access to safe abortion for women and girls living in urban and rural communities all over the world.
The Organisation for the Prevention of Suffering
OPIS is an organization that works like a think tank to discuss and implement ideas to reduce suffering for humans and non-humans alike. They also work to educate people and do research to uncover unnecessary suffering that can be prevented.
Since 1957 they have worked to increase to sexual and reproductive health and rights. They are working to expand access to quality sexual and reproductive health services.
Population Services International
PSI runs programs in more than 50 countries across the world helping women by working with local governments to create sustainable solutions to issues regarding family planning and access to contraception.
An America based organization offering cash incentive to women and men across the country who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol to use long term or permanent birth control.
United Nations Population Fund
The United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency is making a huge impact around the world.
- Reproductive health care for women and youth in more than 150 countries– which are home to more than 80 per cent of the world’s population
- The health of pregnant women, especially the 1 million who face life-threatening complications each month
- Reliable access to modern contraceptives sufficient to benefit 20 million women a year
- Training of thousands of health workers to help ensure at least 90 percent of all childbirths are supervised by skilled attendants
- Prevention of gender-based violence, which affects 1 in 3 women
- Abandonment of female genital mutilation, which harms 3 million girls annually
- Prevention of teen pregnancies, complications of which are the leading cause of death for girls 15-19 years old
- Efforts to end child marriage, which could affect an estimated 70 million girls over the next 5 years
- Delivery of safe birth supplies, dignity kits and other life-saving materials to survivors of conflict and natural disaster
- Censuses, data collection and analyses, which are essential for development planning
An international nonprofit organization that works to empower and enable women to make informed choices about their reproductive and sexual health.
Vegan / Animal Rights Charities and Organizations
Food Not Bombs
There are hundreds of autonomous chapters sharing free vegetarian and vegan food with hungry people and protesting war and poverty.
Vegan Option Canada
A movement working towards making access to vegan options a right in Canada.
Blind Cat Rescue
The name says it all. This is a US based cat rescue the specializes in blind felines.
House Rabbit Society
An American based rescue that helps find permanent homes for abandoned rabbits and, through education, hopes to reduce the amount of unwanted rabbits and improve their lives.
International Animal Rescue
As can be inferred by their title, they are an international organization that rescues animals. They have several projects currently going on to save dancing bears, birds being illegally hunted, and much more.
Priceless Pet Rescue
A no kill pet rescue based in the US that takes animals in from various circumstances, including saving them from high kill shelters.
Vegan Companies That Give
The sell t-shirts, hoodies and more with vegan messages and beautiful images. They ship world wide in biodegradable packaging and all of their products are fair trade, organic, leave a low carbon foot print, and are printed with vegan ink. 10% of the proceeds go to various charities to help animals.
Arm The Animals
Buttons, bags, shirts, jewelry, hoodies and so much more. One of the more affordable options for clothing and accessories, their missions is to raise funds and awareness while providing support for animal welfare organizations.