Should vegans have children? Examining the links between animal ethics and antinatalism

Paper by Joona Räsänen, published on February 11, 2023 in Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

Ethical vegans and vegetarians believe that it is seriously immoral to bring into existence animals whose lives would be miserable. In this paper, I will discuss whether such a belief also leads to the conclusion that it is seriously immoral to bring human beings into existence. I will argue that vegans should abstain from having children since they believe that unnecessary suffering should be avoided. After all, humans will suffer in life, and having children is not necessary for a good life. Thus vegans, and probably vegetarians as well, should not have children. I will consider several objections against this controversial claim, show why the objections fail and conclude that it would be best for ethical vegans to abstain from procreation.

Better never to have been in the wild: a case for weak wildlife antinatalism

Paper by Ludwig Raal, published on April 1, 2022 in Stellenbosch University, MA thesis

Most people have an idyllic view of nature and believe that wild animals have good lives. But nature is a hostile place. In addition to the suffering inflicted upon prey by their predators, many wild animals are victims of infectious disease, extreme weather, starvation, and parasitism. Yet it is often claimed that an abundance of wildlife is desirable. The aim of this thesis is to challenge this premise. My argument will proceed in four parts. Firstly, I will show that the lives of most wild animals are characterised by a surplus of negative experiences, and that there are a myriad of ways in which wild animals suffer. Secondly, I will challenge the notion that wildlife has intrinsic value by considering, and arguing against, two related claims: that the lives of individual wild animals have intrinsic value, and that wild species as wholes are of intrinsic value. Thirdly, I will consider whether wildlife has instrumental value, and if so, whether it is sufficient to justify traditional conservation methods. I conclude that this is not the case. Finally, I will argue that it may be best for most wild animals not to be born at all, a view I refer to as weak wildlife antinatalism. While such a conjecture may strike many as deeply counterintuitive, I will make the case that it is both technically feasible and morally desirable.

To Breed or Not to Breed?: an Antinatalist Answer to the Question of Animal Welfare

Paper by Sayma H. Chowdhury & Todd K. Shackelford, published on May 1, 2017 in Evolutionary Psychological Science

Although Ng (2016) addresses the important question of how to increase animal welfare, he does not address an equally important question—how to prevent animal suffering. The best way to prevent animal suffering is to stop breeding them. With fewer sentient beings in existence, net suffering is lessened. Even if captive animals were bred with a guarantee of “net happiness,” they would still suffer at some point in their lives and sometimes very much. We argue that not only is nonexistence preferable to existence but also that even in research there are many preferable alternatives to the use of captive animals.