n How the Animal Rights Movement Fails Animals

The voices of animal-rights advocates have become more prominent in social justice circles, and The New Republic magazine recently pondered whether animal rights is the next frontier of the left. It’s inescapable, the argument goes, because animal rights overlap with other key elements of the progressive agenda, including environmental protection, social justice, the ravages of capitalism, and more. But loud voices are often misleading.

Over the past several decades, the extent to which humans are driving animals into extinction, consuming them through massive factory farms, and experimenting on them in research labs has only skyrocketed.

The emerging appearance of concern for animals has only coincided with an explosion in their suffering and death.

Why? Because poor family planning has driven an explosion in human population over the past several decades. In that time, billions more of our species has overrun, tortured, and destroyed other species. And while many animal protection organizations raise money through claims of success, we have all failed animals if we haven’t accounted for the overwhelming negative impact of humankind’s poor family planning policies.

What can we do to change course and create real success?

The first step entails reenvisioning animal rights and liberation in terms of the most aspirational versions of those concepts. Animals have a right to live and develop autonomously in the nonhuman world, truly liberated from human oppression. To ensure that requires universal family planning reforms that promote smaller and more equitable families for all of us. These reforms will leave room on our planet for nonhumans and will ensure the high levels of empathy in future generations that nonhumans need us to have in order to live and develop. That constitutes true animal rights and veganism. Veganism is not just another way to be a consumer. It’s the natural evolution of a truly inclusive form of social justice that marries animal, environmental, and human rights by moving from archaic and divisive approaches that involve welfare and aesthetics to a unifying approach that focuses on the simple limitation and decentralization of human power.

One of the best parts? These policies are a win-win for humans as well. They ensure greater investment in each child, finally achieving the human-rights ideal of fair starts in life for all, smaller and truly democratic communities where each voice matters more, and the highest standard of environmental protection possible. Now that’s effective altruism. Had early animal-rights advocates insisted we protect nonhuman autonomy and treat the environment more as a nonhuman habitat than as a human resource, we could have avoided the climate crisis.

Want to help animals? Go beyond being a consumer in a humanized world. Focus on the people with whom nonhumans will interact. Lock arms with other social justice movements that protect future children, equity, and the restoration of nature. And bend the qualitative arc of our species’ growth trajectory to liberate humans and nonhumans at the same time. Envision a better future — and focus on family planning reform to build it.

Take action: If you support an animal protection organization, ensure that it signs this simple letter to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres urging him to adopt Fair Start family planning reforms as essential to the international bill of human rights. If the organizations you support do not publicly take a position on family planning reform, ask them why not and urge them to. There is no legitimate form of animal protection that would allow our species to overrun all others.

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