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Vegans Have Children?
Should vegans have children?
a democratic society, the notion of mandatory reproductive
restrictions is anathema. Forced sterilization and birth
control were outlawed many years ago in the United States,
even for those with impaired judgement or a limited
capacity to make reasonable decisions for themselves,
such as people with mental illness or mental retardation.
Reproductive freedom is perceived as an inalienable
right, and this viewpoint is unlikely to change in the
foreseeable future. Furthermore, some faiths laud the
birth of a child as a gift from the Creator and, in
a society that extols religious autonomy, there are
few who would debate this prerogative. When sovereignty
over one's body is considered fundamental, and when
children are viewed as blessings not burdens, it is
impossible to impose limitations on human breeding.
According to estimates by the U.S. Census
Bureau, the United States population increased by approximately
47 million people from 1977 to 1997. At a current annual
growth rate of 2.4 million people, the U.S. population
will continue to expand by more than 2 million people
a year well into the 21st century. Worldwide, the human
population is increasing by an astounding 80 million
people a year. These figures are staggering, and should
call attention to the labyrinth of consequences linked
to the explosion of our species.
More people means:
- rising demands for housing, resulting
in greater loss of native flora, habitat, and wildlife;
- escalating consumption of nonrenewable
- widespread congestion in cities,
suburbs, and on roadways;
- increased environmental degradation
- elevated energy demands;
- more unhoused people and abandoned
- reduced access to basic necessities;
- diminished community;
- and a greater dichotomy between the
haves and have-nots.
There are a number of social scientists
who concede that the majority of our modern problems
-- ecological imbalance, environmental destruction,
species extinction, anger, violence, hunger, poverty,
homelessness, and others -- stem from our inability
to control the growth of our own population. Granted,
this is not the sole cause of our current environmental
crises and social dilemmas, but it appears to be at
least a contributing factor.
There are a few organizations that have
been working for decades to mitigate population growth.
Unfortunately, their success has been minimal. Education,
easy access to contraceptives, and encouraging adoptions
instead of new births are all prudent means to population
control. In a free society, other possibilities are
Each individual's circumstance, rationale,
and motivation for having or not having children is
unique and personal. Nevertheless, vegans and nonvegans
alike should evaluate the issues and statistics prior
to making a choice about parenthood. Having children
means creating more people, which can only worsen our
existing problems. Even if we believe that our children
will be more aware or better equipped to solve the world's
problems, we all must weigh the consequences against
any expected benefit from reproduction.
Whether or not vegans become parents,
there are endless opportunities to nurture youngsters
including caring for the children of relatives, friends,
or neighbors, foster parenting, becoming a big brother
or big sister, or doing volunteer work. We can also
nurture the life around us -- plants, animals, and people
-- thereby encouraging a more hospitable, habitable,
informed, and loving world.
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