Should Vegans Offset The Insect Suffering They Cause?

Some people suggest that instead of going vegan, one can simply donate to effective animal charities instead.

While I appreciate the encouragement of donating to effective charities and think that everyone should do so if they have the means, there still remains a degree of discomfort of "offsetting" harm, especially when said harm is the result of unnecessary food products.

If we agree that we shouldn't offset our animal product consumption, then does that mean the idea of offsetting is entirely off the table?

I don't think so. Veganism is about reducing farmed animal suffering to the best of one's ability. However, many vegans take things one step further by doing activism of various types, including donating to effective charities.

Yet the farming and production of plant foods pretty much necessitate the killing of insects via pesticides.

Buying "organic" labeled foods might seem like a logical step, then, but organic producers are still allowed to use chemicals to control pests, and sometimes they might rely on even more harmful methods of pest control by using different types of management that might include releasing other "beneficial" insects into a field to eat the "pest" insects alive.

Since it seems that we can't reasonably avoid causing insect suffering, does this mean insect suffering is not a moral concern? Clearly that's not the right conclusion as we would eliminate insect suffering if we could. It appears then that we are in a situation where we can't avoid causing harm, but we might be able to be proactive and reduce harm through other means.

This is where offsetting comes in. Though there is no insect welfare charity, there are some organizations that are starting to advocate for insect interests.

Sentience Politics is one such organization. They have a good piece on insect suffering, which is worth a read. Though they don't have any proposed direct interventions to help insects at the moment, I believe in the future that is something they will consider.

In the meantime, we can continue to advocate for farmed animals through activism and effective donations. Additionally, we can keep in mind the interests of insects and avoid becoming callous to their unfortunate situation. Hopefully in the future we can achieve a world where suffering, all suffering, is a thing of the past.