Suffering Abolitionism: for compassionate and thoughtful interventions against the horrors of suffering in the near and distant future

Interventions against Suffering

Interventions against Suffering

"The best way to predict the future is to create it."
~ Abraham Lincoln 

(Click here to see the mind map in full)

Table of Contents


The intervention mind map is for people looking for ways to contribute to the cause. It gives a wide variation of ideas for engagement for those who are

  • rather new to suffering abolitionism and want to explore more, 
  • in a career exploration phase or
  • with an already sophisticated professional background looking to contribute with their expertise. 

Interventions are not clustered by specific causes of suffering, like the one before, but by fields of expertise, interest and personal fit of potential contributors. These interventions are much more diverse, as there are much more ways to contribute to the mission than there are causes of suffering.

Note that assessing and prioritising personal fit are far more important than trying to make an objective initiative prioritisation (unless it is about funding): 

I'd advise anyone to try out as much as possible to learn about one's skills and weaknesses and how to utilise them, as well as what increases / decreases one’s motivation and wellbeing.

Finding your niche of engagement:
From first steps to career forming

To help aspiring suffering abolitionists finding their niche of engagement, I group initiatives into five categories:

1. Advocacy / Raising awareness / Education / Publicity

2. Influencing policy making

3. Research

4. Capacity building

5. Enterprises / institutions

Advocacy / Raising awareness / Education / Publicity

In the following, it will be discussed how to increase the public’s and policy makers’ concern for sentient beings and their welfare. Ambitious and futuristic ideas are often experienced by the public as concerning or even threatening, despite their potential to increase health and wellbeing (see also status quo bias). Education and exposure (normalisation) can significantly increase acceptance of new welfare approaches for all sentient beings. Also open recognition of dangers and risks together with strategies to mitigate these risks are important to gain acceptance. 

There are plenty of ways to increase awareness of suffering and increase support for suffering abolition: 

  • Participating in or organising meetups helps to exchange ideas and increase understanding of and concern for discussed topics.
    • For meetups and events, one could prepare talks or workshops to raise awareness on the philosophy and moral importance of suffering abolition.
    • Talks can be as simple as a summary of already existing content.
    • To increase outreach, one might also record more advanced meetups and events and share them via YouTube.
    • Furthermore, one can motivate joint work on high impact interventions or respective career planning
    • Groups and meetups to join can be about politics, effective altruism, animal rights and veganism, (trans-)humanism, anti-natalism and related topics. 
  • One can also share resources on online platforms, or via flyers that raise awareness on suffering, encourage moral circle expansion and educate on interventions.
    • 'Liking' respective material throughout social media increases traction and motivates the authors. Cross-post resources where there might be a relevant audience, such as other activist groups or organisations (e.g. political parties, NGOs and educational and youth groups). If you have capacities, raise awareness about suffering abolition with your own work. Remember to avoid being spammy and always maintain an attitude of service, not demand or judgement.
    • Another option could be starting or participating in newsletters, with updates on projects in the abolitionist community and with related news and opportunities. 
    • People can facilitate translations of suffering abolitionist literature / articles. A valuable resource to translate (including the audio version) would be “Can Biotechnology Abolish Suffering?” by David Pearce. 
  • People into art and media could use their abilities to raise awareness and influence cultural change
    • We can foster such a change via illustrations, memes, stories, blogs, video clips, short films, music etc. by creating awareness and differential understanding of the suffering abolitionist values and approaches.
      • Examples: Helping people become open minded about abolishing predation: Make / share compilations of (wild) carnivores befriended with their prey (see e.g. The Dodo’s series “Odd Couples”). Share them with the suffering abolition community and incorporate them in your presentations / campaigns.
    • An influential resource could also be an(online) magazine, covering topics related to suffering abolitionism / compassionate transhumanism via articles, news, opinion pieces and content from the community.
      Format examples: Wired, Vox, Freethink, NEO.LIFE;
      Initiative example: Nil’s abolitionist magazine proposal (please comment in the doc if you may be interested in moving the project forward!)
    • Development and promotion of high quality pedagogical / educational art and media fostering the development of compassion, self-reflexion, communication, critical and rational thinking. Examples (non-SAbo related): The School of Life, School of Thought and the Center for Applied Rationality

Influencing policy making 

Policies influence society, including setting new norms and practices and defining what is a malpractice. Even policies that don’t have immediate suffering abolitionist effects can greatly influence potential for (future) projects. 

In the subsections below promising policy and lobbying ideas are listed.

'Dangerous species' e.g. parasites, carnivores, disease transmitting species

  • Removing dependency on animal products:
    Implementing / promoting usage of animal-free alternative products (including  the foot-in-the-door approach: promoting acknowledgement of animal sentience and the problem of animal suffering)
    • Making cellular agriculture research and production independent of bovine calf serum
    • Lobbying for vegan dishes in kindergartens / schools / public institutions and events; ensuring regulations that enable public facilities to become vegan in the first place. Schools and kindergarten are particularly important institutions, as they strongly influence the next generation's habits. 
  • Lobbying for animal rights
    • Anti-speciesist approach to rights: what matters is not ‘humanness’, nor intelligence, but the ability to suffer
    • Acknowledgement of sentient entities as entities requiring rights protected by law, with the long term goal of a sentience welfare system.
    • Right to have interests represented by independent qualified allies
  • Improving education
    Pedagogical interventions and educational strategies for children and young adults shape behaviour of the next generation and is therefore a high impact field of engagement. High quality education can significantly benefit physical and mental health, decision-making, career performance, and social impact. Therefore, it is crucial to incorporate moral pedagogy, mindfulness, reflexion skills, analytical/methodical thinking as well as life skills in educational curricula.
  • Maintaining the rule of law and improving decision-making, political systems and jurisdiction. See further information from the Center for Reducing Suffering.
  • Genetic welfare for sentient beings:
    Lobbying for pre-implantation diagnostics and embryonic stem cell research is important to enable research for a future genetic welfare program. We need to promote laws that regulate applications of genetic enhancement of sentient beings and ensure access to genetic welfare. In laws and regulations on genetic welfare applications, benefits and risks to the society, communities and the individual (no matter what species) need to be considered.
    • We need advocation that genetic maintenance or enhancement of physical and mental abilities and resilience should not be applied without consideration of social attributes. Instead, we need to advocate that high compassion capacities and moral considerateness on a genetic level needs to always be ensured as part of pre-implantation genetic interventions.

      For further readings on ethical aspects of genetic enhancement, see:
      • Allhoff, F., Lin, P., Moor, J., & Weckert, J. (2010). Ethics of Human Enhancement: 25 Questions & Answers. Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology, 4.

        Douglas, T. (2008). Moral Enhancement. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 25(3), 228–245.

        Sandberg, A., & Fabiano, J. (2017). Modeling the Social Dynamics of Moral Enhancement: Social Strategies Sold Over the Counter and the Stability of Society. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics: CQ: The International Journal of Healthcare Ethics Committees, 26(3), 431–445.
  • Establishing public funds, prizes and contests for research contributing to abolishing suffering.
    Animal free biotechnological / biomedical research and testing need more public promotion:


To increase wellbeing for all sentient beings and minimise risks of future suffering, we need develop a broad range of new technologies. 

'Dangerous species' e.g. parasites, carnivores, disease transmitting species

  • Genetic health research for sentient beings 

    • The most benefit of pre-implantation diagnostics and embryonic stem cell research may come from applying them to securing and increasing physical/mental resilience, compassion traits and cognitive/learning abilities.
    • To avoid abuse of and public distrust in according research, we need to implement an ethical code and an according research supervision system. The ethical code needs to entail that genetic alterations should be reversible, positively impact the individual’s life experience and optimise social implications for affected sentient beings in the environment.

    • Example: FAAH & FAAH-OUT genes
  • Moral development and compassion research as well as their genetic foundations is also a very important research topic
  • Academic journal
    Establishing an academic journal for suffering abolitionist topics would
    • help with the evaluation of (biotechnological) research papers in regard to their (potential) contribution to suffering abolition,
    • spread knowledge on new insights and potential for applications and
    • promote the needed research itself.

      The journal could check: 
      1. whether papers are specifically aiming for suffering abolition / promoting the concept of suffering abolition,
      2. whether the research approach is ethical,
      3. whether research/technological enhancement is (potentially) valuable for the suffering abolition, and
      4. whether the research has low risk for creating suffering (through abuse, lack of control, etc).
  • Technology
    Research on technologies for environmental design and atmosphere regulation. Particularly, human wellbeing needs to become independent of wild nature, to become able to acknowledge the problem of wild nature and its causes of suffering. For example, making atmosphere maintenance and improvement independent of plants, reduces the naive spreading of biospheres unattached to welfare systems for the sentient inhabitants.
  • Ageing research
    Since ageing is a process of slow and deadly decay of body and mind, preventing ageing means improving health and wellbeing.
  • Artificial general intelligence (AGI) research
    AI will eventually be better at anything than humans will ever be. Before a  potential AGI emerges, we need to work on ways to ensure that it will be guided by compassion for all sentient beings. A lot of research is being done on AI in general, but suffering-related concerns are not always part of such research. For suffering concerned AI research, check out the Center on Long-Term Risk. 
  • Sentience research
    In order to be able to address all suffering research is needed on how to identify/measure sentience in entities with very different expressions and behaviours.
    Secondly, there is still a lot to uncover about the nature of sentience/consciousness.
  • Physics
    What does physics tell us about the long-term future of the universe?

Capacity building 

Workforce is needed to grow the community and attract a diverse audience of ambitious and talented people. To promote suffering abolitionist goals and work collaboratively, we need platforms for fostering exchange within the community, as well as platforms for collaborating with policy makers, industry and research. And of course we need funding.  

  • Besides the suffering abolitionist Discord and meetups, one can join meetups from political groups/parties, effective altruism, animal rights and vegan activists, (trans-)humanism, anti-natalism and so on.
    • One can contribute to such meetups and events with prepared talks and workshops on topics that motivate concern on suffering and increase understanding on suffering abolitionist approaches and initiatives.
    • Talks can be as simple as a summary of already existing content.
    • One might also record more advanced meetups and events and share them via YouTube to increase outreach.
    • Furthermore, one can motivate joint work on high impact interventions or respective career planning. 
    • Profession-specific networking and attending conferences can also increase capacity
    • As can self-education and study groups, such as
      • Reading groups
      • Prioritisation discussions
      • Finding a partner to read/watch relevant content together, or attend together events like talks and conferences, and discuss takeaways relevant to one’s own approach.
      • Fundraising
        • One may start simply by using fundraising via FB during holidays, birthdays, match makers.
        • For growing the capacity we also need funds, prizes and contests for (research) projects contributing to abolishing suffering.
      • Job board
      • Newsletter
        Another option would be starting or participating in newsletters, with updates on projects in the abolitionist community and with related news and opportunities. 

Enterprises / institutions

There is need of workforce in existing organisations as well as need for new start-ups and institutions. Well-organised, joint forces can have great global impact, as can be seen by institutions such as the UN or the World Health Organization. 

As may be expected from entrepreneurship, one’s first serious attempts to start an abolitionist organisation are likely to "fail”: in the end there are many parts to a successful organisation, and just having a good idea is not enough. For example, one also needs a capable team with great culture to pull this off (networking and collaboration thus can be paramount).

Such “failures” (including ones of others), however, are also an opportunity to learn so that one’s next attempt to establish an effective suffering abolitionist organisation is better informed and hence more likely to succeed. Other ways of gaining relevant experience include working in an existing organisation (not necessarily abolition-related) before starting a new one and signing up for an incubator program (see e.g. Charity Entrepreneurship’s incubation program aimed at establishing cost-effective intervention-focused charities).

This article was first published on 26 Apr 2022. Latest significant update was on 02 May 2022. Note that this piece is a work in progress. More resources will follow.