100% of the suffering and death we intentionally inflict on nonhuman animals is unnecessary. 99.99% of that is in the matter of “food” alone. However, the ways in which we exploit nonhumans are numerous and go far beyond the mere production of “food.”
Nonhuman animals can feel pain, pleasure, fear, happiness, and many other sensations and emotions that humans do, which means that each individual animal has an interest in their own continued survival and freedoms, just like we do. If we claim that nonhumans matter morally, as most of us seem to do, how can we morally justify unnecessarily harming even one individual animal? And yet, each year, we intentionally kill around 60 billion nonhuman land animals and upwards of 1 TRILLION aquatic animals (that’s 1,000,000,000,000) for no other reason than our pleasure, amusement or convenience.
Humans are not superior to nonhumans in any objective or factual sense. They can only be made to seem so if glimpsed through the lens of arbitrary, morally irrelevant criteria and subjective personal opinion (and self-serving opinion at that).
This means that we can’t morally justify intentionally harming nonhumans without also leaving the door open for moral justifications for harming humans. We then can’t claim that we ourselves should be protected from the threat of being harmed; any criteria we use to justify violating an animal’s right to not be harmed can also be used to exclude our own claim to that right.
Nor should we want to deny them the same rights we have. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you“ is The Golden Rule for a reason. Most people know intuitively that we should not harm others for no good reason. The only questions we need to start asking ourselves are “why shouldn’t nonhumans qualify as ‘others’?” and “what constitutes ‘a good reason to harm others’?“
Regardless of any other definitions, “others” must include “all sentient beings”, and “a good reason to harm” MUST NOT include “merely for our own pleasure or other trivial selfish interests and desires.“ To make but 2 examples, we have no dietary need for any animal substances at all; neither do we have a real need to mount the head of a slain animal on our wall. If we have no real need to harm sentient animals, then doing so merely for a trivial interest is immoral. Their right to not be harmed naturally supersedes our interest in harming them.
Not only is there no dietary requirement for flesh, dairy or eggs, but the consumption of those substances is the majority cause of chronic disease in humans. The production of those substances for “food” is the majority cause of all environmental destruction caused by humans as well.
All the worst infectious diseases have also been linked to the domestication of various nonhumans in the past. And we are creating worse and worse new infectious diseases in factory farms right now. Moreover, the consumption of animal substances as “food” both facilitates the contraction of infectious diseases and prolongs and exacerbates the symptoms of those diseases.
The intentional exploitation of nonhumans by humans is also directly and/or indirectly the cause of all the human rights problems we now face.
The objective truth is that all nonhuman animals already qualify as having the right to not be intentionally exploited in any way by humans merely for our own pleasure or other trivial interests. This includes being used for “food”, clothing, entertainment, or medical research subjects. Either they do have the right to not be used for these reasons, just like we do, or neither nonhumans nor humans have that right. We can’t have it both ways.
If our species as a whole continues to believe that human animals are superior to nonhuman animals and that it’s therefore morally justifiable to harm and otherwise exploit them merely for reasons such as species membership or rational abilities, then we will continue to believe that it’s morally justifiable to harm and otherwise exploit other humans for whatever arbitrary reason we deem acceptable. Until we evolve past our irrational belief in intentionally exploiting nonhumans merely for our trivial interests, we will continue to endure racism, genderism, homophobia, ableism, tyranny, mass murder, and all the other human rights atrocities we commonly abhor.
When we stop exploiting nonhumans, we as a species also begin to see how the exploitation of other humans in these ways can be ended. When we truly believe that these atrocities we are committing need to end, and we decide to match our actions to our beliefs in this regard, the only logical choice is to completely stop using animals for food, clothing, research or entertainment.
This is not a question of merely being “kind” or “loving animals”, its a question of moral justice, which is the most important thing for every human to observe. In my opinion, its the very heart of what it means to call ourselves human.
If we claim that animals matter morally, even the tiniest amount, then the only logical course of action is to stop exploiting them in any way. Not stopping means that we do not have the courage in our own convictions, and that we believe in irrational, subjective opinion and not objective fact. To stop intentionally exploiting animals completely means Abolitionist Veganism.
If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s easy and great for you, incredible for the animals, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.
To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.