Here is the basic argument for Abolitionist Veganism. I’ve incorporated a couple different major Animal Rights theories into one:
1. Nonhuman animals feel pain, pleasure, fear and other sensations. If they feel these sensations, then they have an interest in not being used merely as a resource for human pleasure, amusement, or convenience.
2. There is no necessity for human animals to intentionally exploit nonhuman animals and cause them to suffer or die except our own enjoyment of the taste of their flesh/secretions and the convenience that animal exploitation affords us. Humans have no dietary need for flesh, dairy, eggs or honey:
We have no need to use animals for clothing; we have no need to use them for entertainment; not only is it morally unjustifiable to use animals in bio-medical research, but more humans suffer and/or die when we do so than if we didn’t use animals at all:
3. When something is unnecessary except for our trivial pleasure or convenience and that thing causes some being (for example, a nonhuman or human animal) to experience pain, fear or other kinds of suffering, then the harm being done to that being’s interest in their continued survival, freedoms, or not suffering is more important than our interest in our own mere pleasure, amusement or convenience.
4. We claim to believe in “fairness/ethical/moral consistency” as a “moral good”, which means we believe in treating similar cases similarly when it comes to ethics/morality. In other words, if we believe it’s wrong to beat a human child for no good reason because they will suffer from a beating, then we should also believe that it’s wrong to beat a dog, cow, or chicken for no good reason because the nonhuman will also suffer.
So, if we value moral consistency at all, which means we treat similar cases similarly, the minimum and only criteria needed to include nonhuman animals in our moral sphere (meaning we believe we should not harm them at all for no good reason) is that they feel pain, fear, and other sensations, since that is the minimum criteria we use to include humans in our moral sphere.
5. Any characteristic that humans claim to have that we claim makes us morally superior to nonhuman animals cannot be factually proven to be a humans-only trait. Unless we can prove that we are morally superior to nonhuman animals, any argument that we claim justifies intentionally harming and exploiting nonhumans can also be used to justify humans intentionally exploiting other humans:
This means that if we personally are in favor of violating nonhumans’ right to be safe from being enslaved, raped, tortured or killed by humans then we have no claim that we ourselves should be safe from having those same things done to us by other humans. Any argument we try to use to justify harm to nonhumans can also be used successfully by other humans to justify harming us in those same ways.
6. If we accept premises 1 through 4, our ethical/moral obligation is to either a) cease any actions that intentionally cause unnecessary suffering and death to other beings such as nonhuman and human animals, in which case we can claim that our interests in avoiding the same harms should not be dismissed without due consideration, and we can point to the fact that this is because we are morally consistent, or b) admit that we are not morally consistent and that any human who wishes to dismiss our interests in avoiding the same harms without due consideration is also morally justified in doing so.
Conclusion: If we don’t stop intentionally exploiting nonhumans to the best of our ability, all the systemic violations we consider atrocities and major problems in the world will never end. We also will not be able to consider ourselves truly morally consistent people. To stop intentionally exploiting nonhumans completely means Abolitionist Veganism.
Abolitionist Veganism also means we do our best to eliminate speciesism (which is the intentional, harmful discrimination by humans against individuals and groups of other species based solely on the morally irrelevant criteria of species membership) within each of us. Speciesism is the tree from which springs all intentional, harmful discrimination against any individual (nonhuman or human) on the basis of any morally irrelevant criteria. Speciesism is rooted in the myth that human animals are morally superior to nonhuman animals.
Ergo, if everyone becomes an Abolitionist Vegan and exclusively advocates a 100% clear moral baseline of Abolitionist Veganism, all of the atrocities we abhor such as world hunger, poverty, ecological destruction by humans, systemic human rights violations, and discrimination against any individual beings based on any morally irrelevant criteria, will either be severely decreased or eliminated. Every living being on the planet, from nonhuman animals to human animals, will be much happier and healthier.
The crucial point here is that if you have moral concern at all for nonhuman animals or human animals and so you want these problems to be decreased or eliminated, it makes no sense for you to participate in actions that will increase or foster those problems. It is your moral responsibility to stop engaging in actions that increase those harms, which means going Vegan (and, if you want to help everyone further, educating others about Veganism).
Final thoughts: If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s incredible for the animals, great for you, 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/neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where and when you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.
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.