Stopping Animal Testing: Why Humanity Would Be Better Off (Part I)

color-rat-399706_640Animal testing is one of the most controversial and misjudged of all animal rights issues. Since the medical and scientific benefit to human is so great, opposing animal experimentation is regarded as heresy, as though one doesn’t care about human suffering.

As it turns out, dropping animal testing as a practice could not only clear society’s conscience, but consumer safety and scientific progress may potentially be better off without it.

Animal testing is one of the darkest ways in which we exploit animals. It is the reduction of individuals into objects – objects to be used for the benefit of the dominant species.

This is a tremendous abuse of power – we mutilate, weaken and kill innocent beings to further our own species’ longevity. If someone said that you can prosper, but to do so you must take advantage of, and physically main and mentally injure another, we would say no, that is unethical.

But don’t you care about human suffering?

Opposition to animal experimentation is quickly reduced to this simple, narrow argument: “Stopping animal testing would hinder the development of medicine and science, which would harm humanity considerably.”

This line of thinking misses the big picture. Animal rights advocates recognise that no matter how desperately we want human medicine to advance, no matter how much we want to reduce human suffering, there is a moral limit to the methods we use to achieve this. Those who believe that other animals deserve not to be tormented and suffer in the name of medical progress care just as much about human suffering, however they recognise that the moral cost of animal experimentation is too high a price to pay. We cannot choose to ignore the injustice and harm caused to animals who are imprisoned and sacrificed on our behalf, just because we happen to benefit.

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Animal Breeding: Institutionalised Cruelty (Part I)

dog-560148_640Animal breeding is a cornerstone of our dominion over other animals. We control which species reproduce, how much they reproduce and in what ways they reproduce.

As though we are dealing with plants or theoretical problems, we play god with the animals. We control gene pools and elevate or lessen physical characteristics as our desire dictates, prioritising aesthetics over the well-being of the animals themselves.

Just as we select, cross-breed and manipulate plants for increased yield and utility as a natural resource, we also treat our fellow animals in the same manner. Unlike plants however, we are dealing with highly intelligent, conscious, feeling beings that are bred with inherent health problems and physical disabilities. It is one thing, when by chance, animals are born with physical or mental disabilities, however, to willingly inflict these disabilities onto living, thinking, conscious beings is unethical and shameful.

Sadly, the tradition of breeding is socially acceptable to the point that, as a society, we struggle to see it for what it really is. The love we feel for our companion animals makes accepting the reality of breeding very difficult; people think that condemning the practice of breeding is condemning the animals themselves, or the people that care for them.
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Animal Rights Theory in Ancient Greece: Plutarch and Empedocles

bustos-756620_640“It was the greatest defilement among men, to deprive animals of life and to eat their goodly bodies.”  Empodecles c. 490 – c. 430 BC)

Whilst the the majority of famous ancient Greek philosophers had firmly anthropocentric views of other animals, there were notable exceptions. They may not stick out as prominently as Aristotle or Plato, however their contribution to the animal-human discourse is one deserving of merit.

It may come as a surprise that some of the most compelling arguments for animal rights come from the earliest times in our species’ history of social commentary. Wisdom is timeless; great arguments do not diminish over time.

Arguably some of the greatest thinkers who ever lived did so during the Ancient period, musing on ethics and the nature of life. Many had not only begun to study animals in detail, but had seen the inherent beauty of life and many realised that animals were not ours to use. Continue reading

Barriers to Animal Progress: Culinary Tradition and Food Identity

thanksgiving-347306_640One of the largest obstacles to mainstream veganism and widespread acceptance of animal rights lies in the cultural significance of food. Cooking and eating occupy a central position within all societies and forms an integral part of cultural tradition and communal living.

We form strong emotional ties to our food and the power of tradition means that it is inherently difficult to question our eating habits. Taking meat and animal products off the menu requires going against thousands of years of habit, tradition and entrenched modes of thinking.

The consumption of food is far more than a simple biological act – it is an emotionally charged, ritualistic activity that helps foster social ties and social identity. Animal flesh has been such a staple component of our meals for so long that it is especially hard to remove it from our diet. In Western cuisine in particular, meat is the central piece of the dish. Continue reading

Animal Liberation and the Double Emancipation

lamb-451982_640“No slavery can be abolished without a double emancipation, and the master will benefit by freedom more than the freed-man.” Thomas Huxley

The benefits of the reversal of our conventional relationship with the rest of animal-kind include the moral good, the environmental good and the good of public health, as well as other positives. Here we will be focusing upon our spiritual redemption: from a spiritual standpoint, when we cease harming the sensitive life that we share the earth with we will be far happier and content as human beings.

The positive benefits of animal emancipation will be two-fold. Not only will trillions of animal beings not be abused, exploited and harmed, but this will produce a compassionate shift within our own species’ society. If, as a society, we prioritise the values of care, compassion and respect, the ripples of this mindset shift will help remedy the social injustices of human society. We will look after our own most vulnerable members with the compassion and respect that they deserve and we will be more open to reassess our social, economic and political systems through a more rational, ethical perspective. Continue reading

Evolution, Emotion and Anthropocentrism

horse-594191_640The general consensus in the minds of humans is that we alone possess true emotion and that our empathy is more distinct, more genuine that the same empathy observed in fellow animals.

Ascribing the word “personality” to describe other animals has always been regarded as heresy, although in the last couple of decades we have begun to lift the taboo of this topic and have started to seriously reconsider our place within nature.

At the root of this reluctance to acknowledge fellow animals as morally significant creatures, is a notion as dated and short-sighted as the oldest existential question: what is our place within the universe? Continue reading

The Life of A Dairy Cow

calf-244030_640For all those who currently consume dairy products, as a meat-eater or vegetarian, let us for a moment consider the plight of the beautiful cow, Bos taurus. Vegetarians abhor the idea of eating meat, but have yet to truly acknowledge that the dairy industry inherently contains just as much, if not more suffering than animals exploited for meat.

We must seriously ask ourselves the following question: where does milk and cheese come from and what does the process automatically involve?

Not only does the dairy industry slaughter huge numbers of animals, it also simultaneously abuses living, feeling beings in particularly cruel and agonising ways. The dairy industry involves an exploitation of the very cycle of life; the warm, emotional manner in which life reproduces, specifically in mammals – where the mother-child bond is probably the strongest in nature – an especially savage harm is dealt to both mothers and children. Continue reading

Being Vegan and Caring For Carnivorous Companion Animals

An enquiring reader raised a very important ethical dilemma:  what about the rights of animals raised and killed for meat that we feed to our carnivorous pets?

We wouldn’t harm another animal for our own sake, but what about on behalf of our our beloved pets? We certainly don’t approve when they catch prey such as sweet birds or gentle mice, however it is their nature. The cat is doing no moral wrong by killing the bird- it must consume flesh to survive. We do not need to consume flesh, but the furry members of our family do – and due to the strange situation of domestication, we are responsible for them. 

This responsibility puts us in a moral quandary. Sadly, the ultimate solution is one that is a long way off from being widely available or remotely affordable: artificial meat. We are actually well under way with research into quality artificial, yet real flesh, minus all suffering and agony. Grown synthetically in laboratories, without the need for any animal suffering, aside from gently taking cell samples from living animals.

Humans who absolutely must eat meat and will never be persuaded by the absoluteness of the ethical argument against eating meat and killing other beings – they can indulge in a harmless manner – that of eating synthetic meat. Feeding both our pets and the most ardent meat eaters real, genuine animal flesh that has been grown rather than born, raised and killed, would be the optimal scenario. Continue reading

Animal Rights: Natural Law and Cultural Customs

Natural law holds that law and morality are deeply connected.  Law is not simply what is passed as legislation – if legislation is not moral, then it is not true law, and has no actual authority. For example, if we were living in times of widespread slavery and, for some arbitrary reason, you were designated by society as a slave due to your beliefs, ethnicity, class, gender, in the eyes of the law you have no rights. This is perfectly legal, yet obviously unjust.

What if the arbitrary reason you have your natural rights stripped from you is because you belong to a different species? It is not wrong to harm a human because they are human – it is wrong because they are conscious, feeling, complex beings, not because they belong to the same species. The immorality of harm crosses across species boundaries; unless nature so makes it an absolute biological necessity for an animal being to consume others – a true obligate carnivore – we have no right to destroy the lives of billions of others simply because we fancy it. Continue reading

Animal Suffering: The Hidden World

horse-316956_640What motivates a conscientious individual to, amongst other things, become vegan is the wish to contribute towards lessening this vast, hidden world of suffering. The question asked is simply this: would I rather that there was slightly more or slightly less suffering and harm in the world?

In the tiny corner of the world that one has a presence, one’s actions have direct and indirect consequences to the lives of other living, sensitive beings – both the other humans in our lives as well as all the countless other animal beings we interact with on a daily basis.

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