Do you think itâ€™s wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering and death on animals?
One hundred per cent of the suffering and death we intentionally inflict on nonhuman animals is unnecessary, 99.99 per cent of it in the matter of food alone.
However, the ways in which we exploit nonhuman animals are numerous and go far beyond the mere production of food.
Each individual animal has an interest in its own continued survival and freedoms. If we claim that nonhuman animals 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 one trillion aquatic nonhumans for no other reason than our pleasure, amusement, or convenience.
Nonhuman animals can feel pain, pleasure, fear, happiness, and many other sensations and emotions that humans do.
Humans are not morally superior to nonhuman animals in any objective, 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 canâ€™t morally justify intentionally harming animals without also leaving the door open for moral justifications for harming humans.
We then canâ€™t claim that we ourselves should be protected from the threat of being harmed; any criteria we use to justify denying animals the 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.
â€œDo unto others as you would have them do unto you,â€ 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, â€œWhy shouldnâ€™t animals qualify as â€˜othersâ€™?â€ and, â€œWhat constitutes â€˜a good reason to harmâ€™?â€
Regardless of any other definitions, â€œothersâ€ must include â€œall sentient beings,â€ and â€œa good reason to harmâ€ must not include â€œmerely for our own pleasure or other trivial selfish interests and desires.â€
To make but two 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 â€œfoodâ€ 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 nonhuman animals 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 qualify as deserving of 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 deserve the right to not be used for these things, just like we do, or neither nonhumans nor humans deserve that right. We canâ€™t have it both ways.
If our species as a whole continues to believe that humans are superior to animals and that itâ€™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 itâ€™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 nonhuman animals, we as a species 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 â€œkindâ€ or â€œloving animals,â€ itâ€™s a question of moral justice, which is the most important thing for every human to observe.
In my opinion, itâ€™s 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 of our own convictions, and that we believe in irrational, subjective personal opinion and not objective fact.
To stop intentionally exploiting animals completely means Abolitionist Veganism.
Colin Wright, Ansonia, Connecticut