What do you mean by “animal rights”?
Animal rights means that animals deserve certain kinds of consideration – consideration of what is in their best interests, regardless of whether they are “cute,” useful to humans, or an endangered species. It means recognizing that animals are not ours to use – for food, clothing, entertainment, or experimentation.
The question is not ‘Can they reason?’ nor ‘Can they talk?’ but ‘Can they suffer?
People often ask if animals should have rights, the answer is “Yes!” Animals deserve to live their lives free from suffering and exploitation.
The capacity for suffering is not just another characteristic like the capacity for language or higher mathematics. All animals have the ability to suffer in the same way and to the same degree that humans do. They feel pain, pleasure, fear, frustration, loneliness, and motherly love. Whenever we consider doing something that would interfere with their needs, we are morally obligated to take them into account.
When we suffer, we suffer as equals.
And in their capacity to suffer, a dog is a pig is a bear. . . . . . is a boy.
Every creature with a will to live has a right to live free from pain and suffering. Animal rights is not just a philosophy—it is a social movement that challenges society’s traditional view that all nonhuman animals exist solely for human use.
Only prejudice allows us to deny others the rights that we expect to have for ourselves. Whether it’s based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or species, prejudice is morally unacceptable.
If you wouldn’t eat a dog, why eat a pig? Dogs and pigs have the same capacity to feel pain, but it is prejudice based on species that allows us to think of one animal as a companion and the other as dinner.
Animals must be off the menu because tonight they are screaming in terror in the slaughterhouse, in crates, and cages.