The term ‘Animal Rights‘ is everywhere these days. To the point where perhaps it’s easy to dismiss, like the myriad of other things vying for our attention in the modern world.
But here’s why the rights of animals are important. Now we could get into ethics and philosophy, but to me it’s simpler than that. (By the way, all clickable links included in this article are also included below under ‘sources’).
Firstly we can often see the suffering of animals. It’s right under our noses: stray animals, animals being treated cruelly or neglected, and social media posts and videos of animals suffering in zoos, tanks, labs and cages. We have to stop and ask – what kind of human beings are we, if we can see suffering, but do nothing to stop it?
Then there’s the animal suffering we knowingly or unknowingly cause through our actions. We know animals are killed or treated ‘inhumanely’ so we can eat their meat, wear their wool, fur and skin (leather), and eat or consume materials or ingredients they produce. These include: eggs from hens and other birds, tallow in banknotes, honey from bees, and things like castoreum, bone char and animal fats in perfumes, sugar, plastic bags and frozen dairy products. Not to mention rennet (from the innards of dead baby animals) in many cheeses, or gelatin (from animal ligaments) in most chewy, jellylike sweets.
Or the millions of animals we kill or maim on the roads every day with our fossil-fuel-guzzling cars and trucks, or the countless animals we hunt to purposely kill for ‘fun’ or ‘sport’. Again, if we know we are actively causing suffering of animals (or any beings, for that matter), why aren’t we doing something to reduce or stop our actions?
Now I can hear the usual, sometimes loud or sometimes just confused arguments we humans like to make – “but I like eating meat/eggs/honey”, or even “but animals are just dumb and put here for humans to use”! Or perhaps “but we can’t simply stop eating cows/sheep/pigs/chickens because if we did, what would happen to the millions of these animals we have for this purpose?”
The answer to that is there’s no simple answer! But surely if we work together, we can work it out! If each person just took one action, say to cut down or cut out meat-eating, that would make a huge difference.
There’s another reason why animal rights are important too. Many of the things we do to keep, feed and kill the animals we feel we need, are causing very significant damage to the environment and to planet Earth. Our home, this planet, which is the only home we have, is being damaged by many of our everyday actions.
For example, factory farms are very common, even in countries you may not expect, for example, the UK (‘factory farms’ are where animals such as cows, pigs, rabbits and chickens are kept by the millions in very confined cages or enclosures for their whole lives, limiting their natural behaviour). Not only does this intense farming mean animal diseases are more easily spread through the unhygienic conditions and proximity, which in turn leads farmers to overuse antibiotics, leading to the spread of super-bugs and the decline in effectiveness of antibiotics for humans, but the vast quantities of pollution from the animal waste of these facilities leads to serious environmental hazards and destruction.
Then all these millions of ‘kept’ animals need food and space to be kept. So we clear large areas of forests and other lands which are exceptionally important for ecosystems and environmental health, or those which belong to indigenous tribes, to grow food for the farmed animals we are going to kill and eat, while millions of humans on Earth are starving!
Ultimately it just makes sense to care about animals and be compassionate towards them, because by doing so, that will also save our home, planet Earth. Okay, ‘Animal Rights’ is more than just being kind to bunny rabbits! So why not change something in your life today, to make life better for animals, yourself and the Earth?
I think it’s also really important that our kids – who are the adults and guardians of this planet in the future – get to engage in animal rights and environmental issues when they’re young. That’s why I’ve written Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came, so our children can start thinking and acting for animals and nature, through reading a story (and the extra information included) about animals living through their own environmental crisis.
Sources and further reading: