Rights establish a commitment to others that must be respected and are far more essential than interests. If animals have rights, humans should never do certain things to them, as this would violate their rights. Animal rights are ethical principles founded on the belief that nonhuman species deserve the opportunity to live their own lives free from human influence. Since animal rights are built on autonomy, breaching them harms animals’ ability to live the life they want. All animals can suffer in a similar fashion and to an equal extent as humans. Pain, pleasure, anxiety, frustration, loneliness, and maternal love are all felt by them. Humans have a moral obligation to consider nonhuman interests whenever they contemplate doing activities that would harm them.
Animal rights are infringed upon when people harm animal habitats. Recognition of animal rights results in eliminating environmental problems like greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and air and water pollution from exploitative animal enterprises. Human rights protect humankind from unjust suffering—meanwhile, animal rights advocacy campaigns for animal liberties protect them from inhumane treatment. Animal cruelty laws exist to prevent some cruel acts; however, the law in the United States only prohibits the most extreme and unusual forms of savagery (“Animal rights: Definition, issues, and examples,” 2020). Most animal cruelty, such as lack of housing, abandonment, and sanitation, is unaffected by these restrictions.
Animal rights are necessary because they represent a set of viewpoints that contradict the widely held but inaccurate perception that animals are mindless beings. The idea of animals as non-thinking, non-feeling beings excused their usage from meeting human needs. On the other hand, farmed animals outnumber wild animals, and most domesticated animals are forced to live in harsh conditions on industrial farms (“What are animal rights,” 2021). Animal rights are in immediate contrast to animal cruelty, which includes using animals by humans for a variety of purposes, including food, research, and even pets.
One of the more radical supporters of the animal rights stance is Tom Regan, a philosopher. He embraces the animal rights campaign’s goal of eliminating the usage of animals by humans (the abolitionist approach). Cohen summarizes the animal rights perspective on animal experiments as follows (Rodgers, 2017): Animal experimentation, like eating animals and any other contemptuous use of animals, should be denounced unequivocally, not because it does more damage than good, but because it is innately and categorically immoral.
According to animal rights campaigners, speciesism causes people to be treated better because animals are sentient. Speciesism is a random differentiation based on the misguided idea that humankind is the only creature deserving of moral respect. Speciesism, like sexism and racism, is terrible because animals involved in meat production, such as chickens, pigs, and cattle, suffer when imprisoned, tortured, and slaughtered (Singer, 2020). There is no moral distinction between nonhuman animals and human creatures. Of course, if the animal rights movement achieves its goals, society will be substantially different than it is now.
Scientists claim that human involvement is causing a colossal extinction disaster worldwide. Approximately 543 vertebrate animals have gone extinct since 1900, while the figure could be substantially higher. Species like the Javan rhino, northern hairy-nosed wombat, and tamaraw buffalo are critically endangered, with populations of less than 500 inhabitants in some cases. According to a report published in 2020, one-fifth of all creatures will be endangered by the course of the century (“Animal rights: Definition, issues, and examples,” 2020). However, acknowledging animal rights helps protect animals from extinction from poaching and killing wildlife for sport.
If humans consumed more alternative protein sources, like lab-grown or plant-based meat (clean meat), the worldwide situation would improve substantially (Rubio et al., 2020). Alternative options, such as pineapple leather manufactured from waste from the pineapple industry, would eradicate polluting factories, allowing garments to be made without leather or other animal byproducts. Fur is increasingly shunned by fashion houses in favor of synthetic materials, implying that the fur industry is being rejected. The replenishment of marine inhabitants and bottom vegetation would allow ocean environments to recuperate.
The staggering number of animal mistreatment incidents recorded every day is only the edge of the iceberg—the vast majority of cases go unreported. Unlike violent crimes against people, animal cruelty charges are not documented by state or federal entities, making it challenging to estimate how often they are. However, we can try to identify and avoid incidents of abuse using the knowledge that is accessible. Dogs, cats, horses, and livestock are frequently abused. According to undercover investigations, animal mistreatment is rampant in the industrial farming business (“Animal cruelty facts and stats,” 2022). Only the most shocking examples are documented, and few are ever prosecuted due to the inadequate safeguards granted to animals under state cruelty statutes.
In conclusion, no one is calling for animal and human rights to be identical; nonetheless, in an ideal world, animals would be free of human use and abuse, a vegan cosmos in which animals are not exploited for food, entertainment, or clothing. A future without human-animal exploitation seems to be a long way off. Animals may one day be treated more appropriately by humans due to advocacy efforts that raise awareness of the severe conditions they suffer in places like industrial farms. Animal rights allow animals to exist freely without humans meddling with their environment or life.
Animal cruelty facts and stats. (2022). The Humane Society.
Animal rights: Definition, issues, and examples. (2020). The Humane League.
Rodgers, K. L. (2017). Philosophical and ethical foundations. Science Direct.
Rubio, N. R., Xiang, N., & Kaplan, D. L. (2020). Plant-based and cell-based approaches to meat production. Nature communications, 11(6276).
Singer, P. (2020). Speciesism, lockdown ethics, and controversial ideas. Hear this idea.
What are animal rights and why should animals have rights? (2021). Million Dollar Vegan.