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20 Great Thinkers Who Spoke Out For Animal Welfare

20 Great Thinkers Who Spoke Out For Animal Welfare
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South African social rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu made headlines recently when his written introduction to a forthcoming publication came out strongly in favor of animal welfare. It is Bishop Tutu’s first major statement on this issue. He said:

I have seen firsthand how injustice gets overlooked when the victims are powerless or vulnerable, when they have no one to speak up for them and no means of representing themselves to a higher authority. Animals are in precisely that position. Unless we are mindful of their interests and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty go unchallenged.

It is a kind of theological folly to suppose that God has made the entire world just for human beings, or to suppose that God is interested in only one of the millions of species that inhabit God’s good earth.

Great Minds Think Alike

Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient for his anti-apartheid work, isn’t the only esteemed public figure to come forward with strongly proclaimed support for the rights and welfare of animals. Through the ages, there have been many such men and women.

Take a look at the list below. You’ll see an impressive collection of accomplished individuals who are revered for their scientific, literary or artistic achievements. These people are heroes to many. We strive to be a little more like them.

If we value their perspective on important issues, it’s worthwhile to know that these smart, savvy people spoke out — loudly and often — in support of the welfare and well-being of animals. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:

1. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) – American Founding Father, author, statesman, scientist and inventor

Benjamin Franklin

“My refusing to eat meat occasioned an inconveniency, and I have been frequently chided for my singularity. But my light repast allows for greater progress, for greater clearness of head and quicker comprehension.”

“Flesh eating is unprovoked murder.”

2. Charles Darwin (1809-1882) – English author and naturalist

Charles Darwin

“There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.”

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Photo credits: Animals image from Thinkstock; Dalai Lama image from russavia/ Wikimedia Commons; Singer image from Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia Commons; All other images from Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

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188 comments

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3:20PM PST on Jan 19, 2014

It's constantly amazing that so many supposedly innocent looking human babies, when grown up dedicate their short and useless lives to unspeakable atrocities. There is a constant flow of human monsters coming into this world.. they are like a flood of satanic evil on the earth

4:37PM PST on Jan 15, 2014

Thank you - wonderful, inspiring, refreshing, and sad all at the same time. They're called great minds for good reason. Thanks again.

9:53AM PST on Jan 14, 2014

Thank you for the information. I can certainly understand why these people are considered to be great thinkers!!!

11:18PM PST on Jan 13, 2014

Some people can live on vegetarian protein, and some can't. I have multiple food sensitivities, including almost all foods, and I can eat only certain meats and fishes and vegetables. I would vastly prefer to be able to eat only plant food, but I do not want to be judged for a diet that I don't choose. We do what we have to, in order to live.

So while I endorse the idea of vegetarianism, I can't practice it. Good for all those who can and do.

11:11PM PST on Jan 13, 2014

Pleased to read this one.

3:15PM PST on Jan 13, 2014

Thanks for the article. I am constantly disturbed at the number of intelligent people who continue to eat meat, even after seeing videos of the cruelty in factory farms and slaughterhouses....

2:29PM PST on Jan 13, 2014

Great thank you xx

11:13AM PST on Jan 13, 2014

Interesting article,Thank you

4:17AM PST on Jan 13, 2014

Thank you!

4:12AM PST on Jan 13, 2014

Omri H. for goodness sake get some perspective: you cannot view 19th century scientists and procedures with 21st century eyes. I will bet you are actually a creationist / (un)intelligent design supporter just looking for pathetic excuses to malign the greatest biologist the world has ever known.
His main scientific studies were of barnacles, however the many variations arising within domestic animals managed by humans within space of a few years identified that over the billions of years that this planet has existed nature would do a better job. The results and benefits of his work far outweigh the sacrifice of a few pie fillings.

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