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Freedom’s New Frontier: A Guide to Animal Rights

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The Importance of Being Vegan

Veganism is not a fringe philosophy – it is a moral baseline that is consistent with beliefs that most of us already hold. Veganism is a simple matter of refraining from participating in unnecessary and harmful use of sentient beings. As most people are naturally opposed to unnecessary violence, becoming and staying vegan is not a matter of changing any of our basic moral beliefs. It simply requires us to be willing to change the habits we have developed that prevent us from living according to our principles.

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Legal Slavery in the 21st Century

As surely as the abolitionists of the past knew that no man or woman should be the property of any other, the abolitionists of today know that the legal property status of animals stands in the way of their ever receiving any meaningful rights or protection, let alone being granted the freedom to live according to their own needs and desires.

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A Matter of Life and Death

We consider killing humans to be wrong regardless of the individual’s cognitive abilities, moral capacity, mental health, sex, race, nationality, age or sexual orientation. It doesn’t matter whether the person in question is terminally suffering from dementia, psychologically ill, severely retarded or a productive genius – we believe it to be seriously wrong in all cases… By stark contrast, the majority of us act as if there is absolutely nothing wrong with unnecessarily killing a member of certain other species of sentient beings. But what rational basis do we have for such a discrepancy in our perception? What quality is found in all and only humans that could possibly point to the conclusion that the lives of other animals are unimportant?

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Animal Cruelty: Who Is to Blame?

There is something very unjust about the fact that we delegate the most obscene work of our society to a select few who are emotionally hardened enough to carry it out, only to later denigrate them for their disconnection from their natural sense of empathy. When thinking about it honestly, most of us would be hard-pressed to find it in ourselves to slaughter an animal – or to rip off her skin, or slice open her body to remove the entrails, or butcher her flesh into supermarket-sized pieces… And yet, we continue to ask others to do it for us, while most people refuse to even watch these things on video or hear others describe them.

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Speciesism and Veganism: Transcending Politics and Religion

Speciesism, racism, sexism, and other prejudices rely on a morally irrelevant criterion (in this case, species) as the basis on which to deny the interests of an individual belonging to a different ‘group’, even if those interests are more significant than one’s own. As such, speciesism is simply a different form of the same underlying wrong at the foundation of all prejudices. It really doesn’t matter which morally irrelevant criteria we base our prejudice on – sex, race, skin color, age, sexual orientation, species – it is ethically wrong to use such arbitrary criteria to deny the rights of others.

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Making a Killing with Animal Welfare Reform

Animal advocacy organizations work side by side with the animal industry in developing and promoting “humane” labels for animal foods. Not only does this sort of “product development” consulting provide invaluable public relations assistance for these companies, but it also effectively gives these products the “animal people” stamp of approval when they reach the consumer. Although these programs may appear on the surface to offer greater protection for animals, it is painfully clear that they are designed as an (albeit very clever) PR campaign to increase sales, by making consumers feel better about using animal products. These labels, which include Certified Humane Raised & Handled, Humane Choice, Freedom Food and the Whole Foods 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards, could quite reasonably be viewed as the ultimate betrayal from the perspective of the victims.

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Are Anti-Cruelty Campaigns Really Effective?

Because animals are property and economic commodities, we have a wide divergence of social acceptability regarding the treatment of animals.  On one hand, the law permits extreme cruelty for the most trivial of economic benefits, as long as the end use is socially acceptable.  On the other hand, most people would be horrified to see a dog – especially their own dog – endure what animals raised for food or used in experiments endure. Single Issue Campaigns reinforce these irrational dichotomies by singling out specific uses of animals as though they are worse than others. When we campaign to eliminate one branch, such as the fur or seal-clubbing industries, while ignoring other branches, such as the leather, egg, and dairy industries, we send a message to the public that certain forms of exploitation are worse than others.

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Taxpayers Fund Animal Cruelty and Environmental Devastation

Not only do such colossal government handouts artificially affect supply, these subsidies also lower the prices of animal products, which would be close to three times as high without subsidies. Considering the exorbitant costs of animal agriculture to the environment; and the costs of saturated fat, cholesterol, and excess sodium to human health, a responsible government would tax, not subsidize, animal products, even if the rights of animals were not an issue.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Creative, Non-Violent Vegan Advocacy

During the past few years, the call to reduce our consumption of animal products has grown tremendously. There is a great deal of diversity amongst the individuals and organizations behind this appeal, as well as in the reasons and benefits they point to, and most of them are not vegan. However, there is one thing they have in common, and that is that they are all making it easier for people to be vegan for life. Indeed, the movement away from animal use is shaping up to possibly be the most significant social phenomenon of the 21st century.

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Opposition Confirms My Purpose

“I found the minds of the people strangely indifferent to the subject of slavery. Their prejudices were invincible—stronger, if possible, than those of the slaveholders. Objections were started on every hand; apologies for the abominable system constantly saluted my ears; obstacles were industriously piled up in my path… What was yet more discouraging, my best friends—without an exception—besought me to give up the enterprise! It was not my duty (they argued) to spend my time, and talents, and services, where persecution, reproach and poverty were the only certain reward. My scheme was visionaryfanaticalunattainable… But opposition served only to increase my ardor, and confirm my purpose.”

~ William Lloyd Garrison (July 14, 1830)

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Angel Flinn is Director of Outreach for Gentle World – vegan intentional community and non-profit organization whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition.

Dan Cudahy is author of Unpopular Vegan Essays: Unpopular Essays Concerning Popular Violence Inflicted On The Innocent.

 

 

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159 comments

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2:12AM PST on Feb 25, 2013

thank you

2:09AM PST on Feb 25, 2013

thank you

10:52PM PDT on Sep 2, 2012

C. Ruth, this is sort of an "old" discussion, but you're absolutely right on. Care.2 USED to be a place to get a bit "off beat" news or the stories that simply didn't make the nightly TV or front page, and allowed us as people to share our opinions on the issue. Lately, it's become a place to VENT hatred and hurl insults at anyone who thinks differently or has another opinion or belief. The name-calling and judgemental nonsense is astounding. I've read posts demanding DEATH to others for disagreeing on a subject!

10:42PM PDT on Sep 2, 2012

Wow, the folks here have completely stopped communicating and just gone to hate ..I am not a vegan, nor am I a person who would let an individual harm an animal for the sake of the pleasure it brings. I do not stop hunters who hunt for food. I do for those who hunt for pleasure and pelts. I am against removal of predatory animals from the land, and for the limited use of the wild lands we have left. I do not believe folks moving to the wilds, and then complaining the wild animals are eating their pet "Persy" have a reason to complain, Nor do I believe the that we should be encroaching on the few lands where the predictors still live and allowing humans to decide how many breeding animals of a species should be allowed to exist. Wolves should be in nearly all 49 states (sans Hawaii ) and we should ban hunting with planes or any other mechanical method to arrive at a hunting area. IT should not be a way for earning a living by taking a rich man to hunt from the comfort of a plane Helicopter or even a 4 wheeler. I think if you NEED to hunt, then you NEED to walk in to the area you want to hunt. That alone would prevent hunters from entering the deeper areas and allowing natural selection to occur and the animals to be able to replenish themselves. Humans should not decide on what animals can live or die in an area. They have placed so many on the extinct list and now are attempting to add wolves yet again because they are competing for game animals? We should not hunt game an

9:56AM PDT on Jun 24, 2012

Grazie delle notizie.

9:55AM PDT on Jun 24, 2012

Grazie delle notizie.

9:10AM PDT on Apr 20, 2012

interesting article thanks for sharing :)

5:06PM PDT on Apr 5, 2012

Thanks, Caroline! I couldn’t agree more.

Eddie, if you want to wallow in your “dark place”, go ahead, but please don’t pull everyone down with you. For some reason you choose a ‘negative persona’, but others who are genuinely depressed could read your perpetual doom-and-gloom and decide they cannot cope with the misery of this world any longer.

I’m not saying you or anyone should turn a blind eye to the bad things that are happening in this world, but I know firsthand how overwhelming it is. And when we are overwhelmed, we become paralysed, depressed and lose all hope. That isn’t healthy, and it isn’t going to save the animals or the planet.

We simply need to change what we can change, and accept what we cannot. We can look at our own lives and consumption and make positive changes there - as you have done - and feel good about that. We can lead others by example and encouragement, not hand-wringing and blame. We can add our support to organizations who are working on the big problems that individually we can do little about. And we need to stop the “them and us” attitude; of assuming ‘if they ain’t fer us, they’re agin us’. We’re all US: this is OUR planet, and these are issues that WE can and should be able to discuss in a friendly, positive manner.

2:36PM PDT on Apr 5, 2012

There are a lot of angry, jaded and negative people on this thread. I am almost afraid to comment. I will say, however, that negativity and a jaded philosophy will help neither humans nor animals. Try being postive and helpful. And btw, I am an animal welfare advocate and vegan but my family and freinds are not. TRY TO COEXIST.

9:12AM PDT on Apr 5, 2012

Lets pretend that your neck is on the chopping bock, and a million and a half of your brothers and sisters are in line with you to have your life taken from you today. Are you going to focus on how wonderful the people are that are going to take your life today?
Is all of the pollution that is killing everything in the ocean going to magically disappear because people care about 1 kind of animal. The one that they own. All the rest are quite well to die or to suffer all their lives. Is being happy and patting ourselves on the back about what wonderful creatures we are going to stop the devastation that we are doing to the earth, and the horrific train wreck that is coming in the very near future for all of humanity because of our unfathomable irresponsible wreckless behavior?
Did Ghandi bring about change because he said "Yes" I am going to go with the flow? No he didnt, he stood up to the madness and said "NO, this is not how it is going to be." He educated his people and showed them a better way.

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