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Legal Slavery in the 21st Century

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The Solution: Being Honest about the Meaning of “Necessary”

There is only one way to reduce the vast quantity and severity of the cruelty inflicted on animals by human hand, and that is to change our concept of the word “necessary.” In direct opposition to the definition outlined by legal welfarism, this far more honest definition rejects the idea that we need to exploit animals at all, given the alternatives to animal use in all areas, not to mention the benefits of the dietary aspects of veganism for our health and the environment. This crucial foundation the willingness to accept the fact that we have no need to use animals at all facilitates a whole new understanding, causing us to:

  • reject the property status of animals and therefore reject the traditional moral status of animals as “things” or economic commodities,
  • see animals as persons within the moral community,
  • demand personal veganism as the moral baseline of any movement that purports to take the interests of animals seriously.

Nonhuman animals are just like the vast majority of us in every morally relevant way. And even in morally irrelevant differences — such as conceptual intelligence — they surpass infants and many mentally disabled humans. As anyone who has been around animals a lot can confirm, they are capable of experiencing terrifying fear, excruciating pain, extreme loneliness, tedious boredom, frustration, pleasure, joy, delight, curiosity, satisfaction, comfort, friendship, and apparently even love.

While it’s true that nonhumans may lack the ability to imagine the concept of death as understood by an adult human of average intelligence, it’s painfully obvious that they have an overwhelming interest in continuing to live, and to live a satisfying life. This is made clear not only by the evidence of their sentience and emotional lives, but by the way that they struggle desperately to avoid death and remain alive, often even being willing to gnaw off their own limbs to escape from a trap.

It is our speciesism that causes us to ignore in nonhuman persons those very characteristics that give rise to the most basic rights of all human persons, including infants and the mentally disabled. Speciesism is an exclusionary prejudice virtually identical to racism and sexism that denies the importance of morally relevant characteristics in order to oppress others. The only way to break free from such speciesism is to take the crucial interests of animals seriously and embrace veganism as a moral imperative.

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.

Embracing veganism is simply the logical response to understanding the fundamental truth that no sentient being human or not — should be used solely as a means to the pleasure, comfort or convenience of someone else.

Widespread veganism is the only way for animals to achieve basic rights protecting their most crucial interests, and the only way to put an end to the legally-sanctioned slavery that is the foundation of industrialized animal exploitation.


Angel Flinn is Director of Outreach for Gentle Worlda 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 the transition.

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

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9:04AM PST on Dec 12, 2013

Thanks so much for sharing.

If you'd like to do more, please sign my petition for slavery-free chocolate:

10:26AM PDT on Sep 30, 2011

Thank you for contributing a relevant post Robyn and for referring to me as being of the "younger" generation. You anger is well noted.

4:15AM PDT on Sep 30, 2011

I thought canines lived in packs, not flocks. And the Lycaon Pictus is strange one in the Canine world. Those are the best of the wild canines. they don't fight over food like the wolf, wolves get bitchy when feeding.

4:00AM PDT on Sep 30, 2011

To Brianna K:

Why does everything have "to rock" these days? Is this the descriptive language you learn in school? Rock on, you rock, you rock my world, rock those jeans .. and then there's the neverending "awesome" .. you use either one or both together constantly. Do you have such limited lives? I guess you do. I don't know how "awesome" came into use but "rock" must have come from the media to sell their products. Aren't younger generations supposed to rebel against their parents and grandparents. But we still have the 60s mentality and we've had it ever since then, since the "youthquake". And is "I'm like" for "I think" finally on its way out? I'd like to say goodbye to rock and awesome too. Read some good books, they might make you a bit smarter. Maybe.

3:03AM PDT on Sep 30, 2011

Thanks for posting this. Wish the whole world would just go vegan.

6:08PM PDT on Sep 20, 2011

thank you for the post

1:13AM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

Angel, your articles always rock :) Thank you

1:12AM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

5:01AM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

Yes, MD L., many species put us to shame in the parenting department, but if one actually spends some time observing them instead of merely reacting to internet propaganta sites and blogs, they might be a bit more realistic. You mentioned Army Ants...........ever watch them on the march? anything and EVERYTHING goes when they move. Anything in their path is dismantled and destroyed. Chimps are brutal and bloody when battling over territory and position.

I've raised horses for decades. Observing a mare with a foal in a pasture situation is a good education. My now 24-yr-old mare had one offspring. She, herself, was a pushy filly, and her dam was not a good Mother. Her Mother tolerated anything, but that wasn't always a good thing. Suede, when she foaled, had a stud colt, who demanded to be nursed when HE wanted to be. Suede put him in his place and told HIM when it was acceptable or not. He matured to be a well-adjusted stallion (now 17 years old) and who respects autority from everyone. He certainly was never a slave, just understands his "place" in the hiarchy.

3:08PM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

Actually, humans take pretty darn good care of their offspring on average, easily one of the best parents in the world, if not the best. Certain intelligent and social species like elephants, dolphins, crows and whales come close, but there are also plenty of animals that will happily eat their own offspring (or the offspring of the their own species), or prevent the weaker ones from getting enough food. Wild canines are generally very good parents, but they also have strict pecking orders, and only the strongest members of the are generally allowed to breed at all, and they get the most nutritious portions of kills such as the liver and other organs. The weaker members of the pack are often malnourished, and if food is scarce they may well starve. Of course we do the same. Still, despite the wars and classes/pecking order, on average humans do take better care of their own than any other species I can think of at the moment.

Chimps and ants are the only other species I can think of that practice anything like warfare. As far as infant mortality rates and likelihood of dying by violence we are ahead of all or almost all other species. We are likely the most brutal and destructive to other species though, and we can be very vicious with each other at times. Our intelligence and tool making ability allow us to do everything in extreme.

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