Animal Rights Activism FAQ
1.) What are animal rights?
2.) What are some examples of animal rights?
3.) Why are animal rights important?
4.) I thought harm to animals is ‘just the natural order of things’ or ‘just what god intended’?
5.) Can animals suffer?
6.) How do animal rights affect society?
7.) How many animals are killed each day?
8.) Can I still be an animal rights activists if I eat meat?
Animal Rights Activism FAQ
What Are Animal Rights?
There’s actually a clear difference between “animal rights” and “animal welfare”
Animal Welfare: is the humane care and use standards for animals in research, testing, teaching, and exhibition.
Animal Rights: the philosophical view that animals have similar, or the same rights as humans.
Animal Rights Activism: a movement trying to end the moral and legal distinction drawn between human and animals, to eliminate the status of animals as property, and to stop the use of animals in research, food, clothing, and entertainment industries.
What are some examples of animal rights?
In the current US legal system, there are laws that grant animals certain rights. Here are some examples:
- The Animal Welfare Act – Sets minimum standards for the “handling, care, treatment, and transportation” for animals kept at zoos, used in laboratories, and commercially bred and sold (like those in puppy mills).
- The “28 Hour Law” – Requires vehicles transporting certain animals for slaughter to stop every 28 hours to allow the animals exercise, food and water. Unfortunately, there are many other exceptions to this law. For example, birds like chickens and turkeys, are exempt by the federal government.
- The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act – Requires that animals be stunned into unconsciousness before slaughter, to minimize pain. Unfortunately, there are many other exceptions to this law. For example, birds like chickens and turkeys, are exempt.
- The Endangered Species Act – Protects fish, mammals, birds, and plants that are listed as threatened or endangered in the United States and beyond. The ESA outlines criminal and civil penalties for violations.
- The PACT (Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture) Act – Makes some of the most horrific forms of animal cruelty — specifically crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling or sexual exploitation — in or affecting the territorial jurisdiction of the United States a federal crime. The vast majority of animal cruelty laws are at the state level. The PACT Act creates a corresponding federal animal cruelty statute.
While all animal protection and animal rights laws are significant steps forward for animals, it’s important to note their limitations so that we can push forward towards justice.
Why is animal rights important?
Animal rights is important because it extends beyond “loving animals”.
Animal rights boil down to one fundamental right: the right to be treated with respect as an individual with inherent value.
At the core is the belief that every creature has a right to live free from pain and suffering.
The primary barrier to living a life free from pain and suffering is prejudice.
Whether it’s based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or species, prejudice is morally unacceptable.
Animal rights teach us that certain things are wrong as a matter of principle.
I thought harm to animals is ‘just the natural order of things’ or ‘just what god intended’?
Just because something is natural does not automatically mean it is good.
Disease and murder are natural but they are not good.
Consciously causing harm to animals is just as insulting to nature as consciously giving someone a disease or consciously murdering a human.
Nature can be cruel, but industrializing and capitalizing on that cruelty is wrong.
Can animals suffer?
Yes. All animals have the ability to suffer in the same way and to the same degree that humans do.
- love (including motherly love!)
Animals are conscious and:
- Know who their friends
- Know who their rivals are
- Have ambitions for higher status
- Compete with each other
- Have lives that follow the storyline of a career – just like human lives
- Try to stay alive
- Get food and shelter
- Raise the young
- Act frightened when there’s danger
- Relax when situations are calm
In this regards, animals are no different from us.
This is why whenever we do something that could interfere with the needs of animals, we have a moral obligation to consider their rights.
How do animal rights affect society?
Here are a few ways that animal rights can affect society. Animal rights:
- Make us smarter. Animal rights activism forces us to learn about the science of animals and humans alike. This elevates our capacity to understand our world and society at a higher level.
- Make us safer. When we learn about animal rights, we learn about both animals and humans. This allows us to make decisions that can protect humans that are science-based and not fear-based.
- Make us healthier. Thinking for animals makes us more conscious about and how our eating and shopping habits influence our earth and the creatures on the earth. When we make more conscious eating choices, we can live much healthier lives than when we simply rely on commercially produced foods.
- Make us more compassionate. At the core of animal rights is the belief that all creatures have the right to be treated with respect as an individual with inherent value. This extends beyond animals and dives deep into human rights, too. Animal rights helps reinforce fundamental values that can unite our global society.
How many animals are killed each day?
According to USDA in 2018, the total number of animals killed (from slaughter + imports – exports + pre-slaughter deaths) are:
- Every year: 55,286,450,000
- Every day: 151,470,000
- Every hour: 6,311,000
- Every minute: 105,190
- Every second: 1,753
This is how many tons of meat have been eaten this year so far:
Can I still be an animal rights activists if I eat meat?
Going vegan or vegetarian is not the only way to save animals and advocate for your ethical values.
If you still want to enjoy meat, you don’t need to feel guilty about it.
We believe that you are responsible to make the right choice for your individual situation.
To decide whether or not to eat meat or not, consider the following:
- Ask your doctor if your health condition allows you to transition to a meatless or vegan diet
- Do you live in a situation where animal-free products are physically and financially accessible? (going vegetarian or vegan can save lots of money depending on where you live)
- It takes time to transition to a new diet. If you decide to change your diet to align with your newfound ethical values, remember to give yourself time to make the transition nutritionally and mentally feasible.
If you decide to continue eating meat (or during your transition out of meat), below are 5 ways to eat meat more ethically and sustainable:
- Eat less meat
- Choose chicken and wild-harvested meat (like wild rabbit or hare) instead of pork, beef, or lamb to reduce your environmental impact
- Choose pasture-raised meat from ethical sources
- Choose locally-fed or grass-fed meat
- Reduce your food waste
Keep scrolling to the next section for some effortless ways that you can make a big difference.
How To Be An Animal Rights Activist
- Avoid foie gras, shark fins, veal, and lobster. Replace them with these alternatives.
- Decrease your meat and dairy intake – chefs like Minimalist Baker, The Happy Pear, and The Vegan Corner have some great recipes. The best thing about this is to change your perspective on cooking. Look for different types of recipes like casseroles, stews, and soups that combine protein elements in different ways.
- Also, learn your protein sources! Yes, you’re going to be asked about this a lot. Yes, it’s going to be annoying. But you can get protein from grains, pulses, tofu, beans, and vegetables. That being said make sure to get hold of a regular B12 pill, or a multivitamin containing B12, to keep yourself healthy.
- Look for animal welfare labeling on the packaging
- Try to remove one animal product from one meal each day (e.g. remove the sausage at breakfast, grilled chicken from your salad, or turkey from your sandwich).
- Offset your animal cruelty footprint by donating to a highly rated animal welfare charity. These organizations uncover animal abuse and advocate for the humane treatment of the animals you eat.
- Try these more ethical meats
- Wild-harvested meat (like wild rabbit or hare)
- Chicken and goat meats
- Grass-fed and pasture-raised beef
- Lean, organic cuts of meat without the skin
- Antibiotic-free meats
- Use these sustainable fish guides to make sure your seafood is ethically sourced.
- Make your own milk and butter alternatives.
- Look for makeup brands that are cruelty-free, vegan, natural and organic, therefore having minimal impact on animals and ecosystems. (FYI, if a brand is selling product in China, they aren’t cruelty-free, as it’s required by law to test on animals for the Chinese market).
- Don’t immediately buy tons of vegan leather/fake fur products. Vegan alternatives aren’t always best for animals, because buying plastic-based fibers will have more widespread negative effects on ecosystems which put more wildlife at risk. Instead, buy plant-based alternatives like Kantala’s vegan bags and Green Banana Paper’s wallets.
- Find cruelty-free fashion products in our ethical living directory.
- If you’re buying fake fur, buy it secondhand instead of increasing demand for synthetic materials.
- Avoid microbeads, which harm marine life and ocean ecosystems. Look for products with natural scrubbing elements like jojoba beads instead.
- When buying fabric and home goods that use textiles, buy wool or alpaca that is either secondhand or certified organic and is from an ethically accredited institution that cares for their sheep.
- If you don’t want animal fibers at all (wool, alpaca, silk), you can try these more sustainable fiber options:
- cotton, hemp, or linen – should be certified organic so it doesn’t pollute the environment
- rayon – better than full synthetics but not the best eco-friendly material
- Tencel – should be certified created sustainably in a closed-loop system
- bamboo – better than full synthetics but not the best eco-friendly material
- modal – better than full synthetics but not the best eco-friendly material
- If you have a garden, try to make it more bee-friendly!
15 Animal Rights Organizations
Animal Rights Organizations In The US
They protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. ALDF does this by filing high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm, providing free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are held accountable for their crimes, supporting tough animal protection legislation and fighting legislation harmful to animals, and providing resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law.
With various advocacy programs and a food business program, they work towards reforming a broken food and farming system and introducing a more humane, fair, and sustainable one.
A national nonprofit organization advocating for animal rights and veganism. They conduct massive public awareness campaigns and train animal rights advocates at their Animal Rights National Conference.
An American organization that rescues and cares for thousands of animals every year through animal rescue work and other hands-on animal care services. They also advocate against puppy mills, factory farms, the fur trade, trophy hunting, animal cosmetics testing and other cruel industries.
Mercy For Animals aims to construct a compassionate food system by reducing the suffering and ending the exploitation of animals for food. They protect farmed animals through undercover investigations, legal advocacy, corporate engagement, organizing events, and through public engagement.
International Animal Rights Organizations
The largest animal rights organization in the world. PETA fights against human-supremacy and advocates for animal rights in laboratories, in the food industry, in the clothing trade, and in the entertainment industry. They work through public education, cruelty investigations, research, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement, and protest campaigns.
Animal Equality’s sole mission is to protect animals through educating the public, asking governments to adopt laws that protect animals, and encouraging major companies to implement policies that benefit animals. They work in countries where there is the most opportunity to create lasting, systemic change for animals.
A global nonprofit organization that runs dozens of campaigns to end animal abuse. They share resources, train other nonprofit organizations, and cultivate a welcoming, collaborative, and changemaking community.
Animal Justice (CA)
A group of lawyers that fight for animal rights in Canada. They work to pass strong new animal protection legislation, push for the prosecution of animal abusers, and fight for animals in court.
Animal Liberation (AU)
An Australian group that works to permanently improve the lives of all animals. They offer research, investigations, educational materials, and a 1800 Cruelty Hotline (1800 751 770) for people in rural NSW and Victoria.
Animals Australia (AU)
They investigate, expose and raise community awareness of animal cruelty. Their website offers easy ways to take action against current cases of animal cruelty.
RSPCA provides rescue and rehabilitation services to animals in need through their shelters and inspectorates. They also push for changes in the law to improve the welfare of animals on farms, in labs, in the wild, in paddocks or our homes.
A hub for animal law and animal protection education. Voiceless works to educate and inspire the next generation of changemakers to think critically and make positive changes for animals.
Animal Aid (UK)
Animal Aid uses peaceful campaigning to advocate against all forms of animal abuse and promote cruelty-free living. They participate in lobbying, provide educational resources, and even train volunteer school speakers to give hundreds of school talks and cookery demonstrations every year.
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