In my many years as a vegan, a vegetarian, and an animal rights activist, I have met countless compassionate, caring people dedicated to helping animals. The world has changed drastically in the past several decades—I see compassion and kindness growing and honorable ideals and consciousness flourishing like never before. Far and wide, on every continent and in every city, there are inspiring people making a difference in the lives of animals. Unfortunately, an utterly abhorrent idea still lingers—an idea rooted in discrimination and ignorance—the idea of speciesism. Like any other form of prejudice, speciesism is an archaic remnant of an uncivilized and unethical society.
Speciesism is based on the mistaken belief that humans are superior to other animals and can therefore use and abuse them in whatever ways we see fit. It wasn’t that long ago that perceived differences between races, religions, and sexes led to slavery, oppression, and inequality (and, in fact, such bigotry continues in many places to this day). But just because we are different doesn’t mean that we are “better” or that we have the right to subjugate those whom we have placed in a certain group for one reason or another.
We are different from other species: We look different, we communicate differently, we move differently. But there are some very important things that are inherently the same for us and other animals. We can all feel pain, love, fear, and joy. Animals deserve the same freedom to live their lives for their own purposes as humans do. Is there anything else that matters?
The bottom line is this: We humans are truly unique in one important way, in our ability to argue for new and more just ethical standards. History has shown us that we have evolved ethically, from accepting such things as gladiator fights, cannibalism, and human slavery to creating a kinder and more just world. We cannot and must not stop evolving.
Help put an end to speciesism, just as we have put an end to other injustices before. Help spread the word that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment. Animals are not ours to exploit.
Posted by Edwina Baier