199 online
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 38 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEd News:
OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 1/17/15

Why Humans Need Animal Rights

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   16 comments
Message Stephen Kaufman

Many people think that the only ones who should be deeply concerned about animals are animal rights advocates. Actually, how we treat our nonhuman brethren also significantly impacts our own human welfare. The widespread abuse of animals harms humans directly in many ways, and tolerating animal mistreatment indirectly undermines efforts to assist vulnerable people.

Egg-laying hens suffer greatly, crammed into tiny battery cages.
Egg-laying hens suffer greatly, crammed into tiny battery cages.
(Image by Compassion in World Farming)
  Details   DMCA

Many of the harmful effects related to modern animal agribusiness are well documented and well known. For example, diets heavily laden with flesh and other animal products contribute to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, certain cancers, and other conditions. Animal-based eating is a major factor in global warming, other kinds of pollution, world poverty and hunger, and antibiotic resistance among bacteria. Indeed, many of the world's leading problems are related to eating animals and animal products.

I want to focus on some more insidious and pernicious ways that harming animals in turn harms humans. The spirit of truth is among the first casualties. Those who mistreat nonhumans do their best to hide the facts. For example, seven states have passed "ag-gag" laws that make it a crime for people to photograph or videotape animal treatment in factory farms. That's because, in addition to documenting widespread criminal cruelty to animals, undercover investigations have shown that "standard animal husbandry practices" (which are exempt from animal cruelty laws throughout the United States) involve systematic, institutionalized abuse of billions of farmed animals each year.

Factory farmed animals experience unrelenting pain and misery from birth to death. (See, for example, www.mercyforanimals.org or "Meet Your Meat". Even the small fraction of animals raised "humanely" still routinely suffer mutilations without pain relief, deprivation of many natural needs and desires, and violence and terror associated with transportation to and death in slaughterhouses.

Sows can barely move, confined in gestation crates for months.
Sows can barely move, confined in gestation crates for months.
(Image by Compassion in World Farming)
  Details   DMCA

As best I can tell, the main reason people don't know more about animal abuse is that they prefer a blissful state of ignorance. Whenever I leaflet with literature about factory farms, dozens of people say they don't want to know. Perhaps they fear that this knowledge will conflict with their desire to consume flesh and other animal products.

Does this not parallel one of the main impediments to confronting global warming? People seem to resist inconvenient facts. This will always be a challenge to effective action, but intellectual, spiritual, and political leaders can make a difference if they speak the truth frequently and forcefully. Of course, many "leaders" pander to the desires of the public. That's why every culture needs brave, selfless people who provide the prophetic voice of speaking "truth to power." Their voice is invaluable in times of crisis. Often, theirs is the only voice that victims of our society have.

Most prophets emerge from the ranks of disenfranchised people. However, when it comes to animal issues, nearly all humans are in positions of power. Just as powerful humans are tempted to mistreat weaker humans, weaker humans find it tempting to mistreat or ignore the suffering of even weaker nonhumans, for several possible reasons. First, and perhaps foremost, many people like the taste of flesh and other animal products.

Also, many who want to defend animals remain silent out of fear of offending meat-eaters and those whose livelihoods are derived from animal exploitation. The recent documentary Cowspiracy shows how environmental groups have ignored the massive environmental impacts of raising animals for food rather than risk alienating their donors and dues-paying members. Finally, among activists, it might be more satisfying to advocate on behalf of grateful humans than voiceless animal victims who could never revere them.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Must Read 13   Valuable 8   Well Said 6  
Rate It | View Ratings

Stephen Kaufman Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Stephen R. Kaufman, MD is an ophthalmologist specializing in retinal diseases with a practice in northeast Ohio. He is also the chair of the Christian Vegetarian Association. He has published numerous articles related to animal experimentation (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Why Humans Need Animal Rights

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend