Currently, society adheres to what is called the “Animal Welfare” position, which claims it is acceptable to use animals as long as we try to impose them the “minimum” amount of suffering possible.
Animal welfare, just like animal welfare laws, are focused on the treatment of animals and on how we can make our exploitation of them “better” or more “humane”.
That is, the Animal Welfare position is based on the following ideas:
- Using animals is acceptable.
- How we treat them is important.
Ethical veganism, on the other hand, is the basis of the animal rights movement. It is a movement that maintains that animal rights mean literally nothing if we claim it is ok to kill animals and use them as commodities.
Ethical veganism maintains that animals deserve the basic right not to be considered property of others. If we agree that animals are not things or commodities, then using them as such by breeding them, selling them and buying them is inconsistent. It is not a matter of how we use or exploit animals. It is a matter of respecting their right not to be considered property.
Therefore, Ethical Veganism, the Animal Rights position, is based on these two simple ideas:
- Using animals is not acceptable.
- How we treat them is irrelevant.
Undoubtedly we all agree that experiencing less suffering is better than experiencing more suffering. Obviously animals would prefer to experience less suffering while being exploited / killed than experiencing more suffering while being exploited / killed. However, that does not address the core problem: that the exploitation and killing of animals is not justified in the first place.
Even if animals did not suffer and even if we could find ways to exploit them that causes them no suffering at all, commodifying animals and using them as resources would still be wrong.
If we look at the core ideas of both positions, we can clearly see animal welfare and animal rights are diametrically opposed. One claims animal commodification is acceptable, whilst the other claims it is not. One claims treatment is relevant, whilst the other claims it is not. So, Animal Welfare and Animal Rights are like oil and water; they are incompatible.
Respecting animals means, at the very minimum, we must stop commodifying them and start regarding them as individuals whose lives matter and must be respected. Animal rights is not about finding “better” ways to exploit animals. Animal rights is about abolishing animal exploitation.
Respecting animals means, at the very minimum, going vegan.