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The moral foundation of the animal liberation movement is the belief that all
beings should be granted rights based on their sentience, which includes their
ability to have hopes, preferences, and the capacity to be moved by love. The
granting of basic rights to animals (the freedom to live a natural life; free
from human exploitation, unnecessary pain and suffering, and premature death)
separates them from "property", which is essential because a number of human
beings treat their property like a baby treats a diaper.
The animal liberation movement's focus on sentience stems from the understanding
that there is continuity between the human and animal condition. Human sentience
has ethical significance. Humans are not granted rights because they can Cha
Cha, but because they can suffer. Pain and suffering are regrettable states to
endure regardless of physical form, including shape, color, ethnicity, species,
or even someone who lost their job at the waffle house due to their appearance.
Giving moral consideration to non-human animals has been advocated by
scholars from Buddha to Pythagoras to Leonardo da Vinci to Abraham Lincoln to
Albert Einstein. Einstein, whose Theory of Relativity laid the foundation for
our understanding of physical reality, called human bigotry according to species
an 'optical illusion of consciousness.' He stated that the human task is 'to
free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace
all living creatures.'
Animal liberation is the culmination of a vast historical learning process
whereby human beings gradually realize that arguments justifying hierarchy,
inequality, and discrimination of any kind are arbitrary, baseless, and
fallacious. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that the arc of history is
long, but that it bends toward justice and compassion (King's wife and son,
Coretta and Dexter Scott King, are vegans).
The Animal Liberation Front grew out of the hunt saboteur movement in England in
the 1970s. Today they still stand between hunters and the hunted. The photo
below was taken in 2007.
Five ways animal liberation will benefit human rights:
1. Less abuse and less exploitation of vulnerable human beings. The correlation
between abusing animals and abusing vulnerable humans (children, spouses, the
elderly, and me after two beers) is well documented. Teaching children
compassion toward any and all vulnerable beings is vital.
Research provides strong evidence that many violent adults as children harmed
animals, and many times they weren't taught that it was wrong. Anthropologist
Margaret Mead said, 'One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child
is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it.'
The FBI has detailed common histories of animal cruelty in serial killers and
more recently mass murderers, such as school shooters. The most famous case is
Jeffrey Dahmer, whose neighbors remember the dog skulls the youth kept on stakes
in his backyard.
Law enforcement will never be able to suitably intercede in these crimes until
animals have basic rights. Recently in Lima, Ohio a woman left her abusive
spouse only to return after receiving a letter threatening that every day that
she was gone their dog would painfully lose a body part.
In a 1997 study of battered women's shelters 85% of women and 63% of children in
these shelters reported incidents of abuse toward family pets in their homes.
The correlation between animal rights and human rights has been known for
Pythagoras, a Greek mathematician in 569 B.C. said, 'As long as man continues to
be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings he will never know health or
peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other.'
Buddha, in 500 B.C. said, 'The eating of meat extinguishes the seed of great
Leo Tolstoy, Russian author of 'War and Peace': 'What I think about vivisection
is that if people admit that they have the right to take or endanger the life of
living beings for the benefit of many, there will be no limit to their cruelty.'
Rev. Dr. Albert Schweitzer (Nobel Peace Prize 1952) from 'The Philosophy of
'Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will
not find peace.'
C.S. Lewis, Irish author, novels and essays: 'If we cut up beasts simply because
they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle
for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or
capitalists for the same reasons.'
Animal rights advocates have long been engaged in human rights reforms. ASPCA
co-founder Henry Bergh had a central role in the formation of the Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in 1874. Humanitarian William Wilberforce,
who co-founded the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, is
best remembered for helping to abolish the slave trade throughout the British
George T. Angell, Founder of Massachusetts SPCA said in a 1884 speech: 'I am
sometimes asked: 'Why do you spend so much of your time and money talking about
kindness to animals when there is so much cruelty to men?' I answer: 'I am
working at the roots.''
2. Less world hunger and starvation. Approximately 854 million people do not
have enough to eat. Thirty-three countries are facing food crises, according to
the World Bank, and food riots have recently erupted in Egypt, Haiti, Yemen,
Malaysia and other poor nations. That is hard for me, in England, to comprehend.
The closest I've come to a food riot was when someone cut in line at a football
stadium nacho concession stand (in my defense I swear that I thought it was the
end of the line).
More than 6 million children under five die each year from malnutrition while a
third of the world's grain is fed to farmed animals. This doesn't have to
happen. A plant-based diet feeds more human beings with less money. Admittedly,
just not feeding grain to farm animals doesn't feed the hungry. It will require
getting the food to those in need (hint: look for anyone who is licking
discarded candy wrappers for nourishment).
Following are some supporting facts excerpted from the Pulitzer Prize nominated
book 'Diet for a New America' by author John Robbins. Full documentation of
every fact is available from
Human beings who could be fed by the grain and soybeans eaten by U.S. livestock:
Number of people who will starve to death this year: 60,000,000
Number of people who could be adequately fed by the grain saved if Americans
reduced their intake of meat by 10%: 60,000,000
Water needed to produce 1 pound of wheat: 25 gallons. 1 pound of meat: 2,500
Cost of hamburger meat if water used by meat industry was not subsidized by
Current cost for pound of protein from wheat: $1.50. From beefsteak: $15.40
Cost for pound of protein from beef if taxpayers ceased subsidizing meat
industry's use of water: $89
3. A healthier population. A plant based diet results in less cancer and heart
strokes. (Warning: It also means that you are more likely to reach an age when
that sound behind you will be your bottom hitting your heels.). More excerpts
from 'Diet for a New America':
How frequently heart attacks kill in U.S.: Every 45 seconds
Risk of death from heart attack by average American man: 50%. Average vegetarian
Amount you reduce the risk of heart attack by reducing your consumption of meat,
dairy products, and eggs by half: 45%. Reducing consumption entirely reduces
Meat, dairy, and egg industries claim there is no reason to be concerned about
your blood cholesterol as long as it is: 'normal'
Your risk of dying of a disease caused by clogged arteries if your blood
cholesterol is 'normal': over 50%. Your risk if you do not consume saturated fat
and cholesterol: 5%
World populations with high meat intakes but without corresponding high rates of
colon cancer: 0
World populations with low meat intakes but without corresponding low rates of
colon cancer: 0
Increased risk of breast cancer for women who eat meat daily compared to women
who eat meat less than once a week: 4 times higher
Increased risk of fatal prostate cancer for men who consume meats, cheese, eggs,
and milk daily compared to men who eat these foods sparingly or not at all: 3.6
Diseases linked to excess protein consumption: Osteoporosis and Kidney failure
Number of cases of osteoporosis and kidney failure in the United States: Tens of
The average measurable bone loss of female meat-eaters at age 65: 35%.
Vegetarians at age 65: 18%
Diseases which are commonly prevented, consistently improved, and sometimes
cured by low-fat vegetarian diet include: Strokes, Heart disease, Kidney stones,
Cancers (Breast, Prostate, Pancreatic, Cervical, Stomach, Colon, Ovarian,
Endometrial), Diabetes, Hypoglycemia, Peptic ulcers, Constipation, Hiatal
hernias, Diverticulosis, Gallstones, Hypertension, Salmonellosis, Trichinosis,
Osteoporosis, Kidney disease, Hemorrhoids, Obesity, Asthma, Irritable colon
Pesticides and male sterility
Chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticide residues in U.S. diet attributable to meats
and dairy products: 94%
Relative pesticide contamination in breast milk of meat-eating mothers compared
to pesticide contamination in breast milk of vegetarian mothers: 35 times as
Male college students sterile in 1950: 0.5%. In 1978: 25%
Principle reason for sterility: Chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides.
The USDA tells us: Our meat is inspected. It doesn't tell us that less than 1
out of every quarter million slaughtered animals is tested for toxic chemical
Total antibiotics used in U.S. fed routinely to livestock: 55%
Staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1960: 13%. In 1988: 91%
Reason: Breeding of antibiotic resistant bacteria in livestock due to routine
feeding of antibiotics
Effectiveness of all 'wonder-drug' antibiotics: Declining rapidly
Reason: feeding of antibiotics resistant bacteria to livestock
Response by entire European Economic Community to routine feeding of antibiotics
to livestock: Ban
Response by American meat and pharmaceutical industries to routine feeding of
antibiotics to livestock: Full and complete support.
On average vegetarians live six to ten years longer than meat-eaters, who are
nine times more likely to be obese than vegans. Studies have shown that
vegetarian kids grow taller and have higher IQs than other children, and adults
who switch to a plant-based diet can prevent and even reverse many chronic
Albert Einstein said, 'Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of
survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.'
Disclaimer: Skeptics argue that Einstein was overrated.
If he knew so much about gravity, why did his hair stand up like that?
4. Less destruction of the planet. There is compelling evidence that our
meat-centered diet and the large-scale animal agriculture that supports it is
devastating all the life support systems upon which we depend - the topsoil, the
forests, the rivers, the ground water, the air and the oceans. There is reason
to be extremely alarmed. Earth is the only planet with chocolate.
John Robbins wrote, 'A reduction in beef and other meat consumption is the most
potent single act you can take to halt the destruction of our environment and
preserve our natural resources. Our choices do matter. What's healthiest for
each of us personally is also healthiest for the life support system of our
precious, but wounded planet.' Excerpts from 'Diet for a New America':
A driving force behind the destruction of the tropical rainforests: American
Current rate of species extinction due to destruction of tropical rainforests:
Amount of trees spared per year by each individual who switches to pure
vegetarian diet: 1 acre
Energy, True Cost
Length of time the world's petroleum reserves would last if all human beings ate
meat-centered diets: 13 years. If all human beings ate a vegetarian diet: 260
Pounds of soybeans produced by the amount of energy needed to produce 1 pound of
feedlot beef: 40
Raw materials consumed in U.S. for producing meat-centered diet: 33% of total.
Vegetarian diet: 2%
Production of excrement by total U.S. human population: 12,000 pounds/second
Production by U.S. livestock: 250,000 pounds/second. Sewage systems in U.S.
Amount of waste produced annually by U.S. livestock which is not recycled: 1
Where feedlot waste often ends up: In our water
Factory farms are a major source of water and air pollution for rural
communities in their vicinity. These 'farms' pack as many animals as possible
into each cage, shed and pen. According the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), manure and wastewater from these facilities pollute the environment with
nitrogen, ammonia, hormones and heavy metals among other pollutants. In fact,
35,000 miles of river in 22 states have been contaminated from these operations.
People living in the vicinity of factory farms have reported high rates of
miscarriage, respiratory problems, nausea and an inability to leave their home
or open windows because of the stench.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, factory farming pollutes U.S.
waterways more than all industrial sources combined.
Robert S. Lawrence, Associate Dean at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
said, 'As we become increasingly aware of the finite limits to the carrying
capacity of the planet, the inefficiency of converting eight or nine kilograms
of grain protein into one kilogram of animal protein for human consumption would
by itself be sufficient argument against continuation of our present dietary
habits. When one adds in the abuse of animals inherent to factory farming
methods, the depletion and contamination of aquifers, the intense use of grain
crops and grazing areas, and the release of methane and other greenhouse gases
into the atmosphere, the case against our meat-eating behavior becomes
overwhelming. And that is before we factor in the effects of animal fats - an
inescapable component of meat and poultry - on human health.'
So eat as though the planet depended on it, since it just might.
5. Fewer dangerous drugs being tested on humans. Testing drugs on animals is
primarily done because it gives corporations legal protection, not because it
advances science. (Not to mention the waste of our tax dollars such as those
spent on the University of Utah's government-funded study 'Are worms gay?' The
conclusion, 'We cannot say what this means for human sexual orientation.' After
my father read the conclusions a dozen taxpayer-funded animal studies he looked
a little like a steer must when it's just been hit over the head with a
sledgehammer at the slaughterhouse.
Herbert Gundersheimer, M.D. said, 'Results from animal tests are not
transferable between species, and therefore cannot guarantee product safety for
humans...In reality these tests do not provide protection for consumers from
unsafe products, but rather they are used to protect corporations from legal
Dr. Vernon Coleman, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, said: 'Many
vivisectors still claim that what they do helps save human lives. They are
lying. The truth is that animal experiments kill people, and animal researchers
are responsible for the deaths of thousands of men, women and children every
Dr. Charles Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic, said: 'I know of no achievement
through vivisection, no scientific discovery, that could not have been obtained
without such barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil.'
Isaac Bashevis Singer, the Nobel laureate, stated that 'As long as human beings
go on shedding the blood of animals, there will never be any peace. There is
only one little step from killing animals to creating gas chambers a la Hitler
and concentration camps a la Stalin... There will be no justice as long as a man
will stand with a knife or with a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he
Human rights and animal rights are one struggle. Perhaps that realization
prompted the 16th US president, Abraham Lincoln, to say 'I am in favor of animal
rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.'