America* sometimes helps lead the world in expanding individual rights. But so far there is little progress toward legal rights for nonhuman animals, despite those animals' enormous suffering.
Many people assume advocating for animal rights means not caring about people. But failing to establish animal rights is hurting people.
What is animal rights?
Nonhuman animals' sentience - their capacity to feel pain and experience their lives - necessitates meaningful, enforceable legal rights that will establish interspecies boundaries human beings may not cross. Those rights will eventually end human exploitation and abuse of nonhuman animals and their property status that today ensures suffering on an almost unimaginable scale.
Animal rights advocates understand that early human violations of interspecies boundaries and domination of other animals and their reproduction led to human slavery and other gross injustices by some people against others. Speciesist, racist, misogynist, and other oppressive ideologies rationalized and institutionalized those practices. Establishing nonhuman animals' rights will help expand human rights, equality, and wellbeing.
Animal rights will improve our health.
Pandemics like influenza originate with violations of natural boundaries between humans and other animals. It is no accident that "bird flu" has public health officials scrambling: If not for needless human exploitation of chickens and other birds, we would not face this looming, fearsome problem. Anthrax, smallpox, and other infectious diseases also jumped to humans from other animals - before we knew better than to act like omnivores when we are not.
When nonhuman animals have legal rights, people will not be able to consume their flesh, milk & eggs. Cutting out advertising and other social pressure to consume them will help us all live healthfully on fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains - as recommended by leading nutritionists and more natural to our species. Medical & insurance costs should drop, absent price gouging.
Animal rights will benefit ecosystems and conservation.
Current efforts to protect "the environment" are failing.
Basic resources such as topsoil and fresh water are becoming increasingly scarce as the human population continues to grow and technology runs rampant. Raising animals for food - including growing crops to feed them - uses far more topsoil, water, and oil than farming to fill people's stomachs. When agriculture began, about 5 million people existed on Earth. Today, about 165 times that number are malnourished.
We cannot solve these and other ecological & conservation problems as long as we fail to establish basic legal rights for nonhuman animals.
Animal rights will help prevent war, genocide, and poverty.
Acts of war such as bombing and destroying an enemy's crops and other resources kill, injure, and degrade habitat of nonhuman animals as well.
Ending speciesism and human supremacy and establishing animal rights and all sentient beings' inherent worth will help end genocide and war.
Despite long-standing conflicts based on religion, ethnicity, race, and nationality, conflicts over resources are almost always a cause of war. Animal rights and an end to animal exploitation reduce conflict over scarce resources. Equitably and humanely reducing the human population will also ease pressure on resources and simultaneously reduce harm to nonhuman animals.
For millennia, raising cattle has fostered poverty by driving plant farmers off their land, reducing the land's fertility, and concentrating Earth's wealth in the hands of the few by channeling it through large animals owned by the few.
Topsoil loss due to cattle grazing and producing feed crops for cattle, chickens, pigs and other animals diminishes Earth's wealth, concentrates farmland in the hands of the few leaving less for healthful agricultural production, and ensures high food prices.
People with precarious finances who consume flesh, milk & eggs are more likely to become poor through ill health, related expenses, and the difficulty of working steadily. Costly diseases like those caused by flesh, milk & egg consumption are linked to large numbers of mortgage foreclosures.
Once these matters are well understood, most people will agree animal rights is what America needs most!
* That name accurately includes all of South, Central & North America. RPA uses it referring to the United States here for simplicity.