General Animal Rights FAQs
“What do you mean by ‘animal rights’?”
People who support animal rights believe that animals are not ours to use for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation, or any other purpose and that animals’ best interests should be consideredwhether or not the animal is cute, useful to humans, or endangered.
“What rights should animals have?”
Animals should have the right to equal consideration of their interests. For instance, a dog has an interest in avoiding pain, so humans should take that interest into consideration and respect the dog’s right not to have pain inflicted upon him or her. Of course, animals shouldn’t always have the same rights as humans because their interests are not always the same as ours, and some rights wouldn’t make sense, like the right to vote, for example.
“Where do you draw the line?”
We can’t stop all suffering, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t stop any. In today’s world of virtually unlimited choices, there are plenty of kind, gentle ways for us to feed, clothe, entertain, and educate ourselves that do not involve killing animals.
“What about plants?”
There is currently no reason to believe that plants experience pain because they don’t have central nervous systems, nerve endings, or brains. From a physical standpoint, plants are completely different from animals. Many perennial plants, fruits, and vegetables can be harvested over and over again without dying, but that’s not the case for animals.
“It’s almost impossible to avoid using all animal products, and if you’re still causing animals to suffer without realizing it, what’s the point?”
It is impossible to live without causing some harm. We’ve all accidentally stepped on an ant or breathed in a gnat, but that doesn’t mean that we should intentionally hurt someone.
“How can you justify spending your time helping animals when there are so many people who need help?”
There are very serious problems in the world that deserve our attention, and cruelty to animals is one of them. We should try to alleviate suffering wherever we can. Helping animals is no more or less important than helping human beingsthey are both important. Animal suffering and human suffering are connected.
“Most animals who are used for food, fur, or experiments are bred for that purpose, so what’s wrong with using them?”
Being bred for a certain purpose does not change an animal’s capacity to feel pain and fear.
“If using animals is unethical, why does the Bible say that we have dominion over them?”
Dominion is not the same as tyranny. The Queen of England has “dominion” over her subjects, but that doesn’t mean that she can eat them, wear them, or experiment on them. If we have dominion over animals, surely it is to protect them, not to use them for our own ends. There is nothing in the Bible that justifies our modern-day practices, which destroy the environment and entire species of wildlife and torment and kill billions of animals every year. The Bible imparts a reverence for life, and a loving God could not help but be appalled by the way that animals are treated today.
“Animals in cages on factory farms or in laboratories don’t suffer that much because they’ve never known anything else, right?”
Wrong! Animals on factory farms and in laboratories are prevented from doing anything that comes naturally to them, and that causes tremendous suffering. Even animals who have been caged since birth feel the need to move around, groom themselves, stretch their limbs or wings, and exercise. Animals who live in herds or flocks in nature become stressed when they are forced to live in isolation or put into groups that are too large for them to be able to recognize other members. All confined animals suffer from intense boredomsome so severe that it leads to self-mutilation or other self-destructive behaviors.
“Animals are not as intelligent or advanced as humans, so why can’t we use them?”
Being smarter than someone elseanother person or an animaldoesn’t give you the right to harm them. People have the intelligence and ability to choose between behaviors that hurt others and those that do not. When given the choice, it makes sense to choose compassion.