Humans have excluded themselves as the superior group of animals placing themselves on top of the food chain. The idea of humans as the superior specie in the animal kingdom is excused by many because of their more developed cognitive abilities. This superiority causes humans to ignore the rights of other animals or simply blinds them to the issue of animal abuse already occurring. Animals should have the right to a certain quality of life because they are conscious beings capable of experimenting emotions, their importance in everyday human life, and the knowledge gained from studying them.
The school of thought that advocates for the lack of emotions in animals has roots in an ancient Greek philosophy that animals have no soul, therefore, are incapable of feeling emotions. Famous philosophers such as Aristotle were strong promoters of this idea (Allen, Colin). Animals were portrayed as mere reflex-driven machines with no intellectual capacity. This image has been passed down throughout history and is very much intact today. The lack of care for animal rights is exposed every day in slaughterhouses where thousands of animals live their whole lives in filthy, tight spaces, are fed with harmful growth hormones, and are killed in horrendous ways. Major food companies are looking to meet the demand for fast and cheap animal produce without a concern for the lives of the animals. Although the U.S government has passed Humane Slaughter laws, they are hardly ever kept (Library, National). These animals are raised in their own manure, and are often tortured before they die. Jonathan Balcombe, the director of the Human Society Institute for Science and Policy, has executed experiments that prove his hypothesis of the presence of animal emotions. He observes animal behavior when petting takes place. In 2014 he studied the behavior of goats and sheep. Each individual animal had different preferred petting spots; they all reacted differently when the petting stopped. Enjoyment was a clear emotion shown; aggression also took place when one of the animals was not petted correctly. Balcombe states, “Watching these creatures pursue their wants and needs reminds me that they are individuals with intentions and preferences” (Balcombe, Jonathan).
It is reasonable to assume that not every person in the world will leave animal products as a food source; they do contain nutritional value after all. The change does not have to be found in the overall termination of animal farming, but in the alternatives to factory farming. Large industries see animals as unit numbers of production or property. The degrading conditions animals live in can be reduced if local and smaller farms, businesses, and movements are able to complete the process (Farming, Beyond). This system will unleash a chain reaction of animal care that will be reflected in other aspects of animal abuse. Many animals experience as much or more emotions than a human baby; therefore, they deserve better treatment than what they have been receiving for decades.
- Allen, Colin, and Michael Trestman. “Animal Consciousness.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University, 23 Dec. 1995. Web. 06 Apr. 2017.
- Library, National Agricultural. “Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.” United States Department of Agriculture. United States Department of Agriculture, n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2017.
- Balcombe, Jonathan. “Yes, Animals Have Feelings.” LiveScience. Purch, 10 Dec. 2014. Web. 06 Apr. 2017.
- Farming, Beyond Factory. “Beyond Factory Farming.” Alternatives to Factory Farming | Beyond Factory Farming. N.p., Oct. 2015. Web. 06 Apr. 2017.