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Anti-speciesism : Our definition and the Implications
Our definition of anti-speciesism
Anti-speciesism is the ethical concept that it is immoral to exploit or harm animals just because they belong to a different species. Our definition of anti-speciesism is not perfect, but it deals with most of the issues. We don't feel that it's worth getting bogged down trying to find the perfect definition that covers every eventuality. For us the most important thing is to deal with the issues.
Animals are not humans
Animals are not humans. We can all agree on that. However animals are sentient beings (more about that later on the next page), that can feel pain physically as well as psychologically. They have their own language (spoken or body language). They are intelligent. They have their own skills. Not the same ones as us. Different skills and in some ways even better skills: think of dogs' sense of smell and elephants' communication over long distances. Did you know that chicks can do simple sums after they hatch and that chickens can actually learn to do tricks more easily than dogs? So what gives us the right to treat these animals differently or more badly then we would treat our pets or would want to be treated ourselves as human beings?
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you !
Is it fair and ethically right to keep animals in inappropriate living conditions (sows and chickens in cages/dogs on chains or in cages/lions and dolphins locked up to perform shows), inflict on them certain medical procedures/mutilations (beak trimming/castration/artificial insemination/medical experimentation) or put them through unnatural situations (separation of calves, baby goats and sheep from their mothers/separating dolphins and orca's from their family members when caught in the sea/being bred to be sold for money/being forced fed (foie gras ducks and geese)/being bred to be a production machine (meat chickens/ducks for foie gras/Belgian Blue cows for slaughter) ), if you wouldn't want to be in or endure these conditions/situations yourself? Adverts like this human mother with 4 nipples and 4 babies in a cage and the photo published on the site of Cultura Inquieta , shock a lot of people, but doesn't it make us think, make us conscious of what we are doing to all these non-human animals?
The Five Freedoms
In 1965 the UK government made an investigation into the welfare of farmed animals. The results of that investigation led to the five freedoms of animals.
- Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour
- Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
- Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
- Freedom to express (most) normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind
- Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering
It's sad to see that in the fifty years since that report, the majority of farmed animals still don't have those freedoms. One can postulate any number of reasons but, in the end, it probably all comes down to money. Consumers want to pay as little as possible for their products and the producers (let's not use the euphemistic term "farmer") want to make as much profit as possible. Buildings cost money, so it's cheaper if you can pack more animals in a smaller space and it's also more "efficient", because they can't move around so much, so need less food. Raising pigs on a slatted floor is easier (cheaper) to clean as all the dung and waste can be washed away with a high pressure washer, nevermind that it in no way fulfils the requirements of pigs for a comfortable resting area or their urge to root, nor that the rotting waste makes the inside of the pig shed reek of ammonia.
It's clear that the producers won't change voluntarily: every proposal for improvements is fought tooth and nail by their lobbyists. In France, it's not unusual to see the producers take to the streets, block roads and spray dung over government buildings in protest against regulations that they don't like and the government invariably ceeds.
However, there is still hope and there have been some successes, such as the enrichment of battery cages for chickens, clear labelling requirements for eggs and bans on fur farming in some countries. Although, these have taken years to implement, they are still worthwhile. However, if you want to see a more immediate result, the answer is obvious: stop buying the products.
They don't want to die
Over the years we have been looking after quite a number of animals of our own and also of the association. When an animal is too ill and won't get better and is suffering, we have to make the unenviable decision to ask a vet to put it to sleep. It's a decision you don't take lightly and it is always difficult to decide when is the right time to act. Sometimes we are too late but sometimes we are also too early. It happened with one of our cats Ellie. She was 16 years old but had several health problems like kidney failure and very bad teeth. She couldn't eat properly, became very skinny and very weak. We thought that she was suffering and that the right moment had come, so phoned the vet. On the examination table it was clear there was no alternative: she wouldn't last much longer. However I have never seen an animal resist the anesthetic so fiercely. She clung to life and didn't want to go, even though she was so weak. We saw this with some more cats and chickens. Every healthy animal has a very strong will to live. So to take away the life of such an animal is therefore not acceptable. Isn't the fact that we can live without meat, milk, eggs, leather etc enough reason to stop the slaughter of all these animals? Some people argue that we give them the gift of life and death is part of life. But can we really talk about giving them a life, knowing that most farm animals don't even reach puberty? And can you really call it a life, in confined cages, dark barns, crammed on top of each other?
"If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others... why wouldn't we?" (Edgar's Mission)
Yulin, Faroe Islands and Japan
Every year there are petitions and protests against events such as the Yulin Festival in China, where thousands of dogs are eaten and the dolphin hunts in the Faroe Islands and Japan. Many thousands of people participate in such actions, but we can't help wondering how many of them still eat animals? Why are they appalled by the slaughter of dogs and dolphins yet accept the massacre of cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys etc? Is it because they don't care or is it because they aren't aware?
- (Intensive) Animal farming and slaughter for meat/organs and other animal products like dairy products and eggs
- (Intensive) Animal farming (Mammals, Birds and Reptiles) for their skin (leather) and fur
- (Intensive) Animal farming for wool
- (Intensive) Goose farming for down
- Fishing and fish farming
- Circuses, Zoos and Marine Parks
- Animal testing and animals used in medical or veterinary universities
- Hunting, canned hunting and trophy hunting
- (Cruel) Animal Sports like bullfighting and other fiestas, cockfighting, horse racing, greyhound racing, sled dogs racing, pigeon racing, pig wrestling, rodeos etc.
- Horse and pony riding
- Animals used in films, adds
- Anti-speciesism and climate change
- What can you do?