It’s a way too difficult to define animal rights as compared to human rights. The reason is we can feel the different treatments or procedures, if any, inflicted on humans. We could realize any pains of humans as our own. We fear that we may pass through the same pain one day. Our fear gives us a voice to shout in the union for human rights before it turns late.
Are we suffering alone?
In safeguarding us from unwanted sufferings, we don’t realize somewhere on this planet other beings are also suffering. The moral philosophers define animal rights in a way that makes people understand that all beings are equal and deserve equal treatments. If humans have their rights, then why not animals? It is believed that every living being has consciousness but the degree may differ. This idea is enough to drive the law-makers to bring some decent rights for the innocent mute beings. The rights don’t mean political rights, but it means the just right concerning the justice of every being. The justice which would decrease the sufferings and pains of other creatures.
‘Equality’ for all
When all beings are treated equally then the concepts of utilitarianism turns more sound. The idea of utilitarianism which guarantees larger good for the larger number seems valuable.
But, Is this concepts only for humans? The concept of utilitarianism, in my opinion, is losing some values. The animal rights are being exploited in our choice of being a non-vegetarian. Let’s understand more.
We have our rights to stay at the best of our health. To follow this right, we choose food consisting of animal proteins. We feel it appeasing to our taste buds and dietary needs. We have hundreds of positive reasons for the choice of being a non-vegetarians. But, do we ever realize that we are ignoring the pains and sufferings of the other creatures in our self-choices? How could it be a good thing when our decisions are impacting the living & surviving needs of other beings of this planet? Do we consider the animal as only food? Don’t we think that they have got emotions too?
Jainism totally refrains from providing harms or any troubles to other creatures. They very well understand the need to protect other beings. Though we can’t be completely faithful to Jainism concepts, we could choose our lifestyles in a way that it may not have a negative impact on others.
The solution to the choice conflicts
Now, what kind of choices can we make to stop the pains and sufferings of other beings? Which initiatives would reduce the pains of other creatures? Once we understand that animals are parts of the same Earth where we live. Then, we may never feel that we are exploiting them for the gratification of our own needs. The day when we start accepting them as part of this same planet, then we would take every measure to not hurt them. We would also leave spaces for them so that they may live their life peacefully.
When I see the meats being sold at the markets, I also see the poor animals kept in captivity. Inside the Small dirty cages with minimum food for survival, these animals suffer all the tortures which humans can never imagine for their own self.
When we talk of healthy choices, is it must to be a non-vegetarian? Do vegetarians aren’t fit and capable of meeting survival goals of life? Consider the two sections of society-‘ vegetarianism’ and ‘Non-vegetarianism’- who is healthy, happy and successful? Many of us would say, yes, they both are capable of growing and achieving success in their life. The only difference is the food choices they are following. I have only one question to the non-veggies, couldn’t we alter our food choices a bit to reduce the sufferings of other animals?
Peter Singer, Philosopher & Animal rights activists
Australian moral philosopher Peter Albert David Singer puts forward his theory on the needs for animal rights. He wrote a very influencing book ‘animal liberation’ in 1975. In his book, he discusses the theory of ‘speciesism’ where we give privilege to humans over all other beings. We think only for human welfare and often ignores the value of other beings on this Earth. We, sometimes forget that animals such as Chimpanzee, dogs, cats, cows show some emotions which are as same as the emotions seen in humans. When there is similarity, then why do we consider all this being completely different from humans? Why don’t we leave for them the living spaces they need? Just because they can’t speak and demand, we are leaving all these creatures helplessly suffer the pains.
Peter Singer is totally against the meat produced in a factory, he believes the animals receive more torture in the factory which is generally for the production of meat. The factory farm often treat animals unethically. Believe it or not, the brutally produced meats could only satisfy our hunger but could never satisfy our soul.
Shelley Kagan View on vegetarianism.
Shelley Kagan is a popular philosopher and animal rights activists. His theory is simple where he tries to reflect the different needs in our life.
Looking back at the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we understand that we have physiological needs, survival needs, safety needs, needs for love, care & belongingness, and self -actualization. We can confirm that most of these needs arise for animals too. But, who really cares for it? We, humans, generally care for our own needs. Don’t we?
Now coming back to Shelley Kagan theory. He says that we should involve in something when there is a need. We should be having a non-vegetarian meal when our body really demands from us. Also, it is a proven fact of a stronger link between adopting vegetarianism and living a longer life. Wherever there are no such needs of eating meat, we could adopt other healthier choices.
Noting down Peter singer and Shelley Kagan views, we have reached to the final conclusion which could protect animal rights. They are:
1. Look at the needs of including meat or non-veggies products in your diet. When we have another healthy veg- options, then mostly we should include that.
2. Other beings are also conscious, we should avoid giving any pains and sufferings to them.
Turning vegetarianism is never a compulsion but a choice. It’s we who should play the role of a rational being well. It’s we who should understand the emotions and needs of other beings. It’s only we who would take initiatives to protect and help other living beings to grow and nourish in this beautiful Earth. We are humans, and we should understand the responsibility of supporting the rights and needs of other beings.