Through lifestyle choices, actualized values, and advocacy, we can all make a real difference in the lives of farmed animals.
Animal sanctuaries exist because we, human animals, too often treat non-human animals poorly. Animal welfare and human rights are not such disparate concepts. While society has certainly evolved on both fronts, we still tend to make a somewhat contrived distinction between the two. We need to continue to push for the further inclusion of non-human animals within this context. It is important that we work together to educate, advocate, and activate against it.
We should not think about veganism as a diet but rather as an ethical decision. Every living being deserves respect and compassion.
As of 2020, around 73 billion animals are slaughtered each year globally. The majority of these are farmed animals who are used for food or milk. The bucolic scenes of farmed animals that are presented to the public are fanciful myths. The treatment of these animals is often appalling, and we believe that this is unethical, cruel, and unnecessary.
There are many causalities that contribute to animal cruelty, but much of it stems from simple speciesism - the idea that one species is inherently more important than another. We tend to empathize with humans more than we do with other species and this leads us to artificially devalue their lives. There is an enormous amount of research on the sentience of almost all other animal species. They feel pain, experience emotions, have memories, and maintain relationships. We share significantly more behaviors and characteristics than we believe. Speciesism creates an illusory superiority. The parallels to human rights are striking. We have worked so hard at minimizing discriminatory and prejudicial behavior based upon an artificially stratified society. Whether it be race, gender, sexual orientation, or a myriad other contrived differentiators, speciesism is just another facet of the same issue.
The Path Forward
So how do we achieve real, sustainable change for our animal friends? One of the most obvious and productive ways to help is to stop eating them. If nobody consumes animal products, there will be no demand for them, and thus the associated abuse will eventually end. While the world is not going vegan overnight, we can work towards lessening the consumptive demand which in turn will begin to effectuate a change in the supply. We should not think about veganism as a diet but rather as an ethical decision. Every living being deserves respect and compassion.
Interest in veganism is growing at exponential rates. Working together, we can add fuel to this growth and keep the momentum going.
As for tackling speciesism, that is no small feat. We believe in and practice a methodical approach to guiding others towards a more balanced valuation of different species. This includes the instructional and informative dissemination of knowledge about the clinical understanding of farmed animal sentience and behavior. An additional tool we utilize is sanctuary tours, both in person and virtual, in which participants see and hear a very different view on farmed animal traits and behaviors. The interactions allow the public to witness the "humanity" in each species.
Our Education & Outreach programs focus on utilizing these techniques to expand our reach. By bringing the concepts to the participants we can overcome the limitations of direct interaction. With planned programs for kids, community groups, and corporate entities we can further extend our influence. The goal for us to instill in the participants a sense of urgency and compassion that they will then spread to others creating the potential for exponential impact.
Other ways you can make a difference for all creatures is by volunteering at a sanctuary, donating to organizations that work for animal welfare, and advocating for them on social media. You can also help by educating everyone in your sphere of influence about the issues of speciesism and animal welfare. Join us in the fight to end farmed animal abuse!