By guest writer, Ali Tabrizi, The Friendly Activist
As an animal rights activist, I’m also involved in human rights issues and environmental issues. I often expose myself to a lot of brutality, to a lot of violence, to a lot of cruelty and discrimination and through this I've seen that we can't achieve human rights without first achieving animal rights. After all, humans are just one type of animal, just like a pig or a chicken are other types of animal.
We can't achieve human rights without gaining animal rights because the same mentality that says it's okay to kill an animal because they're different from us is the same mentality that says it's okay to oppress someone of another tribe, someone of a different race, someone of different ethnicity, someone who's gay, someone who's straight, someone who's tall, short, fat, or skinny. All these kind of discriminatory issues stem from the idea of hatred based on differences. Animal rights and veganism seek to abolish that mentality.
In times of war, you can see the same acts of violence being demonstrated on both human victims as it is on animal victims. If for example, we look at the design of the concentration camp in Auschwitz, Germany, it was roughly designed based on the factory farming set up at the time. That's how Hitler came up with the way to treat the Jews, gassing them alive as we do today with chickens and pigs and then using their bodies for our benefit.
During Nazi Germany they were melting down the gold fillings and wedding rings of the Jews and making them into jewellery and gold blocks and selling them. They were shaving their hair and making dish cloths out of it to use in homes and consumers at the time may not necessarily have been aware of where their products were coming from. This strikes a similar comparison to the consumer of today who purchases eggs, dairy, meat, all kinds of animal products. People aren't aware of how these animals are really being treated and the fact that they do actually come from animals who are victims, who are thinking, feeling beings with families who, at the end of their factory farm life no longer produce enough and are sent straight to the slaughter house.
People are also unaware of how it's affecting their health and they don't know the environmental impact. I often find three main arguments against veganism. They are firstly, "We've been killing and eating animals for a really, really long time", secondly, "Animals are less intelligent than us" and thirdly, "Eating animals is healthy for us".
Now I'm just going to break this down very briefly. So what if we've been killing animals for a really long time? We've also been killing humans for a really long time. We've been oppressing blacks, women, people from different cultures and different countries. We start wars over resources. Just because we’ve always done it, does that make it right?
Then the idea that animals are less intelligent… Well first of all, I don't believe animals are less intelligent. They show a different kind of intelligence, like an initiative in the wild that many humans wouldn't be able to replicate. Animals display complex memory capabilities, remembering things about their family, themselves, they demonstrate suffering and pain and joy and a desire to live. However, at the end of the day, so what if animals are less intelligent? Does that make it any less immoral or unjust to kill another human being who's less intelligent?
Imagine going through school and failing all your exams and then being sent to the slaughter house because you weren't smart enough! Babies are less intelligent than adults, some disabled and mentally challenged people don't display the same reasoning as an average human being. Take Steven Hawking, arguably one of our species’ greatest minds; he’s not able to talk or walk without the aid of machinery. If he was left alone people wouldn’t have any idea of the brilliant calculations that were going on in his head.
So we're not going to find slaughter houses full of humans who are apparently less intelligent so why would that justify killing animals who display a different type of intelligence?
And finally in terms of health, there are zero nutritional requirements that humans need to come from animal products. We can get all our nutrients from plants, water and sunlight and without harming or consuming any animals at all. Study upon study has shown the superiority of a plant-based diet compared to an omnivorous and Western diet. Don’t we agree that we should all have the right to correct, unbiased health information and healthy, nutritious food?
Animal agriculture is terrible for the environment. The UN’s statistics show that about 13% of all greenhouse gases come from transport; cars, trucks, planes etc. Now animal agriculture on the other hand contributes about 51% so clearly, it has a much greater impact than all of the transport combined. In addition, a lot of the deforestation happening globally is to raise cattle and to create space to grow the feed for them. This results in a massive species loss every day. Up to about 110 species every day become extinct thanks to the constant deforestation due to animal agriculture.
There is also the additional pressure on the environment of the sewage and toxic slurry that comes off these farms all around the world. Once that stuff gets into the water supply, it seeps into rivers causing acidity, which leaks into the ocean creating toxic dead zones where fish can no longer survive because the oxygen percentage is dramatically decreased. Animal agriculture is creating a whole imbalance across all of our ecosystems.
It also affects the economy. Children are dying around the world from malnutrition and starvation when so much of the crops in these countries go to feed livestock, which are then sold for meat products for more affluent people to eat. The adoption of a plant-based diet is the solution to free up a lot more food, which then will lower the prices of grain and enable more people to eat.
Veganism is a solution that has so many positive aspects to it. Without ensuring the rights of animals we are denying all humans the right of a healthy and happy life as well. It’s all connected. By going vegan, you can help save many beings lives, both animals and humans, save the environment and your own health.
Click to watch Ali's video: Human Rights vs Animal Rights
Support the Barefoot Vegan Animal Sanctuary by purchasing the 2017 Art of Compassion Project calendar