By Varda Mehrotra.
PROMINENT philosopher Peter Singer said, “A prejudice or attitude of bias in favour of the interest of members of one’s own species and against those of members of another species, is called speciesism.”
Why do we consider animals inferior to us? Why are we proponents and supporters of speciesism? We say that their ability to think is not as developed, they can’t innovate like us, animals don’t experience a wide range of emotions, and they can’t communicate like us. But there is no universal standard for these abilities among the humans either.
Not all people can be scientists, philosophers or historians and not all can compete at the
highest levels in sport. Yet, we say, “all humans, regardless of race, sex, caste or ability, are equal.” This is because we believe that regardless of these differences between us, on moral grounds and because we all feel pain and suffering equally, we should all be equal.
Prominent animal rights philosopher Tom Regan stated that in order to have rights, one
must be sentient. Science has, over time, proved the sentience of animals, and therefore,
there is no reason to deny them protection against such pain and suffering. Arising from
this sentience are the ‘rights’ of animals.
Most people today agree that it is wrong to cause animals ‘unnecessary pain and suffering’.
However, in a world where animals have the status of ‘legal property’, we (the animal exploiters) decide what ‘necessary pain and suffering’ is. This covers literally everything – the use and abuse of animals for food and clothing, in zoos, circuses, in home products and in experimentation for research.
If animals have moral rights, then what must follow from this is that animals and their products must not be used as food, entertainment, clothing and experimentation.
The movement for the advancement of animal rights is thus calling for veganism – a life
free of the use of animals and their products for all the above reasons.
The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) is India’s apex animal
rights organisation. As the collective voice of the animal rights movement in India, FIAPO is
the catalyst that protects the interests of animals – through education, research, lobbying,
mobilisation, training and direct action. It has 101 member organisations and over 200 supporter organisations across the country. It runs four broad programmes – on companion animals, farmed animals, performing animals, and on building the movement, to strengthen advocacy for animals in India. The biggest part of FIAPO’s work is to lessen farmed animal suffering through different models of non-violent, vegan advocacy. We at FIAPO work towards eradicating animal suffering, and hope you will consider doing the same.
- Varda Mehrotra is the executive director of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection
Organisations (FIAPO). She is passionate about empowering grassroots animal protection and encouraging collectives and collaboration. Visit www.fiapo.org for more.