Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Animal rights or Animal welfare?

If you put "Animal rights" and "Animal welfare" at either extremes of a scale; where, in between the two, would you stand? Or are you a 100% "for rights" or 100% "for welfare" person?

According to wikipedia the definition of the 2 viewpoints are as follows:

Animal rights is the movement to protect non-human animals from being used or regarded as property by humans. It aims not only to attain more humane treatment for animals, but also to include species other than human beings within the moral community by giving their basic interests — for example, the interest in avoiding suffering — the same consideration as those of human beings. The claim is that animals should no longer be regarded legally or morally as property, or treated as resources for human purposes, but should instead be regarded as legal persons.

Animal welfare views that animals, especially those under human care, should not suffer unnecessarily, including where the animals are used for food, work, companionship, or research. This position usually focuses on the morality of human action (or inaction).

It is hard to define where myself would stand, but I guess as a vegan, it would lie more towards the "Animal rights" side of the scale considering I do not support the livestock industry. Yet, when we come to many other issues, it becomes a greyed area. Take for example pet food. There will be a number of vegans feeding their pets vegan food, but it may be critisized by others as violation of the pets' rights because they may not choose to be a vegan themselves. I personally think that dogs and cats can be fed a proper vegan diet because feeding them meat involves killing of animals, but there will be many who will not agree with me. There's also the issue of keeping pets violating the animal rights view as well.

The animal welfare view also has it's problem. Considering the term "humane slaughter" that is used so often. How humane is considered humane? And is slaughter itself humane in the first place? I personally think that slaughter itself involves no humanity, because none of the animals are willing to die to provide meat for us. Maybe the term "more of less suffering" can be used. But how much suffering is endured when an animal is killed? Only the animal will know, how's that for us to judge?

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