Defining Animal Rights

I just watched one of the most powerful videos I’ve ever seen.  I heard things I needed to hear.  Some of it was new information.  Some of it was old but helpful to hear a second or a third time.  I’ve mentioned previously that I adopted a plant based diet for health reasons – motivated by the desire to avoid high blood pressure, obesity, rising cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes.  But it didn’t take long to learn about another major motivator.  For me, focusing on my health is an important responsibility, but that alone doesn’t always make it easy to follow new diet rules.  Focusing on being kind to animals and doing as little harm as possible is a huge motivator.

I want to talk about an animal rights activist that I learned about today.  Before you write him off as a crazy person that’s lost sight of what’s really important, please take a moment to consider why the phrase ‘animal rights activist’ makes you squirm.  I’m going to keep this discussion for today on the most basic level.  If you’re not the type to feel like cats and dogs should be treated like members of the family, that’s ok.  If you think cats and dogs are ok but rodents and snakes definitely do not foster warm and fuzzy feelings, that’s ok.  If you feel like the deer, rabbits, possums, whales, dolphins, lions, tigers, and bears all at least deserve to coexist with humans, but not necessarily be treated like other humans, that’s ok too.  Can we at least agree, for the purposes of this discussion, whatever the extent of your compassion toward animals, that all animals have the right to not suffer?  An animal rights activist is simply someone who believes that animals have the right to not suffer, and they’re willing to take action (hence the activist part) to actually make a difference.

So now that we know we’re simply talking about someone who has chosen to be radically kind instead of radically cruel, we’re getting somewhere.

I’m not going to spoil the video because you’ll get so much more out of watching it than listening to my Cliffs-notes version, but here are some of the highlights:

  • We only eat meat, eggs, and dairy for four reasons:  Habit, Tradition, Convenience, and Taste.
  • We share all the anatomical and physiological characteristics of herbivores, not carnivores nor omnivores.
  • Countries where people consume the highest levels of meat and dairy are the same countries that have the highest levels of osteoporosis.  Eating meat creates an acidic state in our blood.  Fortunately, the body has figured out how to adapt – it leaches calcium phosphate from our bones, uses the phosphate to neutralize the acid and the calcium gets urinated out as waste.
  • Farmed animals are enslaved and treated with the same discrimination we have so vehemently fought against.  All forms of discrimination are based upon one party exerting superiority over the other party.  All forms of discrimination were once widely accepted as ‘the norm.’  Fortunately, we have come a long way in wiping out many of these practices, but we’ve still got a long way to go.  Factory farming shares countless despicable similarities to racism, sex discrimination, slavery, sweat shops, child molestation, genocide, and rape.
  • It’s time to acknowledge the blinders that have taught us how to get through life as meat eaters, and it’s time to consider opening your eyes.

I now ask if you are willing to spend one hour educating yourself about some things that you may need to hear too.  I think you’ll find this video entertaining, eye-opening, and informative.  It will challenge you to see things from a whole new perspective.  Please share your comments afterward!

Gary Yourofsky’s Video

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