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What Are Animal Rights In A Nutshell?

What are animal rights in a nutshell? This animal rights information page should explain how it works. I have added this page as a lot of people who turn to veganism, do so because of their concern for animals.

Many people choose to go vegan because they believe that animals shouldn't be used as commodities - so they choose a plant based diet so they are not subsidizing animal exploitation. They also avoid purchasing and wearing materials made from animal skins.

So what are animal rights?

In simplistic terms, animal rights means animals having the right to live their natural social lives free from physical and emotional pain and free from human exploitation. People who believe in the rights of animals do not believe that animals should be taken out of their natural environment and made to live and work in zoos, circuses and other animal exploitation institutions.

Animal rights means that animals deserve some basic rights. The right not to be used as entertainment/sport/food/fashion/vivisection models. Animals have an interest in living their own lives, free from exploitation and harm from humans.

Just as a mentally handicapped person has the right to basic respect, free from human harm, animal rights is based on this idea. The term "animal rights" is not suggesting that animals have the right to vote. It is stating that animals deserve to have their basic needs met and not to be used by humans as commodities.

Many non human animals are more intelligent than human infants, and even some mentally retarded human adults. We would never treat these humans as commodities in this day and age. Some humans claim that we have dominion over animals as we are more "intelligent", and so therefore we have a right to treat animals as we wish. This argument falls flat when you ask if the same can be said of small human infants or mentally retarded humans. Surely then, we can treat these fellow humans who don't share our intelligence, the same way?

So basically, the concept of animal rights means that animals should be able to select their own mates, breed as nature intended, in their natural habitat, free to roam at will, to live their own lives and be able to nurture their own instincts, and to be free from human suffering, pain and exploitation.

The above summary should give an insight into rights for animals. Note that animal rights does not mean animals having the right to vote or being offered the chance to go to school etc. This has to be made clear as people who do not believe in animal rights or who do not understand it, will often come out with statements like these.

It has been said that the animal rights cause is the last major campaign for social justice. At one time, child labour and black slaves were considered the norm' but looking back, how right were those people to campaign for the rights of these people?

There are three main groups of animal protection. They are:


Welfare activists' philosophy varies from person to person and organisation to organisation. Some major campaigns "fight for animal rights" but do not have a "no kill" policy. This makes them a welfarist group. Welfarists accept that animals can be used for human use but seek to minimize the animals' suffering and pain.

An example of an animal welfare group would be an organisation campaigning for supermarkets to only stock free range chicken eggs, or to stop the live export of animals for food. Welfarists believe in animals being killed, as long as their throats are cut in the "nicest" way possible.


Pragmatics feel that some species deserve greater consideration than other species. They agree in using animals if the animals suffering outweighs the benefits to humans.

A pragmatist is concerned with the practical consequesnces rather than the theory.


Abolitionists believe totally in animal rights and believe that no animal should be used for human benefit. Somebody with an abolitionst approach does not believe in wearing fur or silk for example because in doing so, they are subsidizing the animal exploitation industry.

An abolitionist is the definition of a true animal rights believer. An abolitionist believes that all sentient creatures should not be exploited for human benefit. For example, a human baby is a sentient creature which automatically retains the right to basic protection. A dog/monkey/rat etc is also a sentient creature, so also deserves some basic rights. The right to be protected from pain and exploitation.

Further information.

There is a big difference between animal rights and animal welfare.

A fair number of pro-animal organisations campaign for animals to be treated "fairly" before they are killed. Some big organisations will come out to help a dog in distress but also offer their stamp of approval for animals to be sold as food in supermarkets. Some organisations will campaign for animals to be killed before they are transported abroad to be consumed. Animal rights is about the animals not being used as commodities in the first place.

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Leave What Are Animal Rights and go to Animal Cruelty

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Leave What Are Animal Rights and go to Becoming A Vegan

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