Animal rights and human rights are not mutually exclusive

Many people have a tendency to view “human rights” advocacy as distinct from “animal rights” advocacy. And many tend to prioritize human rights work over animal rights work.

Yet when we work to improve the world for animals, we also improve the world for humans.

In the article, “Changing the world, one Monday at at a time,” Jenna Wixon-Genack lists the reasons for going meatless, with animal rights being third (behind the environment and human rights). She writes, “In slaughterhouses, annual employee turnover routinely clocks in at 100 percent. The industry specifically targets vulnerable populations, such as illiterate people and illegal immigrants, and working conditions in slaughterhouses are truly some of this country’s worst.”

For some very illuminating facts and figures, check out these 7 ways factory farms are scary for humans, from the Mercy for Animals blog — and this post about 6 ways animal and human rights are connected.

For those who like to delve into good eco-literature, especially fiction, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle is a great example, via a very realistic novel, of the way animal rights and human rights are intertwined. How can we expect animals to be treated well if we don’t treat our fellow humans well?


Listeners should tune in to this feature interview for Our Hen House’s 119th podcast, “Pete,” is the undercover investigator responsible for the undercover work that led to the film “Death on a Factory Farm,” as well as the HBO documentary, “Dealing Dogs,” as well as countless other investigations into kennels selling animals to research, puppy mills, factory farms, and slaughterhouses. Pete offers a glimpse into his eleven years of doing this unbelievably difficult work — listen to the entire (fabulous) podcast, or skip to Jasmin and Mariann’s interview with Pete 30 minutes in. While Pete may have been doing his work on behalf of the animals, what he learned about the suffering of humans should make anyone who eats meat think not only about the animals but the humans who spend their working lives in the misery of factory farms.

Finally, it’s important to remember that the world in which we humans depend on simply cannot sustain a diet centered around meat. One pound of meat requires more than 30 gallons of water and grain, which in turn requires land. Research has shown that being vegan helps combat world hunger; the UN has urged meat-free diets to ward against hunger, climate change, and the effects of overpopulation. (Check out the new documentary Cowspiracy to learn more.) Even changing the smallest things you do — like choosing cruelty-free cosmetics or opting not to buy leather — does wonders to change the lives of animals, as well as the humans who work in conditions that put them at environmental and emotional risk.

In other words: Being an advocate for animals means being an advocate for humans. Everything is connected.

2 thoughts on “Animal rights and human rights are not mutually exclusive”

  1. Save taxpayer’s money AND defund climate change and environmental destruction by ending the enormous subsidies and tax breaks for animal agriculture!

    “As environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future: deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.” Worldwatch Institute, “Is Meat Sustainable?”

    “If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains… the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.” Environmental Defense Fund

    “A 1% reduction in world-wide meat intake has the same benefit as a three trillion-dollar investment in solar energy.” ~ Chris Mentzel, CEO of Clean Energy

    Step by Step Guide: How to Transition to a Vegan Diet

  2. I agree that the two are connected, absolutely. But there does come a point when we need to be able to stand up and say that animal rights are as important as human rights and the environment. I’m not sure how anyone can rank these things, but I am tired sometimes of how animal activists bend over backwards to say that animals still aren’t quite as important as humans. Tell that to the poor cow from Iowa today who escaped the slaughterhouse, only to be gunned down by police. She valued her life as much as humans value ours.
    Again, I want to make it clear, I am an intersectional animal rights activist. I don’t say humans are less important, but neither do I rank humans above other animals. There is no reason to do that.

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