The quality of life experienced by animals can be considered a tremendously controversial topic for discussions in modern society. In fact, advocacy groups and humanitarians highlight that animals should be perceived as sentient creatures that should not be a part of exploitative industries. At the same time, it is still a widely common practice when animals are used in the areas of entertainment, food, medicine, fashion, and scientific advancement.
Activists do not have the opportunity to stop the exploitation of animals, as these creatures are not protected at the state level. Even though some laws are intended to prohibit animal abuse, numerous species of animals have become extinct lately. In addition to climatic heating and changes in sea levels, the majority of animals also die because of human involvement in their lives. Considering that animals have the ability to suffer to the same degree that people do, they require equal consideration in terms of the quality and length of their lives.
Overview of the Problem and Statistics
The reason why animal rights have become one of the most discussed topics by activities is that the world is undergoing a mass extinction event caused by human activity. On average, researchers predict that around fifty percent of presently existing plant and animal species may become extinct in eighty years (Courchamp et al.). From the perspective of animals, the process of mass extinction is mainly caused by inappropriate human activity. In the twentieth century, the planet lost over five hundred land vertebrate species (Courchamp et al.). However, if this problem is left unnoticed, the same amount of animal species is expected to disappear in the next twenty years only. As a result, it is essential to offer animals rights that would protect them from suffering, exploitation, and disappearing.
At present time, animal abuse takes place in different countries and areas of business. For example, every minute, one animal suffers the abuse of some type (Lockwood, and Arkow). In other words, approximately 1500 animals experience suffering each day. Nevertheless, cruelty is not the primary reason why such a vast number of animals require protection from the government. In fact, over one hundred million animals are used for laboratory experiments every year (Lockwood, and Arkow).
On the one hand, laboratory experiments are beneficial for scientific advancement. On the other hand, scientific advancement should not be based on the suffering of sentient creatures. At the same time, in spite of the fact that dogs are the most common household pets in the whole world, approximately sixty-five percent of all abused animals are dogs (Lockwood, and Arkow). Therefore, statistics demonstrate that animals require help more than ever before.
Proofs Supporting Animal Rights
One of the main causes encouraging activists to promote animal rights is that numerous individuals consume meat every day, thereby supporting the suffering of animals. For example, over two hundred million animals are killed for food around the world every day (Miele). Such considerable popularity of meat in the diet of the global population can be explained by the lack of knowledge in the area of nutrition. In addition, cultural heritage and significant impact of the meat industry marketeers who misrepresent scientific research contribute to the increase in the number of people who add meat to their diet.
In the past several decades, a variety of evidence-based research studies were conducted in this field. Accordingly, scientists highlight that meat is not essential for human survival, which is why it should not be a part of nutrition. A healthy diet for each person should be based on the consumption of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, minerals, and water. In turn, these elements can be found in fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, and nuts. Hence, there is no need to kill millions of animals, thereby creating a gap in nature’s evolutionary process. The combination of physical activity, adequate sleep, and a healthy diet without meat is expected to improve the health status of the global population.
A considerable amount of attention should also be dedicated to animal experiments. For instance, a total of one hundred million animals suffer and die due to various testings in the U.S. annually (Nagendrababu et al.). Most frequently, animals are involved in chemical, drug, and cosmetics tests. Simultaneously, it is important to note that testing cannot be considered a reliable source of scientific information. On average, ninety-five percent of all drugs that are shown to be safe and effective in animal tests fail in human trials (Nagendrababu et al.). Also, if some products tested on rats or mice are harmful to them, it does not mean that these products will have the same effect on humans.
Some opponents of animal rights state that medical testing is extremely important for the development of drugs to cure chronic diseases, including cancer. Nevertheless, statistical data demonstrates that this belief can be considered false. Around hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on cancer research in the past fifty years. Despite the fact that experimental cancer drugs tested on rats by grafting human tumors to their bodies showed a positive effect, nearly ninety-three percent of those drugs were ineffective for people (Popova, and Levkin). Subsequently, animal testing should be banned, as it is a tremendously ineffective strategy that requires a lot of financial resources and animals’ lives.
In the context of financial resources, animal testing can be regarded as an expensive field of scientific advancement. In fact, in addition to costs spent on the testing itself, scientists should also spend money on special care, food, and shelter that animals require. In case the testing brings positive results, expenses can be considered justifiable. Otherwise, considering that the main part of testing sessions is not efficient for the use of humans, a vast amount of money is spent uselessly. If animal testing is banned, the money can be used for the resolution of other essential economic and social issues.
Lastly, animals are able to feel and think, as they have special cognitive abilities. In the past centuries, numerous research studies were conducted to determine if animals have similar cognitive abilities to the ones that people have. In turn, the small sample size, poor data collection process, and the lack of financial resources have led to inaccurate findings. As a result, people had been thinking that animals are unable to think and experience emotions until the end of the twentieth century when the research was improved. Today, people are aware that chimpanzees can manipulate their environment, learn words, as well as mourn the deaths of other animals. Additionally, dolphins are capable of vocal learning, joint attention, and recognizing themselves in the mirror.
When it comes to animals possessing cognitive abilities, it is essential to take into account pigs. For instance, a total of “130 million pigs were killed in the U.S. in 2019” in order to obtain the meat (Alarcón et al.). At the same time, research demonstrates that adult pigs have the same cognitive abilities as a three-year-old child. In other words, behavioral research on domestic pigs in non-laboratory settings shows that these animals have an excellent memory, learning, and problem-solving skills. Considering that this animal has the same psychological development as a preschool child, killing pigs can be considered a sign of human cruelty that should be banned. Each sentient creature deserves a high level of physical, physiological, behavioral, and psychological welfare, which is why animals should also be protected from suffering and exploitation.
Counterargument and Rebuttal
The main argument that is frequently used by the opponents of animal rights is based on the success of the animal exploitation business. As commercial agricultural operations, factory farms are a considerable source of money for numerous individuals. For example, in 2017, “JBS, the world’s largest meatpacker, earned $49.3 billion in revenue” (Tonsor, and Wolf). In addition, this industry offers jobs to a vast number of people in different parts of the world.
For instance, nearly 700,000 individuals currently work in the area of animal agriculture (Tonsor, and Wolf). At the same time, they gain competitive salaries, which is a significant motivation to work in this field. The annual salary of a typical employee working in the industry of animal agriculture varies around $80,790 a year (Tonsor, and Wolf). Therefore, if this industry is banned, numerous individuals will be unemployed and the country will lose a vast amount of financial resources. However, this opinion should also be analyzed from other perspectives.
Presently, the problems associated with water and air pollution, as well as deforestation, play an essential role in the entire world. In turn, factory animal farms significantly contribute to the development of these problems across the globe. In other words, meat production has an enormous impact on potential climate change, as this industry “generates about seventy percent of the nation’s ammonia emissions in the U.S.” (Kristiansen et al.).
In case factory animal farms keep serving their functions, the whole planet will be affected by intense drought, storms, heatwaves, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers in the nearest future. Also, the mismanagement of the vast amounts of manure produced by these organizations is expected to result in multiple lakes, rivers, and groundwater being poisoned by pesticides. Thus, in spite of the fact that factory animal farms are an integral part of the economy of many countries, they should be banned in order to prevent environmental issues.
The idea of giving animals rights undoubtedly has its advantages and disadvantages, although it is crucial to analyze the importance of both sides of debates. Even though thousands of people are employed in the area of animal husbandry, this industry has a tremendously negative influence on the whole world in the context of the environment. Moreover, animals are sentient creatures who have cognitive abilities, which is why killing them is a sign of extreme cruelty.
Simultaneously, despite the fact that animals, such as rats and mice, are frequently used for testing products that can be potentially used by humans, this activity cannot be considered justifiable. In fact, it is a tremendously expensive, time-consuming, and unreliable process. When it comes to food, meat is not considered an essential part of a healthy diet according to multiple research studies. Considering that animals still face suffering and exploitation for unjustifiable reasons, they should be given appropriate rights for protection.
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