Food for Thought

The complexities of Animal Rights

Below I presented a brief summary of the mission statements of four well known animal rights organizations/individuals. This will give you a range of perspectives. Obviously all care very deeply for non-human rights so this is not an argumentative blog; just providing different points of view to help you to develop your own philosophy regarding rights of all non-humans.

Gary L. Francione Distinguished Professor of Law, Rutgers University

“(1)requires the abolition of animal exploitation and rejects the regulation of animal exploitation; (2) is based only on animal sentience and no other cognitive characteristic, (3) regards veganism as the moral baseline of the animal rights position; and (4) rejects all violence and promotes activism in the form of creative, non-violent vegan education.” 

Professor Francione simply and powerfully believes nonhumans are not our property, therefore we don’t have any control over them in any circumstances at any time. That they are sentient beings and have the same rights as humans. He obviously promotes veganism.


Peta offers a more specific mission: “PETA focuses its attention on four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in the clothing trade, in laboratories, and in the entertainment industry. They also work on a variety of other issues, including the cruel killing of beavers, birds, and other “pests” as well as cruelty to domesticated animals.”  

All of these animal rights issues would be covered under Professor Francione’s mission statement since his is so broad and universal, obviously including promoting veganism. 

Mercy for Animals

MFA mission statement: “MFA works to create a society where all animals are treated with the compassion and respect they so rightfully deserve. We serve as a voice for animals through proactive consumer education initiatives, cruelty investigations, corporate outreach, and legal advocacy.” 

MFA is similar to Peta, with a lot of hands on works, especially with actual investigations of animal cruelty. They have a vegan advocacy program although they use the word “vegetarian” on their site. I called and the woman who answered said they definitely support veganism although they use the word “vegetarian” since it more well known and easier for the non-educated to relate to. 

Humane society of America

The Humane Society provides rescue services and care for animals, advocates against global cruelty, and provides training and services for shelters and offers tips for pet care. A significant difference from Peta, Mercy for Animals and Dr. Francione, the human society does not advocate veganism. They promote “humane eating” although they do adamantly promote against animal cruelty. 

Their position obviously does not contain a philosophical part wherein they see animals as sentient beings whose lives cannot be subjugated in relation to human lives. This is usually the most controversial argument and I would appreciate it if readers would provide their opinions regarding “sentient beings” who are non humans being part of the human food chain.

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