What is the difference between "animal rights" and "animal welfare"?
There is a fundamental difference between these two positions in the animal movement. The former believes that animals have value in themselves. As co-sharers of the planet, they are deserving of equal consideration, freedom from pain and the right to life , liberty and happiness. It entirely rejects the use or ownership of animals by humans. Animal welfare, on the other hand, demands humane stewardship of animals. It accepts the notion of using animals but doing so with kindness and consideration.
Why animal welfare and not human welfare?
The two are not competing but complementary concerns. Animal welfare is human welfare. The jungle that keeps the tiger safe also saves human lives by providing a perennial water supply, climate control and a flood check for humans. Turning vegetarian saves both animal and human lives. Better food and living conditions helps both the horse and his rider. Injustice and violence to one hurts all. As the weakest , most vulnerable creatures on earth , animals deserve our strongest protection.
It's fine for you to believe in animal welfare, but you shouldn't tell other people what to do.
By the same logic , one should not teach anybody anything. Believing in animal welfare means believing in compassion , nonviolence and respect for all life all of which are worthy values deserving of being preached as well as being practised. If you know of a way to make the world a better place , it becomes your moral duty to share and multiply that knowledge. It is through the teachings of religious , spiritual and moral leaders that the world has progressed to civilized thought and action. If Gandhi had not told us about passive resistance, we would still be ruled by the British . If Abraham Lincoln had not told Southern America that slavery was unacceptable, it would have taken far longer for the black movement to succeed. If you know it to be wrong to hit or hurt a fellow being , you need to share that understanding and persuade others of what you know to be right.
What about all the customs, traditions and jobs that depend on using animals?
The same argument could be used to justify slavery, bonded or child labour and any other kind of exploitation. Custom or tradition is not a reason to continue cruelty. Sati, thuggee, child marriage have all been traditions that we have recognized to be evil and therefore abandoned. As for jobs , every age finds its own way to survive. When cars were invented , nobody thought of the tangawallahs that were thrown out of work. When you bought a computer , did you consider the typists you were rendering jobless? No , you simply did what was best for you. Similarly , you have to do what you believe is right and fair. The world will cope.
What is wrong with Jallikattu, why should it be banned?
Everything is wrong with teasing and torturing an animal in the name of fun. Human celebration cannot be an excuse to ill treat animals. In Jallikattu, a perfectly peaceful animal is beaten , chased , drugged, and driven to violence. Apart from the bull, spectators and participants are regularly injured and killed. By encouraging this kind of cruel public spectacle, we glorify violence and brutalise society.
How can you justify spending your time and money on animals when there are so many humans who need help?
It is not a choice of one or the other. Each of us should do what we can to help any of the myriad life forms that struggle to survive on this planet. Since animals are the weakest creatures on earth , they deserve our strongest protection.
Some animals are bred to be eaten or experimented upon.
Breeding animals does not grant the right to inflict cruelty on them. We produce children, should we be allowed to torture or kill them? When we forcibly multiply or destroy animal populations , we destroy the ecological balance and produce chaos and catastrophe.
Since animals in cages and factory farms or labs have never known anything else, they don't suffer much, do they?
Captive and lab animals feel pain and suffering as much as any living creature. There are natural ways of being that have nothing to do with conditioning. A chicken's natural behaviour is to peck and scratch in the earth. Deprived of this , she suffers both mentally and physically . Similarly lab rats , zoo animals and so on. That they have never experienced liberty or freedom from pain renders their condition more rather than less pathetic.
If animal exploitation is wrong, why aren't there laws to prevent it?
It is people who make the laws and these laws are not always perfect. There used to be laws that allowed slavery , and discrimination against women and blacks and so on. As public attitudes advance , the law reflects that change. Since animals cannot speak or vote, they need humans to fight on their behalf. Already laws are being amended in recognition of animals as sentient beings. The truth can be delayed but not denied and ultimately all forms of animal exploitation will be unacceptable and illegal.
Animals are not as intelligent or advanced as humans, are they?
It is like comparing apples and oranges. Animals have different abilities from humans and in many respects are far superior to us. They can run faster, hear keener, smell sharper, swim, slither, fly. Animals are quick to learn, both puppies and babies take about the same time and effort to potty train. They communicate , play games , adapt and understand. That's more than most people! In any case , the important question is not can they think but can they feel. Animals experience all the same emotions as us including love , hate , jealousy, excitement and fear.
Animals kill other animals for food, so why shouldn't we?
Animals observe the three rules that are crucial to the foodchain—they only kill to eat , they eat only when they're hungry and they reproduce only in sustainable numbers. Humans have violated all three rules and are no longer part of the foodchain. While it is natural for carnivores to eat meat , it is entirely unnatural for humans to do so . We have neither the speed, strength nor stealth to catch prey. Unlike natural carnivores , we are not nocturnal, our saliva is alkaline , we have neither tearing teeth nor nails and we have long intestines which cause meat to rot inside our bodies. While a cat's mouth waters, our natural reaction to raw flesh and blood is revulsion. Eating meat causes a host of diseases in humans including cancer, stroke, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. While animals have to hunt to survive , humans live longer and healthier on non-meat diets.
If everyone turns vegetarian, what will happen to the excess chickens, pigs and goats?
Meat animals are not natural populations. They are forcibly multiplied to supply the demand for meat. In nature , animal populations only grow to that number that can be supported by their environment. In countries where pigs are not eaten , you only find them in small numbers . Similarly goats and chickens. We don't eat cats or donkeys do we yet, have their numbers increased?
If everyone turns vegetarianism, will there be enough for everyone to eat?
On the contrary , if we all turned vegetarian , there would be 10 times as much food to go around. Meat is the least efficient form of food. It takes ten times the resources--land , water and energy-- to produce meat as it does to produce grain. One acre of land can grow either 60 kg of meat or 600 kg of wheat. This is why Mahatma Gandhi said , it is the meat of the rich that steals the bread of the poor. Vegetarianism is the solution to world hunger.
I have heard that vegetarian diets are protein deficient.
Soyabean is the richest source of protein. Tofu, dal, beans and greens provide plenty of protein. In any case , the protein requirement for humans is only 25 gm per 1000 calories. You can get this from even potatoes or peanuts. Most common plant foods (grains, most nuts and seeds) meet the protein requirements, while others ( pumpkin seeds, beans , peas and lentils) exceed them by a considerable margin. While meat , eggs and milk provide a similar level of protein to peas and beans, there is good reason to avoid them because of their high sulphur content which is metabolized to sulphuric acid causing the kidneys to excrete more calcium and reducing blood and urine ph. Animal protein negatively impacts calcium balance and is associated with declining kidney function.
What's wrong with drinking milk? Don't dairy cows need to be milked?
It is unnatural for any adult to be drinking milk. Milk is a glandular secretion produced by the female of every mammal species as a complete food for her young – until they develop teeth to chew. Once you have teeth , your body stops producing the enzyme lactase which is need to digest lactose. Mother's milk of any species contains all the nutrients required by the young of that species to grow to its natural size. Therefore a cow's milk is suited for a big boned creature with 4 stomachs that will grow to an average weight of 200 kg. It is entirely unsuited for a single stomached small boned human of less than half that weight. Milk causes digestive disorders including flatulence and irritable bowel syndrome as well as respiratory disease. Ayurveda has included milk among the 5 white poisons, the other four being sugar, salt, white rice and flour.
Apart from being unhealthy, milk is also extremely cruel as it causes the cow to be kept permanently pregnant, carrying even while she is feeding. It also causes millions of male calves to be slaughtered which is why they are now commonly called ‘katras' or born to be cut. Osho refers to milk as white blood.