What speciesism is and why it is not fair?

Have you ever heard of speciesism? It’s a term that might not be familiar to everyone, but it’s an important concept that sheds light on the unfair treatment of certain species. So, what is speciesism exactly? Simply put, it refers to the belief that certain species, typically human beings, are superior to others and therefore deserving of more rights and privileges.

Speciesism is the belief that some species are inherently more valuable or deserving of moral consideration than others, and is used to justify the exploitation and mistreatment of animals.  Just like racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice, speciesism is a discriminatory belief system that unjustly values one group over another. It perpetuates inequality and violates the basic principles of justice and equality.

For an example, while dogs and cats are often seen as companions and valued for their loyalty and affection, animals such as pigs, cows, and chickens are seen primarily as sources of food. Distinction between pets and food animals is a cultural and personal one that is shaped by beliefs and attitudes.   There are five reasons why speciesism is not fair:

1. All animals feel pain and suffering

Regardless of whether an animal is a pet or a food animal, all animals are capable of experiencing pain and suffering. Animal exploitation, whether it’s for food, entertainment, or any other purpose, is a form of oppression that causes immeasurable pain and suffering to our non-human friends. For example, a common practice in the livestock industry is factory farming, where animals are kept in crowded and unsanitary conditions and subjected to cruel practices such as tail docking and castration without any pain relief. These practices cause animals to experience significant physical and psychological suffering, and demonstrate the inherent cruelty of speciesism.

Another example is the use of animals in circuses and other forms of entertainment. Animals used in circuses are often subjected to physical and psychological abuse as they are trained to perform unnatural and often painful acts. This exploitation of animals for entertainment is an example of speciesism in action, as it prioritises human enjoyment over the well-being and basic rights of animals. These examples illustrate why speciesism is not fair and how it leads to the exploitation and suffering of animals.

2. Animals have unique personalities and individuality

Animals have unique personalities, emotions, and individual preferences. Ignoring these characteristics and treating animals as mere commodities is unjust and cruel. Farm animals, such as cows, pigs, and chickens, are often considered mere commodities in the livestock industry and subjected to inhumane treatment. However, these animals also have unique personalities and individual preferences.

For example, pigs are highly intelligent animals with complex social relationships and individual personalities. Studies have shown that pigs have individual preferences for different foods and toys, and that they are capable of empathy, problem solving, and even deception. Pigs also have unique vocalisations and body language that express their emotions and individuality.

Cows are social animals that form strong bonds with other members of their herd. They also have individual personalities, and studies have shown that cows can be dominant, submissive, friendly, or nervous, depending on their individual characteristics. Cows have been found to have individual preferences for food and social interaction, and they are capable of exhibiting complex emotions, including joy, excitement, and distress.

3. Animals have their own instincts and desires

Wild animals, such as lions, tigers and elephants, have strong natural instincts and needs that are critical to their well-being and survival. For example, lions are natural predators that are adapted to hunting, while elephants are social animals that live in complex social groups. When these wild animals are kept in captivity, such as in zoos or circuses, they do not have the opportunity to live their lives as they would in their natural habitats. This can cause significant physical and psychological harm to these animals.

Farmed animals also have natural instincts and needs that are often ignored in the factory farming system. For example, chickens are naturally social animals that form complex social relationships with other chickens, but in factory farming systems, they are often kept in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions that prevent them from forming these relationships.

4. There is no scientific basis for speciesism

The idea that some species are inherently more valuable than others is not supported by scientific evidence. In fact, the scientific community recognises that all species are part of the same interconnected web of life and that each species has its own unique value and significance. The latest scientific research has revealed that many species, including animals, have cognitive abilities and emotions that are comparable to those of humans.

These facts are imaginatively described in book “The Turtle who fights for animal rights”  which is a fictional story about a turtle who advocates for animal rights and spreads the message that all animals deserve to be treated with equal respect and consideration. This type of book can be a good way to introduce children and adults to the principles of animal rights and help to promote a more just and equitable world for all beings. Since the book is based on scientific evidence, it can also help to dispel common misconceptions about animals and provide a more accurate understanding of their abilities and emotions. “The turtle who fights for animal rights” has the potential to make a positive impact on the way that people think about and treat animals, and help to build a more compassionate and equitable world for all beings.

5. Speciesism is a form of discrimination

Just like racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice, speciesism is a discriminatory belief system that unfairly values ​​one group over another. It perpetuates inequality and violates basic principles of justice and equality. This type of discrimination is unfair and goes against the principles of justice and equality that are fundamental to a just and ethical society. It is important to recognise and challenge speciesism in order to create a fairer world for all beings and promote the idea that all species should be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their species affiliation. By doing this, we can create a world where all animals get the respect and protection they deserve.

Educating children about speciesism

Educating young generations about the harmful effects of speciesism is critical to creating a more just and equitable world for all beings.  One effective way to educate young people about speciesism is through the use of picture books. Picture books are an accessible and engaging way to introduce complex ideas to children and help them develop empathy and compassion for all beings. Reading books that show cows, sheep, chickens, and pigs as valuable and deserving of respect in the same way as cats and dogs can help children understand that all animals are important and deserving of equal treatment. It is important to start educating children about speciesism at a young age because their beliefs and values about animals can shape their attitudes and behaviours for the rest of their lives.