A recent Scientific American article highlighted an idea that was proposed at a conference for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This proposal was for a “declaration of rights of cetaceans.” Due to studies that have shown that cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) have superior cognitive and social capabilities, the presenters brought forth the idea that these creatures should be viewed as “non-human persons” and should be afforded the basic right to a life free from human-induced use and suffering.
The article also highlights a case brought before the Spanish parliament in 2008 that attempted to stop the use of Great Apes in human experiments, although the judge determined that the Apes were property and therefore not able to be adopted (the case was based around animal rights activists who attempted to adopt a chimpanzee that had been used in experimentation).
I’m glad ideas like these are popping up in scientific circles and in the news. Despite the government attacking animal rights activists, it feels as though people are (albeit quite slowly) opening up to the idea that animals should not be abused for human use. The “happy meat” movement could be seen as a sort of perversion of this – omnivores feel guilty about the extreme pain and suffering factory-farmed animals experience, so they make themselves feel better by purchasing meat they think are from animals that have led a good life. Obviously, though, “happy meat” (which is a myth) does not stop animal exploitation and cruelty. They are still brutally slaughtered unnecessarily (you don’t need to eat meat, as many people still claim).
Although more people may be open to ideas of animal rights than in past decades, there is still a long way to go. As long as people view animals as property or food, animal rights activists will be fighting a battle. We want the animals to be able to live without being a “thing” that humans use for a selfish reason. So let them live, and go vegan.