Speciesism, however, does differentiate between the inherent value of dogs and pigs, between the inherent value of kittens and lambs. This is evident in the language we use to describe other species. A dog is loyal and a pig is lazy. Cats are clean and birds are dirty and disease ridden. We refer to chauvinistic men as pigs and women as "bird brains." It is no wonder that we cannot disabuse ourselves of the cruel notion that farmed animals, for instance, have no redeeming value and therefore are unworthy of our respect, our attention and our help. In other words, it is okay to eat them, even though we have no nutritional need whatsoever for their flesh and secretions. And if it is a-okay to eat them, then why would we, as humans, need to consider the undeniable truth that we have no right to use them for any purpose, let alone torture them as we do? Let's not look at the man behind the curtain because it might offend our sensibilities and cause us to acknowledge our complicity in said horror.
Based on this observation, it is easy to understand why animal rights activists are campaigning for the end to what is referred to as speciesism. In doing so, we acknowledge the rights of other species and we seek to return to them, agency over their own lives. We advocate for an end to callously using them for what passes as food, for clothing and furniture, for household accessories and cleaning products, for personal care products, for entertainment, and medical research. We demand nothing less than letting them be by not breeding them, by not imprisoning them, by not stealing their families from them, by not abusing them and by not murdering them.
World Day for the End of Speciesism Vigil held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
On Aug. 22, in many cities around the world, animal rights advocates attended the World Day for the End of Speciesism. I attended this event in my hometown of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, which included various lectures given by experts in the field, a vigil at the Mont Royal Metro, a march to Parc Lafontaine, followed by plant-based food and a movie under the stars. I was fortunate and honored to bear witness at the vigil and march with some very good vegan friends of mine. Other vegan friends who could not attend were there with us in spirit.