In his latest book, "The Most Good You Can Do," one of the modern world's pre-eminent philosophers of ethics, Peter Singer, argues that if we are interested in doing the most good we can do in the world, that is, in reducing the most suffering, there are three main areas that demand our attention. These are saving the environment, ending extreme poverty, and helping the nonhumans animals, especially farmed animals.
In addition to its importance for the nonhumans, vegan advocacy goes beyond helping nonhuman animals. Vegan advocacy seeks to raise consciousness and awareness about the ways in which we treat other beings. The animal rights movement does not just advocate for a select group of beings, it advocates for principles truly universal in their scope.
Animal rights advocates don't just advocate for the rights of chimps or cows or fish. They advocate for a more compassionate world for all beings.
They bring awareness to structures of power that are oppressive and based on exploitation, that harm nonhuman animals, humans, and the environment. Veganism is rooted in the concept of ahimsa, a Sanskrit word meaning non-harm to all sentient beings as well as the living environment. It is a movement that above all values the reduction of suffering, and calls on us all to bring more awareness into the ways in which we relate with all beings, the nonhumans as well as humans. Fundamentally, vegans advocate for the values that all social justice movements uphold. They focus on the nonhumans, but what they are really advocating for is a society in which no sentient being is used as a means to another's end. They are fighting for the elimination of all forms of prejudice and oppression. They work to build a world where no sentient being is discriminated against based on morally irrelevant qualities, where all beings are valued and respected, where none are enslaved or tortured, where all beings are allowed the freedom to thrive and pursue their own innate potential for happiness and joy. As long as our society is built on a foundation of brutality, oppression and exploitation of billions of sentient beings, how can we ever hope to have true justice or compassion within human society?