Environmentalism and Animal Rights
“It is easy for us to criticize the prejudices of our grandfathers,
from which our fathers freed themselves. It is more difficult to
distance ourselves from our own views, so that we can dispassionately
search for prejudices among the beliefs and values we hold.”
Professor Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 1993
Unlike any other issue, the arguments surrounding vegetarianism bring into focus the basic motivation for an environmentalist. Is our primary drive enlightened self-interest, wanting clean air and water for ourselves and kin? Are we innervated by a certain set of desires, for natural spaces and charismatic macrofauna? Or are we environmentalists for reasons larger than our personal well-being and desires? Can we think beyond ourselves and the norms of society? Do we recognize and oppose the suffering of others, regardless of race, class, or species?
All creatures – not just wild or endangered animals – desire to be free from suffering and exploitation. Vegan Outreach believes animal cruelty is wrong, whether the victim is an eagle or a chicken, a wolf or a pig. Our publications, Why Vegan? and Vegetarian Living, describes the reasons more people every day are choosing to act with compassion. The Vegan Starter Pack covers everything from recipes to nutrition to philosophy.
The best an environmentalist can do is to help lead forward the evolution of our ethics. As pointed out by The Economist (8/19/95):
“Historically, man has expanded the reach of his ethical calculations, as ignorance and want have receded, first beyond family and tribe, later beyond religion, race, and nation. To bring other species more fully into the range of these decisions may seem unthinkable to moderate opinion now. One day, decades or centuries hence, it may seem no more than civilized behavior requires.”