Humans have normalized cruelty toward animals to such an extreme degree that, I admit, it sounds a bit outlandish to try to claim that all living beings are equal, but please keep reading with an open mind and an even more open heart. There was never meant to be a hierarchy where humans made it the norm to breed animals only to live a life full of pain, abuse, and suffering. Humans were never meant to inject hormones into cows so that they could be in a constant cycle of giving birth. Humans were never supposed to genetically modify a chicken's genes to the point that their breasts become so big that they’re unable to walk properly, just so that the meat industry can sell them at a higher value. Humans were never meant to take another animal’s skin or fur to keep ourselves warm or to make a fashion statement.
With that being said, I’m sometimes met with the response: “Well humans weren’t meant to create computers or travel to the moon, but we did.” Yeah, we did, but just because we’ve achieved incredible accomplishments doesn’t mean we’re excused from acknowledging the feelings and existence of other living beings. That’s exactly what the animal rights movement is all about. It’s the movement that surrounds the ideals of respecting all conscious beings. Those who support animal rights have extended moral consideration to living beings beyond humans, and it’s a movement driven by compassion, knowledge, and open hearts. Keep reading to gain a deeper understanding of some of the biggest misconceptions about animal rights…
Myth #1: Animals don’t have feelings, so who cares?
If you’ve ever had a positive relationship with an animal, you know that humans are able to bond with them because of a mutual ability to possess feelings. Animals have the full ability to feel just as humans do. It breaks my heart, but you can research videos of mother cows crying when their calves are ripped away from them, animals trying to escape slaughterhouse transportation because they’re fully aware of their fate, angora rabbits screaming as their fur is pulled out while they’re fully conscious, and so many more instances. Simply because animals cannot express themselves with words as humans can doesn’t mean they cannot feel, and it’s time we acknowledge that.
Myth #2: Vegans have limited food options.
Rewinding a bit, in case you’re unfamiliar… Veganism is synonymous with a plant-based diet, meaning that there’s no consumption of eggs, dairy, or meat. Someone may choose to go vegan for a various number of reasons, but for me, it comes down to making an ethical decision. I did it because I don’t think it’s right to harm another living being for the cost of my own pleasure. There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding vegans and what we can eat, and I’ve been asked countless times, “Do you starve? What can you even eat, only vegetables right?” Although I’m a rare case, I don’t even like vegetables. Salad is pretty much my worst nightmare, and I’d much rather eat anything other than a green vegetable, but that’s okay because the world of vegan food is so wondrous and vast! I was never really much of a foodie until I made the switch to veganism because there are so many amazing recipes and restaurants that it’s hard *not* to indulge. You can find or make anything plant-based nowadays. And if you’re in Los Angeles, some of my personal favorite places to go are Crossroads, Gracias Madre, Little Pine, and Night and Market, which isn’t a plant-based restaurant, but it does have delicious vegan options.
Myth #3: Animal testing is a thing of the past.
Although it’s unfortunately still alive and well, animal testing has become less common in the United States. However, it’s still required by law in China, so any brand that chooses to sell their products there is no longer considered cruelty-free. Animal testing is conducted by putting dangerous chemicals all over animals, usually rabbits, to see if what they’re testing is deemed safe for human use. This process resorts in excruciating amounts of pain for the animal and oftentimes death. Some tests include injecting harsh chemicals into the animal’s eyes or pouring toxins on the animal until their fur and skin is burned away. Having a rabbit myself (named Cinnamon Bun!), it makes me absolutely sick to my stomach to think of a poor, innocent bunny having to endure this sort of pain for the sake of beauty—especially with the amount of awareness there is today thanks to activists on the internet and social media.
Myth #4: There aren’t good cruelty-free beauty products.
Luckily, many cosmetics brands have taken a stance against animal testing, and they stick to testing their products dermatologically. There are three symbols displayed on cruelty-free products that indicate that the product was not tested on animals. There’s the Leaping Bunny provided by CCIC & BUAV, the Caring Consumer provided by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and the CCF Rabbit provided by Choose Cruelty Free. It’s important to educate yourself and to be aware of what you’re directly supporting. If more of us stop supporting brands that test on animals, the more likely it will come to an end.
We are more similar to animals than we are different, so it’s important to put ourselves in the position of these innocent beings who just want the opportunity to be viewed as a life instead of a piece of meat. There’s a whole spectrum of involvement when it comes to animal rights, and any form of participation counts. Whether you volunteer with abused animals, support your local shelters, are a voice for animals, are vegan or vegetarian, or any of the above, your actions matter. I volunteer with shelters such as the Los Angeles Rabbit Foundation, the The Humane Society of the United States, and the Farm Sanctuary in hopes of bringing more awareness to the issue. Animals aren’t able to stand up for themselves, so it’s up to us to fight for them and their future.