I wouldn’t be surprised if you had no idea that speciesism was a word or if it even existed. Even writing this blog post, the word is underlined red like it’s some sort of spelling mistake.
The definition of speciesism is the idea that certain animals are seen to be superior to others. Animals in this case also meaning humans because obviously we are animals. I do believe that certain people use speciesism to define the differences in how we treat animals in the meat, dairy and fishing industries compared to those animals that are not part of them, mainly pets for example. However I also don’t think I’m wrong when saying that there are also people who still use it to refer to the idea that humans believe we are superior.
I personally would not eat any animal nor animal products, apart from the eggs that our rescued hens lay. This is due to many reasons such as ecological reasons from the mass overproduction of meat and dairy etc. I also don’t want the food that I eat to be the result of unnecessary suffering to another living being. I also wouldn’t treat any animal differently, whether it be a tarantula or a chicken, obviously they have different needs but I wouldn’t have any less desire to make their live the best it can be.
This is going to sound hypocritical but I think there are cases where we do need animals to be killed. Killing an animal would therefore be considered exploitation to many vegan and animal rights activists and would then not be considered to be treated equally to other animals. Any predatory animal currently in captivity however needs to be fed, therefore another animal must unfortunately die to feed it. When I mean captivity I mean pets such as cats and dogs, animals in zoos or sanctuaries and even injured animals that have come into care such as a fox that’s been hit by a car. This point is also very valid if the animal in question is endangered or at risk of extinction, would its life be more important than perhaps an abundant prey item that you would need to feed it with? I think many of us would agree that the life of the endangered animal is more important and that would be because of its species.
Some might argue, that isn’t what speciesism isn’t about and is in fact about the level of care given to an animal during its time alive. I would fully support the end to this ‘lack of compassion’ speciesism. I have seen many people who actually don’t know that certain animals like fish can feel pain. I have also seen many videos of violent abuse to all kinds of animals where the person committing the abuse would probably understand it feels pain but lacks the empathy because it is a non-human animal. This kind of abuse is seen more often towards animals within the meat, dairy and fishing industries. While I was in India in 2016 I saw many roadside shops that had white rabbits and chickens stuffed into cramp and unsanitary cages underneath the sweltering sun. This is a clear example of humans lacking complete empathy towards the animals, those animals were/are being made to suffer because of what they were and the people selling them had zero thought towards the pain they were suffering.
Even with feeling empathy towards animals and not wanting to cause harm or suffering to them, I believe as a species our lives are more valuable than other animals. I’m not saying valuable in the terms to the overall health of the planet or to the survival of other species. I’m saying to us, an individual person is more important in preserving, keeping alive etc than a non-human animal. To many, the most valuable things in our life would be perhaps our family and friends and to lose them would cause the most emotional pain we can suffer. I’m not saying a pet or any other animal isn’t valuable to us and they may be more valuable to some people than any human is, but to most, no matter how painful it is, losing them wont be as painful as our human companions.
Rightfully in my opinion it is seen as morally right to put a human life above an animal life if the situation came about that we had to choose between one or the other. This would be the right decision and I don’t think there would be any complaints to choose the life of a child over the life a cat or dog for example. In this instance speciesism therefore exists but wouldn’t necessarily be morally wrong. The case for euthanasia is also one to consider, many of us would agree that to put down an animal that would only live a very low and quite often extremely painful life as a kind thing to do. However, to do this to a person would be morally wrong.
Speciesism realistically will always exist and not for a bad reason. To keep many lives going, others do have to die and this speciesism is perhaps important for the health of our planet. It’s the extreme speciesism however that we need to eradicate. The lack of compassion towards animals and to put them though pain and suffering because they aren’t human is inexcusable. Then further into this, a cow, pig or chicken etc should not have to be put through more suffering simply because of what it is, regardless if it will be killed in the end or not, than a pet or other animal.