Animal rights or animal well-being, does it matter?

Someone who takes animal rights seriously, whether or not this is done from a logical philosophy, stops using and eating animals. With this bold statement, it immediately becomes clear that, then, becomes the problem within a political party that wants to take animal rights seriously: nobody wants to be forced to make a choice, or to impose this choice onto others, which he or she is not ready for yet. This also costs parliamentary seats.

Therefore, within a political party, there is picked a solution that does make clear its message, but it does not threaten human freedom too much. This is called pragmatism. Does this make the question unnecessary, if and how precisely do we define animal rights, and does it differ from animal well-being? We better but try. Animals, nature and environment are vulnerable, and a social feeling person sacrefizes a bit of his freedom in favor of the vulnerable. A little more freedom for animals, to be able to lead a natural life, and a little bit less for humans, to make this possible. So far, it is simple. But then in practice: what does this imply for the interests of the farmers and the animals in the bio-industry?

In the bio-industry, animal well-being is barely taken into account, because one wants to produce as cheaply as possible, and one is afraid to lose one's export position. Where, then, is the boundary, what is still allowed and what is not anymore? If, within the bio-industry, we take the example of the docking of pigs' tails, then we get the following considerations. A farmer docks pigs' tails because pigs, when they are bigger, bite each other's tails out of boredom. The farmer then reasons "if I dock the tail of a piglet, then later, the well-being of the young pig, is not affected more". This is right within the farmers' logic. A welfare-unfriendly measure is being taken, to prevent more welfare-unfriendliness. If you approach this situation (based on what philosophy whatsoever) from animal rights, then this docking is called an affection of the bodily integrity, and unacceptable. Indeed: the whole bio-industry contradicts animal rights.

Thus, for animals it is better to think healthy in terms of rights, than of well-being. In practice, the two concepts come together into the five rights to freedom, to which animals have the right, and whose infringement harms the well-being. Most farmers meet three of the five well-being requirements, but none meet them all. In particular, the right to display species-specific and natural behavior, is being harmed. Every sane human being would meet this requirement by giving the animal access to the meadow, but for the agricultural sector, a concrete outer bin is sufficient. Therewith, they can more easily collect the manure, and, consequently, prevent environmental problems. Whether this is just and sufficient, they leave it for review of the public and politics. Let's take animal rights seriously.

A pig taking a refresing bath in the mud

logoThis page describes one aspect of the influence that man has on the quality of life of an animal. We wish to promote the (in other countries as well) growing of awareness, that freedom is also important for an animal. An animal is not a thing, but a being that has the right to quality of a natural way of life. If you want to do something to help animals, click here for our suggestions.

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