Animal Writes
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3 January 2001 Issue
New in Animal Rights? Check Out These Glossary Terms

from The Animals' Agenda Magazine: Web Edition

Animal Rights
The philosophy of animal rights maintains that nonhuman animals are "subjects of a life," [see The Case for Animal Rights by Tom Regan] and as such have an intrinsic right to live free from human exploitation. This means that all forms of institutionalized exploitation of animals for human use, such as food, clothing, experimentation or recreation, should be abolished.

The Animal Rights Network Inc.
The Animals' Agenda is published by the Animal Rights Network Inc., an IRS 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization founded in 1979.

Animal Welfare
Animal welfare advocates believe in the "humane use" of animals for human gain, providing that the overall benefits to humans outweigh the harms animals endure. They support laws prohibiting "unnecessary suffering" caused to animals.

Animals in Agriculture
Billions of animals are slaughtered for food each year by the meat and dairy industries. Even a cautious estimate indicates that 35.7 million steers, heifers, and calves are killed every year, along with 5.2 million sheep and lambs; 95.9 million pigs; and 8.25 billion chickens and turkeys. The term factory farming refers to the modern practice of raising livestock in crowded indoor warehouses designed to produce the highest number of animals in the least amount of space (to maximize profits). In addition to being extremely cruel and greatly raising the incidence of disease, factory farming is also responsible for the pollution of soil, rivers, and groundwater because of its high output of manure and other waste.

Animals in Entertainment
Countless numbers of animals -- both exotic and domestic -- are forced to live their lives in cages, on chains, or in other forms of confinement or restraint in order to perform in circuses, rodeos, aquatic shows, movies, television shows, nightclub acts, and other arenas. These animals are deprived of their natural behaviors, forced to endure cruel and inhumane training methods, and are often "dumped" into roadside zoos, hunting ranches, or other unacceptable situations when their performing days are over.

Animals in Research and Education
The exact number of animals used in science and education in the United States is not known because no accurate reporting methods currently exist. It is conservatively estimated that at least 20 million animals -- including apes, monkeys, dogs, cats, pigs, guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, and mice -- are used each year for experimentation alone. This research includes tests of household and personal care products; industrial toxicity testing; military research; research on the effects of alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs; transplant research; research on traumas, including head injuries and burns; and psychological and behavioral research. Live animals are also used extensively in secondary schools, colleges, science and engineering fairs, and other "educational" forums. Animals are also bred and/or collected and then killed for use as dissection specimens.

The Animals' Agenda
The Animals' Agenda is a bimonthly news magazine dedicated to informing people about animal rights and cruelty-free living for the purpose of inspiring action for animals. The Animals' Agenda is committed to serving -- and fostering cooperation among -- a combined audience of animal advocates, interested individuals, and the entire animal rights movement.

Companion Animals
There are approximately 57 million cats, 52.5 million dogs, 45 million fish, and 12 million caged birds in the United States. Some of these animals are deliberately bred, while others are allowed to breed because they have not been spayed or neutered. These domesticated animals are kept by humans as companions, but at least 12 million unwanted cats and dogs are killed annually primarily because of overpopulation.

Cruelty-Free Living
A cruelty-free lifestyle involves boycotting products and services -- those obtained from animal sources or related to animal exploitation -- and either abstaining from their use or replacing them with non-animal (vegan) alternatives. This means not eating meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products; buying personal care and household cleaning products not tested on animals and not containing animal ingredients; and avoiding other animal products, including leather, honey, silk, pearls, etc. A cruelty-free lifestyle also involves boycotting places where live animals are used, including zoos, aquariums, circuses, roadside attractions, etc.

Supporters of ecofeminism (male and female alike) are concerned about animal exploitation and its relationship to the oppression of women, people of color, and the rest of the natural world. This philosophy maintains that various forms of human and nonhuman oppression are related to the power structure of white male-dominated cultures.

Misothery means a hatred and contempt for animals and animal-like aspects of nature. Misothery manifests itself in the form of animal exploitation, environmental degradation, etc.

Speciesism is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as "discrimination against or exploitation of certain animal species by human beings, based on an assumption of mankind's superiority." Its implications are similar to those of racism and sexism, in that established societal prejudices have profound effects on the treatment of entire species or populations.

Veganism is a way of living that seeks to exclude (as far as possible and practical) all forms of animal cruelty and exploitation, whether related to food, clothing, or any other purpose. Those who practice this lifestyle are called vegans (VEE-guns).

A vegetarian is someone who does not eat flesh from mammals, birds, or fish, but who may consume eggs and/or dairy products. Those who eat eggs are called ovo vegetarians; those who eat dairy products are called lacto vegetarians; and those who consume both are called lacto-ovo vegetarians.

Vivisection literally means the cutting into or cutting up of live animals. It is primarily used in conjunction with the fields of animal research and testing. Those who engage in this practice are called vivisectors; those who oppose it are called anti-vivisectionists.

Hunters in the United States kill about 200 million animals annually for "sport," including 50 million mourning doves and 4 million deer. The number of animals maimed or crippled by hunters is several times that of those actually killed and recovered.

Another 2.5 million animals -- including raccoons, beavers, foxes, otters, opossums, and coyotes -- are trapped for their fur each year. In addition, there are approximately 3,000 fox farms, 1,000 mink farms, and 750 chinchilla farms in the United States. These ranches keep fur-bearing animals in extreme confinement, deprivation, squalor, and disease until their fur is at maximum value. The animals are then slaughtered for their pelts by such crude (but cheap) methods as strangulation, neck-breaking, suffocation, electrocution, or poisoning.

The Wildlife Services division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (formerly known as Animal Damage Control) is responsible for killing millions of free-roaming animals (primarily predators such as cougars, bears, wolves, coyotes, and foxes) at taxpayer expense, ostensibly to protect livestock ranching interests. Killing methods include poisoning, trapping, burning, shooting, clubbing, and denning (the killing of animals trapped in their dens).

Sources include Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, edited by Marc Bekoff (Greenwood, 1998); The Vegan Society.

“Reprinted with permission from The Animals’ Agenda, P.O. Box 25881,
Baltimore, MD 21224; (410) 675-4566;”
Email: [email protected]

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