International Animal Rights Day!
On December 10, 1948, the United Nations passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This was done in response to the horrendous treatment many human beings were subjected to during the Second World War. Almost immediately after, people began demanding that all creatures in the animal kingdom be included in this declaration. This movement led to the coining of the term speciesism (discrimination or prejudice against certain species).
Animals have been used or killed by humans for a wide variety of reasons. People have tested cleaning and cosmetic products on them, used them in scientific research, killed them for their pretty pelts or feathers, and caged them for entertainment (be it in fighting rings or unauthorized sanctuaries). Many “trophy” animals have been hunted for nothing more than a single part of their bodies. And the impact humanity has had on the environment has devastated many species’ habitats. The animal food industry (for human consumption) produces more greenhouse gasses than transportation worldwide.
In 1998, the animal rights activist group Uncaged created International Animal Rights Day. They specifically chose the same date as Human Rights Day (December 10) to further reiterate the belief that all sentient beings should share the same rights. They believe, like many early philosophers, that since animals have no means of advocating for themselves, it is our duty to speak for and protect them–much like we would protect a child.
Now, in countries all across the world, many people celebrate International Animal Rights Day by having candlelight vigils, organizing awareness events, or even pledging to make changes in their lives that will help animals. Per People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), one person choosing to adopt a vegan diet can save about 100 animals a year. Even opting to partake in “meatless Mondays” or consciously using less animal products in your meals can be beneficial. Check out this guide from the ASPCA to learn about eating in a more animal-friendly way!
There are many other actions that people can take to help improve the welfare of animals worldwide. These include choosing products from companies that are certified cruelty-free (the Leaping Bunny Program sets the standard for this certification), buying items that do not contain animal-derived materials (such as fur or wool, leather, and feathers), and reducing our carbon footprint.
Curious to learn more about animal-friendly practices or advocating for animal rights? Here are a few resources:
Here you can find updates about active animal welfare cases in Washington (provided by the Animal Legal Defense Fund).
To keep up with the animal movement in the Pacific Northwest, check out the Northwest Animal Rights Network.
The Animal Welfare Institute and The Humane League both have a great vision for a world free of animal cruelty with excellent and reasonable solutions for the food industry, laboratory settings, and wildlife conservation.
Happy International Animal Rights Day!
Article by Wendi Black
Edited by K. Sims
Art by Gabi Gonzolez-Yoxtheimer