The campaign to expose the harmful, violent, and destructive reality of the animal agriculture industry.

THE FORESAKEN: The environmental movement forgot about animals


When factory farms earn the ire of environmentalists, the focus tends to be on emissions and labor conditions. But these conversations tend to dance around the suffering of the animals that make up the very core of these industries and practices.

BRIAN KATEMAN: The environmental movement as we know it today is a lot bigger than hugging trees and picking up trash… When it comes to the survival of planet Earth and its inhabitants, we’ve been moving toward a “rising tide lifts all ships” approach – healthy land, water, and vegetation are important not just for the sake of beautiful landscapes, but for the well-being of every person who relies on the natural world in one way or another (which is all of us). There’s one cause, however, that’s still conspicuously kept out of these conversations: animal welfare… Examples of animal cruelty in the name of environmentalism come to mind, like organizations making a contest out of killing invasive species, and zoos and aquariums keeping animals in captivity for the supposed sake of “conservation”…

Over the last 50 years, environmentalist critiques have become multi-pronged, taking into account the interrelated issues of race, labor, and the many failings of late-stage capitalism… Despite this increasingly intersectional approach, animal rights are still treated as a fringe issue and often as something non-serious. Scholars and activists critique fossil fuel companies, but many of those same voices have nothing to say about factory farms. When factory farms do earn ire, the focus of the conversation tends to be on emissions, water pollution, land use, and labor conditions. Those are all critical issues, but it seems to me that these conversations tend to dance around the suffering of the animals that make up the very core of these industries and practices…

Progressive, forward-thinking environmentalists have demonstrated the ability to consider the ways social categories like race, gender, and sexuality intersect with environmental issues – but they often stop just short of considering speciesism. It’s a failure of inclusivity, and is dangerously short sighted. It’s high time that we begin seeing the well-being of individual nonhuman animals in this framework. For one thing, it’s not merely sentimental or superfluous to acknowledge the inherent value of nonhuman animals, it’s just a matter of fairness.

We accept that human individuals matter in their own right, and that a functioning society minimizes the suffering of its members. We accept that biodiversity has an inherent value, not merely for the ways endangered plant and animal species could affect human society, but by the simple virtue that they have a right to exist without avoidable suffering. It’s a basic respect for life, and there’s no unbiased reason it shouldn’t extend to nonhuman animals. SOURCE…


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