Why do we need to go vegan if we have the best animal welfare laws in the world? The belief that the current legal framework surrounding farmed animals is enough to spare them from suffering is fundamentally flawed, but unfortunately common.
Legality or Morality?
It is true that usually, the Law reflects the current ethical values held by a society. However, something being legal does not imply it is ethical. In other words, society as a whole, and the laws that reflect it, might still be engaging in immoral actions.
Let’s take examples from the past to prove this point. Less than 200 years ago, slavery was legal in the United States. Even more recently, until the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, women did not have a right to vote. Even though they were legal in the past, slavery and misogyny are not acceptable today. This means we should be striving to improve the laws that govern us to move towards an increasingly better society, always placing ethics over legality.
Isn’t it illegal to harm farmed animals?
Even the countries with the best animal welfare laws still allow significant harm to be inflicted on animals. To illustrate this, let’s focus on what are currently considered to be the most ethical practices in animal farming. This is an excerpt of what the Humane Slaughter Association deems a “humane” way to kill an animal:
Infant lambs, kids and piglets can be humanely killed by delivering a heavy blow to the head. This must only be used if no other method is immediately available.
Hold the animal by the back legs and swing it through an arc to hit the back of its head with considerable force against a solid object, e.g. a brick wall or metal stanchion.
If you find this shocking, consider that it doesn’t get better than this. Under U.K. law, chickens can be debeaked, male calves can be castrated and pigs can have their teeth pulled out and gassed in CO2 chambers. And the U.K. is considered to have some of the strongest animal welfare laws in the world. Imagine what the animals we eat go through in countries with fewer regulations.
Any harm to animals is unnecessary
Organisations like the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) say they work to prevent unnecessary harm to animals. But given that eating animal products is unnecessary, shouldn’t we be against all the harm caused in the meat, dairy and egg industries? Even if legislation significantly limited the harm inflicted on animals, it’s still done for no reasons other than taste and convenience.
We need to widen our perspective on what we deem necessary and understand that the entire process of breeding, manipulating and killing animals for food is needless. The best way to stop animal abuse from happening altogether is to end animal agriculture altogether.