The Key To A Vegan World
What Will It Take To Make Animal Liberation A Reality?
I remember Robin Webb, UK press officer for the Animal Liberation Front, when he was asked whether animal liberation would ever be a reality. He would talk about the thousands of animals whose lives had been saved by the actions of brave individuals, prepared to risk their own safety and freedom, to rescue the victims from vivisection laboratories, factory farms and other hell-holes. He would say that for those animals, now living out their lives in caring homes, loved and safe from cruelty and abuse, animal liberation was already a reality.
It’s a rousing, inspiring speech which, of course, is absolutely true from one perspective. But for every animal saved from torture and death, there are millions more who continue to live lives of absolute misery and despair; lives that are filled with pain and terror; lives which are cut brutally short to satisfy the whims of humanity, who see them as little more than commodities to be exploited.
Despite so-called ‘animal welfare’ laws — which often seem to be little more than a front to give apparent legitimacy to the whole abusive industry — animal liberation, as a legally-recognised reality for all non-humans, seems to be as far away as ever.
Or is it?
Way back in 1797 (in Institutes of the Laws of England) judge and legal author Sir Edward Coke defined murder as “when a man of sound memory, and of the age of discretion, unlawfully killeth within any country of the realm any reasonable creature in rerum natura under the King’s peace, with malice aforethought”
The language used is archaic and old-fashioned, and the term ‘any reasonable creature’ has since been revised to ‘any person’. This has generally been assumed — and interpreted in law — to mean any human being, but what does it mean to be a person?
Is personhood really confined exclusively to humans or can other animals also be legitimately viewed as people? I believe the answer to this question really is the key to a vegan world.
In my previous article, ‘The Biggest Threat To Animals Might Be The Words We Use’, I argued that, although there are various definitions of personhood, non-human animals do fit into at least…