Here are some excellent responses to the common
defenses of non-human animal exploitation.
Attack: "If we give respect or rights to animals we
will diminish our own rights and respect for humans."
Response: a) Sumer, one of the earliest and most
powerful of the ancient Mesopotamian city-states,
managed its slaves the same way it managed its
livestock. The Sumerians castrated the males and put
them to work like domesticated animals, and they put
the females in work and breeding camps. The Sumerian
word for castrated slave boys--amar-kud--is the same
word the Sumerians used for young castrated donkeys,
horses, and oxen."
--from Chapter 1 Charles Patterson's Eternal
Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust
Response: b)"Although the purpose of the German
killing centers was the extermination of human beings,
they operated in the larger context of society's
exploitation and slaughter of animals, which to some
extent they mirrored. The Germans did not stop
slaughtering animals when they took up slaughtering
people. Auschwitz, which its commandant Rudolf Hoss
called "the largest human slaughterhouse that history
had ever known," had its own slaughterhouse and
butcher's shop. The other death camps likewise kept
their personnel well supplied with animal flesh.
Sobibor had a cow shed, pigpen, and henhouse, which
were next to the entrance to the tube that took Jews
to the gas chambers, while Treblinka had a stable,
pigpen, and henhouse located near the camp barracks of
the Ukrainian auxiliaries.-from Charles Patterson's
Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the
Holocaust Chapter 5
Attack: "You support animal rights, therefore you must
support blowing up buildings."
response: a) it appears you are in need of taking a
response: b) you support human rights? therefore you
must support the actions of John Brown, slavery
abolitionist who killed pro-slavery people.
response: c) Last I checked, it is the people who
support wars against unarmed civilians who support
blowing up buildings.
Attack: "If animals have rights, then they must be
able to have the same rights as us, such as voting /If
we give animals rights, we must give plants and all
other organisms rights too"
Response: a) Sure--and if we can do that then fine.
But if we are unable to give rights to all
lifeforms--it doesnt mean we should just give up and
not give rights to any. If we say that--then one could
decide they only care about people within their own
race/religion/gender/age group/economic status. Some
people already do it anyway....
Attack: "Only humans can form moral contracts with
other humans-since we cannot make social/moral
ontracts with other species, we should not care about
how we treat them."
Response: a) Why does a moral contract have to be
reciprocal? We make special arrangements for infants,
and humans that are mentally challenged-without
requiring that they "return the favor." Why should
other species be treated to a different standard?
Response b) We can and do have social and moral
contracts with other species. We know that if an
animal, its offspring, or its territory is threatened,
or it is hungry, we can expect it to react
accordingly. That is a social contract. By contrast,
there are humans who make moral and social contracts
with other humans-and then break them. And yet we do
not turn them into laboratory fodder.
Response c) If this argument is applied fairly and
equally to a human rights scenario, then it would have
significant consequences for humans that are either
children, or are stricken with brain damage, mental
illness, or some disease which prevents them from
making a social/moral contract with others. By the
logic of this argument- these humans could be
exploited for medical research.
Attack: "What about grizzly bears? They eat other
species, shouldn't we do something to stop that?"
Response: a) that defies the whole meaning of animal
rights. humans do not need to hold a paternalism over
the actions of other animals.
Response: b) if there were over 6 billion grizzly
bears who didn't need the fish to survive, then maybe
they would need to decide what to do about it, but
that isn' t any of our business as humans.
Response: c) oh yeah--and while you' re at it--better
stop spiders from eating flies and flies from eating
smaller bugs and bacteria from eating other
bacteria..get back to me when you figure out how to
police them--until then we better stick to what we can
Response: d) other species do things to survive...they
may do things we don't feel are consistent with our
ethics--but we have ethics to control our
behavior--other species are able to function without
the types of ethical systems we propose. They don't
option to not kill if they wish to survive. But they
don't go around killing other species for oil, money,
religion etc... when they do--they can deal with their
ethical conduct--until then--humans are the species we
have to worry about.
Response: e) this argument tries to say that if some
group is exempt from the same moral conduct that is
expected of humans--then they should be excluded from
any rights to protection or respect. By this logic
children, the mentally retarded and comatose people do
not deserve rights to protection since they cannot
reason and formulate ethical positions like adult
Attack: Animal activists drive on roads that caused
animals to lose their lives and live in homes that
have caused animals to lose their lives."
Response: a) No one is perfect. Alot of humans were
killed through wars to build one's country--whether
you live in Europe or North America or Asia. No one
tells a human rights activist he must rocket himself
to a desert island in order to be against human
exploitation--therefore the same is true for animal
Response: b) Thousands of people are killed by
automobiles each year. If you are in favor of human
rights--do you refrain from driving?
Attack: "You may think you avoid all unnecessary
suffering, but how many animals died in the fields to
grow your plants for food?"
Response: a) Don't know--but it is a lot less than the
number that were killed in the fields to grow the food
used to feed the cattle you eat.
Response: b) That's an ad hominem attack. Instead of
addressing the issue you are attacking me for any
faults I may have. It is a separate issue but you cite
it to divert attention from your own wrongdoing.
Response: c) There are ways to provide food without
causing as much harm to other life---eating meat is
far more destructive.
Response: d) So what are you saying? We should eat raw
minerals? You start. Here's a rock--bite it.
Response: e) Oh I see--so since we cannot avoid all
suffering we should just let people eat meat, hunt,
fish, use animals in rodeos, research etc. But why
stop there? Why not let people kill each other,
enslave other humans, abuse children. They are doing
it anyway and since suffering cannot be avoided
completely why bother to try at all? RIGHT?
Attack: "What if you were attacked by a bear? Would
you let the bear kill you? If you wouldn't-and you
kill the bear--then you can't be for animal rights."
Response: a) If i enter known bear territory than it
is up to me to know better. But assuming it was
unavoidable, defending yourself is a matter of self
interest. If you commit an act in self interest it
does not mean you are against the rights of others.
Response: b) If a civil/human rights activist is
attacked by a thief--and he defends himself, does that
mean he is against civil/human rights?
Attack: "other species are not bound by the same rules
as humans("lions eat gazelles so why should we respect
either the gazelles or the lions?") and are not
capable of reciprocal morality("we are supposed to
respect them but they don't respect us")..
Response: a) But some of the mentally retarded,
mentally deranged, or children are not conscious of
the meaning of rights and yet they are given them
without conditions. We don't expect reciprocal
morality from them, so why from non human animals?
Lions and other predators need to eat meat to survive.
Humans don't. Furthermore, lions and other large
predators base their aggression on survival interests.
If they don't feel threatened or aren't defending
territory or aren't hungry--they don't attack. In that
sense--there is an "ethical conduct" to how other
species behave, and unlike some humans, they don't
make promises they have no intention of keeping
Attack: "If we stopped testing on animals the products
would be unsafe for humans."
Response: a) Even with animal testing the products are
not always safe for humans. In fact, there are drugs
and treatments tested on animals that have proven
unsafe for humans(i.e. Thalidomide).
Response: b) Human testing is essential for human
drugs etc. You can take the animal out of medical
research but not the human--if you doubt that, then
lets see you volunteer to test a drug that had only
been tested on non human animals?
Response: c) Animals used in experiments become so
stressed that their blood chemistry changes,
invalidating the science.
Attack: "If your child was ill, would you sacrifice
the life of a rat in medical research to save it?"
Response: a) This hypothetical argument implies that
since the activist would most likely choose the life
of their child over that of a rat---then they are
endorsing the principle behind vivisection whether
they admit it or not. If they say no, then they do not
love their child and are a terrible parent. The first
error with this is the unrealistic nature of the
hypothetical situation. Can a cure for an illness be
attained by killing one rat, without any human
clinical trials? Of course not. Such a scenario is an
oversimplification intended to force the validity of
animal research and portray the vivisector as someone
capable of making miraculous treatments if only he/she
is allowed to exploit animals as they wish. It also
perverts the nature of altruism and compassion by
suggesting that one must prioritize the recipients of
such altruism and compassion.
Response: b) If your child was sick, would you
sacrifice the life of your neighbor's child in medical
research to save it?" If you say no, then you
obviously don't love your child as much as you may
claim to, especially since you know that the chances
for a treatment are greatly increased by using
humans--and wouldn't you want only the best for your
Attack: "If we weren't using animals in research we
wouldn't be able to find cures for diseases and
cancers./Animal research is necessary if we hope to
cure diseases and help sick children."
Response: a) Saying animal research is necessary in
order to cure human diseases makes as much sense as
saying that one needs to conduct research on humans in
order to cure rat diseases (there would almost seem to
be a Neo-Darwinian myth at work, that by testing on so
called "simpler" animals one can move up the
"Evolutionary ladder" until you reach the complexity
of human beings). You can remove the animal from
medical research but you still need humans in
research. If you wanted to cure leukemia in
cats--working on dogs would not help much.
Response: b) if that's the case why havent we cured
the common cold? Humans have been experimenting on
animals non stop for at least 150 years and yet we are
still plagued by diseases. new ones surface and old
ones become drug resistant. So much for success
through animal research.
Response: c) Animals used in experiments become so
stressed that their blood chemistry changes,
invalidating the science.
Attack: "Would you accept a medical treatment that had
been tested on animals if you got sick?"
Response: a) This attack is flawed because it implies
that if an animal activist would use a medical
treatment that had been tested on animals then the
activist is guilty of hypocrisy: contradicting his/her
argument, and must either refuse any future medical
treatment, or abandon the animal rights cause. The
activist is pressured to be a moral perfectionist
before endorsing animal rights---and since perfection
is not possible--then it alleged the animal rights
agenda is a false one. This attack draws an
unrealistic connection between the present act of
vivisection, and the already existing products of that
vivisection. In order for the animal activist to be
guilty of hypocrisy, he or she would have to
consciously participate in or endorse the present and
future activities of vivisectors, not the medical
treatments that resulted (in part) from policies that
included animal experimentation (i.e. saying they are
against vivisection, then paying a researcher to do
it). The activist could counter-argue that since the
research was already done, it might as well be
utilized so the animals did not "die in vain." It also
makes an unrealistic demand upon the activist--to
remove him/herself from a world where all governments
engage in some form of exploitation (or have
connections to those that do) before beginning to make
protests and arguments that seek change.
Response: b)This argument reveals how vivisectors
attempt to make the recipient of their works feel
guilty because he/she benefited from their research.
It perverts the altruism of the medical profession by
tainting the recipient with the tag of a conspirator!
Response: c) If this "moral perfection first" approach
is applied fairly and equally to human-related
issues-it has the following consequences for the
animal research proponent: Any patient who benefits
from a procedure that was based upon the human
experiments of the Nazis, effectively endorses those
atrocities committed, and cannot declare otherwise (In
1989 concentration camp survivors attempted to get
Nazi research destroyed--but were rebuked by the
medical establishment which argued the research could
be employed for the greater good). An organ recipient,
who receives a transplant from a victim of a car
wreck, or shooting, cannot claim to be against such
tragedies, since he/she benefited from such incidents.
Furthermore, a Chinese student living in Bejing, could
not protest for democratic reforms since he receives
his food, shelter, and financial support through
agencies of the government he is attacking. And
someone in North America could not claim to be for
Indian rights--unless they remove themselves from
their present dwelling and let aboriginals move in. No
one could protest, or seek to make reforms for any
social cause unless they first removed themselves from
all imperfections. Since it is impossible--all
attempts to make the world a better place would have
to be abandoned. In trying to portray the animal
activist as a hypocrite, the animal research defender
puts forth an ethical standard which they do not apply
fairly and equally to themselves--thus revealing who
the actual hypocrites are.
Attack: "Animal research is justified because of the
benefits (to human health, happiness, knowledge,
progress, science, companion animals, wildlife, etc)."
Response: a) Its basic problem is that it is stating
the INTENT of the Animal research, not a moral
/ethical DEFENSE of it. "Why are you torturing animals
to death?" Answer: "Because we hope to benefit from
it." A casual observer would hope that they benefit
from it, or why else would they be doing it? This
argument is nothing more than an appeal to
Response: b) A thief steals because of the benefits to
him or others. A rapist rapes because of the benefits.
If the rapist defended his act by pointing out that
others could benefit by taking items from the
unconscious victim's house, would that justify the
rape? If one accepts "benefits" as a justification for
animal research, and applies it fairly and equally to
human relationships, then it allows anyone to commit
an act on the basis of the perceived benefits to the
perpetrator or others--whether the victim is human or
Attack: "vivisection is justified because humans can
subdue and control other creatures for whatever
purpose we wish."
Response: a) This approach would attempt to suggest
that humans are following the "law of Nature." The act
of vivisection is seen as being no different than a
lion chasing down a gazelle. The proponent may even
concede that if an alien race were to do the same
thing to humans it would be justifiable. The first
problem with this approach is that it suggests
vivisection serves a natural purpose, similar to the
act of killing for food. Yet the act of killing for
food is a primordial instinctive need shared by all
life, while only a small number of modern humans
engage in the practice of vivisection. It also
conveniently ignores the harsh reality of life and
death. One could counter-argue that disease exists to
control population-a thoroughly natural process--and
that the vivisectionist is deliberately obstructing
that process by attempting to prolong human
life-spans. What about the impact on food and natural
resources? A vivisector would probably answer that the
solution lies in more research, colonizing space, etc.
Nevertheless, the claim that vivisection is a natural
process in harmony with the realities of life can be
Response: b) Despite the concession made for
extraterrestrial exploitation, one does not need to go
so far out to discover the consequences of such a
philosophical position. By "survival of the fittest,"
one could then justify killing or enslaving his/her
next door neighbor. The philosophy ordains that if
they can do it, then they are justified. A thief,
murderer, rapist, --practitioners of any of these
professions would find the vivisector's reasoning to
be very useful.
Attack: "If you could save countless human lives by
xenotransplantation (genetically engineering non-human
animals to harvest their organs for humans), isn't
that for the greater good? I mean, people eat those
species every day anyway."
Response: a) Since eating meat is
unnecessary--exploiting them for animal research and
genetic engineering is compounding one injustice with
another. It is like saying "well, since we are
planning to kill this guy--there is nothing wrong with
us torturing and robbing him first.
Attack: "Bullfights are good because they give the
meat of the bull to the poor."
Response: a) Then why were matadors protesting that
they couldnt SELL the meat after the Mad Cow/foot and
mouth disease crisis?
Response: b) Citing a positive benefit of an act does
not cancel out the negative. Bullfights are cruel. To
say they are good because they give the meat to the
poor would be like justifying a murder/robbery by
saying the bandits gave some of the spoils to the
needy. Al Capone opened the first soup kitchens in
Chicago--using the proceeds of crime, does this mean
that loan sharking and murder used to finance that
charity were good?
Response: c) if bullfighters do it for the charity,
then they should be growing veggies to give to the
Attack: "One cannot say that humans and non humans are
equal and also say that humans and non humans are not
bound by the same rules and code of moral conduct. If
humans have to respect the rights of deer then so
Response: a) This is assumed to be a fallacy in
Definition: Conflicting Conditions--that they cannot
be equal and unequal at the same time. This confuses
two different definitions of "equality." The first
definition is that non humans and humans are equal
regardless of their differences(the "Martin Luther
King jr." sense of the word: "All men are created
equal." ). The second definition is not a value
judgement, but an observation of the fact that
everyone has different attributes. The animal rights
proponent stresses equality in value while
acknowledging inequality in attribute. There is no
conflicting conditions. Other species are equal to
humans in value, but they do not possess the
attributes to think and behave the way humans do--just
as the mentally retarded or children do not have the
same attributes but are afforded equal moral
protection and ethical regard.
Response: b) We say a man with arms and a man without
arms are equal in worth, but we don't say because they
have different abilities that the one with arms
deserves more "rights" than the other. By the logic of
this attack, in order for all humans to be granted
equal rights and respect, they would have to possess
the same attributes (mentally, physically etc).
Attack: "Fish don't have nerves in their mouths or
feelings in their lips."
Response: a) The hook still causes damage to the
fish's body. It can lead to infection (if the fish is
being thrown back in the water).
Response: b) Slave traders said the same thing about
negro slaves--they don't feel pain like we do. You
can't prove it as a 100 percent certainty that they
don't feel discomfort/pain and science may not have
figured out how to measure it. Better to be safe than
Response: c) Yeah but they sure look uncomfortable
when they are being dragged from the water. So are
they trying to dance when they are flipping around on
Response: d) So if someone doesn't feel pain we should
do what they want to them? Good because there are some
comatose people at the hospital that would look mighty
good preserved over my fireplace mantle.
Response e) Fish have nerve endings near the skin
which are very similar to those of humans and other
mammals. We all have receptor cells (called
nociceptors) near the skin, which are stimulated by
events severe enough to cause damage to body tissues.
The lips and mouth of fish are particularly well
supplied with nerve endings.
--Fish produce the same pain-transmitting chemicals as
humans. There are two main chemicals involved. When a
nerve ending is damaged, a substance called bradykinin
is released. This causes the nerve cell to fire,
sending an electrical impulse along the nerve. When
bradykinin is released near the skin, a second
chemical, called substance P, is released near the
--Both substances are known to be involved in
transmitting pain. For example, if bradykinin is
injected in humans, it causes intense pain, even if a
local anaesthetic is used. Both bradykinin and
substance P are found in mammals, birds, frogs and
--Fish produce the same pain-blocking substances as
humans. When in severe pain, humans and other
vertebrates (animals with backbones)
produce pain-killing chemicals called endorphins.
These endorphins block pain by stopping the release of
(from an article titled "Fish Feel Pain" from the
November to January issue of "Animals Today" magazine
Response f) "Fish constitute the greatest source of
confused thinking and inconsistency on earth at the
moment with respect to pain. You will get people very
excited about dolphins because they are mammals, and
about horses and dogs, if they are not treated
properly. At the same time you will have fishing
competitions on the River Murray at which thousands of
people snare fish with hooks and allow them to
asphyxiate on the banks, which is a fairly
uncomfortable and miserable death". (The Advertiser,
Professor Bill Runciman, professor of anaesthesia and
intensive care at Adelaide University, Australia)
Response g) "I undertook a ... search on pain felt by
fish. I discovered that not only do fish feel the same
pain as cats and dogs and humans but they are also
highly intelligent. On the beach the other day I saw
several fishermen with their dogs. I wanted to explain
to them that the fish they were hooking felt the same
anguish as would their dogs caught in the same way.
Likewise when I went to New Foundland to talk to the
fishermen who clubbed the baby Harp seals to death, I
noticed that they too had companion dogs and cats and
canaries. The most common form of cruelty in the world
is fishing and why? Because most people have no idea
how sensitive and intelligent fish are". (Richard
Jones, Member of the New South Wales Legislative
Attack: "But wasn't Christ a fisherman?"
Response: a) he was a carpenter by trade. He referred
to himself as a fisher of men.
Response: b)Fish was a well known mythical symbol
among early christians. The greek word for fish
(Ichthys) was used as an acronym whose initials in
greek stood for "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior."
Given how the early christians employed the term,
there is therefore good historical evidence for the
argument thay all of the "fish stories" that managed
to get into gospels were intended to be taken
symbolically rather than literally.
Attack: "Humans can exploit animals because we are
superior to animals. The reason we are superior is
because we possess the capacity to reason."
(variations: "When bears and ants can compose
symphonies and fly airplanes, then I'll believe they
have rights.\Humans have brains that can make
computers and do math and build tall skyscrapers,
therefore we have evolved beyond other species and are
superior to them.")
Response: a)not all humans possess reason as defined
here(children, mentally retarded etc).
Furthermore--why would reason be an absolute criteria?
It is transitory. Arbitrary. Using reason as a
criteria would be like saying "an apple is superior to
a banana because its red. Red makes it superior." WHY?
What is so great about red? It is just as relative and
as arbitrary as talking about skin color. If you say
reason is great because it allows us to build tall
buildings--why is that of absolute importance? Reason
is only important as a human value, just as skin color
is only important as a racial value, or a certain
interpretation of the Judeo-Christian Bible is only
important to particular adherents of that religious
response: b) Human rights, like animal rights, are
arbitrary, subjective, and non-absolute. They are both
based on value that we as humans assign and
administer. There is no demonstrable natural law which
we base our ethics upon. The universe does not say:
"Humans have special rights because they possess
faculty x, y, z." A human does not have a universal
right to life. If that were the case, it should be
demonstrable in nature. We could walk safely through
the path of an erupting volcano without so much as a
blister. We wouldn't need police or courts if our
"rights" were some universal truth. When one looks at
it reasonably, humans are just as mortal as other
species. All the fruits of our labors and intellect
are also mortal. How can one truly say we as a species
are superior to other species as an absolute objective
truth? We can't. Just like a racist can't say his race
is superior to others as an objective absolute truth,
or a sexist, or a religious extremist etc etc.
Therefore, to be consistent and fair, If human rights
are good, then so are animal rights and one should
strive to be as compassionate as possible.
response: c) Not all humans--most in fact, do not
compose symphonies or build skyscrapers. Does that
mean those people are inferior to the humans that do?
BTW--when was the last time you built a skyscraper?
response: d)Why would reason/building
skyscrapers/airplanes/computers etc make humans
superior in value as a species to other species that
are incapable of doing such acts? What makes
skyscrapers so great and important? Buildings fall
down, planes crash, computers break. Since all are
subjective and transitory--where is the superiority?
Humans only think they are superior to justify their
Attack: "Humans can exploit animals because we are
superior to animals. The reason we are superior is
because we have a soul."
Response: a) how do you prove humans have a soul and
others don't? And even if we did--why would that make
us superior? Its arbitrary and subjective. And a human
of one race could say the same thing about another
human of a different race. "Members of my race have a
soul but members of yours don't."
Attack: "Humans can exploit animals because we are
superior to animals. The reason we are superior is
because God tells us we are superior."
Response: a) How do you prove that? And even if some
deity in the sky said we were superior--why would it
matter? Why would that being's judgement be absolute?
Someone else can say "My god says my group is superior
to this other group." How do you refute that with this
"God says so" defense? How do you prove that your god
is making the "true" commandment? How do you
demonstrate this to others? The very same approach
could be used to justify discriminating against OTHER
HUMANS. To say humans are superior as a species to
other lifeforms without being able to justify it as an
absolute certainty--anyone can discriminate according
to whatever religious belief they hold.
Response: b)The greatest problem with spiritual
humanism is the lack of certainty inherent in the
belief. One can doubt the existence and nature of the
deity, doubt the uniqueness and importance of the
qualities cited as making one worthy of special
treatment, and doubt human possession of them (and
doubt the claim that other life forms do not possess
Response: b) claiming that humans are superior
according to a spiritual form of humanism is neither
concrete nor conclusive. One is free to believe
anything--and by this ideology one could modify the
human superiority argument to assert with equal weight
that some humans are superior to other HUMANS
according to the dictates of their particular deity.
The dispute is endless.
Attack: "Humans can exploit animals because we are
superior to animals. The reason we are superior is
because Nature tells us we are superior." (variations:
"We are highest on the food chain and always have
Response: a) Secular humanism can also be challenged
by doubt. One can question the importance of free
will, reason, or the evolutionary law being cited as
fact. Why are these qualities important? If one
acknowledges that death is the ultimate end of all
life, humans included, then why the emphasis on
something so transitory? One can question the notion
that humans are rational--simply by reading out loud
the harrowing stories on war and crime from the front
page of any daily newspaper. One can argue that humans
enslave, torture, kill, while no other species on
earth can not even come close to exhibiting such a
level of barbarism. Every criterion that humans cite
as evidence of their superiority can be examined to
not only negate the claim--but demonstrate the
OPPOSITE with greater success. Altruism, tool making,
parental nurturing...these qualities once thought to
be exclusively human have been observed in wildlife.
Response: b) One can argue that humans enslave,
torture, kill, while no other species on earth can not
even come close to exhibiting such a level of
barbarism. Every criterion that humans cite as
evidence of their superiority can be examined to not
only negate the claim--but demonstrate the OPPOSITE
with greater success. Altruism, tool making, parental
nurturing...these qualities once thought to be
exclusively human have been observed in wildlife.
Response: c) Then there is the issue that humans are
worth more according to some natural law. The
ludicrousness of this belief can be easily exposed by
simple observation. If a volcano erupts--does the lava
flow destroy all in its path--but conveniently spare
human life since it is a universal fact that they are
special and not to be harmed? If a human is adrift in
the ocean, and approached by a shark--do the jaws of
the predatory fish lock up in paralyses when it
attempts to bite the man? If the claim that "human
life is superior to other life forms" was an absolute,
universal fact and truth in nature--then how does one
explain that humans appear to be subject to the same
violence and mortality that applies to other life? One
can't, because humans are not superior according to
any criteria that are cited to prove it--all examples
are arbitrary, subjective and non-absolute.
Response: d) Even the claim that humans should not
enslave and kill other humans is easily challenged by
observing the state of human relations over the last
10 000 years. Arguing that something is absolute and
objective carries a very heavy burden of proof.
Anthropocentrism is nothing more than human beings
setting the standard and value system by which a life
is to be viewed as special and worthy-a standard that
conveniently places themselves at the top of the value
system--all the while ignoring the fragile foundation
that supports it. Racist and sexist doctrine does the
Attack: "If we weren't hunting deer they would
overpopulate and start dying horrible deaths because
of the lack of food"
Response: a) If there is lack of food the animal
population will not grow as much. If there is less
food there are going to be less animals.
response: b) humans have overpopulated many areas of
the earth which has resulted in lack of food and poor
living conditions, yet we do not hunt and execute
response: c) In recent years, deer populations have
increased to numbers unsupportable by wildlife habitat
alone. Many researchers believe that this increase
results from continued human incursion into deer
habitat, and the mismanagement of deer populations by
forest and wildlife authorities who see hunting as the
primary means of population control. Wildlife and land
management agencies purport to effectively limit deer
populations to numbers sustainable by their natural
habitat. In reality, the policies of such agencies
exacerbate deer overpopulation, serving only to
provide a population large enough to suit sport
hunters. The overpopulation of deer stems not only
from the specific mismanagement of deer populations,
but from the mismanagement of our forestlands and
natural areas. Currently, there are approximately
eight does for every buck in the wild. Laws restrict
the number of does that hunters may kill. Deer do not
have monogamous mating relationships, and bucks will
often mate with more than one female. As a result, the
ratio of does to bucks sets the stage for a population
explosion. Allowing hunters to kill more does,
however, does not resolve population problems. In the
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the open
hunting of does left fawns without mothers, and
removed too many females from the breeding population.
Sport hunting decimated deer populations in many
states. As a result, states passed laws restricting
the hunting of does. These policies have contributed
to the overpopulation of deer.
response: d) Hunting does remove some animals from the
population, but it does not keep deer populations at a
continually reduced level. Immediately after a hunt,
the remaining animals flourish because less
competition for food exists, allowing the remaining
animals to live healthier lives, and resulting in a
higher reproductive rate. Left alone by humans, the
ratio of does to bucks would be approximately equal.
In Defense of Animals believes that sport hunting is
not only an ineffective wildlife management tool, but
a cruel and unnecessary practice. Sport hunting should
be banned, allowing deer populations to regulate
Attack: a) "A lot of people say let the deer's natural
predators kill them, We are just that."
Response a) Put a hungry toddler in a room with an
apple and a hamster. If the toddler eats the hamster
and plays with the apple, then humans are natural
predators. (Repeat experiment with young cat for
Response: b) If we were the natural predators of deer
we should be able to run down and catch and devour a
deer with only our teeth and hands--just like a lion
does. If we didn't use tools--we would be the prey!
Attack: "Native peoples hunt and fish and trap, are
you going to say it is wrong for them to do it?"
response: a) yes, but we are not talking about native
peoples, we are talking about people who can easily
give up the eating of animals --like you.
response: b) some people in desperate situations kill
other people and steal from them to survive, are you
saying that's right?
response: c) anthropological excavations of many sites
all around the world have shown that native people
actually survived primarily (over 70%) on foraging,
not hunting. and in any case, it is no longer
necessary for their survival to hunt and fish.
response: d) If they are human beings then they should
live according to the same ethical principles as any
other human. No one can justify causing unnecessary
harm to others by citing tradition or racial
Response: e) Modern tribal peoples(at least in North
America) use guns, electronics, industrial textiles
and often sell their products to westerners. They
would be hypocritical to say that they are living
traditionally--when they are using modern technology.
If they are willing to give up the tradition of
carving spears--than they should be willing to give up
the tradition of cruelty.
Response: f) Some native tribes like the Makah also
kept human slaves. Others practiced human sacrifice.
Should they be allowed to re-adopt those practices
too? (note: especially useful in countering tribal
whale hunt arguments).
Attack: "Everyone eats meat, so why shouldn't I?"
response: a) if everyone jumped off a cliff would you?
response: b) don't give into peer pressure!
response: c) if everyone thinks like that then we will
never make any ethical progress on this world!
response: d) so you believe that you should hold
yourself to the lowest common ethical standard
Attack: "People from 3rd world countries have to eat
meat to survive and what about the people in
Response: a) People in Third world country do not need
to eat meat to survive. The grain and water used to
feed livestock could easily be used to feed many times
the population according to a vegetarian diet. As for
people in colder climates--if they can import guns,
clothing, electronics, computers etc, then they can
import vegetarian food. After all, people in colder
climates, unlike real natives of the colder
regions--polar bears, penguins, arctic wolves, need
artificial means to survive--without it--they would
perish. So relying on vegetable and fruit imports is
no big sacrifice if one wants to be compassionate and
Attack: "If everyone stopped eating meat(and/or dairy
products), then one would get all scrawny just eating
a diet of vegetables."
Response: a)do I LOOK like i am starving?
Response: b)name 4 sources of calcium OTHER than dairy
products." (i love this one. most people can't
Response: c)any idea why the USA has one of the
highest percentages of dairy consumption AND
Response: d) Okay great! I have a vegetarian
bodybuilder I want to arrange a death match with you.
I might as well get rich off your stupidity.
Attack: "If everyone stopped eating meat, then what
would we do with all the animals? We would be overrun
Response: a) Everyone wouldn't stop eating animals at
once. As demand drops off, so will breeding and
raising of animals intended for consumption. We are
breeding them at this rate, this is not their natural
rate of population growth.
Attack: "If everyone stopped eating meat, then the
species would go extinct without us breeding them for
response: a)people are not going to stop eating
animals all at once, it will most likely be a gradual
reduction. There will also probably be a few people
who will still keep them as companion animals.
response: b) so? if they did go extinct it wouldn't
hurt anything. They have been breed over the years to
be something other than what their indigenous species
originally was and all they are doing right now is
causing erosion and pollution to the environment.
response: c) if the only way to keep your family
lineage intact was to put you in extremely poor living
conditions, force breed you, eat you, and then steal
your children and put them through the same cycle,
wouldn't you rather go extinct?
response: d) They existed in the wild before they were
domesticated for human consumption..
Attack: "All the food charts, school cafeterias; our
whole culture makes it appear that meat and dairy are
natural and nutritious foods for you, why would
everyone be wrong?"
response: a) have you ever looked at who sponsors
those food charts? (psst! the meat and dairy
Attack: "Humans are predators, if we were to eat
veggies our eyes wouldn't be as such. We would be more
like deer or turkeys with our eyes on the sides of our
heads to watch for danger."
Response: a) gorillas are vegetarians and they have
97.7% human DNA. Likewise, chimpanzees have 98.4%
human DNA and are primarily vegetarian. (Humans and
chimpanzees are more closely genetically related than
an African elephant is to an Asian elephant).
Chimpanzee and gorilla's eyes are not on the sides of
response: b) when we have fangs, prehensile tails, and
claws we can continue this conversation.
response: c) so, I have the means to kill you, but I
am not going to.
response: d) set a hungry toddler down next to an
apple and a hamster. if he/she eats the hamster and
ignores the apple, then we can talk.
response: e) my fists have the ability to punch people
but that doesn't mean I should go around doing that.
response: f) so what does that make me?
response: g)Comparitive anatomy of humans: by Milton
R. Mills, M.D. In conclusion, we see that human beings
have the gastrointestinal tract structure of a
"committed" herbivore. Humankind does not show the
mixed structural features one expects and finds in
anatomical omnivores such as bears and raccoons. Thus,
from comparing the gastrointestinal tract of humans to
that of carnivores, herbivores and omnivores we must
conclude that humankind's GI tract is designed for a
purely plant-food diet. Facial Muscles Carnivore:
Reduced to allow wide mouth gape; Herbivore:
Well-developed; Omnivore: Reduced; Human:
Well-developed Jaw Type Carnivore: Angle not expanded;
Herbivore: Expanded angle; Omnivore: Angle not
expanded; Human: Expanded angle Jaw Joint Location
Carnivore: On same plane as molar teeth; Herbivore:
Above the plane of the molars; Omnivore: On same plane
as molar teeth; Human: Above the plane of the molars;
* Jaw Motion Carnivore: Shearing; minimal side-to-side
motion; Herbivore: No shear; good side-to-side,
front-to-back; Omnivore: Shearing; minimal
side-to-side; Human: No shear; good side-to-side,
front-to-back Major Jaw Muscles Carnivore: Temporalis;
Herbivore: Masseter and pterygoids; Omnivore:
Temporalis; Human: Masseter and pterygoids Mouth
Opening vs. Head Size Carnivore: Large; Herbivore:
Small; Omnivore: Large; Human: Small; Teeth (Incisors)
Carnivore: Short and pointed; Herbivore: Broad,
flattened and spade shaped; Omnivore: Short and
Human: Broad, flattened and spade shaped; Teeth
(Canines) Carnivore: Long, sharp and curved;
Herbivore: Dull and short or long (for defense),
or none; Omnivore: Long, sharp and curved; Human:
Short and blunted; Teeth (Molars) Carnivore: Sharp,
jagged and blade shaped; Herbivore: Flattened with
cusps vs complex surface; Omnivore: Sharp blades
and/or flattened; Human: Flattened with nodular cusps;
Chewing Carnivore: None; swallows food whole;
Herbivore: Extensive chewing necessary; Omnivore:
Swallows food whole and/or simple crushing; Human:
Extensive chewing necessary; Saliva Carnivore: No
digestive enzymes; Herbivore: Carbohydrate digesting
enzymes; Omnivore: No digestive enzymes; Human:
Carbohydrate digesting enzymes; Stomach Type
Carnivore: Simple; Herbivore: Simple or multiple
chambers; Omnivore: Simple; Human: Simple; Stomach
Acidity Carnivore: Less than or equal to pH 1 with
food in stomach; Herbivore: pH 4 to 5 with food in
stomach; Omnivore: Less than or equal to pH 1 with
food in stomach; Human: pH 4 to 5 with food in
stomach; Stomach Capacity Carnivore: 60% to 70% of
total volume of digestive tract; Herbivore: Less than
30% of total volume of digestive tract; Omnivore: 60%
to 70% of total volume of digestive tract; Human: 21%
to 27% of total volume of digestive tract; Length of
Small Intestine Carnivore: 3 to 6 times body length;
Herbivore: 10 to more than 12 times body length;
Omnivore: 4 to 6 times body length; Human: 10 to 11
times body length; Colon Carnivore: Simple, short and
smooth; Herbivore: Long, complex; may be sacculated;
Omnivore: Simple, short and smooth; Human: Long,
sacculated; Liver Carnivore: Can detoxify vitamin A;
Herbivore: Cannot detoxify vitamin A; Omnivore: Can
detoxify vitamin A; Human: Cannot detoxify vitamin A;
Kidney Carnivore: Extremely concentrated urine
Herbivore: Moderately concentrated urine; Omnivore:
Extremely concentrated urine; Human: Moderately
concentrated urine; Nails Carnivore: Sharp claws;
Herbivore: Flattened nails or blunt hooves; Omnivore:
Sharp claws; Human: Flattened nails;
Response: h) Humans are predators because they choose
to be not because they have to be.
Response: i) From the Christian perspective God put
our eyes just where he wants them and there they will
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully
made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul
knoweth right well. 15 My substance was not hid from
thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought
in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Thine eyes
did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy
book all my members were written, which in continuance
were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
(Psalm 139:14-16 14 )
Attack: "If everyone stopped eating meat, then the
food would be bland."
Response: a) There are good meat substitutes on the
response: b) the food is really anything but balnd.
most people find that after switching to a veg diet
their food options seem to expand because they are
forced to try new things and their palate no longer
revolves around the same foods in every meal. it's not
just raw tasteless vegetables. you can still use herbs
and spices and many sauces and pastas and
breads....etc. Plus there are many great substitutes
for all of your old favorites.
Attack: "If everyone stopped eating meat, then you
would suffer from calcium, iron, and protein
Response: a)Certain fruits and vegetables are loaded
with calcium.. Certain greens contain much iron. Soy
products, and legumes provide
ample protein plus fiber without the fat and
response: any nutrients that you find in meat can
easily be found in plant foods (and without all the
fat and cholesterol). If you eat
a variety, there is no need to worry about vitamin or
mineral deficiencies. It has actually been found that
americans get 2-3 times the
protein amount that is healthy for them, and this
extra protein overloads the body with acid. to buffer
the acid the body takes calcium
out of your bones. Studies have also shown that
vegetarians have stronger bones and lower cholesterol
than meat eaters.
Response: c)Soldiers in the Roman Army subsisted on a
diet made up of very plain foods. Soldiers were
required to pay up to one third of their wages for
their food. They ate mostly bread, perhaps porridge,
cheese or beans with cheap wine to wash it down
(Marks, Tingay 16). Marks, Anthony, Tingay, Graham.
The Romans. London. Usborne Publishing Ltd., 1990.
Response: d) "Dupont says that a soldier's diet was
even more extremely limited. She reports that
Legionaries ate only bread and drank only water plus a
little vinegar when the weather was hot. It was
considered that "bread was the only food "fit for a
soldier, hard food for hard
men"(Dupont 125). Dupont, Florence. Daily Life in
Ancient Rome. Cambridge, USA. Basil Blackwell Ltd.,
1992. Taken from: Social Position and Food in the
Roman Empire -or- You Eat What You Are Jean Preston
Roman Civilization Dr. Christine Renaud 2 December
Response: e) Roman soldiers carried their grain (high
gluten wheat) and flour grindstones with them on the
march. At night, after their 20 mile
daily march they would have pasta and baked bread.
They preferred this even over meat. When they did eat
meat they considered it
to be "barbarian food."
Attack: "We have been killing and eating meat for
centuries, why should we stop now?"
Response: a) If you use tradition as your moral
standard it allows that human slavery, the oppression
of women, ethnocentricity and religious based
discrimination would be tolerated. You would need to
show why humans are deserving of an exemption from
this ethical standard. Why a racist or a religious
bigot could not discriminate on the basis of race or
religion while others could discriminate on the basis
Response: b) According to spiritual and secular
mythology/belief, at one point in human history we
were essentially vegetarian. The world's oldest known
monotheistic religion: Zoroasterism, was a vegetarian
religion. Theories of biological evolution suggest
that human ancestors were plant eaters before adopting
an omnivorous diet. Also, our teeth and intestines are
consistent with what is known to be a herbivore
Response: c) There are many religions that do not
adhere to such a principle and in fact propose a
contrary perspective:.Jainism, Buddhism, etc.
Compassion for all life is a matter of doctrine. One
can ask-did God create surplus compassion-or was it
the Devil? Can one be too compassionate?
Attack: "Other animals kill other species for food."
Response: a) They need to eat meat to survive--humans
Response: b) Some species have been known to kill
members of their own species-if you are saying it is
okay to kill other species because a lion does it,
then a child murderer could say we have a right to
kill our children because lions do it too.
Attack: "Meat tastes good and is good for you."
Response: a) It's not good for you - cholesterol,
saturated fat, and no fiber.
Attack: "If everyone stopped eating meat, then people
would lose lots of jobs."
Response: a) A lot of people would lose jobs if people
stopped smoking. All those tobacco farmers and
cigarette company workers would be out of jobs. Gosh,
I should start smoking to help the economy! "What if
world peace were achieved tomorrow? All those poor
soldiers and arms manufacturers and surgeons would be
out of work. Gosh, we can't have that!"
Attack: "What if you just ate a small amount of meat
and you got it from an organic farm that you knew
treated the animals relevantly well."
response: a) well, that's better than nothing, but
it's not the best option.
response: b) are you doing that?
response: c) what if slave traders only kept a few
slaves and treated them relevantly well?
Attack: "What if we genetically engineered animals to
have no brains and no feelings, or grew meat in jars?
then would it be ethical?"
response: a) well, to get to that point there has to
be many animal sacrifices that do have brains and
feelings. plus, it would still be bad for your health
and the environment (in the production of such a
thing). also, there are many fake meats that work just
as well and don't involve risky animal experiments.
response: b) what if you genetically engineered humans
to have no brains and no feelings so we could use them
in scientific experiments? would that be ethical?
Attack: "If we don't consider ourselves better than
animals we will treat each other terribly."
Response: a) So does that mean that if whites consider
themselves superior to blacks then they would
naturally treat whites better?
Response: b) Tell that to Stalin and Hitler.
Attack: "Wasn't Hitler a vegetarian?"
Response: a) And Al Capone started the first soup
kitchens in Chicago. I guess anyone who supports
helping the homeless is a gangster?
Response: b) the testimony of Hitler's personal cook
in Hamburg during the late 1930s - Dione Lucas. In her
"Gourmet Cooking School
Cookbook," she records that his favorite dish - the
one that he customarily requested - was stuffed squab
(pigeon). "I do not mean to spoil your appetite for
stuffed squab, but you might be interested to know
that it was a great favorite with Mr. Hitler, who
dined in the hotel often."
Response: c) So was Gandhi--does that make him a war
monger and mass murderer?
Response: d) They say Osama Bin Laden liked hunting.
So by your logic, every hunter is a terrorist!
Response: e) "Otto D. Tolischus in 1937 in The New
York Times pointed out that the Führer was a
vegetarian who 'does not drink or smoke' but who also
'occasionally relishes a slice of ham' along with
delicacies such as caviar and chocolates." (Ibid.)
Robert Proctor calls Hitler a vegetarian "of sorts"
(The Nazi War on Cancer, p. 134) and is content to
state that Hitler was a vegetarian who "occasionally
would allow himself a dish of meat," (p. 135) and
quotes The New York Times as stating that in addition
to ham and caviar Hitler also occasionally ate squab."
Response: f)His cook, an enormously fat man named
Willy Kannenberg, produced exquisite meals and acted
as court jester. Although Hitler had no fondness for
meat except in the form of sausages and never ate
fish, he enjoyed caviar....(The Life and Death of
Adolph Hitler (Praeger, 1973)(p. 346)
Response: g) Hitler's reputation for being a
vegetarian seems to consist solely of his not having
eaten red meat. The effort to describe Hitler's eating
habits as vegetarian requires changing the definition
of "vegetarian" to exclude liver, ham, and sausages
from the list of meats, and changing the definition of
"animal" to exclude pigs. Hitler did exhibit a
sympathy with a vegetarian diet, but paradoxically,
vegetarians and the vegetarian movement in Nazi
Germany were persecuted. Vegetarian societies were
restrained, subject to raids, and "books that
contained vegetarian recipes were confiscated by the
Gestapo." Janet Barkas has a good account of this
period in German history in her book, The Vegetable
Passion. German vegetarian societies were forced to
leave the International Vegetarian Union; they were
prohibited from organizing and from publishing
material, but individuals were not molested and "could
exchange their credit notes for meat for dairy
products. About 83,000 vegetarians participated in
Response: h) Hitler and Animals Like many of his
fellow human beings, Adolf Hitler used animal epithets
to vilify other people. He often called his
opponents "swine" and "dirty dogs." The Bolsheviks
were "animals," and the Russians a "bestial people"
and Slavic "rabbit-family" whom Stalin had molded into
a totalitarian state. After Hitler conquered Russia,
he wanted "the ridiculous hundred million Slavs" to
live in "pig-pens." He called British diplomats
"little worms," and, as for the "half-Judaized,
half-Negrified" people of America, they "have the
brains of a hen." Hitler had contempt for his own
people, referring to them as "the great stupid
mutton-herd of our sheep-like people," and when the
defeats mounted late in the war, he blamed them for
not having risen to the challenge. Hitler called his
own sisters "stupid geese." Whatever deficiencies
members of the Germanic Volk might
possess, however, Hitler believed the Aryan/Nordic
race was infinitely superior to the surrounding sea of
sub-human "monstrosities between man and ape," as he
made clear in a speech in Munich in 1927:
"We see before us the Aryan race which is manifestly
the bearer of all culture, the true representative of
all humanity....Our entire industrial science is
without exception the work of Nordics. All great
composers from Beethoven to Richard Wagner are
Aryans....Man owes everything that is of any
importance to the principle of struggle and to one
race which has carried itself forward successfully.
Take away the Nordic Germans and nothing remains but
the dance of apes." Charles Patterson
Response i) Hitler was fond of dogs, especially German
shepherds (he considered boxers "degenerate"), whom he
liked to control and dominate. At the front during
World War I, he befriended a white terrier, Fuchsl
(Foxl), who had strayed across enemy lines. Later,
when his unit had to move on and Fuchsl could not be
found, Hitler became distraught. "I liked him so
much," he recalled. "He only obeyed me." Hitler often
carried a dog-
whip and sometimes used it to beat his dog the same
way he had seen his father beat his own dog. In the
Fuhrer headquarters during World War II, Hitler's
German shepherd, Blondi, offered him the closest thing
he had to friendship. "But with his dogs, as with
every human being he came into contact with," writes
his biographer Ian Kershaw, "any relationship was
based upon subordination to his mastery."
Response: j) The reputed fondness of Hitler and other
top Nazis for animals, especially their dogs, has been
put into perspective by Max Horkheimer and Theodor
Adorno. For certain authoritarian personalities, they
write, their "love of animals" is part of the way they
intimidate others. When industrial magnates and
Fascist leaders want to have pets around them,
Horkheimer and Adorno maintain, their choice falls on
intimidating animals such as Great Danes and lion
cubs, which are intended to add to their power through
the terror they inspire. "The murderous Fascist
colossus stands so blindly before nature that he sees
animals only as a means of humiliating men," they
write. "The Fascist's passionate interest in animals,
nature, and children is rooted in the lust to
persecute." While with their hand they might
negligently stroke a child's head, or an animal's
back, that same hand could just as easily destroy
them. "The petting demonstrates that all are equal in
the presence of power, that none is a being in its own
right. A creature is merely material for the master's
Attack: "Do you eat meat?/What are your shoes made
Response: a) The issue of meat eating and/or animal
by-products is a valid and important issue in animal
rights, but it does not have anything to do with the
moral and ethical problems of animal research. The
fact that an animal activist making a pro-animal
rights/compassion argument may be inconsistent in
those ways does not in any way detract or invalidate
the argument on animal research. It is a separate
Response: b) If South Africa was being criticized by
the United States for their treatment of blacks, and
the South African government responded by pointing out
the United States' poor treatment of tribal
communities within their own country, would this mean
that the treatment of blacks by South Africa was
morally defensible? Of course not. It would just mean
that there are other issues that need to be addressed
APART FROM the treatment of blacks by South Africa.
Attack: Well you are entitled to your opinion but I am
entitled to mine and I say---FILL IN BLANK
Response: a) Everyone is entitled to an opinion
(although some are more able to express one publicly
than others) but if the opinion involves causing harm
to others--there is usually a generally accepted
restriction on ACTING upon such opinions. I.e. "I
think Christians like me are superior to
non-christians, therefore we should be able to enslave
non believers." If it is wrong for white supremacists,
christian supremacists, anti-gays, male chauvinists,
etc to act upon their opinion, thus it should be the
same for ALL forms of unfair discrimination--including
willful discrimination against animals.
Attack: "Why are you Vegan?"
Response: a) Everyone is! Just some people add animal
products to their diet.
Response: b) Everything is! Just some foods have
animal products added
Response: c) I was training my dog not to beg and got
used to the diet
Response: d) Because god told me.
Response: e) Because I ate part of my best friend once
and that kind of put me off.
Response: f) Why AREN'T you????