Don’t We Need Other Animals?

A common misconception is that our use of non-human animals is necessary.  In the case of turkeys reared for human consumption, the misconception is that meat is essential in our diet.  Meat and other animal food products are not necessary components of the human diet.  Various dietetic associations worldwide[1],[2] confirm that a plant-based, vegan diet that does not contain animal foods, including meat, fish, dairy and eggs, is adequate for all stages of life.  Increasingly, scientific nutritional research indicates that animal food products do not contribute to human health, and may be responsible for much of the ill health experienced in the western world.

If our consumption of animals for food is not necessary then breeding and killing them can only be justified by taste or tradition.  This begs the question:  are these reasons morally justifiable?  Given that non-human animals feel similar physical and emotional sensations to humans; given that farming animals for food contributes hugely to environmental problems; given that farming animals for food wastes the resources that could alleviate world hunger – is there any justification for breeding and killing animals for food?

There are other uses of non-human animals that are not necessary for human wellbeing.  They include vivisection or animals used in scientific research; the skins, wool and fur of animals used for clothing; and those who are exploited for entertainment in zoos, aquaprisons, and circuses or those who are hunted or otherwise used in ‘sport’.  None of these uses is morally justifiable.

Surely if it is legal it is ‘humane’?

There is a misconception that our exploitation of other animals is justified if it is ‘humane’.  It is generally assumed that any treatment of a non-human animal that causes suffering could not legally occur.  Unfortunately, severe suffering can, and is, legally inflicted on billions of animals everywhere, every year.

One of the reasons why this suffering can legally occur is because the legislation that permits it hinges on the words ‘necessary’ and ‘unavoidable’.  Legislation pertaining to our use of non-humans, in Europe, the USA and elsewhere, only prohibits unavoidable and unnecessary suffering.  Suffering that is regarded as ‘necessary’ and ‘unavoidable’ is legal.

The problem is that traditional notions of what is necessary, such as animal foods or research on non-human animals, have been scientifically demonstrated to be false but they remain culturally and socially unchallenged.  The use of non-humans is also extremely profitable for a small number of humans, regardless of the poverty and suffering it inflicts on others, human and non-human.  These profit makers have a vested interest in ensuring that the general population remains ignorant of the fact that our use of other animals is unnecessary, cruel and therefore unjust.

As long as the cultural and social myth that animals are necessary for humans prevails, their suffering will not stop.

As long as non-humans are regarded as being of lesser moral significance than humans, their suffering will not stop.

As long as non-humans are regarded as objects who are owned by humans, their suffering will not stop.

The experience of suffering in sentient non-human beings bred, used, and killed for humans is unavoidable, and therefore legal.  They cannot be used for food without suffering.  They cannot be used for clothing without suffering. They cannot be used in vivisection without suffering.  They cannot be subjected to standard farm practices without suffering physically and emotionally.  They cannot be killed without suffering. Could you?

The general population assumes that killing non-human animals, for example, for food or in research laboratories, is humane.  Unfortunately, most animals used by humans live and die in severe pain.  For example, most of the population is unaware of the fact that farmed animals are mutilated without anaesthesia or pain relief during their short lives.  Most of the population is not aware that dairy products involve forced impregnation and separation of mother and child after birth.

There is also a misconception that farmed animals are stunned in a manner which is so sudden and accurate that they effectively die in their sleep.  The facts of slaughter are rather different.  Non-human animals suffer long before they are transported to slaughter; the process of transport is harrowing and involves exposure, severe injuries, pain and even death.  Animals frequently avoid stunning, regain consciousness after stunning, or are not adequately stunned.  These animals’ throats are cut, their skin, fur or feathers removed while conscious, they are eviscerated and/or  the ‘meat’ from their body parts amputated while fully conscious.

If you are confident that the legal system protects non-human animals from unnecessary and unavoidable pain ask yourself how it is legal for male day old chicks to be gassed or ground up alive because they lack the capacity to lay eggs.

Pleasure of Melons, featuring Maeve & Marian at Eden Farm Animal Sanctuary

Non-human animals not only have the capacity to suffer.  They also have the capacity to feel pleasure.  They have the capacity to enjoy life just as humans do.  Therefore, even if it was possible for humans to kill them painlessly, without their knowledge, it is not morally justifiable to take away the life of someone who wants to live.

It is a misconception to imagine that the animals we use are protected by our legal systems.

Our legal systems do not grant other animals personhood.

Our legal systems permit them to be treated as inanimate, insentient objects.

It is a misconception to imagine that we do not hurt them when we use them.


Veganism is:  “A way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to animals for food, clothing and any other purpose.”

Making a compassionate and just choice

This site provides comparative information on the natural lives of free, wild turkeys and their domesticated counterparts who have been bred for human consumption.

The information on these pages demonstrates how turkeys are magnificent, elegant, affectionate, intelligent, feeling beings.  All the animals that humans exploit have these same qualities.  On their behalf, and in the light of this information, we are all asked to reconsider how we currently live our lives.

Through no fault of our own we are born into a culture in which we are exposed to misconceptions, falsehoods about the sentient nature of other animals, and habituated to ways of living that involve their exploitation.  As adults we have both critical thinking skills and the capacity for compassion that we can use to determine how we live.  We have the luxury of choice:  given accurate information we can make the choice between harming others without justifiable reason, and living a vegan lifestyle that causes the least amount of harm possible.

The choice is yours.  For the sake of both human and non-human animals, my sincere hope is that you will make the more compassionate and fair choice.  This website aims to help you to adopt a vegan lifestyle.  Please do not hesitate to contact me and ask for help if there is anything I can do to help you make the change.

[1] Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: Vegetarian diets.J Am Diet Assoc. 2003 Jun;103(6):748-65

[2] J Am Diet Assoc.  Volume 109, Issue 7, Pages 1266-1282 (July 2009)
 Accessed 17 October 2012