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Peter Singer: Animal abuse won’t stop until we stop eating meat

Peter Singer is arguably the founder of the modern animal rights movement. And it all started 40 years ago with the publication of Animal Liberation, in which he argued that the interests of animals should be considered because of their capacity to suffer.

According to a recent Guardian article, Singer states:

In 1971, when a few other students and I set up a display in Oxford to show passers-by how their eggs and veal were produced, people asked if we really imagined that we could win against the political and financial might of the agribusiness industry. But the animal movement has challenged that industry with success, achieving reforms across the entire European Union that require farm animals to have more space and better living conditions, and similar changes have now become law in California as well. Admittedly, these changes are still far from giving factory-farmed animals decent lives, but they are a significant improvement on what was standard practice before the reforms came into effect.

Perhaps even more satisfying is the number of people who have abandoned eating animals entirely, and the others who have cut down their meat consumption for ethical reasons.

If we really want to protect farmed animals from the abuse and neglect they suffer on modern farms, we have to ditch meat. As long as there are financial incentives to use animals as mere machines, there will be horrific animal cruelty on a massive scale. Indeed, as Singer himself asserts, “The problem is not one or two workers … but the system, and the system will not change until people stop buying meat.

Referencing a recent undercover cruelty investigation, Singer explains that “if you turn animals into things to use, and give workers complete control over them, it will never be possible to stop the occurrence of the kind of abuse allegedly shown in the videos.

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