Animal Rights vs Welfare

Animal rights and animal welfare are profoundly different movements and ideas. Animal welfare seeks to regulate the exploitation of animals. Animal rights seeks to end it. On the frontiers of animal abuse – such as genetic engineering – and in more traditional settings like vivisection and meat production, animal welfare’s task is to minimise unnecessary suffering where possible. The greater good of humanity is always the primary concern, and will almost always justify “necessary” suffering. The greater good may include an improved washing detergent or lipstick; food that takes more energy, more land and more water to produce; or an amusing pastime, like hunting. Animal rights does not believe in addressing ‘symptoms’ through monitoring and regulating animal abuse. Animal rights instead addresses the fundamental root of animal suffering, which lies in the supremacist belief that animals, as part of the non-human environment, exist only for human purposes. This belief results in the trivialisation of the lives of animals because they are viewed merely as expendable, replaceable property of a worth measured only by human standards of money or utility. However, nonhuman animals, like humans, do not exist for other’s sakes. They exist for their own.

To read about some of the reasons why ARA pursues animal rights rather than animal welfare, see our booklet on animal rights and welfare: