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Addendum: Animal rights should not be a priority

R. Gray
Opinion Staff Writer
[email protected]
In our Sept. 20 issue, R. Gray, an opinion staff writer, wrote an article about animal rights that received a strong response both by email and through comments posted on our website. The biggest issue critics saw with the article was the lack of sources. Originally the opinion section tended to steer away from using statistics, but recently our opinion editor, Nick Haseloff, made the decision to start including sources alongside the writer’s point of view.
The following is an analysis of specific aspects of the original article that came under scrutiny. 

  • “Most commonly, activists for animal rights tend to be […] upper middle class.” A survey taken by Jayson Lusk, a food and agricultural economist, shows that those with higher income tend to be more likely to follow a vegetarian diet.
  • “[…] many lower class families simply cannot afford or survive on a vegan diet.” This has been demonstrated by a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health in 2013, where they found that healthier foods such as fruit, vegetables, nuts and fish could make a meal cost about $1.50 a day. That would mean $550 a year or more, which some families can’t afford to spend. Minimum wage is too low for families to conceivably spend that much extra on food when cheaper alternatives exists.
  • “[Comparing the meat industry to issues such as genocide, rape, and slavery] dehumanizes those who faced these issues and undermines the struggles of the histories of those who fought against it.” According to a study by Nour Kteily, dehumanization has very serious and real consequences and perpetuates violence against minority groups. Additionally, a 2008 study by the American Psychological Association shows a major cause of dehumanization being the explicit comparison of people to animals.

Several comments brought up how working conditions in slaughterhouses are awful for the laborers who work there. That is absolutely true and is definitely an issue that should be addressed.   
However, there is also extreme amounts of abuse directed at workers in the agriculture industry. An inventory from the United Farm Workers of America shows farm workers work in extremely abysmal conditions and having little to no rights. As the agriculture industry provides alternatives to meat, this should also be a focus.
Many animals are also killed on a daily basis by the agriculture industry and not only in the meat industry. Field animals, such as small birds, amphibians and rodents are killed in massive numbers daily, according to research by Steven L. Davis.
A stance against the general mindset of the animal rights movement is hardly factless and does have studies and sources to back it up. While the previous opinion piece was an opinion, it was one that had a fair bit of thought and research behind it rather than baseless statements.

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