Do animal rights activists care more for animals than humans?

Some people think that those who advocate for animal rights care more about non-human animals than human animals. That’s not true at all. The ethicist, Peter Singer, who wrote Animal Liberation back in 1975 thinks we rich people ought to donate 10% of our salary to the world’s poor. He gives around a quarter of his own income to charity. He says it’s our duty to give.

…the failure of people in the rich nations to make any significant sacrifices in order to assist people who are dying from poverty-related causes is ethically indefensible.

I do not believe in a supernatural god but I believe there was a man called Jesus who once walked on the earth and who said similar things about helping the poor. It pains me to see Christians and other religious groups hounding homosexuals and women who choose to terminate a pregnancy rather than focussing on some of the extreme suffering in the poorest regions of the world.

We donate regularly to a charity called the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) which is run by Imperial College London. For about 30p we can treat one person for this debilitating disease. When children are healthy they can attend school. Healthy parents are better able to support their families. You can’t lift people out of poverty when they’re ill and dying. SCI is one of the most cost-effective charities in the world.

Advocating for animals does not mean we care less about humans. It simply means we do not draw the boundary of moral consideration at species membership. Instead we expand the bounds of compassion to all sentient beings. As Jeremy Bentham once said, the question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?


6 thoughts on “Do animal rights activists care more for animals than humans?”

  1. Thank you for that link about charities.
    When I had a party for my 40th, I said no presents please, only donations, but I struggled to think of a charity I knew would deliver a good “benefit to input” ratio, even though I’d researched it online, and asked friends. But I still couldn’t find one that I felt confident in promoting – I went for the Red Cross in the end. So hopefully my 41st will be put to better use.

  2. I care for animals and humans and neither is more important than the other. Unfortunately I’ve encountered so many people who are so disillusioned with Humanity that care so much about animal rights but are completely indifferent to human rights… It is a sad think the way I see it.

    1. Most of the charitable effort is aimed at Africa. What’s been achieved in the last 70 years? There are many more people living in tragically poor circumstances – because of a huge increase in population. Is that better? More people, habitat degradation and many species facing extinction. Will development reduce population? The UN estimates the African population will rise from 1.1 billion to over 4 billion by the end of the century. Africa is an ongoing tragedy. Income in real terms is actually dropping in sub saharan Africa and is somewhere around $550 per annum. We can continue to apply sticking plasters but ithout population control the future is one of increasing misery.

      [ Ethiopia is an interesting case. In 1950 the population was 18 million. In 1985 the population was 40 million and there was a great famine (Live Aid). The population is now 100 million. The current average number of children for each woman is 4.4]

      1. What’s been achieved in the last 70 years?

        A lot! I recommend watching some of Hans Rosling’s videos. He was a statistician who tried to break some of the misconceptions we have about the developing world. This 5 minute clip from “How to End Poverty in 15 years” is very good:

        The full video is on the Gapminder website which he created:

        I also highly recommend his TED talk which is funny and informative:

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