Do vegans have a Bible of veganism?
If they do, it could well be the groundbreaking book Animal Liberation, first published in 1975, written by Australian philosopher and Princeton University professor Dr. Peter Singer.
Singer’s book summarized and synthesized the social sciences of philosophy and ethics to explain how and why the pervading human view of animals can be called “specieism.”
Like other isms such as racism and sexism, speciesism is the human-created belief that “we’re better than they are, and they’re inferior to us.”
Most of us are raised to believe that humans are “the best” species, the most important species, the only species that really counts.
Speciesism claims that all other species can be used by us for whatever we want to use them for: food, experimentation, entertainment, labor, fur, skins, etc.
It also links up with dominionism– the idea that humans have the right to change the entire planet and use the biosphere and Nature however we want to.
Note that I don’t use the term dominionism as it is commonly used to describe a “Christian” theology that seeks to create “Christian” nations.
As Peter Singer so persuasively explains, speciesism derives from a set of irrational and unfounded assumptions and irrational beliefs about the world, about humans, and about non-human species.
You may be surprised to know that until only a hundred years ago, leading philosophers and scientists argued that there was no such thing as cruelty to animals because animals have no feelings and no rights.
Some famous scientists and philosophers like Rene Descartes (1596-1650) believed non-human animals were unfeeling machines that happened to have beating hearts and the ability to move, breathe, and vocalize.
And even today, people who slag vegans and veganism and defend harming animals seem to believe that non-human animals feel no pain and thus can be handled as if they’re inanimate, machine-like objects.
Using classical philosophical methods that build on fact and logic, Singer brilliantly analyzes the beliefs, attitudes, and systems humans use to justify the enslavement and torture of tens of millions of animals for food and other uses.
He shows that speciesism is part of a continuum of harmful isms that come from impulses to dominate, victimize, and harm other beings.
When you see humans abusing others, including through child abuse, wars, police misconduct, rape, sexual harassment, bullying, spousal abuse, domestic violence, and other mean practices, you’re seeing the same “dominator mentality” that drives humans to subdue and exploit non-human animals.
Singer updated Animal Liberation several years ago, and made it an even more compelling book of moral philosophy that would take an entire semester to fully understand and explicate if you’re taking a college course on it.
But it’s also very readable in one go, and clear enough to function as a Bible for those of us looking for the rational, fact-based ethics of why humans should stop eating and otherwise harming animals and each other.
Take a look at the Peter Singer YouTube videos embedded here, and get your own copy of Animal Liberation here.
You’ll find intellectual foundations, moral imperatives, a well-reasoned and articulate voice, and personal inspiration from this pioneering work that helped jumpstart the modern vegan and animal rights movements!