When it comes to animal rights and animal welfare, most people believe that they are almost the same thing. Truth is that both have a completely different meaning and it is sadly not a “tomayto, tomahto” situation.
The main difference between them is based on one question and it is “Are animals for human use?” We have a long history of using animals for our own benefits to survive and allow us to live longer.
Hundreds of years ago people used to think that animals were not able to feel pain so they treated them awful, all the time. And that was the final straw for the animal rights activists.
What is the difference between animal rights and welfare?
Regardless of the history behind them, it is still quite a common misconception, so don’t you dare feel bad! To understand the difference, we should probably take a deeper look at both of them and analyze their meanings.
1- What does Animal Rights Mean
One could easily compare animal rights to human rights. It basically means that animals have interests, just like humans, that cannot be traded away for the benefit of others.
But the saying “my liberty ends where yours begins” also applies to them, meaning that their freedom must also be limited at some point.
Most animal rights activists work to put an end to all human interaction with animals.
To summarize it, if you happen to say you are for animal rights but you also own a dog or cat, you may come off as a hypocrite. Animal rights strictly forbid to use animals for food, entertainment, experimentation, breeding or even clothing.
2-What does Animal Welfare Mean?
Animal welfare, on the other hand, recognizes the bond between an animal and a human. It mainly promotes and values animal care and their well-being.
Even though it is against cruelty to animals, it allows the use of animals in scientific research purposes if they are to benefit humanity in the long run.
Most of the time, when people talk about animal rights, they actually mean animal welfare. Since animal welfare also accepts that animals have interests but it allows those interests to be sacrificed for human benefits. These benefits can be anything from gaining psychological benefits from having animals as companions or using them as test subjects for new drugs.
The whole situation is sort of similar to vegetarians and vegans. One could say that animal rights could be compared to being a vegan while animal welfare can be related to vegetarians.
Vegetarians do not eat animals but eat and use animal products. On the other hand, vegans do not use anything animal related.
Obviously, they are not the same thing but I figured it could be a nice piece of mind to remind yourself if you happen to forget the difference.
Now, you know it. And the next time, someone dares to misuse the term animal rights, you can object with confidence and maybe even show them this article as your source!