Over the years, animal rights as a movement has grown to epic proportions and major progress has been made. We’ve seen great victories like gaining federal protection back for animals like wolves, we’ve seen game-changing bans like the one from Belgium forbidding wild animals in circuses, and we’ve come a very long way in the vegan food department. Plant-based food has gone from bland and “we’ll take what we can get” to “so good that we even fool carnivores with it,” and let’s not even get started on the vegan cheese varieties available now. The advancement and change in animal rights has really been impressive.
With refinement also comes a lot of new terminology that may need clarification. Or maybe it is just really fascinating to see how far we’ve come within the movement by taking a look at some of its interesting phraseology. Long gone are the days where accessible information about animal rights is hard to find. Heck, now we can even provide you with an entire alphabet full of activism terms!
A – Abolitionism is the belief that there should be an end to humans owning animals. The conviction regards that animals are no longer to be owned or used.
B – Bullhooks are abusive instruments that are used by circus trainers to discipline animals such as elephants. The painfully sharp-hooked device, used to force animals into submission and trick performance, has been banned in Oakland. It is now projected that other cities in the United States will follow suit in the future with bans of their own.
C – Choke Chains are metal dog collars, sometimes with semi-sharp hooks called prongs that choke or gag animals when pulled back. These collars have been deemed as cruel by animal trainers who teach positive reinforcement methods. Choke chains have also been known to cause damage, injury and even death to dogs.
D – Down, the soft layer of feathers closest to geese skin, are plucked from the animal usually while they are alive, in order to make pillows, comforters, clothing and outerwear for humans to use. The geese are wounded, injured and often die from this awful process.
E – Experimentation is often done on live animals to test personal care products, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and for other scientific purposes. Animals like bunnies, monkeys, cats, dogs, mice and others are shaved, chemicals are poured on their skin, substances are dripped into their eyes, they are surgically mutilated, and other horrors occur before they are killed. Such surgeries are also known as vivisection, where living animals are cruelly experimented on.
F – Foie Gras, which means “fatty liver,” is considered a food “delicacy” that is produced by force feeding ducks through a metal pipe that’s been shoved down the animal’s throat. The process is so violent and damaging that it often leads to the death of the animal during its undertaking. Due to this inhumane practice, foie gras has been banned in many countries and regions, with petitions to retailers to put an end to it.
G – Gestation Crates have been banned by countries such as Canada, but sadly are still being used in many factory farms. These crates confine pregnant sow pigs to a space so small that they are unable to even turn around. The sows are impregnated again and again, their bodies used and abused, their lives spent crammed in a tiny gestation crate, and then they are sent to slaughter to be killed for human consumption.
H – Horse-drawn carriages are used as a means of entertainment and transportation in busy and bustling cities like New York. This mode of transport is thought of by some patrons as “romantic,” yet horses endure severe injuries and death due to traffic collisions, exhaustion, accidents and other traumas.
I – Inbreeding in animals is a common practice in order to breed them in captivity or to use them more profitably. Whales have been inbred while in captivity at SeaWorld, the fur industry has inbred in order to create the type of “look” that they want, and tigers have been inbred in zoos as well, just to name a few examples. This type of practice has caused health problems in these animals and is not typical behavior in the wild.
J – Japan is the country responsible for the Taiji dolphin slaughters, where 20,000 plus dolphins are brutally killed each year. Entire families and pods of cetaceans are driven into a small cove, violently stabbed, then they drown to death. There are a few things you can do to help these marine animals, by doing things like boycotting industries that exploit sea-life and signing petitions.
K – Kalia, the orca whale who is daughter to Kasatka who almost killed her trainer, is the 9-year-old whale that SeaWorld has impregnated way too young. She has also created a splash after a disturbing video of her trapped in a gate surfaced, although SeaWorld says she was only “playing.” Boycott parks like SeaWorld and also urge them to change their park’s model to that of a more animal-friendly one.
L – Leather is a material used to make clothing, shoes, coats, handbags, jewelry, luggage, trim and more, but little thought is given to how this common textile is made. Leather is made from mainly cows but can be made from skin of sheep, pigs, goats, and other animals as well. Usually they are skinned without painkillers and sometimes while alive. Choose compassion by purchasing only all man-made materials items instead; most people can’t even tell the difference!
M – Mousetraps that are designed to kill, snap down on, or glue an animal down until it dies are thought of as horrifying torture devices. Since we are not living in medieval times, opt for a compassionate option like the many humane traps that are sold everywhere these days. The kinder traps lure mice into a little house, usually with a piece of food. They cannot get back out once they’ve gone inside. Check the trap regularly, and once you’ve trapped one, set the mouse free outside.
N – Nutritional Yeast is a wonderful source of nutrients like B vitamins, minerals, and up to nine grams of protein per two tablespoons. This golden in color, flakey substance is used in vegan foods to thicken them and make them taste more cheesy. In fact, nutritional yeast has been used for many years in making vegan cheeses and sauces.
O – Ottawa Just For Cats Festival is the only festival of its kind. The festival that took place in Ottawa, Ontario this past summer was full of artists, vendors, 65 minutes of cat videos, and lots of fun! All profits of this cat-loving festival supported the Canadian Humane Societies. Internet Cat Video played the feline compilation, and they have been doing this sort of thing since 2012.
P – Puppy Mills are pet shops’ and breeders’ dirty secret. Dogs are impregnated repeatedly until they are no longer of use, then auctioned off or killed. Dogs often do not have bedding or proper shelter from heat and cold. Due to the immense cruelty and terrible conditions, places like Toronto have banned pet stores from selling puppies that originate from these mills.
Q – Quinoa is sometimes referred to as one of the world’s healthiest foods. With overall nutrient richness, this grain-like seed is utilized by vegetarians as an excellent source of protein and other healthy benefits. In addition to protein, quinoa packs a nutritional punch containing essential fatty acids and health-supportive fats.
R – Rennet is the enzyme found in the stomachs of animals, and it is used in cheese-making. This stomach acid is taken from mammals’s stomachs and added to dairy cheese, making the cheese unfriendly to vegetarians. Opt for vegan cheeses that do not contain any animal products whatsoever and taste amazing.
S – Speciesism is the belief that humans discriminate against certain animals more than other animals; for example, having a cat or dog as an animal companion but eating a pig or cow for a meal. Speciesism is the thought that you should regard all animals as equal to one another and not respect one more than another. All animals are sentient beings that are deserving of rights.
T – Tofu is practically synonymous with vegetarianism and animal rights. Plant-based eaters who choose to get their protein from plants instead of animals, have used tofu in everything from smoothies, pies, ice cream, cheese, sauces, cakes, stir-fry dishes and more!
U – Ukweshwama is a festival that takes place in South Africa where native men and youths torture a scared bull until it finally dies. Some of the suffering that the animal has to endure includes having its tongue ripped out, having its genitals mutilated, having its eyes ripped out, and other unthinkable acts of cruelty. Although the Festival of Ukweshwama is seen as cruel, it is exempt due to the countries “cultural liberties” law.
V – Veganism is the practice of abstinence from all animal products or materials. Vegans do not consume or use any article that contains animal products or that has been tested on animals. Many vegans also avoid entertainment that enslaves, objectifies or exploits animals.
W – Wool is the fur of a sheep that is sheared off in order to be used for human advantages, such as clothing and other textiles. Often falsely touted as a practice that is “animal-friendly,” sheep endure agonies like workers punching them with shears, their faces being sliced off, their body parts ripped off, and many other injuries due to workers hastily getting their job done. Undercover investigations have shown lambs being hit in the head with hammers, shearers bending and breaking sheep’s necks, and even a laborer using one sheep to wipe up urine of another sheep.
X – Xanthan Gum is a plant-based thickening agent used in place of eggs and other animal ingredients to make food vegan. It can hold cookies or baked goods together, it can thicken sauces, and it can make vegan marshmallows possible. Xanthan gum allows baked food to emulsify, rise and take shape and is also used in place of gluten for those that are gluten intolerant.
Y – Yersinia is an infectious disease of the intestines that can last up to three weeks and is caused by contaminated or under-cooked pork. In extreme cases, this foodborne illness causes bacteria to spread to the bloodstream with serious complications. This sickness can also be caused by drinking unpasteurized dairy milk and by other sources. Antibiotics are administered in severe cases that do not clear up on their own, according to the CDC.
Z – Zoos are places where wild animals are kept away from the habitat that they would be in naturally. Instead they live in captivity in order for humans to view them and the zoo makes a profit from this “entertainment.” Instead of supporting a zoo, you can visit animals in their natural home through hiking, a real jungle safari ride, or a visit to a sanctuary.