According to Jeremy Benthan (founder of the reforming utilitarian school of moral philosophy) and Peter Singer (author of Animal Liberation), the capacity for suffering is the vital characteristic that gives a being the right to equal consideration. Now, all animals have the ability to suffer in the same way and to the same degree that humans do: they feel pain, pleasure, fear, frustration, loneliness, and motherly love (PETA, 2023) Do animals deserve to live their lives free from suffering and exploitation?
The community in defense of animal rights challenges the view that nonhuman animals exist solely for human (ab)use. As activists state,
“animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, or use for entertainment.”
To understand more about this topic I talked to the Uni Bremen’s Vegane Hochschulgruppe (you can find them, join, ask questions via IG @veganehochschulgruppe or email: email@example.com). Their foundation is recent, so we are really interested to see more about the group and where they want to go.
ABOUT THE GROUP
At the beginning of the semester we were just two vegans who were motivated to get active and build something on campus. One public call later, we were a functioning group planning our first bigger event.
By now, the group consists of 7 members who meet weekly to plan and organize activities, but we have a wider community of people who regularly come to our events. We’re always open for new members!
WHAT THEY DO
An old tradition we revived are the vegan brunches we do every month. Everyone brings something and we eat and socialize together. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people, relax between classes and of course enjoy some delicious, free food.
We’ve also done two vegan-themed movie nights so far and plan on making that a regular thing, too. Recently, we even got to visit a sanctuary to meet some of the lucky few who were rescued from the animal agriculture industry or bad private households. That was a great experience.
We have many more ideas though and are looking forward to another semester full of action!
We’re very thankful to the AStA who lets us use their resources all the time. It makes everything much easier and allows us to do things, we otherwise couldn’t.
The Communitas team is also always there for us when we need a comfortable room for one of our events.
In general, we enjoy the political climate within the student body and hope to build more positive connections to other uni groups.
STANDING FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS “ANIMAL LIBERATION — HUMAN LIBERATION”
Humans are animals. Of course there are certain rights that are only applicable or relevant to humans (e.g. the right to vote or freedom of speech). However, we believe that the most basic rights – the right to live, bodily autonomy or freedom from abuse and exploitation – are shared by all sentient (= feeling) beings. In a sense, believing in animal rights is the basis for believing in human rights. After all, why would the mere membership of the human species be what makes us valuable and worthy of life? Would we lose this value if we had wings like a chicken, the social structures of a cow or the cognitive abilities of a pig?
Of course in addition to that, the animal agriculture industry is full of human rights violations and very destructive to nature and climate. From an intersectionalist viewpoint, none of this can be ignored. We believe that no one is truly free until everyone is free. Animals are someONE not someTHING.
Go vegan and encourage others to do the same. With the growing sensitization in recent years, more and more compassionate, well-meaning people are trying to reduce their consumption of animal products. But the unfortunate truth is: Whether you buy animal products once a day or once a month, that action always has a victim. To that victim, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the only victim or just one of many. A right violation is a rights violation and only a total boycott can stop this.
Unfortunately, even as a vegetarian you fund the exact same (and more) horrible industries as meat-eaters. Most of our members have been vegetarian for years before going vegan. The idea that by being vegetarian we’re not harming animals is a total scam. That realization can be very uncomfortable and hurtful, but it’s an important realization and it’s one to which we shouldn’t turn a blind eye.
Lastly, be careful not to confuse animal rights with so-called animal „welfare“. In the words of the great philosopher and animal rights activist Tom Regan: “Our shared goal is not to reform this great evil but to abolish it completely! It is not bigger cages that we want, but empty cages! Anything less than total victory will not satisfy us!”
Of course, if anyone is interested in learning more about veganism or wants to participate in advocacy, they are more than welcome to hit us up.
We feel that by simply being vegan we’re not doing enough. We want to take action and encourage others to join the movement. Nonhuman victims are often forgotten about despite being higher in numbers than any other group and the animal rights movement is still fighting its way into the mainstream. We want to help change that.
The work in this group is particularly rewarding because it gives us something most of us previously lacked: Community. Not only do we relate to each other, but we learn from each other and grow together as people and as activists. We appreciate the little family we’ve become and are looking forward to seeing it grow.
BONUS QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE VEGAN FOOD OPTIONS AT THE MENSA?
Actually, we eat at the Mensa together every week and like to rate the food! Some meals are popular, others are more controversial.
But generally, we’re proud to have a canteen that offers daily, affordable plant-based meals. It hasn’t always been that way. But of course, we will keep advocating for animal rights until we abolish all cruelty and exploitation at the Uni, the Mensa and the laboratories.