Science Proves That Animals Have Feelings.

Via on Jan 4, 2014

happydog

Astonishingly, there has been a debate since the dawn of human awareness concerning the ability of animals to feel and express emotion.

I say astonishingly because it has always seemed rather obvious to me, and one look in the eyes of a dog upon your return home after an eight hour day at work, should be all the proof anyone ever needs.

Though the physiological process and extent of those feelings has long been a murky issue, I believe it is a thing that doesn’t need to be quantified. Others disagree. They want to know, what is the difference between an oyster and a dolphin, between a dolphin and a dog, between a dog and an elephant. If they feel love, can it be said to be the same kind of love that humans feel, or some simplified facsimile based on more or less advanced nervous systems.

For all those doubters out there (factory farmers & hunters, Michael Vic & Barnum & Bailey, I’m looking at you), there is new and compelling research which should answer some questions.

A group of international and highly esteemed scientists have recently signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, declaring their support for the idea that animals are aware and conscious to the same degree as humans. Animals as evolutionarily diverse birds and octopi have been shown to have similar neurological responses to humans which impact their physiological state and behavior in much the same way.

In other words, they have feelings.

Why has this idea been such a point of contention? Clearly, if we acknowledge that mother cows suffer the same as human mothers suffer when their young are forcibly removed from them, or if we accept that chickens are desolate at the living conditions to which many are subjected ending in an impersonal and wasteful death, we must dramatically change our approach to how we interact with them. Changing our approach means a lot of people will lose a lot of money, and generally speaking, that’s enough of a reason to keep the status quo.

That being the case, I’m always kind of amazed that slavery was ever abolished. The social systems it supported were lucrative and accepted, and the abolishment of it meant a total restructuring of massive corporations. The same debate about consciousness was had, in fact, about slaves; countless people believed that they were not human and as such, did not feel. These people interacted with their brethren, stealing children from their families, beating, raping and demoralizing them, with no more thought than they would have swatting a fly.

I believe there will come a time when we look back at our treatment of animals much the same way we look back at our treatment of African Americans. We are far enough away from that time now that I can hear the snickering laughter of my detractors. Nevertheless, the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness is proof to me of more than the awareness of our animal friends, it is proof that humans have deep and profound feelings, acknowledged or otherwise, about how we interact with our fellow creatures.

At the end of the day, that’s the real news. With a growing body of concrete evidence that the treatment of all animals is a weighty ethical issue, not just because we are their “stewards” but because they are our equals, it should stand to reason that we ourselves will evolve into a kinder, more compassionate species.

 

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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: elephant journal archives

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About Erica Leibrandt

Erica Leibrandt is a certified Yoga instructor, Reiki practitioner, student of Buddhism, vegan chef and mother to six heathens who masquerade as innocent children. She aims to apply the principles of Yoga to real life. Between teaching Yoga, holding vegan cooking seminars, writing and cycling she spends her time as a taxi service to her children, being walked by her dogs, and trying to dream up an alternative to doing the laundry. If she occasionally finds herself with a fried egg on her plate or dancing until dawn, she asks that you not judge her. Life is short, she knows the chicken that laid the egg, and you can never dance too much. You can connect with Erica on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

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5 Responses to “Science Proves That Animals Have Feelings.”

  1. Thank you so much for this. I've been vegetarian for 5+ years now and newly vegan and people constantly quiz me about why I choose that route and the explanation I always give is "I'd never want to eat anything that I would cuddle and I'd hug and snuggle everything from a pig to a fish" haha. I appreciate this research as it further helps me clarify my sentiments.

  2. black guy says:

    First off, im slightly offended that you would compare the social values of saves to a carnivorous diet . It’s in poor taste and doesn’t show much sensitivity for the subject.

    Secondly, if animals kill and eat each other doesn’t that mean its natural?

    I have been a vegetarian for 25 years now, and I had a dog for twelve years

  3. Boy, I'm glad to be a vegetarian.

  4. Douglas J. Pickett says:

    I recently read an intense debate on Facebook about the same thing – it started out as a well thought out back and forth about animals and what it means to be vegan and non-vegetarian, how the animals are affected etc. Eventually it turned personal but I digress. The point, and I think this is what should be the key take away, is compassion! My son came home a year ago, and he's usually terrified of animals, and was talking about rescuing a dog – about responsibility and how to take care of them and how important it is to play with them and make them feel loved "because daddy, if I were not loved and if I had no friends, I would be so sad". I later found out that he'd been playing a game in school (http://www.schoolofdragons.com) where he got to hatch and raise his own dragon and the dragon, if I'm right, deteriorates if you don't feed it or pet it or take it out for some air. A year later, he wanted to be vegetarian. This is such an interesting report, Erica. One that has made me think very deeply.

  5. voice of reason says:

    Science has also "proven" that vegetables have feelings. Someday we will look back at farmers the same way we look back at slave holders and wonder "those monsters, how could they do such a thing. And to think, all of the vegetarians that just sat by and did nothing to stop it".

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