Animal Rights No Longer for Vegetarians Only

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2009 9:55 AM CDT
Members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) pose for the media during an anti-fur demonstration in front of a fur store in Seoul, Friday, Sept. 19, 2008.   (AP Photo/ Lee Jin-man)
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(Newser) – Electing a black man president wasn’t the only historic thing voters did last November, writes Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times. California voted, by nearly a 2-1 margin, for an animal-rights initiative that bars farms from keeping calves, pregnant hogs, or hens in cages too small for them. And such ethical-treatment initiatives are gaining momentum across the US and Europe, 30 years after Princeton philosopher Peter Singer raised the issue of our moral obligations to animals.

“There’s some growth in numbers of vegetarians, but the bigger thing is a broad acceptance of the idea that animals count,” Singer tells Kristof. “For most of history, all of this would have been unimaginable even to people of the most refined ethical sensibility,” writes Kristof. Then again, “those refined ethicists were also untroubled by slavery.”