Difference between Animal Rights and Animal Welfare

January 14, 2017 by Editorial Team

Philosophies on the role of animals in the society vary from one person to another. While animal rights and animal welfare both serve to protect animals, they are far from being interchangeable.

Definitions

Animal Rights vs Animal Welfare

Animal rights is a philosophy centered on protecting the rights of animals. Geared towards eliminating the distinction between humans and animals, animal rights movements seek to end animal abuse and exploitation.

For advocates of this philosophy, humans and animals should share equal rights. Hence, the rights of animals should not be sacrificed for the benefit of humans. Put simply, animals should not be used for sustaining the need of humans for food, clothing or any forms of entertainment. Likewise, animals should not be used for research and experimentation.

Animal welfare, on the other hand, recognizes the needs and interests of animals, but it does not go against the use of animals if it is advantageous to humans. This philosophy is mainly focused on preventing animal cruelty. It endorses the humane treatment of animals used for human consumption, clothing, research, sports, companionship, livestock, and experimentation.

Animal Rights vs Animal Welfare

So what’s the difference between animal rights and animal welfare? While debates on the role of animals in the society are still on-going, it is clear that both philosophies seek to protect animals to a certain extent. However, there are notable differences between the two.

Firstly, the two philosophies greatly vary on how animals are viewed in general. Animal rights advocates strongly believe that animals and humans are created equal since they are both mammals. Thus, they must share the same rights and privileges. Animal welfare supporters, on the other hand, do not oppose the use of animals if it is advantageous to humans.

Animal rights advocates seek to end all forms of animal abuse and exploitation which include, but isn’t limited to, the use of animals for food, clothing, entertainment, research, and experimentation. Meanwhile, animal welfare supporters believe that animal exploitation is morally acceptable if the pain and suffering of animals is dramatically reduced and there is no other way to achieve the end result.

Lastly, no matter how humanely treated an animal is, animal rights advocates openly oppose the use of animals for sports, entertainment and companionship. Based on the beliefs of people who are a part of the animal rights movement, pet ownership is brought about by human manipulation. However, animal welfare supporters are open to having animals as pets or used for entertainment, so long as the animals are treated well.

Comparison Chart

Animal RightsAnimal Welfare
Animal rights should not be sacrificed in exchange for any human benefitsThe use of animals for the benefit of humans is morally acceptable as long as animals receive humane treatment
Opposes the use of animals for food, clothing, entertainment, research, experimentation, or any other form of abuse or exploitationAllows the responsible use of animals for food, clothing, entertainment, research, and experimentation
Protects animals to the fullest extentProtects animals only to a particular extent