“There is no doubt that animals are sentient, can feel pain, fear, anxiety and grief. They can also feel happy, show great affection for other animals, experience contentment and more.”
A poll has found that the majority of Brits acknowledge that farmed animals experience the same emotions as cats and dogs.
Charity organisation Vegan Society conducted the survey as part of its Be AnimalKind campaign. It quizzed 2000 non-vegan respondents.
Results showed that 48% of the non-vegans “agree”, and 42% “agree somewhat”, that farmed animals can experience similar emotions to pet animals. This means that 9 in 10 (90%) Brits acknowledge there is very little difference in emotional levels between the two groups.
Animals are sentient
Former clinical psychologist-turned sanctuary volunteer Dr. Maureen Tomeny said: “It’s clear to me that we underestimate how much farmed animals are like cats and dogs – and like ourselves too. I spent over 30 years of my professional career working as a clinical psychologist and have seen the impact of neglect, abuse, and trauma on humans.
“There is no doubt that animals are sentient, and can feel pain, fear, anxiety and grief. They can also feel happy, show great affection for other animals, experience contentment and more.”
Cognitive dissonance in meat-eaters
According to psychologists Brock Bastian and Steve Loughnan meat-eating can conflict with ‘deeply-held moral principles’, which can further lead to cognitive dissonance – a discord between our values and our actions.
In their 2016 paper, published by Personality and Psychology Review, the authors further explained that people try justifying their actions by considering farmed animals as emotionally inferior or by viewing their consumption of animals as a collective action influenced by society.
A separate study conducted on farmed animals like pigs and horses showed that they are also impacted by emotions in human voices.
Moreover, the research, published in the journal BMC Biology, also suggested that these animals sometimes mimic the positive and negative emotions communicated to them.
Another recent study found that pigs respond emotionally to music in a manner similar to humans.
Be kind to animals
Elena Orde is the senior communications and campaigns officer at The Vegan Society. She said: “The results of this survey highlight what we already know – that many struggle with that pull between their natural response to animal cruelty and suffering and the food on their plate.
“Our latest campaign, Be AnimalKind, has compassion at its core. As a country, we love the animals we share our homes with. Be AnimalKind is all about expanding out that kindness to the animals we are raised to think of as food or clothing.”
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