QuotationsTom Regan
Quotations Archive From all-creatures.org

This Quotations Archive contains words from famous and some not so famous people who have expressed a sense of love, compassion, and respect for all of God's creation: for people, for animals, and for the environment. They speak of our teaching methods and philosophy. They speak of a lifestyle of non-violence. They seek to eliminate cruelty and suffering. They seek to wake us up. They seek to give us hope.

Weeds by Mary T. Hoffman

Tom Regan, TomRegan.info
Animal rights activist, philosopher in animal rights theory, author of The Case for Animal Rights and Empty Cages
(1938 - 2017)

"They say we’re EXTREMISTS for caring about animals! I AM an EXTREMIST. I am EXTREMELY against animal abuse, and I am against it All the Time!"

"Just as the seed will never see the flower it is destined to become, today’s animal advocates may never see the idyllic world for which they strive. The pace of change might be frustrating at times, but we should feel assured that our efforts will someday blossom and lead to a more just world for all animals."

“All animals are somebody—someone with a life of their own. Behind those eyes is a story, the story of their life in their world as they experience it.”

"All great movements, it is written, go through three stages: ridicule, discussion, adoption. It is the realisation of this third stage, adoption, that requires our passion and our discipline, our hearts and our heads. The fate of animals is in our hands."

"The fundamental wrong is the system that allows us to view animals as our resources, here for us—to be eaten, or surgically manipulated, or exploited for sport or money. Once we accept this view of animals—as our resources—the rest is as predictable as it is regrettable."

"When all the dust settles, the idea of animal rights comes to that. This idea is simple. It’s that you don’t exist for me and I don't exit for you. And anytime you reduce me to a piece of utility to advance your aims or your purposes and so on, you violate my rights. I have a right to be treated with respect, I have a right not to be harmed unnecessarily, I have a right now to be killed. If people have cats or dogs, they understand this. It's not that when you come home they are a completely different creature than when before you left, and it's not like they're going to be a completely different creature tomorrow when you awake. They are enduringly presences in the world. They not only are alive, they are the subject of a life. They carry this psychological complexity through time with them that underscores the idea that they retain their identity over time....Fundamentally they are like us and we are like them."

"But a little straw, more space and a few companions won't eliminate - won't even touch - the basic wrong that attaches to our viewing and treating these animals as our resources. A veal calf killed to be eaten after living in close confinement is viewed and treated in this way: but so, too, is another who is raised (as they say) 'more humanely'. To right the wrong of our treatment of farm animals requires more than making rearing methods 'more humane'; it requires the total dissolution of commercial animal agriculture."

"There is no one fact, no one argument that wins the day, for or against. Animal rights is a complicated issue. No one, partisan or foe, should expect a simple answer. Our guiding principle should be: let all voices be free to speak and to speak without interruption. After all, deciding where the truth lies takes time."

"There is more than food on our plates. With every meal, we consume something of the substance of our own values and commitments. Do we respect the demands of reason? Do we value our ability to think and act on our own? Are we satisfied that we are doing the best we can with our lives? These are the truths we consume every day, whether we eat with friends or alone."

"Everyone understands that there is a limit to what we can do in the name of defending the victims of injustice. We simply cannot do everything for every victim. For all of us, however, this limit is not zero. That we cannot do everything in defense of those who cannot defend themselves does not mean that we should content ourselves with doing nothing."

"When an injustice is absolute, one must oppose it absolutely. It was not ‘reformed’ slavery that justice demanded, not ‘reformed’ child labor, not ‘reformed’ subjugation of women. In each of these cases, abolition was the only moral answer. Merely to reform absolute injustice is to prolong injustice. Animal rights demands this same answer: abolition!"

"Advocacy is a lifetime commitment. If you have a movement that’s trying to attract new people, and that’s losing old people faster than it can attract new people, then it’s going backwards rather than forward. The most important thing I have to say to any animal rights activist today is that you need to be an animal rights activist tomorrow. And the next day. And the next…"

"To all you good, decent people currently in the vivisection industry, we issue this healing call: Lay down your weapons. Lay down your scalpels and prods. Lay down your Pavlovian slings and restraint chairs. Lay down your stereotaxic devices and your rodent guillotines. Lay down your wires that shock and plates that burn. Lay down your tanks that drown and chambers that deprive. Lay down your sutures that blind and vices that crush. Lay down these weapons of evil and join with us, you scientists who are brave enough and good enough to stand for what is just and true."

"To be 'for animals' is not to be 'against humanity.' To require others to treat animals justly, as their rights require, is not to ask for anything more nor less in their case than in the case of any human to whom just treatment is due. The animal rights movement is a part of, not opposed to, the human rights movement. Attempts to dismiss it as anti human are mere rhetoric."

"When an injustice is absolute, one must oppose it absolutely. It was not 'reformed' slavery that justice demanded, not 'reformed' child labor, not 'reformed' subjugation of women. In each of these case, abolition was the only moral answer. Merely to reform absolute injustice is to prolong injustice. Animal rights demands this same answer: abolition."

"All of us engaged in the struggle for animal rights have a tendency to forget who we once were. Most of us once ate meat, for example, or unblinkingly dissected nonhuman animals in the lab during high school or college biology courses. Probably we went to a zoo or an aquarium and had a good time. Some of us hunted or fished and enjoyed that, too. The plain fact is, it is not just society that needs changing. The struggle for animal rights is also a struggle with self. What we are trying to do is transform the moral zombie society would like us to be into the morally advanced being we are capable of becoming. All liberation movements have this common theme. That's only one of the ways our Movement resembles other rights movements of the past."

"There are times, and these not infrequent, when tears come to my eyes when I see, or read, or hear of the wretched plight of animals in the hands of humans. Their pain, their suffering, their loneliness, their innocence, their death. Anger. Rage. Pity. Sorrow. Disgust. The whole creation groans under the weight of the evil we humans visit upon these mute, powerless creatures.”

On the hog industry...
"Turning pigs into commodities, the deliberate reduction of them into mere things, characterizes the mindset of the industry. ‘The breeding sow should be thought of, and treated as, a valuable piece of machinery,’ advises a corporate manager of Wall’s Meat Company, ‘whose function is to pump out baby pigs like a sausage machine.’ Say what you will, the hog industry is mighty good at this." (Empty Cages, p. 96).

On “ranched” mink...
"According to Fur Commission USA, mink raised on fur ‘ranches’] are treated ‘humanely,’ meaning with compassion, kindness, and mercy. In fact, they are ‘the best cared-for livestock’ in the world, a statement that, tragically, just might be true. Compared with veal calves, hogs, and chickens raised in confinement, those lucky mink who spend their waking hours pacing back and forth, jumping up the sides of cages, and rotating their heads, are leading a country club existence. May God forgive us." (Empty Cages, p. 110).

On cat and dog fur...
"Beginning in 1987, Americans were outraged when the Humane Society of the United States exposed the international trade in cat and dog fur, especially when they learned that garments in American stores were trimmed or lined with fur from these animals . . . Cats and dogs should not have their fur stolen from them, Americans protested. It’s their fur; it belongs to them, not to us. Animal Rights Advocates could not agree more. To kill cats and dogs for their fur is both uncivilized and unethical. Animal Rights Advocates could not agree more. It’s just that we think the same is true when the fur is stolen from any animal." (Empty Cages, p. 118)

On the Canadian seal hunt...
"Despite official assurances to the contrary, many seals are skinned while still alive. It would be a relief to learn that this happens rarely, though of course it should not happen at all. The bad news is, it happens a lot. An independent scientific study, conducted in 2001 by a team of veterinarians, concluded that 42 percent of the seals were skinned alive. That works out to approximately 130,000." (Empty Cages, p. 115)

On Animal Rights Advocates...
"With rare exceptions, Animal Rights Advocates are for love of family and country, for human rights and justice, for human freedom and equality, for compassion and mercy, for peace and tolerance, for special concern for those with special needs (children, the enfeebled, the elderly, among others), for a clean, sustainable environment, for the rights of our children’s children’s children—our future generations. In a word, the vast majority are Norman Rockwell Americans, straight off his famous Thanksgiving cover for the old Saturday Evening Post, only with this noteworthy difference. We’ll pass on the turkey, thank you. We don’t eat our friends." (Empty Cages, p. 19)

On calf roping ...
"In rodeos, calves can reach speeds up to thirty miles an hour before they are lassoed (‘clotheslined’); often they are jerked over backward and slammed to the ground ... The faster they are running at the time, the harder they are pulled backward. And the harder they are pulled backward, the more their necks are wrenched and the greater the force with which they hit the ground. Some calves do not do encores. It’s one performance and out ... So here we have today’s brave cowboy, bending over and tying up a frightened, dazed, disoriented baby (the animals are all of four or five months old), with neck and back injuries, bruises, broken bones, and internal hemorrhages. Are those who are working to abolish rodeo in general, calf roping in particular, just overwrought, emotionally unbalanced calf huggers?" (Empty Cages, p. 152)

On dolphins trained to perform in marine parks...
"Free dolphins swim up to forty miles a day and can dive to depths of more than a quarter mile. In their natural environment, they live in extended social groups (pods) and find their way around in an ever-changing, challenging environment via echolocation. (They ‘see’ by hearing). Once in captivity, these animals are confined in concrete tanks (sometimes measuring as little as twenty-four feet long by twenty-four feet wide by six feet deep) or in small sea-cages. There are no pods here. Nothing changes in any significant way in this desolate world. No natural challenges are faced. Nothing naturally interesting is found because there is nothing naturally interesting to be found. To speak candidly, it is worse than disingenuous; it is shameful that anyone would stand before us and say, ‘We really and truly care about the welfare of our dolphins,’ animals who have nothing to locate, no family to be with, no place to dive, no miles to swim." Empty Cages, p. 137)

On sport hunting...
"When all the rhetorical dust settles, the real rush for the sport hunter comes from the kill. Any doubt about this, just look through any of the hunting magazines at the local newsstand. The hunters pictured in those pages, displaying their dead wares, smiling from ear to ear, could not be happier. If we asked them to pose with beanbag chairs, it just wouldn’t be the same." (Empty Cages, p. 149)

On animal experimentation... 
"On a daily basis, animals are drowned, suffocated and starved to death; they have their limbs severed and their organs crushed; they are burned, exposed to radiation, and used in experimental surgeries; they are shocked, raised in isolation, exposed to weapons of mass destruction, and rendered blind or paralyzed; they are the given heart attacks, ulcers, paralysis, and seizures; they are forced to inhale tobacco smoke, drink alcohol, and ingest various drugs, such as heroine and cocaine. And they say Animal Rights Advocates are violent? The violence done by Animal Rights Advocates (almost all of it taking the form of property destruction) is nothing compared to the violence done by the world’s vivisectors, a raindrop compared to an ocean. Just because a profession is legal, perhaps even (as in the case of vivisection) prestigious does not mean it is nonviolent. On a day-to-day basis, the greatest amount of violence in the world occurs because of what humans do to other animals. That the violence is legally protected only serves to make matters worse." (Empty Cages, p. 189)

On lions and tigers trained to perform in circuses...
"An opportunity to expand animal consciousness presents itself if we look behind the eyes of wild animals trained to perform in circuses. In the wild, the home range for African lions and Indian male tigers varies from 8 to 156 square miles; for Siberian male tigers, up to 400 square miles. For the sake of comparison, consider that San Francisco and Boston occupy 47 and 48 square miles, respectively; Chicago, 227; New York City, including all five boroughs, 309 square miles. No sensible person can believe that circuses provide lions and tigers with a caged environment of ‘sufficient space,’ one that offers the animals ‘adequate freedom of movement.’" (Empty Cages, p. 127)

On Greyhound Racing...
"Day-to-day life for racing greyhounds is characterized by chronic deprivation. Dogs are confined in small crates, some measuring three feet by three feet. On days when they are not racing, the animals can be crated for up to twenty-two hours, sometimes stacked in tiers. Except when eating, they are muzzled . . . As for why they are muzzled, the explanation is an expression of the industry’s commitment to humane treatment. After all, if their muzzles were removed, the dogs could injure their mouth, teeth, or gums when they gnaw on their wire cage. In other words, the industry’s remedy for one kind of deprivation (keeping the dogs caged) is to impose another kind of deprivation (keeping them muzzled), the better to treat them more humanely." Empty Cages, p. 156)

On ‘Humane’ Slaughter...
"Symbolic of the ‘humane’ treatment animals receive at slaughterhouses is the plight of so-called downers. These are animals who are so sick or so badly injured that they cannot stand up or walk. Depending on conditions at the plant, downers can lay on the ground for a day or more, without water, food, or veterinary care. Whether dead or alive, eventually they are pulled inside the slaughterhouse by chains or hoisted by a forklift. A Zogby poll found that 79 percent of the adults interviewed opposed the slaughter of downers. Not the dairy industry, which lobbied vigorously to delete legislation before the Congress in 2001 that aspired to ban the sale of downers. Why would the dairy industry oppose such minimal legislation? Because most downed animals are dairy cows who can be slaughtered for their meat after they no longer can produce milk." (Empty Cages, pp. 100-101)

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