Speciesism The Movie
You’ll never look at animals the same way again. Especially humans.
Speciesism The Movie challenges and confronts the human assumption that human beings are somehow superior to non-human beings; that non-human animals don’t deserve the same moral and ethical consideration as human animals; that non-human animals somehow suffer or “feel” less than human animals; and that non-human animals don’t deserve the same physical protections as human animals because they are deemed “property” instead of living beings with emotions, personalities and feelings like human beings.
The filmmaker, Mark Devries, was 20 years old when he started filming Speciesism and during the filming he interviewed many of the world’s most influential philosophers, biologists, ethicists, scientists, educators and leading animal welfare and animal rights experts. He also visited and interviewed owners and workers on factory farms to gain their personal perspectives about how well they cared for their animals and whether there was a disconnect between what they say and what is the reality for the animals.
Devries attempts to visit a factory farm with battery-caged hens but is not allowed to see or photograph the farm, and is asked to leave. After the visit, he interviews James Sherpell, PhD in Animal Behavior, who says, “We grossly underestimate the level that animals are suffering. Most of the animals you eat are living in dark sheds, with no light, windows or fresh air. It’s hard to believe we can do this stuff to animals, it’s just so relentlessly calloused.” Chickens account for 95% of the animals raised for our food in the U.S.
Devries visits North Carolina industrial pig farms where up to 25,000 pigs are warehoused together on the same property. Devries sees firsthand how gestation pigs are forced into brutal confinement where they cannot move during their entire pregnancies, and are continually impregnated. Female pigs become so depressed and feel so hopeless, they lose their spirit, they lose all hope, and become catatonic — you see it in their faces they have given up.
In a private plane, he flies over the factory farm region of North Carolina and witnesses the enormous manure cesspools that cover thousands of surrounding acres, polluting the region’s air, waterways, lakes and even groundwater. Communities express their anger about losing their home values, becoming chronically sick and diseased from the manure pools, and share how some of the residents have been stricken with cancer due to the relentless pollution. They explain that there’s so much hog manure being sprayed on community and residential property there’s a health crisis of upper respiratory disease and asthma, as they breathe the daily fumes and stench. One outspoken resident angrily reacts, “All this for a piece of meat!” Another man exclaims, “I’m an American. To pollute my creek, to pollute my water, to stink up my air — is downright wrong! Every time you take a bite of sausage, you are destroying the water, the air, the land, people’s health and subjecting animals to cruelty, all for a piece of meat! This is crazy!”
Devries visits dairy farms where dairy cows live in total confinement. They are lame from sore feet and legs due to their excessive forced growth through hormones and drugs, and carrying such significant weight. Temple Grandin says, “Pus and blood from mastitis ends up in the milk.” Calves are immediately removed at birth, so the milk can go to humans. Cows can be heard bellowing and crying for their calves that are separated from them, forever.
Bruce Friedrich, a PETA spokesperson who is interviewed, shares that PETA’s animal welfare campaigns are always attacked by these corporations, “Corporations and industry lawyers and hired ‘front groups’ will do anything to take us down, they attack and challenge your character — they have front groups that specifically are hired to do this for them and undermine our credibility.”
Melanie Sloan with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics says, “these meat and food corporations and industries don’t have to disclose who is behind the vicious, attacking ads that attack animal welfare non-profits and undermine these animal-welfare organizations on every issue.” She advises that, “People need to be skeptical, when you see ads or rhetoric against the Humane Society or another animal welfare group, know that it’s a hired corporate front group.”
The movie begins to uncover and explore the idea of speciesism through a series of interviews and insights. Gary Francione, PhD, says that, “Speciesism exists when we use species to exclude certain beings from the moral community who are relatively similar to other members of the community—and you base that exclusion on species alone. It’s like racism or sexism.”
Another expert said, “Speciesism is excluding different members of species from ours, from the realm of moral concern, just because they are members of a different species. It’s a prejudice in favor of one’s own kind over others.”
Dr. Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University and author of Animal Liberation, said, “You cannot morally justify cruelty. There is no logical reason for speciesism. In all these cases you have a dominant group; you have a group that holds power and defines itself as superior and then develops an ideology to justify that superiority, and to exclude the others.”
Dr. Richard Dawkins confirms, “We need to get our ethics aligned with science, because we know scientifically that other species are related to us. We know they experience pain and emotions in the same way we do. What we’re doing to them is a moral atrocity, that is being justified in exactly the same way as past atrocities, like slavery.” Mark Beckoff, PhD argues, “Animal brains are virtually the same as human brains, and animal emotions can be even more intense than human emotions.” Dr. Tom Regan, PhD, argues that non-human animals bear the same moral rights as humans, “The basic idea behind all moral systems is that we shouldn’t cause harm without extremely good reason.”
Basically animals are under attack daily by us. When we are emotionally invested to use animals, we decide to develop a moral principle to justify our using them for our personal gain or pleasure, causing them deep suffering as a consequence. The movie deeply examines this prejudice of speciesism.
What can you do?
- Don’t be a speciesist
- Don’t eat animals
- Don’t buy animal products or products tested on animals that has caused them to suffer
- Don’t use animals that causes them pain, suffering, is unnatural or abusive to them in any way, at any time
- Advocate and stand up and fight for animals
- Share the movie with your friends, family and on social media!
About Some Experts Interviewed:
Dr. Peter Singer, PhD – Author of numerous books including Animal Liberation and most recently, The Most Good You Can Do. Dr. Singer is Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. Dr. Singer is a vegan.
Dr. James Sherpell, PhD – PhD in Animal Behavior; Professor of Humane Ethics & Animal Welfare at University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine; Director, Center for the Interaction of Animals & Society, University of Pennsylvania; Senior Research Associate, University of Cambridge, England; he is the author, editor, or co-editor of several books, including Animals and Human Society: Changing Perspectives (1994), The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, Behaviour and Interactions with People (1995), In the Company of Animals (1996), and Companion Animals and Us (2000).
Dr. Stephen Best, PhD – Philosopher, writer, activist. Associate Professor of Philosophy, Chair of the Philosophy Department, University of Texas; writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education; co-founder of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies (ICAS); author of many essays including most recently, “The New Abolitionism: Capitalism, Slavery, and Animal Liberation.” Author of many books, including most recently, The Politics of Total Liberation: Revolution for the 21st Century.
Dr. Tom Regan, PhD – American philosopher specializing in animal rights theory; Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at North Carolina State University; animal rights activist; author of numerous books including The Case for Animal Rights; co-founder of nonprofit Culture and Animals Foundation. Regan is a vegan.
Dr. Marc Bekoff, PhD – Professor Emeritus, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado; co-founder with Jane Goodall of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; fellow of the Animal Behavior Society; former Guggenheim Fellow; writer for Psychology Today; has won many awards for his scientific research including the Exemplar Award from the Animal Behavior Society; Bekoff has written over 800 articles and 22 books, and has edited three encyclopedias. Beckoff is a vegan.
Dr. Gary Francione, PhD – Distinguished Professor of Law & Philosophy at Rutgers School of Law; Francione also teaches criminal law, criminal procedure, and legal philosophy; American legal scholar and animal rights theorist; pioneer in abolitionist theory of animal rights; author or co-author of several books about animal rights including, Eat Like You Care, and Francione has also written papers on copyright, patent law, and law and science. Francione is a vegan.
Dr. Richard Dawkins, PhD – English ethologist, evolutionary biologist; Professor, Public Understanding of Science, Oxford University; Emeritis Fellow of New College, Oxford; writer of numerous scientific articles and books including The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype. Dawkins is a vegetarian.
Melanie Sloan, PhD – Lawyer and Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics.
Bruce Friedrich – Senior Policy Director for Farm Sanctuary; founding member of the Society of Ethical and Religious vegetarians; Director of Vegan Campaigns for PETA; co-wrote The Animal Activists Handbook. Friedrich is a vegan.
Paul Shapiro – Paul Shapiro is the vice president of farm animal protection for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Prior to working with HSUS, he was known for being the founder of Compassion Over Killing (COK). He’s an animal activist and authority on farm animal welfare and adnimal advocacy; he has also published dozens of articles about animal welfare in publications ranging from daily newspapers to academic journals. Shapiro is a vegan.
Ingrid Newkirk – Is an English-born British-American animal rights activist and the President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the world’s largest animal rights organization; She is the author of several books, including Making Kind Choices (2005) and The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights: Simple Acts of Kindness to Help Animals in Trouble (2009).
Director: Mark Devries
Actors: Peter Singer, Temple Grandin, Richard Dawkins, Ingrid Newkirk, and Bruce Friedrich
Watch on Vimeo
Stream on Amazon