There is a great deal of confusion about the meaning of “animal rights.” For some, any regulatory measure concerning nonhumans, such as increasing the size of battery cages for hens or a law requiring the “humane” treatment of nonhumans, involves “animal rights.” For others, “animal rights” means that nonhumans ought to have all the same rights as humans have. And some argue that certain animals, such as the nonhuman great apes, matter more than other nonhumans because the great apes have humanlike cognitive characteristics.
There is also a general failure on the part of the contemporary animal-advocacy movement to recognize veganism as the baseline of the animal rights movement.
This site seeks to bring clarity and simplicity to the concept of animal rights. In order to understand the human/nonhuman relationship, we must distinguish between our use of animals and our treatment of animals. These aspects are different because whether we use animals at all for a particular purpose is a different question from how we treat them. For example, whether it is morally acceptable to eat animals at all is a different question from how we treat those animals and whether, for instance, we raise them in intensive “factory-farms” or in “free-range” conditions. Our use of animals is a separate matter from whether our treatment of them is “humane” or “cruel.”
Animal welfare concerns the treatment of animals and has as its central focus the regulation of animal exploitation. Animal welfare maintains that it is acceptable to use nonhumans as long as we treat them “humanely.”
Animal rights theory, as it is presented on this site, concerns the use of animals and has as its central focus the abolition of animal use rather than its regulation. We have no moral justification for using nonhumans for our purposes. Moreover, as long as animals are human property, animal welfare standards will never provide adequate protection to animal interests. A shorthand way of describing the view presented here is to say that all sentient beings should have at least one right—the right not to be treated as property. If we recognized this one right, we would be compelled to abolish institutionalized animal exploitation. We would stop bringing domesticated nonhumans into existence for human use.
Source: original website