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Speciesism refers to a set of irrational beliefs and prejudices, exhibited in various forms and degrees, which reproduce political and social structures that yield power and privilege to human animals over other species of animals.

Throughout history, human beings have enslaved and used nonhuman animals to serve various human needs and wants. We have treated sentient beings as "others" who don't deserve our moral consideration simply because they belong to a different species. What makes such utter disregard and apathy for sentient life possible is speciesism.

The Descartian idea that nonhuman animals are simply machines put on the planet to serve our needs is irrational, unscientific, and outdated. We now know that other animals are thinking, feeling beings just like we are. They can feel pain and suffer just like we do. We cannot ignore these simple facts any longer.

So what makes us human beings superior? If it is our "higher intelligence," then consistency would demand that mentally disabled humans and human babies lose their rights.

If species membership itself or the ability to oppress others justify speciesism, then we can use the exact reasoning to justify the systemic oppression of women, people of color, gays, and others.

The truth is that there is no moral justification for inflicting pain upon someone who feels pain. There is no justification for enslaving someone who wants to be free, or for killing someone who wants to live. It does not matter if that someone is human or not. Morally, we all matter the same.

Like the movements to end racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression, the struggle to end speciesism is a social justice movement which deserves to be taken seriously.