Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love: love of a spouse or significant other, love of a parents or child, love of friends. There are all kinds of love.
There are few among us who haven’t loved an animal. Maybe it was a dog or a cat a rabbit or a bird, and no doubt you believed your animal companion loved you, too. But do animals really love?
Of course they do. When it comes to the ability to feel emotion, non-human animals are no different than human animals. We all experience happiness, sadness, fear, loneliness, anger, and the bonds of companionship. We all feel love, too. You need only observe animals to know that this is true. Nearly all animals care for their children, share mutual bonds with mates (many species mate for life), show strong attachments to companions, demonstrate compassion for the suffering or wounded of their kind (and often of other kinds), exhibit anxiety and sadness when separated, and joy when reunited, and grieve when a child, mate, or companion dies. It is arrogance to suggest that human love is different, or better, or more “real,” than the love animals feel. Whether you’re a human, a monkey, a whale, or a penguin, love is love.
I’ve had many domestic animal companions and I loved them all. They, in turn, showed me love. Never could I have eaten them or hurt or exploited them in any way. How, then, could I eat, hurt, or exploit other animals just because I don’t know them? That’s why I am vegan. I cannot be complicit in the suffering, torture and abuse of non-human animals. It’s a matter of compassion, and of love.
Happy Valentine’s Day.