Original Research

Animal welfare: A human right?

Morten Bøsterud
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 53, No 1 | a2439 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v53i1.2439 | © 2019 Morten Bøsterud | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 January 2019 | Published: 29 May 2019

About the author(s)

Morten Bøsterud, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, Norway


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Abstract

The modern-day Western consumers will need to accept purchasing their foodstuffs from the typically chain organised supermarkets relying on the main supply chains of food, which are produced within the mass production paradigm of contemporary agriculture. There will be some exceptions from this main rule, but for the contemporary Western citizen, these exceptions will not suffice to secure subsistence on a standalone basis. To an increasing number of Western consumers, animal welfare aspects connected to modern farming practices are concerning, and increasingly being viewed as systematic mistreatment of animals. For those adhering to a Christian morality, the question arises as to whether consuming animal-based food produced under the modern agricultural paradigm may be in violation of their scripturally based stewardship obligations under the covenant with God in creation. Further, if in violation of their moral obligations, the question becomes whether the acceptance of modern animal husbandry practices as in reality, the sole source of animal-based foodstuffs for physical subsistence will also be a violation of the consumers’ right to religious expression and observance as guaranteed under United Nations (UN)’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These questions are elaborated on in this article, and briefly contrasted against the observance of religiously oriented rules connected to foodstuffs under the Islamic and Judaic paradigms. A system for marking animal-based foodstuffs according to Christian-ethical norm alignment is suggested.

Keywords

Stewarding obligation under creation; Animal welfare; Human rights; Animal-based food; Religious observance; Food marking

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