I am unsure of when my love for animals began. I hold a special place in my heart for elephants and cats.
Honestly though I cannot think of an animal that I don't respect. Animals, just like people have personalities and habits that in my experience those deemed "with souls" possess.
It breaks my heart that there are so many people in the world who can view animals the same way they would view a spoon, or a car, or a coat.
What amount of fear makes a fur coat, is the wearer absolutely informed on how these animals are treated? If so how would one gleefully wear fur knowing that a living breathing creature suffered needlessly for fashion.
Would you skin your cat for fashion? What is it was all the rage. It may seem obsurd but think about it. Animals would not willingly kill for popularity, why would you?
I heard a woman once say "I am all for animals being treated compassionately but I enjoy meat." I asked her if she had ever slaughtered a hog, no. Had she ever killed a cow? no. How about had a male calf locked in a dark room, only to slit its throat and eat it? absolutely not! Did she know where veal came from?
"Its a type of cow right?"
Yes. a toddler bull calf.
She thought about it and said "Well...I'll try not to eat red meat."
For most ethical means doing what our societies have done forever. We believe it is ethically ok to eat animal flesh because we've done it for years.
However if you ask if it is ethical to smoke in front of children or take speed they would look at you like you were a psychopath.
My point? We have changed and our views on sentience have to change. We have to become aware our surroundings. Truly aware.
It is Buddha who first spoke of his realization that animals suffer for our personal pleasure, and that in order to become "enlightened" we had to work diligently to be compassionate to all living things.
How are we today supposed to teach our children that it is wrong to hurt people, or kill people when we ROUTINLY kill and hurt animals.
No animals are not people, nor are macaw's a breed of horse.
Yet sentience has evolved and those who are aware realize animals are closer relation to us than we first suspected.
We have become educated, now we must evolve. Truly it is not meerly popular to become a vegan, but nessecary for our future survival as species anima in total.