The huge scope of animal exploitation is directly tied to the many rationalizations people use for eating, wearing, experimenting on or otherwise using animals. These rationalizations include the beliefs that humans are natural meat-eaters. In fact, there are many differences between natural carnivores and natural herbivores, such as teeth. A carnivore's teeth are long, sharp and pointed. These are tools that are useful for the task of piercing into flesh. An herbivore's teeth are not pointed, but flat-edged. These are useful tools for biting, crushing and grinding -- not killing.
When I get into this discussion with meat-eaters, it often comes down to this: humans have to cook and season meat to make it palatable to us. While a natural predator will hunt down and kill a deer with its powerful claws and jaws, humans would have a difficult time doing this while holding barbecue tongs and a shaker of Mrs. Dash (though the tongs could be used in self defense when the deer turns to kick your non-threatening teeth in).
Another popular argument is that animals are dumb creatures on Earth to serve us.
By speaking up for animals, activists can help the general public to understand that animals experience pain and fear. That they are intelligent and social. That they do not want to die or be tortured or abused. That they have rights.
Among the many things you can do to help the billions of animals who suffer every year:
Check out Striking at the Roots for additional ideas on how to speak up for animals!
Whatever you choose to do, please be polite when addressing the public. Although this is a very emotional issue, rudeness only makes the movement as a whole look bad, and it gives those who choose to exploit animals yet another reason to criticize "those animal rights nuts."