Speciesism Definition:

Speciesism is the act of viewing different types of animals as non-equal, or considering certain species to be better than others.


Speciesism arises from cultures and peoples’ interactions with the creatures that live around them. Opinions as to which creatures may be favored or disliked varies throughout the world and even in smaller distributions, such as throughout a country. As Stefania Barca says, “different ways of interacting with nature correspond to different types of societies, and that, in the act of modifying the natural world, humans also modify their own nature and social relationships,” (Barca 133-134).

In India, this divide over what species are preferred has become a very large issue in both politics and religion. Born through religious tradition, a significant portion of the Hindu population views the cow with high esteem and considers it to be sacred. Muslim, Christian, and Dalit communities each have their own interpretations of the cow and its level of sacredness, which is generally a less intense appreciation for the animal in comparison with the Hindu population (Nadal). This difference in opinion has led to great political discourse about the cow’s place in India.


Video Aid:

Ancient India—Sacred Cows and Ayurveda 

Episode 7 of Food: A Cultural Culinary History Series

(View: Time 5:43-6:45)


Nadal, Deborah. “Cows Caught in the Crossfire: Provisional Remarks on India’s Current Cow-Slaughter Debate.” Religions of South Asia, vol. 10, no. 1, 2016, pp. 79–102. EBSCOhost, http://ezpro.cc.gettysburg.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLAiEYD170227000682&site=eds-live.

Barca, Stefania. “History.” Keywords for Environmental Studies, edited by Joni Adamson, Gleason, Pellow, 2016, pp. 132-135. www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt15zc5kw