Some socialists are vegetarians, but others are not. We have never seen a reason to take a stand on this issue as a party. Nor are socialists unduly sentimental about animals, and consider that a human’s first loyalty should be their own species. Nevertheless, the degree to which human society is "civilised" can reasonably be gauged by its treatment of animals and the natural world as well as by its treatment of humans, and socialism, in its abolition of all aspects of the appalling savagery of capitalism, will undoubtedly do its part to abolish all unnecessary suffering by non-human sentient creatures. There can be no dispute that many animals are treated abominably under capitalism. One question is to what extent their treatment is due to capitalism’s demands for profit and for constantly cheapening the costs of production. For it does not follow that mistreatment is a hallmark of all use of animals for food. It is perfectly possible that a socialist society would involve less eating of meat and eggs, and any animals kept for food purposes would certainly be treated as humanely as possible.
4000 drugs are undergoing animal testing in Britain today, of which only ten percent will come to market, but scientists who point to this as a sign of the importance of testing do not concern themselves with the fact that many of these drugs are not new treatments but reverse-engineered old drugs designed to get round product patents. So what would a socialist society’s attitude to animal testing be? In a word, pragmatic. Without being bogged down with imponderable questions of natural animal "rights", socialist science would (if it decided to do so at all) conduct animal research only under conditions of strict and peer-assessed necessity, and with attendant informed public debate, two key factors notable for their general absence today. Much of the pharmaceutical industry would be obsolete or transformed anyway if one can assume, after capitalism, a dramatic fall in heart disease and obesity, two wealth-related conditions for which the present drug market is principally geared, and an even more dramatic fall in poverty and stress-related diseases which presently do not even merit scientific attention. While product safety would be paramount, and might conceivably require some animal testing, there would be no need to duplicate the testing for twenty different competing brands, as happens now. Nor, in the absence of private ownership of information, would producers deliberately avoid established and tested products because of licence restrictions, or because, in the public domain, they were unpatentable and therefore could never yield a profit.
In his book Making a Killing Bob Torres argues that just as slavery involved some humans being the property of others and hence treated just as means to the end of the owners, so animals are under the power of humans. They are bought and sold, kept and killed in appalling conditions, experimented on, and used to provide milk, meat and eggs. This is speciesism, he says, integrated into society as much as racism once was. Torres contends, the advocacy of animal rights needs to become part of a wider movement that challenges all hierarchy, domination and exploitation, whether of other humans, animals or nature. We do not need to eat meat or animal products in order to live, therefore we should not do so. Vegetarianism is not sufficient, since the production of both milk and eggs involves cruelty (e.g. cows must constantly be kept pregnant in order to provide milk). Veganism, which involves making no use of animal products at all, "must be not only the foundation and baseline of any movement to end the domination of animals, but also the daily practice of anyone who seeks to live their life free of all domination and hierarchy". But it’s all very well to talk about opposing all hierarchy, including that of humans over animals, but if it came to the crunch almost everyone would regard the life of a fellow human as more important than that of a non-human animal. So there can be no real equality of treatment between humans and animals.