Ignorant, naive, anthropomorphist, misanthropic, emotional. This, says the critic, is the animal rights activist. The women are simply being women. And the men, well, are also being women. We are, supposedly, weak, unwilling to confront nature's harshness, blind to the laws of predation. There is a Darwinian imperative governing survival, a natural order - a food chain - to life. And man, as the apex predator, peers down from the top.

In truth, we advocates are not unworldly and are very much aware of Charles Darwin. We need not be reminded that suffering (injustice, death) is part of the "condition," human and animal alike. But blood on the savanna does not excuse blood in the slaughterhouse. The obligate carnivore kills because he must, man, because he chooses. This is no denial of our hunter past, but we are more than what we were.

Similarly, a closer scrutiny of animal nature, certainly the ones we exploit, should also indicate a different course. In the past few decades, we have learned more on this subject than in the whole of prior history. And the results are uncomfortable. Like us, they hurt and grieve and suffer and need. They seek comfort and find pleasure. They care; they bond; they love. This is science, not anthropomorphism. Yes, nature can be cruel, but it isn't always. And animals are more than perpetual foragers consumed with not dying.

Like tiger claws and eagle eyes, the human mind, we are told, is but another predatory tool. But that same mind allows for introspection, reflection, volition. And while our nature can sometimes be ignoble, it can also be compassionate and kind. And merciful. At the very least, we humans are not hardwired for cold violence. So why the abattoirs? In the somewhat paraphrased words of Abraham Lincoln: With malice toward none, with charity for all, let us be guided by the better angels of our nature.