It is based on the concept that all species should be treated equally; if one doesn’t do this, one may be accused of speciesism. It usually refers to humans treating humans fairly but denying animals basic rights, like abusing and mistreating them. Some may use it to describe meat-eaters: if you wouldn’t eat another person, why would you eat another species. It’s a controversial term, because it begins with the assumption that a fish, bird or dog should have the same rights as any human.
It also has spiritual grounds; a belief that all of nature should be in balance, and humans should treats all plants and animals equally and with respect. Now, practically, it’s hard to actually do day to day, but the idea that humans are just one part of the wolrd, and not at the top of it, is a belief shared by many people around the world, including naturalists and environmentalists.
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