In the first half of the 21st century, the animal rights movement gained momentum following a series of environmental disasters attributed to factory farm carbon emissions and water consumption. As predicted by the United Nations and scientists decades earlier, the events necessitated a massive global shift in the eating habits of billions of people. Largely the result of tireless advocacy by nonprofit animal advocacy organizations and individual activists, the movement began to realize major victories after decades of protests and ballot initiatives.
The Fall of the Circus
The infamous 2017 “Gouging Gertrude” video which showed circus trainers beating a baby elephant to death after she refused to perform a trick led to a public outcry for a congressional investigation of all circuses. As a result, in 2018, the United States joined Greece, Peru, Bolivia and several other countries permanently banning the use of animals in circuses. Further, the U.S. began phasing out the use of animals in zoos, rodeos, horse and greyhound races, and sea aquariums. The end of the circus, which began in Ancient Rome, ignited a series of landmark victories that forever changed the way we view animals and their purpose on earth.
The Banning of Animal Experiments
Shortly after Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s final performance using animals, testing and all forms of experimentation on animals to develop products ended. Shampoos, sunblocks, cosmetics, and other household items tested on animals became illegal in the U.S. as consumer demand shifted to safe, environmentally sustainable, and cruelty-free items. The “no animal testing” label became a federal requirement on all products sold in the U.S in 2026. The scientific community subsequently concluded that the rapid decline in various forms of cancer and other ailments resulted from the switch to plant-based products.
The Fall of Fur
Following a ban on the sale of fur in 2024 and the gradual phasing out of leather and wool in subsequent years, the animal rights community focused heavily on one of the last bastions of cruelty to animals: the senseless confinement, abuse, and slaughter of more than 75 billion animals every year on animal farms.
Animal Agriculture Illegal
The most historic milestone in the animals rights movement occurred when the U.S. Congress and President signed into law the 2032 Animal Freedom Act. Massive and irreparable global environmental devastation, caused largely by greenhouse gas emissions from factory farming that resulted in disruptions to the global economy, catapulted the benefits and sustainability of plant-based eating to the forefront. Congress agreed to phase out subsidies for animal agriculture and support farmers growing plant-based foods.
In 2042, the newly formed U.S. Department of Animal Protection began enforcing the Act. In the decade that followed, human health improved dramatically and animals lived freely as they do now. Like slavery and the Nazi Holocaust before it, many people find it hard to imagine a time existed when people made animals suffer so unimaginably. The sustainability of the air, water, and land and life on earth remains in question given people’s failure to heed warnings in the late 20th century.