Animal rights are moral principles grounded in the belief that non-human animals deserve the ability to live as they wish, without being subjected to the desires of human beings. At the core of animal rights is autonomy, which is another way of saying choice. In many countries, human rights are enshrined to protect certain freedoms, such as the right to expression, freedom from torture, and access to democracy. Of course, these choices are constrained depending on social locations like race, class, and gender, but generally speaking, human rights safeguard the basic tenets of what makes human lives worth living. Animal rights aim to do something similar, only for non-human animals.

Animal rights come into direct opposition with animal exploitation, which includes animals used by humans for a variety of reasons, be it for food, as experimental objects, or even pets. Animal rights can also be violated when it comes to human destruction of animal habitats. This negatively impacts the ability of animals to lead full lives of their choosing.