Animals settled on the Earth long before man, but it was man who dominated the world thanks to his developed intellect. For the first people, animals were a source of food and hides, later they started to use them for work, and finally some of them were tamed and became home favorites. Animals became a permanent part of culture: their images were painted, magical powers were attributed to them, songs and myths were full of animal heroes, they were often worshiped and perceived as the incarnation of a deity.

From the very beginning, animals were identified with supernatural powers, which is particularly evident in the beliefs of ancient peoples. It is also worth looking at how modern religions in the world perceive the issue of animals.


The Catholic Church recognizes that animals are significantly different from man: they have a sensual soul, but they do not have a rational soul or free will and are therefore excluded from the sphere of morality. According to the Sacred Scriptures, God offered animals to people, which means that they can be used as food. Slaughtering animals should be done in a way that minimizes the suffering of the animal. Respect for animals was promoted by Saint Francis, who called them “friars minor”.

The authorities of the Catholic Church are of the opinion that animals are not endowed with posthumous life like people, so they cannot go to heaven, and life on earth is their only life. Cemeteries for animals cannot be treated in the same way as cemeteries for people, so it is unacceptable to put crosses or other Catholic symbols on the tombstone of the buried animal and worship its memory through prayer.

Some animal lovers, declaring themselves Catholic, do not agree with this statement, recognizing that animals, like people, can feel, think and love, which is proof of their immortal soul. They say about the dead animal that it has gone beyond the Rainbow Bridge (the term “Rainbow Bridge” is the title of an anonymous work from the 20th century describing the mythical paradise for dead animals).


According to the principles of Judaism, man is a superior being to animals that have no free will and are therefore amoral creatures. Animals should be respected, especially those that are used to work on the land (animals can rest on the Sabbath like humans). Judaism allows the killing of animals for meat, but the killing must be carried out according to established rules (shechita) and by a member of the community entitled to slaughter (shechita).

According to the rules of Koshrut (kosher), Jews can eat meat from those animals that have a separated hoof and are ruminants (cow, goat, ram, deer); birds that are not predators and fish that have fins and easily removable scales can also be eaten. The consumption of meat from horses, donkey, pig, boar or rabbit is not allowed.


Islam treats animals as a gift from Allah given to humans and as creatures that worship Allah with their existence. Animals are considered subject to human power and can therefore be treated as food, but their slaughter cannot be associated with cruelty. The Koran prohibits Muslims from eating pork, blood, carrion and animals that have been killed in a cruel way.

Animals are divided into pure and unclean, but this division is not as strict as in Judaism. Islam does not allow the bad treatment of animals, but also does not encourage the keeping of pets like dogs or cats, treating them as possible incarnation of an evil spirit. Care for animals is not seen as necessary by the religion of Islam.


Buddhism recognises the equality of all living creatures, so animals have the same rights as humans. According to Buddhist beliefs, every living creature leaves a certain particle after its death, which goes into a new incarnation.

Some Buddhists are against killing animals for food and promote total vegetarianism. Others allow the possibility of slaughter after having performed the Ritual of Liberation of Living Beings, which allows the soul of the animal to free itself and go to a new incarnation. Man, as the dominant species on earth, should show care for animals and take care of their rights.


According to the Hindu faith, it is forbidden to harm all living creatures that have feelings. The holy books of the Hindus prescribe a vegetarian diet, considering it a sin to kill an animal and consume its meat. Exceptions to this rule can be killing a predator or keeping the balance in nature, but this can only be done by selected people called the Shatrias. Great respect is given to domestic cattle, which provide milk, which is a basic component of Hindus’ diet, and fertilizer needed for cultivation and used as fuel.

The slaughter of cows is prohibited by law in most Indian states. During the Tihar Festival people worship cows, ravens (considered to be death messengers) and dogs (considered to be the guardians of the land of the dead). Dogs are treated with respect as animals protecting the household.

From the above information we can conclude that all contemporary religions of the world (except Buddhism) recognize the superiority of man over animals and the human right to rule them. All of them prescribe respect for animals and prohibit their mistreatment.

The religions have a different approach to the slaughter of animals and the consumption of their meat: some consider it natural, others allow the consumption of meat only from certain species, others are against it. It should also be remembered that religious principles are not always strictly adhered to by believers and everyday practice can be completely different from the rules written in the holy books.