Many ethical vegans and animal rights theorists have serious issues with utilitarianism as an ethical view either for reasons unrelated to their attitudes toward non-human animals or because they believe utilitarianism is in direct conflict with the ethical principles they use to justify their anti-speciesist position. I feel that this is ironic because no other ethical philosophy can defend the idea of animal equality as well as hedonistic utilitarianism can. Regardless of whatever non-animal related reasons ethical vegans may have for rejecting hedonistic utilitarianism it is a thoroughly non-speciesist worldview because the interests of humans and non-human animals is given equal consideration and the criterion for what constitutes ‘interests’ or the basis of moral status is a characteristic that humans almost indisputably share with non-human animals ; a capacity to experience happiness and pain. Preference utilitarianism (which is concerned with the fulfillment of preferences and not our actual experience of emotional states per se) is implicitly speciesist because it involves an unavoidable hierarchy between beings whose desires are moment to moment and beings who can have extended future oriented desires as well as an abstract and self-conscious desire to continue existing. I’m not convinced that most non-human animals lack self-awareness and a capacity for mental time travel but I can imagine a hypothetical being for whom this would be true despite their feeling the same basic emotions that psychologically normal human adults do and I have to take seriously the possibility that only a handful of species posses these characteristics because it seems to be the general consensus among researchers. Someone could in turn accuse hedonistic utilitarianism of being ‘kingdomist’ because the criterion for moral status is a trait that excludes some biological organisms but hedonistic utilitarianism involves no hierarchy, either you are a full fledged person or you are not. Also unlike preference utilitarianism, hedonistic utilitarianism gives equal consideration to the interests of potential beings (when understood in this way, ‘moral replaceability’ becomes less chilling) because it is concerned with the maximization of what’s good, preference utilitarians are concerned with the actually formed preferences of beings who do or did exist. According to the preference utilitarian view, because factory farmed animals do not have a desire to live per se (this would require a meta-cognitive realization and concept that one is alive and is the same being who exists over time and favoring this future existence over the conceivable alternative) the primary issue is with the unwanted pain caused and not the killing or the prevention of the future happiness they could have otherwise experienced. Arguably there is a difference between a preference and a desire ( one can have a desire to eat tasty but unhealthy food or have sex with an attractive partner but rationally prefer not to).