Legendary Animal Rights Philosopher Tom Regan Dies at 78

The author and visionary fought for animals throughout his long and influential career.


Last week, longtime animal-rights pioneer Tom Regan passed away from pneumonia at his North Carolina home at the age of 78. Regan played a crucial role in establishing the moral rights of non-human animals through his influential literary works—notably, his 1983 book The Case for Animal Rights, wherein he famously stated, “It is not an act of kindness to treat animals respectfully. It is an act of justice.” A professor emeritus at North Carolina State University, Regan spent much of his life advocating for animals, giving moving orations, and co-founding the Culture & Animals Foundation—which supports intellectual work that promotes understanding between all living beings—with his wife Nancy. According to fellow animal activist, friend, and executive director of food advocacy firm Good Food Institute Bruce Friedrich, Regan will be remembered as “one of the giants of the animal rights movement.” Friedrich tells VegNews that in their 20 years of friendship, the philosopher was “always humble, gracious, and generous with his time, even with people he didn’t know or disagreed with.” Tom Regan was inducted into the Animal Rights Hall of Fame in 2016 for his work in establishing that animals are individuals who should be free to pursue their own lives. VegNews is deeply saddened by this great loss, and grateful to Regan for his contributions to the animal rights movement and the global philosophical community.