Hello Cathy: I wish you well in your new direction/career/life! As a (now retired) neuroscientist who worked in research with non-human primates I must say that what I see (and have experienced many times over) as the biggest problem is the lack of understanding of animals , their behaviour and biology, by many animal rights advocates. This is combined with a lack of understanding of the scientific process (from procedural matters such as how drugs are developed and tested according to law, to the procedures to be followed to be allowed to use animals for research, and basic statistics and probability assessments), and of the basic rules of logic (such as the use of straw man or red herring arguments, and reasoning from the particular to the general), often with a lack of basic courtesy - one can have firm opinions as long as one is willing to present the reasons for those clearly, as well as being willing to listen to the other side and their reasons. A good example is the current discussion on this forum about animal testing where the AR person simply copies, without question, endless lists; does not seem to realize that videos and documentaries may not be what they look like, and will not explore a large body of scientific data and studies of animals that may help her to see real proof of what animals are and are not (and which would support some of her contentions but not others).
A second problemnever addressed is the consequences of NOT using animals. As someone I know once said, if animal research had been stopped in the middle of the last century, we would have a much better iron lung but he preferred having a polio vaccine. To-day, if animal research were stopped right now, humans will have to continue to live with schizophrenia, dementia, acquired brain damage, major depression, parkinson's disease and other nervous disorders, just to mention my own area of expertise. You never seem to see anyone in a wheel chair at AR demonstrations, or even with a walking stick.... and AR persons will defend their uses of modern medicine (such as insulin) by saying that they cannot do anything for the animals that (so unfortunately) have died in developing those drugs before AR came along to protest that use. Just this week many hailed the lab grown hamburger. Quite apart from the enormous cost of setting up even more factories, you cannot grow tissues in tap water or in a sugar solution - where are the nutrients that "hamburgers" grow from to come from? Why don't we admit that a cow does a much better job of producing hamburgers that are tastier too because of what she eats and because of the fat marbling of the very best beef (think Wagyu)? Why is it not considered that we simply cannot easily grow enough vegetarian food for all people on this world, even if we could change farming and pastoral societies to give up their animals for soy beans? Large areas of this world can be grazed but are unsuitable for crops unless with enormous input of fertilizers. Which is another thing livestock does very well: produce fertilizer. Many centuries have small farms had animals for their meat, milk and other produce while fertilizing their poor soil to grow crops with the animals' droppings. Even to-day, nothing of a slaughtered animal is wasted.
How are humans going to clothe themselves without wool and leather, and (dare I say it) fur? Cotton crops are fine but use lots of water and fertilizer. Plastic shoes and nylon use non-renewable resources....
How will society change if we are not allowed pets, or zoos? Will we care about animals if we have never been close to one, or stroked one, or have been responsible for not even a gold fish? And where are our pets supposed to go?
In all this, I am not denying that animals often suffer in to-day's society (although probably least in research). But rather than working for better understanding in humans, and for better conditions for many human beings in the developing world so their animals can have a better life (think of the plight of draught animals - owners put their families first, wouldn't everybody?), why is it that AR targets research, has been known to kill surrendered pets yet insists that humans have no rights but animals somehow do?