An international group of experts on cognitive science has asserted that animals, including many that are much different from humans, experience the same degree of consciousness as humans. Per the article:
An international group of prominent scientists has signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in which they are proclaiming their support for the idea that animals are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are ....What's also very interesting about the declaration is the group's acknowledgement that consciousness can emerge in those animals that are very much unlike humans.... "Consequently, say the signatories, the scientific evidence is increasingly indicating that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness....The declaration was signed in the presence of Stephen Hawking .... (bold added).
Of course, we are not much different from animals and vice versa. Heck, we are animals.
« L'homme n'est qu'un animal plus parfait que les autres et qui raisonne mieux. » de Napoléon Bonaparte
Plus parfait? Non. Plus évolutif adapté? Oui.
Think of that when you want to buy meat...
Sensitive, no. Amused, yes.
And the trees and grain too, of course.
We better just eat people, I hear they taste like Pork anyway, so, bacon.
The article ... at least that bit which John pasted ... gives far too vague of a statement of kinship. There's a wide range of consciousness, most of which doesn't come close to approximating our own in breadth or depth. Insects possess neurons, but for most or them, their neural processing is so simplistic that I think they're less likely to be conscious than is the computer on which I'm typing this.
If you want to talk about dolphins and some mollusks, you've got a completely different discussion.
Chris tried to take it a step further, and I think her post demonstrates the danger of making statements that are too broad, as this one is.
I feel no sympathy for the chicken that I just ate, earlier this evening. Chickens are stupid and seem to be little more than a vaguely complex series of responses to stimuli. Chickens aren't high enough on the scale for me to give a damn. The most you can say for them is that they use a similar set of tools, but that doesn't necessarily lead to a comparable end result.
A few weeks ago, I slaughtered a few colonies of ants, without a second thought, because they annoyed me. I place that little value in both the existence of an individual ant and that of its queen. As long as we're not wiping out a species of ant, I don't care.
So you thought about it; that's all I asked. I didn't tell you what to do.