According to the dictionary, empathy is:
"the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another..."
What separates vegetarians and vegans from omnivores, for the most part, is
empathy. New research that came out last month monitored brain functioning of a group of vegetarians, vegans and omnivores, while being showed pictures of human and animal suffering.
The results show that vegetarians and vegans think differently. For real. The brain showed different areas being used while looking at the various images. Vegetarians and vegans used different parts of their brain while viewing the suffering.
What the research demonstrated is that omnivores showed more response to human-only suffering images, while vegetarians showed concern for both human and animal suffering, while vegans tended to show more emotional concern for animal suffering.
So what I've thought for years has been confirmed with this study... my brain functions differently than 97 percent of the American population. And if it means that it is because I have empathy toward human and animal suffering, than it's good news to me.