What is wrong with reacting emotionally to the suffering of animals? Is the suffering of animals inferior to the suffering that humans would feel in their place? Animal suffering is completely unnecessary, because adults don't need dairy products or meat for a healthy meal at all, and least of all in the excessive amounts in which we consume them nowadays.

Are animals our equals?

In his book "Animal Liberation" Peter Singer devotes many pages to examples proving that animals are equal to humans and therefore have rights.

At Animal Freedom we say that animals have rights a priori and that they don't have to prove they deserve them first. We also say that animal rights are really human rights, meant for humans to be able to talk to other people about their conduct towards animals.
Some "pet owners" (a term that in itself implies little equality between man and animal) treat their animals as equals. Emotionally, their pets have the same value to them. In itself there is nothing wrong with that, as long as these people give the animals the opportunity to display their natural behavior.

"Pity remains the same emotion, whether one feels it for people or for a fly". Leo Tolstoi

It is in some people's interest to award a lower status to animals. These people do things or have done things that harm animals. For instance eating meat from industrial farming, or having their pets put down by vets to save the expense of treatment. They justify their behavior by telling themselves that animals are not people and that they are of a lower order. This tendency toward justification is nestled inside human genes, as it were: conquerors treat losers as slaves, white people treat black people the same way, and men feel superior to women. But it is not so securely nestled in the genes that we cannot get rid of this tendency. Civilization is learning, and includes among other things the acceptance and treatment of others as equals. It requires even more inner growth to treat animals as equals and still respect their freedom.
Treating animals as equals also means taking your own emotions toward animals seriously. You can love animals and have compassion with animals in industrial farming. There is no reason to be ashamed of this, more so, you should be ashamed if you don't feel compassion, because this is a sign that, from a misplaced sense of superiority, you are suppressing or eliminating compassion.
Who is normal: someone who feels emotion out of pity for the suffering of animals and expresses this, and takes action for animals out of compassion? Or is someone normal if he neatly but indifferently buys meat from industrial farming at the supermarket every day?