Consider this argument:
- It is possible for me to exist disembodied.
- It is not possible for an animal to exist disembodied.
- So, I am not an animal.
- It is possible for Tom Brady to exist disembodied.
- It is not possible for a football player to exist disembodied.
- So, Tom Brady is not a football player.
- It is not possible for someone who is presently a football player to exist disembodied at any time.
- It is not possible for someone to exist disembodied while being a football player.
Why not draw the same conclusion from the first argument? Granted (I am not sure of this) one can't be disembodied while being an animal. But why can't someone who is an animal at one time be disembodied at another time, ceasing to be an animal then? Then "animal" would be a stage term. (It could even be the case that "animal" is a stage term while "person" isn't.)
If animalism is the claim that we are animals, then this would be compatible with animalism. One couldn't, however, straightforwardly say that we are essentially animals. But one could say that it is an essential property of beings like us that they begin their existence as animals, or at least (maybe God could create someone already in the disembodied stage?) that they normally do so.
One could say that these are claims about all animals or just about rational ones. Maybe only some animals—say, the rational ones—have the capability of becoming disembodied souls.